The less known Long March in China of Gladys Aylward and 100 orphans

The Japanese invasion of China was absolutely horrible. But this single woman of God rescued 100 children from the invaders. She had seen so many miracles in her life, that these steps of faith were not unusual for her. Madame Chiang Kai-shek had an orphanage to the South, a 6 day journey by adult foot under normal circumstances.
She determined to flee to the government orphanage at Sian, bringing with her the children she had accumulated, about 100 in number. (An additional 100 had gone ahead earlier with a colleague.) With the children in tow, she walked for twelve days. Some nights they found shelter with friendly hosts. Some nights they spent unprotected on the mountain sides. On the twelfth day, they arrived at the Yellow River, with no way to cross it. All boat traffic had stopped, and all civilian boats had been seized to keep them out of the hands of the Japanese. The children wanted to know, 'Why don’t we cross?' She said, 'There are no boats.' They said, 'God can do anything. Ask Him to get us across.' They all knelt and prayed. Then they sang. A Chinese officer with a patrol heard the singing and rode up. He heard their story and said, 'I think I can get you a boat.' They crossed, and after a few more difficulties Ai-weh-deh delivered her charges into competent hands at Sian, and then promptly collapsed with typhus fever and sank into delirium for several days.

We just finished reading aloud to the children the biography, Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime and decided to rent the cinematic version, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, starring Ingrid Bergman which took so many Hollywood liberties that it should get the tag line, "sort of like a true story." Hollywood added a romantic angle.

Please note that although 'Inn of the Sixth Happiness' is a well-produced, heartwarming movie starring the great actress Ingrid Bergman it was a thorn in the side of Gladys Aylward. She was deeply embarrassed by the movie because it was so full of inaccuracies. Hollywood also took great liberties with her infatuation with the Chinese Colonel Linnan, even changing him into an Eurasian. But Gladys, the most chaste of women, was horrified to learn the movie had portrayed her in 'love scenes'. She suffered greatly over what she considered her soiled reputation.

When the Communists came to power after the Japanese were defeated they tried to destroy the faith of students she knew. She watched the students decapitated one at a time before a crowd for refusing to renounce their faith. She finally left China and returned to England. But her people were the Chinese people. Unable to return to China, she returned to Taiwan where she continued to preach and to serve, finally dying in her sleep at her mission with an orphan baby at her side.


Joe said…
Well done!

We did a segment on Gladys Aylward in our VBS a couple of years ago.

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