Saturday, August 20, 2011

Not your typical hymn: "We have no bugs, we have no fleas, come, come, come"

Can you imagine saying goodbye to your daughter, knowing she has less than $10.00 in her pocket, yet is determined to go to the far and distant land of her calling, even though it means traveling alone across Siberia in a time of war?

I suspect heaven was bombarded with tears of sacrifice as Glaydys Alyward’s mom sewed secret compartments in her daughter’s underwear, tied a couple of pots to her old suitcase, which held more food than clothes, and blessed her farewell. Determined to share the Gospel with the lost, Gladys boarded the train and set her face toward China.

(Although I want to stay on with Gladys’s story, I pause to reflect on trusting the Lord with our loved ones—allowing Him the way and the will to do with them as He so chooses without our “protective” interference.)

The journey across Europe and Asia was not without danger. When the train stopped because of fighting ahead, Gladys walked alone through the Siberian night to backtrack to the last town, got held hostage by Russians who changed her passport from missionary to machinist because they needed workers, escaped on a Japanese boat, and finally arrived in China only to find out the woman had not met her, and she still had to travel two more days by mule. To say nothing about having to sleep on the lice-ridden communal kang (brick bed with fire underneath) with the mule owner and every other traveler.

All the way, she clung to her word from the Lord: “Be not afraid.”
The elderly missionary, Mrs. Lawson, figured if they turned the dilapidated building she’d acquired into an inn, they could tell Bible stories to the travelers at night. The problem was, no one wanted to stay at the “white devil “women’s place.

 I’m sure Gladys never suspected her first missionary work would be to stand in front of the inn and sing: “We have no bugs; we have no fleas, Come, come, come.”  Not only did she have to sing, but she had to grab the lead mule as the mule train passed by and pull it into the yard so that the others would follow—all the while being yelled at by the frightened mule driver!

When Mrs. Lawson died, leaving young Gladys alone, she desired to continue but had little means of support. Once again—His ways are not our ways, but how wonderful they are!

The Mandarin of the territory solicited her to inform people throughout the countryside of the new mandate against binding feet. At first shocked that she was to be a foot inspector, Gladys quickly realized that she would have protected access to innumerable homes and would be able to share the Gospel as she checked and unbound feet. It was a perfect setup!

Lord, open our eyes to the opportunities You present in unexpected packages. May we trust You in the twists and turns of our journey and rest assured You will accomplish that which concerns us.

Over the years, Gladys took in hundreds of orphaned children, at one point, fleeing from the Japanese invaders over mountain passes with a hundred little ones.

Gladys Alyward: One ordinary woman in the hands of one great big God.


  1. What a beautiful picture of service to others - where Jesus washed feet, He called Gladys to unbind them. In a time when so many people are in bondage, I pray that more of us would be called to the ministry of unbinding!

  2. Awesome story of surrendering to His call! I pray each of us follow His leading whether it's putting words on paper, working in the nursery at church or traveling to a foreign land. Surrendering to Him will always further His kingdom here on earth.I love this story! Thank you for sharing this story!

  3. Marcia I findly figured out what to do to get your updates. It's been a busy summer and I've missed keeping up with your writing. Great post and congratulations again on your BRMCWC win. I guess I should look for you in Facebook so I can keep in touch.

    Blessings, Daphne Woodall (BRMCWC Class of 2010)

  4. What a great story. By any chance is this the same one later made into a movie with Ingrid Bergman? I remember her fleeing through the mountains with all of the children. Who would have dreamed she would find entry into the Chinese homes as a foot inspector? And yet, it was clearly one of the most effective methods. Another illustration of how nothing is impossible with God and we should always keep ourselves open to His leading, even when the way seems the opposite of where we want to go. Thank you for sharing this remarkable story with us.

  5. What a great reminder of God's sovereignty! Seeing Him work in unexpected ways is one of the greatest joys of the Christian journey, in my opinion. Thanks for sharing, Marcia.

  6. Cecilia--Yes, The movie is called The Inn of Sixth Happiness (I think)

  7. This story truly inspired me...the strenght we can obtain to endured any hardship or circumstance,if only we stand on and trust God's promises. May you be richly blesses for spreading His Gospel.


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