Monday, June 20, 2011

Death of a City/Birth of a Soul

by Mary Vee

Gladys Aylward's Thoughts

photo courtesy of
The heartbeat stopped.

Japanese soldiers bombed, stole, and ruined our hopes to save our Yang Cheng. 

Still, we walked back to piles of broken wall and roof and stared at what use to be our homes. We searched for anything worth saving, a pot, a picture, clothes. I helped tired men and women pick up heavy boards to rescue buried family treasures. Mandarin, the leader of Yang Cheng, also returned from his hiding place to help our people. Everyone needed help, yet no one thought only of themselves.

As the sun set that night, Mandarin came to the home where I worked. "Ai-weh-deh, I am giving a dinner tomorrow and want you to attend."

I bowed. "Mandarin, you are kind, but I need to help the people. Who knows when soldiers will return."

He shook his head then waved his arm from side to side. "There's plenty to be done to give a life time of work. One dinner will not make a difference."

What could I say? I bowed again. "Thank you, Mandarin. I am honored to attend."

The next night I cleaned as much dirt off my clothes as possible. Most of the water had been saved for drinking or cooking; no one dared waste a drop to clean clothes. I walked to the meeting place and immediately smelled delicious food. My stomach growled, demanding to be fed.

The elders stood together, waiting for Mandarin's signal to be seated. He showed each one to their seat then he directed me to the empty chair near the front. I looked at the place of honor and stood frozen. Why would he give me the highest ranking guest seat?

During the meal he gave no clues. 

After we finished eating, Mandarin clapped his hands once. Every eye looked at him. "I have a few things to say. First, I will be leaving Yang Cheng soon. I see our city can no longer be saved. The villagers will build new homes and plant new fields away from here.  We must do the same." He scooped up his cup with both hands and sipped tea.

The elders nodded and waited for him to speak again.

Mandarin looked at each one of us. "I have seen Ai-weh-dah's work since the first day she came to Yang Cheng. She left her English family and home to come live with us--learn our language and customs--and become one of us."

He pointed to me. "This woman told stories of her God, gave a home to our lost children, nursed our wounded, and calmed the angry hearts of our prisoners."

I didn't understand why he honored me this way. He'd never spoken without a reason.

He turned to me and smiled. "Ai-weh dah, you have shown faithfulness to your God and to the people of Yang Cheng. I would like to know and worship your God as you do. Will you help me?"

The elders of the village looked at me, waiting for an answer. 

I tried to speak but couldn't. He surprised me. He truly wanted to worship God, the true God. And he showed his faith by telling the village elders at this dinner. That was the first and only time in my life when my happiness couldn't find words to say.

Mandarin smiled. "Rest tonight, Ai-weh-dah. You can teach me how to believe in God tomorrow."

The next day, I told Mandarin about God's love and how He sent His one and only Son to take the punishment for ours sins by dying on the cross. I showed Mandarin Bible verses and taught him about God for hours. He listened and asked questions.

I had always hoped Mandarin would ask Jesus into His heart. That day, my prayers were answered.

Come back to read what happened next.

Gladys Ayward

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