Hi Mikaela. You look like you just lost your best friend which I know you didn’t since I am right here. Now tell me what’s got you down, asked Isla. “It’s our junior year in college, and I feel so inadequate, unsure of myself, not sure where life is leading me.” “Mikaela, I truly want to see you smiling again but first I want to tell you a story I heard last Sunday night at church.”
Isla began to tell the story. It was about a petite young woman named Gladys who lived in the London, England area. She knew in her heart the Lord was calling her to be a missionary to China. The first leg of her journey was on the Trans-Siberian Railway. When the train was taken over by the Russian army to be used for a hospital for wounded soldiers from the Russian Sino war, she got off the train and began to walk at least 20 miles to the nearest town battling freezing cold, deep snow and the threat of Timber wolves. She eventually made it all the way to Valdivostok, where she was arrested by the KGB. She wanted no part of the despair and poverty she saw, unlike other young people that felt Communism was some type of Utopia. She miraculously escaped from the KGB and made her way to the mountain city of Yancheng, China. Gladys soon discovered being a missionary in China would not be easy. Being called a White Devil with people spitting and throwing mud at her was not what she expected. Gladys eventually became known as AiWeiDe in China, meaning The Righteous One, and this is how I will refer to her in the rest of the story.
There was a centuries old custom in China that all females had to have their feet bound, their toes curled downward toward the soles of their feet. The Mandarin, who ruled with total authority, guarded by soldiers, came to see AiWeiDe, which alarmed her. Why her, she asked? The government decided women were no longer to have their feet bound. The Mandarin heard about her, the woman with normal feet. Inspecting women’s feet to make sure they were complying with the law and showing them how to unbind their feet was below the dignity of a man. He was appointing her as the government foot inspector. AiWeiDe very bluntly told him that she came to China to be a missionary, not a foot inspector. The Mandarin, who normally would have had a man shot for talking to him like that, ignored her protest, telling her as a government official she would have soldiers travel with her to guard her. “So people won’t spit on me or throw mud on me, and I will be able to tell them about my Jesus,” AiWeiDe asked. When he said he didn’t care who she talked about, she praised the Lord for another miraculous answer to her prayers. Before long the number of people accepting Jesus Christ as Savior began to spring up in towns and cities throughout the whole region as AiWeiDe, the government foot inspector, told them about Jesus.
Isla told how AiWeiDe, even though terribly hurt and bleeding when the Japanese who had invaded China, bombed her city, refused help for herself, instead caring for the wounded and dying and when AiWeiDe was sent for by the head of the prison, since she claimed the spirit of the living God lived inside her, to stop a riot in which hundreds of prisoners and guards had been killed, she actually entered that prison and stopped the rioting. “She had to have had the faith of Daniel in the Lions Den. I can’t believe I have not heard of this courageous woman before” Mikaela said!
While traveling a days’ journey to visit the David Davis missionary family, she went to the aid of some women being molested by Japanese soldiers, one of them hit her violently in the head with the butt of his rifle and then they kicked her until they thought she was dead. Yet she lived, thanks to months of caring from the Davis family. The next time she went to see them, she was warned that enemy soldiers were searching for her. Both the Communist China and Japanese armies who were fighting each other wanted her dead. So many people had accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior that a reward poster was being distributed with AiWeiDe’s name on it. She ran out the back door and across a field as soldiers were coming in the front door. A soldier’s bullet hit her in the shoulder knocking her hard to the ground. She crawled into an irrigation ditch. Cold, wet, and bleeding, she waited until dark and then began the long journey through the mountains to her orphanage and the hundred orphans being taken care of by friends while she was gone.
Isla told about when AiWeiDe saw a little slave girl near death, she bought her and nourished her back to health and the love of Jesus, the first of all the orphans she saved and cared for. When the Communists were gaining control over the Nationalist Chinese, she knew they had to escape or be killed. She gathered up the children, and began a journey over a treacherous mountain range. Seventy three of these children were between the ages of 4 and 8 years of age. As hard as it is to believe, they miraculously made it to the Yellow River which they had to cross to get to safety and eventually Taiwan. Having been without food and water for many days they were all clinging to life.
AiWeiDe felt crossing the mile wide river was hopeless. The former slave girl she had rescued years ago, now in her teens, looked at her and said: “Don’t you remember the story you told us about Moses crossing the Red Sea, how God had provided a way of escape.” AiWeiDe, barely able to talk or think, blurted out “I am not Moses.” The young girl, dirty, hungry, thirsty, and totally exhausted but with the beauty of the love of Christ in her dark brown eyes said, “No, but God is still God.” Those precious little children, even in their physical condition and scared, began to sing praise to the Lord. An army patrol leader and his troops up the river, hearing their singing, fixed their bayonets and headed toward them. When they came into sight, the children cried with relief. They were Nationalist Chinese soldiers. “You lie” the patrol leader said when told they had come over the mountains. When all the children shook their heads yes in unison he said, I have witnessed a miracle! His troops brought their small boats out from where they had them hid and took them across the River. Some time later AiWeiDe collapsed in a coma, and was transported back to England and a long stay in the hospital.
This incredible woman, even though she carried her many internal and external injuries and pain with her the rest of her life, was determined to go back to the mission field. While speaking in a large church packed to overflowing, a man stood up and interrupted her. He said the mission field was no place for a women, it was a man’s job, not a woman’s. She said “fine, then I will stay home” and then after a long pause she said “if you will go in my place!” Embarrassed, he sat back down! “And then what did she do,” Mikaela asked. “She spent the rest of her life visiting wherever children were in the world, in addition to an orphanage she started in Taiwan to share the love of Christ up to her death in 1970. On one of her visits she reached out and took the hand of a young boy telling him she would like to pray for him. He never forgot her. He was the man that spoke at our church last Sunday night. The moment I heard this story I knew I would never forget it. In addition to touching my life in a profound way, the reason I wanted you to hear this story is this,” Isla said. “Individuals and organizations told AiWeiDe she didn’t have the qualifications or attributes needed to be a missionary, basically telling her she must have misunderstood God’s will for her life.” Then, looking at Mikaela she said “Satan’s biggest weapon is discouragement, doubt, and making you feel second rate, especially when you listen to the wrong people.” Thousands of people in China, and Taiwan are thankful she lived by Proverbs 3:5 & 6 that says “Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” and Phillipians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” It’s amazing what can happen when you believe and have a genuine faith in Christ like AiWeiDe’s.
“I see why you wanted to tell me this story before talking about my feelings,” Mikaela said. At which point Isla replied how her aunt always makes her feel like she is priority number one when she stops by the family’s insurance agency to talk to her and how she always thinks through things before speaking. I try my best to follow her example, having learned advice from family and friends can be very valuable and important but only when it coincides with God’s word. The Christian life is not easy as you know. Regardless of what trials we might face in life, I feel certain when God looks at you He sees a Beautiful Texas Prairie Butterfly Tree. The Lord will graciously provide you with all the talents and gifts you will need in life when you keep your eye on Him. Mikaela said, “Isla, you are just too kind to me.” “Well, remember I am human, need lots of encouragement and make mistakes too, even when I mean well.” Mikaela laughed, “like the time you told your history professor every time you drove down 2nd Avenue and looked over at the statue you liked of the Civil War General on his horse in the park, it made you think of him, he took offense which surprised you since you knew your professor had great admiration for that general.” Isla said, exactly as she started to laugh. If you hadn’t reminded me the general’s horse was facing 1st Avenue and not 2nd Avenue, giving me a chance to go and explain to my professor, asking for his forgiveness, I might have failed that class instead of getting an A.
Both girls were laughing now at which point Mikaela looked at her watch and said “our dates will be waiting for us at the tennis court for our re-match, so we better get going.” Isla told her as long as she remembers that verse in 2 Corinthians 7:6 which tells us it is God that gives us comfort when we are cast down as long as we put our faith in Him. Mikaela replied, “I’ll remember. Thanks to you I’m feeling totally re-energized now, so much so I feel we can beat them this time, but you know how much these college men will really feel down and need comfort if we win.” Isla laughed, “and we both know only God could give them that much comfort!”
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