Gladys Aylward's Thoughts
|photo courtesy of visualbiblealive.com|
We didn't have much, but we survived one day at a time.
We hoped to rebuild homes and businesses in Yang Cheng someday after the war ended. Until then, we watched and listened for the next attack. Thank God we did, because a new unit of Japanese soldiers swarmed into our city like hornets a few days later.
Families fled to nearby villages to escape. Arm in arm the people in my care scurried on foot for a hours to Bei Chai Chuang, a tiny village snuggled on the backside of a mountain. No road or trail led to the village. Had I not been foot inspector, I'd have never known it existed.
Farmers and store owners from Bei Chai Chuang kept working as though nothing had happened. They fed us, gave us a place to sleep, and welcomed us as family. Armed with the skills of a sly warrior, each man from the village watched and listened as he worked for signs of any Japanese soldiers who might come near.
A week later a messenger came. "The Japanese have left Yang Cheng."
The news didn't mean we could return safely. I thought about an important object I left at the inn. A long time ago, I put the deed to the inn in a metal box and buried it in the middle of the court. With the bombing and other fighting, I realized the box could be discovered. I took a chance and sneaked back to Yang Cheng, leaving the forty people safely behind.
Once at the inn I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a bowl for digging. The sun stood over me like a spotlight as I worked. Only God could protect me from being seen.
The crusty, dry earth refused to move. Itchy sweat dripped down my neck. I didn't want to lose time scratching my neck or to look about for soldiers or strangers who might find me. I shoved the bowl harder into the ground and broke a piece of ground free. Inch by inch the dirt gave way until the bowl clanked against the metal box.
My shoulders shivered; not from uncovering the box, but because I sensed someone--somewhere watched me. I glanced toward the gate. Dressed in rags, the old man who delivered water to the village leaned against the stones and stared back. He was a thief, and I didn't like him.
He huffed. "You better leave, right away. The Japanese are back."
I didn't believe him. "Why should I go? So you can steal from the inn? I can sleep here."
"Our people who came back to check on their homes have hidden behind locked doors. You should too."
I didn't get a chance to speak. An explosion blasted from the other side of Yang Cheng. He'd told the truth!
How would I escape back to Bei Chai Chuang? I slid from one shadow to another through the city to the west gate. Big mistake. From a hidden doorway I could see Japanese soldiers on the ground shooting at Chinese soldiers positioned on top of the city wall.
Trapped like a scared rabbit.
I ran like the wind back through the city to the eastern gate and found more Japanese soldiers. They too faced the west wall.
I ran outside the gate to the cemetery and hid behind a grave stone to ask God for direction.
Guns and grenades exploded around me. To my left Japanese soldiers attacked Chinese, to my right the edge of the mountain. How would God save me this time?
Come back next week to read what happened next.