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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

Gladys Aylward was born in 1902 in London, England.

While working as a parlor maid in the home of Sir Francis Younghusband she would often take down and read the books he had in his library on China. God was placing a love for the Chinese people in her heart.
After attending a religious meeting where the speaker encouraged people to dedicate their lives to God, Gladys realized with certainty that God was calling her to be a missionary to China. She went to the China Inland Mission Center in London to train. She did not do well there and they advised her against going to a foreign country.

Gladys was certain about her call so she worked hard and saved her money. She wrote to Jeannie Lawson, a missionary who had been serving in China for many years about coming to work with her as her assistant. Miss Lawson accepted Gladys. God worked many miracles for Gladys to get to China.

During her stay in China Gladys had to learn the difficult Chinese language. She was a good assistant to Jeannie Lawson until Miss Lawson died after an accident. Gladys continued on her own. She was often lonely and wondered if she should stay as a single woman.

God brought a ministry to her. The Mandarin of Yangchen asked Gladys to be the official ‘foot inspector’. The cruel practice of binding Chinese girls’ feet had just been outlawed and the Mandarin wanted Gladys to visit the women and help them. Gladys agreed and served the women and girls for many years, until war came to China.

While visiting the women and girls Gladys had opportunity to help the Chinese nationals who were defending their country from the invading Japanese. On her way to outlying villages Gladys would see where enemy troops were and report their movements to the Chinese.

When her village was threatened with bombing and ruin, Gladys helped nearly 100 orphans escape to a safer town. Eventually due to illness Gladys had to leave China. By the time she was well and wanted to go back to China she could not get back in because the communists had taken over. In 1957 Gladys sailed for Taiwan where she helped in orphanages, taught Bible classes, and preached the Gospel until her death in 1970.

 

Gladys’ story is told in pictures in the video “Gladys Aylward: The Small Woman with a Great God”. It is a documentary narrated by Carol Purves, author of “Chinese Whispers: The Gladys Aylward Story”. There are some photographs but mostly it is drawings that depict the action in the story. This is more than made up for by the recordings of the actual voice of Gladys Aylward! What a blessing to hear about the events from Gladys herself.

This is a great video production; I enjoyed it more than the Hollywood movie. Only one little problem – sometimes the audio recording wasn’t super clear. So, turn up the volume and listen to the voice of one of God’s most unselfish, courageous daughters.

My DVD was produced by the Christian History Institute and distributed by Vision Video. It is 62 minutes long. It is narrated by Carol Purves and by Gladys via audio recordings.

 

There are many books including the one by Carol Purves, articles, and even a Hollywood movie about Gladys Aylward. The movie stars Ingrid Bergman and is titled, “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness”. The movie is a good dramatization of when Gladys had to take nearly 100 children over a high mountain for their safety. Gladys herself was not too crazy about the movie because the producers added a ‘love interest’ which did not exist. Leave it to Hollywood! Also the movie shows the children singing “This Old Man” when they are crossing the mountains. In fact, they were singing, “Count Your Blessings”.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Gladys’ life truly reflected the words in the song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Journey Into the Unknown” Hanneke van Dam
Hanneke van Dam (with others) for narration.
Eric Velu is the director
This video was released on April 19, 2007 and is 52 minutes long.
Available at Amazon or Vision Video.

 

Not very many people would be willing to give up everything in their lives – a good living, home, family, modern comforts, and freedom to choose where you will go and what will you do – in order to serve others.

The video I would like to recommend this week is a documentation of the life of one woman who left her comfortable life behind to serve Jesus by caring for some of the neediest people on earth.

Hanneke van Dam answered God’s call on her life to go to Mongolia, one of the coldest and most desolate places in the world. 80 to 90 percent of the problems there are caused by alcohol. This results in poverty, broken families and violent behavior.

In 1995 Hanneke was working as a child psychologist at the courthouse in Amsterdam when she attended a conference where Jackie Pullinger was speaking. (see my post on this blog April, 2015, for more information on Jackie Pullinger, a Christian missionary in Hong Kong who has helped thousands of drug addicts to recover.) Hanneke was moved to do something for people who were living in poverty.

The morning after hearing Jackie speak Hanneke was cleaning her mother’s house. Hanneke was praying that God would direct her life. She wanted to help others as Jackie was doing. Hanneke describes in the interview in this video that she heard the voice of God clearly say “Mongolia”. Hanneke did not even know where Mongolia was on the map when God called her to go there.

Hanneke had been working in the capital city of Ulan Bator for 5 years before this documentary was made. In the video, viewers will see a typical rescue of a drunk on the street. With the temperature of 30 degrees below zero, the man would have died within a few hours if left alone there. Hanneke sees the people as broken human beings whose lives can be mended with the good news of the Gospel. She worked tirelessly and unselfishly to help those who seemed without hope. Seeing how devoted she was to people, the mission asked Hanneke to go to remote areas and she accepted the direction as a call from God.

Work in the villages was difficult. Some of the really great joys were telling the Gospel to people who had never heard of Jesus. Seeing the light in their eyes motivated Hanneke to continue to live in a remote place. On the other hand, there were many problems for the new believers. There was more work than one woman could do. Hanneke trained some young female believers to help her.

Just as Hanneke was motivated by Jackie Pullinger to go and take the Gospel of healing to a poor nation, my prayer is that Hanneke’s story will move Christians to go and serve Christ in Mongolia or any other country where the needs are great.

 

 

 

Corrie Ten Boom: A Faith Undefeated

(Running time – 55 minutes)

(Produced by Christian History Institute; distributed by Vision Video)

 

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.

 

 

 

 

 

Corrie ten Boom was born and raised in Holland. She was a middle-aged woman when World War II started. The Germans quickly took control of Holland.

The Nazis were persecuting the Jews wherever they had control and this included Holland. Corrie’s family decided to help the Jews though it was against the law. They put their lives at risk for doing this. I would recommend either the book The Hiding Place (published 1971) or the movie of the same name (released 1975) for you to get the whole remarkable story of the courage of Corrie ten Boom and her family.

The ten Boom’s got involved with the Dutch underground to help people escape from the Nazi’s. They built a secret room in their house – The Hiding Place – and hid Jews there when the Nazi’s came around for a search. The ten Boom’s risked their lives to save as many people as possible.

One day in 1944 they were betrayed. For their “crimes” Corrie and Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Their father Casper was ill and he died after only a few days in prison.

Corrie miraculously hid her little bible from the cruel camp guards. She and Betsie were able to lead a Bible study in the freezing cold, flea infested barracks. Betsie died while in the prison but not before giving Corrie an amazing prophecy. Betsie told Corrie that they would be free before the New Year. She also told Corrie, “We shall go everywhere telling people that there is no place on earth so dark that God’s love cannot shine into it. They will believe us, because we have been here in Ravensbruck.”

Betsie was ‘freed’ from her pain and suffering to go to be with Jesus late in December, 1944. Corrie was miraculously freed on December 31, 1944.

Corrie spent the rest of her life traveling around the world preaching about God’s forgiveness and the need for reconciliation. She also built homes for concentration camp survivors. She built one at Bloemendaal, turning Betsie’s dream into a reality.

Corrie had a chance to put her own principles of forgiveness and reconciliation into action when she came face to face with one of her former guards from Ravensbruck.

In 1947, Corrie had been speaking at a church when a man came up to her to tell her that he had accepted Christ as his savior. He thanked Corrie for her message and said that he was grateful that his sins had been forgiven. He now extended his hand to Corrie and asked her for her forgiveness.

This man had been one of the especially wicked guards. Corrie and Betsie had been ordered to strip naked to be inspected by this man. There was no need for this practice other than to humiliate the women. Now as Corrie faced this man memories of that humiliation came back. Visions of the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of women’s clothes on the floor, and the pain on her gentle sister’s face came to her mind. Corrie was boiling inside.

Corrie stiffened her back. When the man extended his hand she kept her own hand at her side. How could she forgive this man after all of the cruel things he had done? But she prayed, “Lord Jesus, forgive me and help me to forgive him.” Corrie tried to smile. She struggled to raise her hand but found it impossible. She prayed again for Jesus to help her. She remembered that Christ had died for this man too. How could she ask for more?

Finally, she took his hand and later recounted, ” …the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

“I forgive you with all my heart,” she said to the man and she meant it.

Corrie moved to America in 1977. In 1978 she was paralyzed by a stroke. Corrie went to be with the Lord on April 15, 1983 on her 91st birthday. Truly Corrie ten Boom’s story is a wonderful example of Christian faith and forgiveness.

 

 

 

Starring Cicely Tyson

(Running time – 200 minutes)
(Distributed by Xenon Pictures, Inc., available at: Amazon.com)

“I’ll meet you in de mornin’,
When you reach de promised land;
On de oder side of Jordan,
For I’m boun’ for de promised land.”

During the cruel oppression of black people in the nineteenth century, many prayed for freedom. Some felt overwhelmed and helpless, but one woman who did something about it was Harriet Tubman, the little lady who rescued three to four hundred slaves in the mid-nineteenth century, earning the title, of a “Moses to her people”.

Harriet would not blame God for any hard circumstances but acknowledge that her difficult upbringing prepared her for the tasks ahead of her when she followed her calling to rescue slaves.

This video is a wonderful presentation of Harriet Ross Tubman’s life. (The production quality of my copy was rather poor; I think it was a copy of other videos.) But this video is still worth getting and watching with the whole family. Slavery is a cruel evil and it is inconceivable how Christians let it go on for so long in our country before finally ending it. This story is indispensable for students of black history.

The performance by Cicely Tyson is wonderful. She should have gotten an Academy Award for a very believable and sympathetic portrayal of Harriet Tubman.

Highlights from Harriet Tubman’s life:

Harriet was able to discern the voice of the Lord speaking to her, warning her and giving her guidance. Because of this she was able to avoid capture many times. She said that she always knew when danger was near and she would know that something bad was going to happen.

Because she was on the run, Harriet slept in wet swamps or in potato fields where she could lie hidden. Besides the obvious risk to her health there was always danger of being spotted. Her faith was portrayed in the movie, but not as much as I would have liked to see. If you get the book, you will see that Harriet always gave the credit to God for her escapes.
All through the War Between the States Harriet rescued slaves and nursed wounded soldiers. She was never paid for her efforts. Harriet remained poor for the rest of her life but she never complained.

Harriet died on March 10, 1913, in Auburn, New York. All through her life she had depended on the Lord and God had never disappointed her trust in Him.

Her life is an example of what can be done, even in the most horrible of circumstances, when a person does not give up or give in. Harriet’s attitude in life made all the difference in the world. Here we sit in our comfort and can’t seem to find time to help those around us. Harriet accomplished much in spite of illness, threats, poverty, and danger all around her. Her childlike faith and determination is an example for us all.

 

 

We have been doing a series on amazing black women FIRSTS. We have admiration for Bessie Coleman, early pilot, daredevil and stunt flyer; Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and leader; Mae Jemison – first female black astronaut; Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson – achievements in the space industry and instrumental in getting the first Americans in space and on the moon; Madame C. J. Walker, entrepreneur and philanthropist; Ida B. Wells, first woman to challenge the bigotry of the transportation system by boarding a train in the ‘white’ section in 1884. Rosa Parks challenged the ‘Jim Crow’ laws in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus. These women were all very great women of courage and much to be admired.

We must include the story of Maggie Lena Walker – the first woman bank president in the United States. Maggie was also a caring Christian woman whose work enabled many black people to lead better, happier lives. She is especially remembered for her concern for the welfare of black youth.

Maggie Lena Draper was born on July 15, 1864 in Richmond, Virginia to Elizabeth Draper, a former slave. Maggie attended the Richmond Colored Normal School, dedicated to the education of black children. It was while attending this school that Maggie joined the order of St. Luke’s.

Maggie married Armstead Walker, Jr. in 1886. Maggie and Armstead has three sons; tragically baby Armstead died while still an infant. Melvin and Russell were born later.

In 1901 Maggie became the grand secretary of the Independent Order of St. Luke, an organization dedicated to the social and financial advancement of blacks. When Maggie joined St. Luke’s it was struggling financially. With her incredible abilities, Maggie turned it around and made it into a flourishing organization.

Maggie made the organization a success by doing these things:

In 1902 she founded a newspaper, the St. Luke Herald to spread the to local chapters and to help with the educational work.

In 1903 she opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank. She remained the president until 1929. Under Maggie’s leadership the bank served a membership of over 50,000 in 1500 local chapters. Though many other banks failed during the Great Depression, Maggie kept her back alive by merging with two other banks in 1929.

In 1905 she opened the St. Luke Emporium, a department store that offered employment to black people along with a source of less expensive goods.

While doing all of this Maggie was active in social work. She took part in many educational efforts.

In 1925 in recognition of her efforts in the spiritual, civic, industrial and fraternal forces of the community and at large, the Virginia Union University awarded the honorary degree of Master of Science to Maggie.

For the last few years of her life, Maggie Walker was ill and confined to a wheelchair. She died from the complications of diabetes on December 15, 1934 at age 70. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond. In 1979 her home on East Leigh St. was purchased by the National Parks Service and became a National Historic Site.

 

 

I am so happy to put links to pictures of Maggie Lena Walker. Go to these links for her amazing story. Both productions are beautiful and interesting.

“Maggie Lena Walker”, by Marion Newton, YouTube, 11 minutes, 30 seconds.

Published on Oct 1, 2015

The First Black Woman in the United States to become a president of a local bank, Maggie’s story is told in “her voice” by a narrator. There are many great quotes. The pictures tell the story in a very memorable way. Her Christian faith became the most important thing in her life.

https://youtu.be/iRVHvWchnXI

Another great link:

“Carry On: The Life and Legacy of Maggie Lena Walker”

https://youtu.be/QR3CexPZXEk

 

 

“Lucy Laney is an excellent builder. Her contribution to American life is that of building character.”     Attorney James C. Waters, Former Secretary of the Law School, Howard University.

Lucy Craft Laney was a true builder of society. Remembered as the founder and principal of the Haines Institute in Augusta, Georgia for fifty years, Lucy is one of the most famous educators in the United States. She founded the first kindergarten and the first nurses’ training school in Georgia.

Lucy Craft Laney was born a slave in 1854 in Macon, Georgia. She spent most of her childhood in Savannah where her father, Reverend David Laney was a preacher or exhorter. He became an ordained Presbyterian minister and pastored a church. Lucy’s mother, Louise was a very godly woman who raised not only her own large brood of children but took in the Laney cousins and many orphans. Lucy loved being around other children. She would continue to love the company of children her whole life long.

Lucy was very bright and was taught to read at the age of four by Miss Campbell, the master’s sister. Miss Campbell recognized Lucy’s giftedness and in spite of the local prejudice against blacks undertook to educate Lucy herself. Thanks to Miss Campbell Lucy was later able to attend Atlanta University at the tender age of fifteen. In 1873 Lucy was a member of the first graduating class of Atlanta University. She then began a teaching career in Savannah.

After teaching for 10 years, Lucy began her own school in the basement of Christ Presbyterian church in Augusta. On the first morning there were six pupils, three little girls, one older girl, and two boys. At first, Lucy had only wanted to take girls but her heart was too big for poor children and she accepted many underprivileged boys. When the boy would show up at her door, Lucy had the gift to see past the child’s raggedness to what the boy could become.

By the end of the first year Lucy had 75 students. At the end of the second year she reported 234. In 1886, Lucy visited the Presbyterian Board’s annual meeting to seek funds. The Board was impressed with her work but only voted to give her the funds to get home. However, while attending the Board conference Lucy made friends with Mrs. Francine Haines who would become a great benefactor. The little school which had been called Miss Laney’s school was renamed in honor of Mrs. Haines. Later it would be chartered and named the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute.

By 1893 the institution had become a large boarding school, furnishing a home for 60 – 70 girls and some rented cottages for 15 – 20 boys. In 1906 an administration building, McGregor Hall was erected. Miss Laney believed that girls should get a good education for a teaching career but should also be self-sufficient. Therefore, the school ran a model garden.

Soon the school would boast 26 teachers and 713 students. Graduates would go on to attend Atlanta University, Fisk U., Howard U., Shaw U., and Taladega College. Her students would be found in all walks of life throughout the United States.

One of Lucy’s most important contributions to the community was the introduction of trained nurses into Atlanta. Lucy convinced the city to give her an old “pest house” where patients with infectious diseases were kept, to use as a hospital. She brought a white trained nurse from Canada to be superintendent. Ten girls at Haines studied nursing. Later when the city built a new two-hundred bed hospital, one of these colored girls was made its superintendent.

Besides all of her work at the school, Lucy was involved with efforts to alleviate the prejudice against blacks in her community. She helped to found the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1918. She was active in the Interracial Commission, the National Association of Colored Women, and the Niagara Movement. She helped integrate into the community the work of the YMCA and the YWCA. Many prominent blacks were her friends including Madame C. J. Walker (see post 5/2/17) and Mary McLeod Bethune (story posted on 4/11/17).

In recognition of her accomplishments Lucy was awarded the degree of Master of Arts by Lincoln University in 1904; by her alma mater, Atlanta University, in 1923; by South Carolina State College in 1925; and by Howard University in 1930.

Lucy passed away in 1933. In 1974, she was honored to have her portrait placed in the Georgia state capitol by Governor Jimmy Carter, along with portraits of Rev. Henry McNeal Turner and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lucy’s portrait bears tribute to “the mother of the children of the people,” …. a woman who knew that “God didn’t use any different dirt to make me than the first lady of the land.” Lucy was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement in 1992.

I really love looking at old pictures of people and I found this wonderful video on You Tube. You will get a few more details of Lucy’s story as well as the enjoyment of seeing much that can be explained better in pictures than in my short biography. I know you will really enjoy this story of a truly great American educator. It’s a little over 9 minutes long and the production is professionally done. Author – Tina Calhoun.

https://youtu.be/lRiEJdz6tco

You should also consider checking out the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History if you are ever in Augusta.

For the last few weeks we have focused on the contributions to society made by black women. Bessie Coleman, early stunt flyer and first black woman with an international pilot’s license (post April 4, 2017), Mary McLeod Bethune, educator and leader (April 11); Mae Jemison – first female black astronaut (April 18); Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson – achievements in the space industry and instrumental in getting the first Americans in space and on the moon (April 25); (May 2) Madame C. J. Walker, entrepreneur and philanthropist, and last week (May 9) Rosa Parks, courageous mother of the civil rights movement.

This week I would like to share an article from Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) about Rev. Emily Awino Onyango, written by Sarah Rodriquez. The title is – “Journey into Priesthood: Egalitarian Women Making History”, published on March 22, 2017. There are many stories of courageous women at CBE’s website. Please consider joining the organization and supporting their work. They also have a book store and you will find many of the books that I have reviewed on this site there. http://www.cbeinternational.org/

In shining a light on these women’s stories, we will defy patriarchy’s attempts to marginalize the historical contributions of women. Instead, we will unashamedly celebrate their courage and persistence.

This week’s article will focus on Rev. Emily Awino Onyango, an Anglican priest ordained in her native Kenya.

Emily was born and raised in a Christian home. She spent her childhood learning Christian values, having family prayers, and attending church. At the age of ten, Emily attended a children’s camp. It was at this camp that Emily first decided to have a personal relationship with Christ.

As she grew older, the people around her encouraged her in her faith. For instance, she said, “When I was in secondary school, I was greatly inspired by my Christian religious education teacher, Lorna Mwanga, who was very passionate about her faith. I also greatly admired the life and vocation of the prophets that she was teaching about.”[1] Emily learned much from her religious teachers, and she grew to greatly admire the female evangelists and administrators in her church.

I also asked Emily to list some female missionaries who inspired her. She named Olive Owen, the wife of Archdeacon Owen who worked in Nyanza, Kenya in the 1940s. Olive Owen supported the women in her community and fought for women’s rights in the community and in the church. Thus, it is easy to see why she inspires Emily, as Emily has faced her share of uphill battles while entering church ministry in Kenya.

According to Emily, “Olive Owen said that her main mission was to liberate the girls in her community who were suffering. She was one of the people who worked hard for the establishment of a girl’s school… and supported the girls who were being forced into marriage with older men.”[2]

Emily felt that God had called her to church ministry, so she applied to St. Paul’s United Theological College, from which she graduated in 1983. Next, she became a Sunday school coordinator in the diocese and a lay reader at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Kisumu, Kenya. She describes this work as “very fulfilling, as [she] had the opportunity to influence the worldview of the children.”[3] Emily advanced in church leadership when she was appointed as a deacon on July 29, 1984. She was eventually ordained as a priest on December 15, 1985.

Naturally, Emily faced much resistance as she climbed church leadership. Although the Lambeth Conference in 1978 allowed for women to be ordained in the Anglican Church, each diocese was allowed to choose whether or not they were going to ordain women as priests.

The Diocese of Maseno South decided to affirm women’s ordination, and Rev. Lucia Okuthe became the first female Anglican priest in Kenya. Of course, Rev. Okuthe’s ordination was not without controversy. According to Emily, “People found [women’s ordination] difficult to accept because it was against African culture . . . Even as I was teaching, they had stereotypes, like ‘women are stupid’ and ‘women cannot keep secrets.’”[4]. Emily had to contend with a great amount of gender-based prejudice when she started going through the process of ordination, something most women in ministry experience in pursuing their calling.

Many disagreed with the ordination of Rev. Lucia Okuthe, but according to Emily, she still had an advantage over Emily. She said, “People argued that Lucia was in a better position because she was a widow and she was past menopause, while I was young and single.”[5] The clergy of the church in which Emily was ordained mainly objected to Emily’s marital status, because they believed that marriage made women distinguished and respectable in society. Nevertheless, Emily was ordained as a single woman.

When Emily first entered ministry, she saw a great gender disparity. She had graduated with men who immediately began earning twice as much as she did. Moreover, she did not receive housing allowances like the men. When she started teaching in a Bible school, “it was evident that most of the ordinands, who were predominately men, were against having women in the ministry.”[6]

Every area of the world faces different challenges to gender equality. Emily noted that some parts of her culture have perpetuated gender disparity in the church. She said that African traditional culture contains “negative stereotypes and myths [about women] that inform the worldview of the people.” Emily believes that these beliefs, along with a patriarchal interpretation of Scripture, have impeded the growth of egalitarianism in Africa.

Nevertheless, Emily still remains positive. While she encountered resistance to her ordination, she also met many Christians and parishioners who encouraged her and praised her spiritual gift for ministry.

Emily is currently researching gender inequality. She aims to devise a curriculum that will empower members of the clergy and the laity to understand gender issues. She also continues to train clergy, evangelists, and others, as well as perform advocacy work in her community. Emily is one of the many women forging a path for other women in church leadership.

Notes

[1] Emily Onyango, interview by Sarah Rodriguez, October 6, 2016.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.