Monday, June 27, 2011

The Children Must Escape!

By Mary Vee

photo courtesy
Every village surrounding Yang Cheng desperately needed help of any kind: medical, food, comfort. I had plenty to do.

I answered the call for help from the mission in Tsehchow. We made a hospital for wounded soldiers and villagers. My heart ached for these men, women, and children. War didn't play fair. So many people needed care and to hear about God's love.

David Davies, the missions director took his family to a safe coastal city. By the time he returned to the mission, Japanese soldiers had marched within a mile of the city gate. He sneaked ahead into the city and hurried to the mission to help me.

That night a Chinese soldier delivered a message from the general. Ai-weh-dah, you must leave. The Japanese have posted reward posters for you. He lowered his head and sighed. I realized the message he delivered spoke the truth about my dangerous situation.

I burned every important document, it took most of the night. Before the sun poked a ray of light, I grabbed my Bible and ran to the city gate to be the first one to leave, (the city gate was locked when the sun went down and opened when the sun came up. No one could leave or enter when the door was locked.)

The gatekeeper knew me well. "Ai-weh-dah, you don't want to go through this gate. Look through the peep whole."

I leaned close to the door and looked through the hole. A unit of Japanese soldiers stood several yards away!  The gatekeeper shook his head. "I must open the door in a few moments."

I bowed to him, said, "Thank you," then bolted to the other side of the city.  Only one gate led in or out of the city, the front entrance. But at the backside, an opening had been made to carry dead people out to a cemetery.  I ran like a fox fleeing hounds through the city, dodging people and ignoring any questions shouted at me.  

I watched a gatekeeper open the door to the cemetery from a distance and pushed for the opening with every ounce of strength I could find. Out into the open cemetery, I skittered around grave stones towards the moat.  

At the time, I didn't realize Japanese soldiers could see the cemetery from the road by the front gate. 

Gunfire popped. 

I ran faster toward the moat, hoping to sink underwater for a moment's rest. Just before I touched the grassy shore a bullet hit my shoulder and pushed me into the water.  Fiery pain flamed through my back and arms. 

I took a deep breath and forced myself to swim to the other side. The soldiers shouted and sprayed bullets that few over my head. My warm coat, now soaked and too heavy, slowed me down.  I slipped it off and scooted like a jackrabbit into the field a few feet away where
God's tall grains of wheat protected me. 

I snaked backwards through the field to avoid breaking stalks and leaving a trail. Somewhere between the grains I collapsed.

I don't know how long I'd slept, seconds maybe hours. The sun rested near the horizon which meant the city gate would soon close, with the Japanese inside.  I waited for the sunset then burst through and out the field toward Yang Cheng. 

Hours later I reached my home, the Inn of the Eighth Happiness and found my children. One hundred lovable faces giggled and laughed when they saw me. The fire in my shoulder reminded me the Japanese army would come here too. Someone had to take these children to safety. Their only chance to survive the Japanese invasion would be to escape.

Only one route could provide a successful escape: over the mountains, through enemy territory, and across the Yellow River. I volunteered to take them...with God's help.

Our journey starts next week.

See you then,

Gladys Aylward

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