Monday, January 30, 2012

Gladys Aylward, Missionary to China

By Mary Vee


One of the greatest bitter-sweet moments for me is turning the last page of a good book. I usually sigh and wish I had another page. 

What will I read next, I say to myself? Could the next book possibly touch me the way this last book has?

Ten books and more than thirty on-line sites provided research material for the past one year of posts dedicated to the missionary struggles, hopes, dreams, successes failures, provision and grace of God in the life of Gladys Aylward. She has been a good example of a life dedicated wholly to Christ and the spread of the Gospel to the Chinese. 

Gladys Aylward

Inspirational. Holding fast. Never wavering in faith.

Wounded, beaten, starved, gravely ill, homeless.

Always stepping forward.

For Christ.

And now her story has ended.

But her inspiration has not. 

Time to investigate another missionary's life.

I have considered several missionaries for the next series, reading books about each one before knowing which missionary's life I should share next. Which one will be it be?

Let's play a guessing game: 

The next missionary grew up in England.
His parents prayed that God would give them a child who would serve in China.
He went to medical school.
He lived from1832 to 1905
He started a mission that years later, helped Gladys Aylward.
He hurt his back and couldn't walk for nearly a year.
One of his children died on the mission field.

Give up?

Okay. Okay, I'll tell you. :)

The next missionary will be J. Hudson Taylor.  Come back next Monday for the start of our series about J.Hudson Taylor.

May my life, dear Lord be wholly dedicated to you, always willing to serve, willing to go where you send, willing to endure life's trials, and willing to tell whoever comes my way about Your abiding and faithful Love given through the life of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Gladys Aylward 1902-1970

Saturday, January 28, 2012

King Agog

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 15

From Abner's Journal, Commander of King Saul's Army

King Saul appointed me the commander of his army. I am his uncle.  

Saul turned into a fighting animal after he became king, waging war against the Moabites, Ammon, Edom, Zobah, Philistines, and basically, any other people who lived near us. We never rested. 

All Israelite males who appeared strong or valiant were immediately enlisted in Saul's army. As a result, our troops had great strength and power. They trained daily and never let their bodies grow weak.

One day the Prophet Samuel visited Saul on the battlefield. He said, "You do remember the Lord is the one who sent me to anoint you king of His people?"


"He now has a task for you. The Lord says, 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed the Israelites on the road from Egypt. Go and attack  the rich and evil Amalekites and destroy all that they have and spare nothing."

Saul nodded. "Yes, Samuel."

After Samuel left, King Saul ordered me to count the soldiers in the area. I gathered the troops and counted two hundred thousand footmen and ten thousand addition soldiers from Judah. We marched to the first city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley.

A tribe of Kenites had camped in the area. Saul went to their leader and said, "You need to leave. Please listen to my warning.  Get away from the Amalekites. I am about to attack and I don't want to harm any of your people. You showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they escaped Egypt."

We helped the Kenites pack their things and watched them sneak away. The next morning, as the sun rose, we attacked the Amalekites with a surge of power. We conquered them from the north in Havilah all the way to the south in Shur, which was east of Egypt.

In the battle we destroyed everything. Well, not everything. The Amalekites had animals and other riches like fine wines, foods, precious stones, clothes, and much more. Who could stop the soldiers from keeping the wealthy things? After all, we worked hard and we destroyed everything else as the Lord commanded.

King Saul eyes sparked with pride when King Agag was captured.. Agag would make a great slave. King Saul could throw scraps of food on the floor and watch him eat with his hands tied behind his back. What a great way to show Saul's great conquest.

Saul felt pretty good about the battle results. He went to Mt. Carmel and built a monument for himself. 

We marched onto Gilgal and took a break. That afternoon, the Prophet Samuel came. He didn't look happy. Actually his red face and his stomping toward the camp looked more like he was filled with rage. Why would he be mad? We did what the Lord said.

I mean, really...what did we do wrong?

1.  The Prophet Samuel rarely visited King Saul because of Saul's disobedience to God. But the Lord gave Samuel directions for Saul.  What did Samuel tell him?
2.  Who is Abner?
3.  What did the Amalikites do wrong?
4.  Why did God spare the Kenites?
5.  What did the Israelite soldiers do? Why?
6.  What did king Saul do? 
7.  Why would God be unhappy with the Israelites after this battle?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Saul's Foolish Command: No Food

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 14

Journal Entry From A Solider in Saul's Army

This morning King Saul ordered, actually, he made us promise not to eat any food for the entire day.

We had several battles against the Philistines during the last few days from Michmash all the way to Aijalon. We were tired and needed something to eat.

The prophet Samuel had refused to come to the battle scenes because King Saul disobeyed the Lord's commands. Without the Lord's blessing we wouldn't win. The Philistines out ranked us in every category.

King Saul paced around like a hungry lion this morning. No one could sooth his angry spirit. Before any soldier had a chance to eat Saul rallied the troops. He ordered us to raise our right hands and promise: "Cursed is the man who eats any food until evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies."

We marched and fought all day long. My stomach growled. I forced myself to march forward as sweat dripped down my back. My head wobbled and dizziness overwhelmed me. 

We came upon a forest and found honey on the ground. I wanted to dip my hand into the gooey sweet food that would satisfy my stomach, but I resisted. I would not disobey my king.

Jonathan, the king's son had been missing all day. I heard he went with his armor bearer and attacked a band of Philistines and that he was successful. He wasn't at the camp this morning when King Saul made us take the oath not to eat. About evening time Jonathan found us in the woods and greeted everyone. He noticed the honey dripping. He stretched out the end of his rod and dipped it in a honeycomb. 

Jonathan closed his eyes and smacked his lips. When he opened his eyes, he smiled. My stomach growled again. Oh how I wish I could have some of that honey.

One of the soldiers stepped close to Jonathan and whispered, "Your father strictly ordered the people not to eat any food today or they would be cursed."

Jonathan looked at the soldiers standing around him. "You're kidding. Really? Is that why you all look weak and unable to fight? I ate the honey and now my strength is restored. If you had been able to eat freely, you might have killed more Philistines."

Before the evening battle, Saul ordered a sacrifice to be given. He asked the Lord if we should fight the Philistines that night. The Lord did not answer him. That's when Saul became filled with rage. 

He called a meeting of the chiefs. "Come see who has committed a sin today. A sin that has kept the Lord from talking to us. As the Lord lives, even if the sinner is Jonathan, he will surely die." None of the chiefs answered him..

Saul took Jonathan and stood away from the people. "Cast lots between the people and us to show who has sinned." The lot fell on Saul and Jonathan. Then Saul moved away from Jonathan and said again, "Cast lots between Jonathan and me." The lot fell on Jonathan.

Saul screamed at Jonathan, "What did you do?"

"Father, I only tasted a little honey with the end of my rod. So, because of your rule, I must die?"

Saul shook his head. "Yes. You deserve more than death for disobeying me, Jonathan."

The other soldiers and I wouldn't allow the injustice any longer. We stood together, strong against Saul. "Shall Jonathan die? Certainly not! He's the one who brought about this great deliverance in Israel. This morning he fought a band of Philistines while we sat here with you. He obeyed God. As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground for he has worked with God this day."

And because we stood up for Jonathan, Saul did not punish him. 

1. What did King Saul make the soldiers promise?
2. Why did he do that?
3. Who disobeyed the promise? Why?
4. What was wrong with the promise Saul force the soldiers to make?
5. When the lots were cast, who was found guilty?
6. What was Saul's judgement?
7. What did the people do for Jonathan?

Monday, January 23, 2012

The End of My Journey-Gladys Aylward

By Mary Vee

From Gladys Aylward's Journal

If I had a library worth of pages, I could easily fill them with the blessings of God. 

I'd tell about the Christmas in my little home where the celebration planned for the three turned into a gathering of over twenty seven in need. How we laughed and praised God and how he turned food for a few people into enough for all who came.

I could tell you about the Buddist priest who asked Jesus into his heart after receiving a suit. Oh, the stories I could still tell--I'm am so happy remembering what God did that I am laughing even as I write these words.

I could tell you about the Chinese woman trapped in an Irish asylum and how God led me to help free her. She too accepted Christ and eventually returned to China as a missionary.

I traveled throughout my homeland, preaching Christ and telling the people about the plight of the Chinese people under Communism. I had received word that even one of my adopted sons, Less, had been shot and killed at the University because of his faith.

In time, the letters I received from Hong Kong grabbed my heart. Many Chinese fled the communists there with no food or shelter. 

One day, I gathered my things and said good bye to my homeland. I journeyed to Hong Kong and found a horrible sight. Men, women, and children roamed the streets starving with no place to live. How could a few people do all the work?

Together with a few Christian friends, we immediately set up a mission and an orphanage. We tried to gather funds to pay for food and clothing, but were unsuccessful. In the meantime, missions from America called, asking me to come speak. I didn't want to leave my beloved Chinese people again.

Calls from America came daily and the needs for supplies increased. I realized God wanted me to go to a new land to share the needs of the Chinese people. 

Many American churches allowed me to speak from their pulpit and share the good news of Christ and the story of the terrors in China. The people listened with open hearts. I felt welcomed in their homes and in their churches. 

God sent needed dollars from the Americans to the Chinese in Hong Kong. During my time in America, World Vision Incorporated agreed to send money for the needs of the mission and the orphanage I had set up in Taiwan. 

And now my journey has ended. My love for Christ and all He has done for me has filled my life and guided my steps.

Some day I hope to meet you in Heaven.

May you see, hear, feel, and taste the goodness of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Gladys Aylward

Saturday, January 21, 2012

No Weapons for Saul's Army

By Mary Vee,
I Samuel 13 and 14

From Jonathan's Journal

After the prophet Samuel left the battlefield in anger, we didn't know what to do. 

We no longer had the Lord's blessing on our fighting. How could we break free from the Philistines when they outlawed all Israelite blacksmithing? 

We had no one to sharpen our plowshares, mattocks, axes, or sickles. We needed these to grow crops and live. Neither could we make weapons to defend ourselves. 

The Philistines laughed at us. We had to go to our enemy's camp and pay one of their blacksmiths to sharpen our farm equipment. Of course, they wouldn't sharpen any weapon.

We stood helpless. 

Philistines lived all around us. They controlled our lives. 

My father, King Saul, sat under a tree fussing. He didn't know what to do.

Sitting around and pouting didn't help the situation. I had enough. I would not allow the Philistines to rule the Israelites another day. I took my armor bearer aside and said, "I want you to go with me over to the Philistines' army camp."

I didn't tell my father because I knew he would prevent me from going. I decided to let him rest under the pomegranate tree in Migron with his six hundred man army while my armor bearer and I crept away.

We moved between the passes, which lead to the Philistine camp. A sharp rock faced northward and the other southward. I turned to my armor bearer, "Ready? Let's fight these heathen Philistines. Maybe the Lord will work for us. For nothing holds back the power of God from using a huge army or a few soldiers to win a battle."

My armor bearer answered, "I will do what you asked. I will stay here with you and will do what you say."

"Good. Here is my plan. We'll show ourselves to the Philistines. If they say, 'Wait until we come to you' then we'll stand still in our place and not go up to them. But if they say, 'Come up to us' then we will go because the Lord has delivered them into our hand."

We took a deep breath and moved out from behind the rock. A Philistine soldier shouted, "Look, the Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they've hidden." The men laughed. The soldier shouted again, "Come up to us, and we will show you something."

I turned to  my armor bearer, "Ready? Follow me." We climbed toward the Philistines on our hands and knees. Something or someone caused the soldiers to fall right in front of us. Between my armor bearer and myself, the Lord helped us kill about twenty men.

The ground suddenly trembled and quaked. The Philistines cried out in fright. The earth shook more. The soldiers ran around their camp and acted like mad men. 

Later I found out my father wanted to know who had caused the earth to tremble. Surely someone was missing from the troops. He asked for an attendance to be taken. When my armor bearer and I did not answer, my father realized we had caused a bit of a stir with the Philistines. He called for the ark of God to be brought to the field.

The Philistines screamed louder. We didn't know why. My father signaled the army to attack the Philistine camp. The Philistines had gone crazy. They swung their swords around and killed each.

News of the Philistine soldiers killing each other spread like wild fire. All the Israelites came out from their hiding places and joined in the battle.

On this day, the Lord gave a mighty victory to the Israelites. 

It sure was fun.

1.  Samuel did not participate in the battle because King Saul disobeyed God. What did King Saul do?
2. Who bullied the Israelites?
3. What did the bullies do to the people of Israel.
4. Who is King Saul's son?
5. What bothered Jonathan?
6. What did he do and who did he take with him?
7. What happened at the battle?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Saul's Big, Big Mistake

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 13

From Saul's Journal

The Philistines had been a power threat to us for, well, ever since I can remember. 

The day Samuel held a ceremony to renew my title as official king of Israel, the Lord had led us to a tremendous victory over Nahash, the meanest, Philistine commander around.

Two years have since passed. Our armies had fought the Philistines more times than I care to count. Today we would fight again.

Thirty thousand chariots, six thousand horsemen, and a Philistine army as numerous as the sand on the seashore came to battle us at Michmash. The people of Israel hid in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, pits, anywhere they could find to escape the cruel Philistines. Some families crossed over the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead to hide.

I stayed in Gilgal, my home. Those who stayed with me admitted to their fear. We didn't have the equipment, chariots, horsemen, or army to fight back. How can an army fight without weapons?

Samuel had given me the Lord's instructions before each battle. This time, Samuel said, "Wait seven days, I will come and offer a sacrifice and prayers to God for our soldiers. The Lord will bless.

On the seventh day, I wanted to get the battle started. I went for short walks and paced a lot, I didn't like waiting.

The next morning, I expected to see the prophet Samuel waiting outside my tent. Maybe he'd tap his foot and tell me I should have been ready at first light. But he wasn't there.

I paced again and barely ate any breakfast. The men asked, "Seven days have passed...when will we go to battle?" I didn't know. I had waited as I was instructed. Where was Samuel?

The noon hour had come. No sign of the prophet Samuel. Maybe he was sick. Maybe he was hurt. Maybe he wasn't coming.

I decided I had followed all of Samuel's instructions by waiting seven days. The Lord expected a sacrifice to dedicate the battle to Him and I wanted to get busy. I ordered two scouts to look for Samuel one last time. No sign of him.

I couldn't wait any longer. I ordered  a burnt offering and peace offering to be brought and an altar set up. I shaded my eyes from the morning sun and searched the hills and valleys. Still no Samuel. 

The time had come for me to offer the sacrifice myself. I did everything like I remembered seeing Samuel do. 

But when the last words of the sacrifice left my mouth, Samuel appeared over the hill. 

He looked at the sacrifice and over at me. His eyes grew wide. "What have you done, Saul?" 

"Samuel, I waited seven days like you said. Much of our army had given up and scattered far from here. If I waited any longer we wouldn't have had any soldiers left to fight. The Philistines had prepared for this battle and would have overtaken us. A sacrifice had to be offered and you weren't here."

Samuel's face grew angry. He was really mad. 

He said, "Saul, you have done foolishly. You've disobeyed the Lord's commands which he gave you. God would have made you and your family king over Israel forever. But not any longer. The Lord has found a man dedicated to serving Him and has commanded him to be the new king. The kingdom has been taken from you, Saul.

Samuel refused to stay for the battle. He shook his head and walked away.

1. Who came to fight the Israelites?
2. Why did Saul wait seven days?
3. Why do you think Samuel did not show when Saul expected him?
4. Why did Saul offer the sacrifice?
5. Why was this wrong?
6. What punishment was given.

photo courtesy of

Monday, January 16, 2012

England, My First Home, My Return

By Mary Vee

From Gladys Aylward's Journal

The University would not be the first place taken over by the Communists. I loved my work, but I also knew--sad to say--one day the communists would force me and all other missionaries to leave.

The focus of every missionary: establish a firm church and give the Chinese people a strong foundation to continue the work themselves. Someday we would return to help them, when the Communists left or at least allowed us in the country.

A large group of American missionaries had come in recent days. I truly appreciated their help. As I walked with the American missionary assigned to take over my work at the prison and church, he asked, "Have you met a great missionary known as, Ai-weh-dah?"

I laughed. "Yes. I am her!"

The American missionary had heard Ai-weh-dah had been shot, beaten, and quite ill while doing missionary work. He asked, "Wouldn't you like to go back to England?"

I thought for a moment and remembered doctors had advised me to return home for medical treatment. 

And, oddly enough, only a day before, a Chinese student prayed out loud for the people of England who had learned to worship actors, sports, money, entertainment. He asked God to send missionaries to England. Why did he feel led to pray that prayer?

I turned to the American missionary and answered, "Yes. I would like to return to England. But I don't have any money."

After that conversation the American and I became quite busy. As we worked, he said, "My wife and I have been sent to help stranded German missionaries. Due to WWII, many German missionaries received little or no help from anywhere. Many have starved or died from diseases because they had no money for food or medical care. Our job is to search for German missionaries in need and give them money to return home." 

After the last German missionary left, the American missionaries discovered surplus money in their fund. The man apparently thought of me. He and his wife discussed whether the remaining funds could be used for a non German missionary to return home. They decided yes.

The next day a messenger told me the good news. "Gladys, the money has been sent for you to go home!"

I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do. So I cried.

I had worked seventeen years in China, it had been my home. I could speak several dialects of Chinese and, in truth, I had learned to look and act Chinese. 

In truth, I did want to go home, to heal. Not forever, just to heal. Three years later I finally set sail for England.

Next week: return to my second home: my people--where my heart lives.

Gladys Aylward

The last story about Gladys Aylward will be next week. 
The next featured missionary will be J. Hudson Taylor 

picture courtesy of

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stay True to Your Faith in God

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 12

From Samuel's Journal

I was disappointed in the people of Israel for choosing to have a human king instead of God. But, the Lord told me to go ahead and anoint Saul as their king.

It seemed to me the Israelites have forgotten who God is, how powerful He is, and what He has done for them.

The season for harvest had come. Wheat kernels were ripe. I asked the Lord to send thunder and rain on the wheat fields.  

Did they really know God's power? Did they think He didn't see their sins? Perhaps the people of Israel needed to be reminded of their selfishness in wanting a human king instead of the Lord.

The Lord honored my request. He sent thunder and rain that day. It was a powerful storm packed with booming thunder and pelting rain. 

The Israelites cried and became afraid. "Please Samuel," they cried, "Pray for us to the Lord your God  that we won't die. We have added to all our sins. We confess our evil sin of asking for a king for ourselves."

"Peace." I said to them. "Yes you have done all this wickedness, but now you need to not turn away from following the Lord.  You must serve Him with all your heart. Don't give you attentions to other things for you will go after empty things.

God loves you. He will not forsake you.

And I will not cease to pray for you. However, I will teach you the good and the right way that God commands.

This is what God wants: fear Him and serve Him in truth, with all your heart, and remember the great things He has done for you.

I must also tell you this. If you turn away from God and go back to doing wicked things, you will be swept away, both you and your king.

And so the days of Saul's reign began...I think there will be sad days in our future.

1. Why was Samuel disappointed in the Israelites?
2. What did Samuel ask God to do?  Why?
3. Did God answer Samuel's prayer?
4. What did the people do?
5. Who was to be the king of Israel?
6. Who became the king of Israel?
7. What is the difference between the answer for five and the answer for six?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Battle Belonged to the Lord

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 11

A Messenger's Report

By the time I arrived back at Jabesh my strength had left me. I had run a long distance with Saul's message.

The elders of the city gathered around me to hear my report but I couldn't speak. "Get him some water." One commanded.

I drank the water and felt much better. Here is my report: "I spoke with Saul, the man chosen king of Israel. He mumbled something about the brothers never helping one another. His face turned red and he balled his fist. He chopped up the yoke of an oxen and sent it to each Israelite territory with a message to help with this battle or their oxen would be treated the same way."

The elders raised their eyebrows. "They will come?"

Never had I been so happy to deliver a message. I continued: "Not only will they come but three hundred thousand soldiers did. I saw them at the meeting place Saul arranged."

"Three hundred thousand? Really?" The elders laughed and patted each other on the backs. "We're saved! Our brothers will come help us fight after all." They stood and danced around the room, praising God for His help.

When the dance stopped they sat again. One leader stroked his beard and said, "What shall we tell that evil commander, Nahash who sits outside our gate?"

Another answered, "I say--I say we tell him this, 'Tomorrow we will come and surrender to you. You may do to us whatever seems good to you. By saying this, he will not prepare for battle."

The elders looked at each other, smiled, then broke into a loud, long laughter. "Yes. We should tell him those words. Messenger, go proclaim our message to Nahash."

We went to the top of the city wall. I called down to Nahash, who stood like am arrogant man, ready to collect his prize. "Nahash, tomorrow we will come and surrender to you. At that time you may do to us whatever seems good to you."

Nahash doubled over with laughter. He clapped his hands and pushed them high up in the air. "How wise of you to surrender. You have saved your city by becoming my servants." He turned back to his men and led a chant. "The people of Jabesh are ours! The people of Jabesh are ours!"

We, of course were not afraid. We had a secret. Nahash would soon pay for his cruelties.

The next morning, even before the sun rose, our watchmen reported three units approaching the area from the woods.. Nahash didn't know to watch for them. Hah. He sat like a fool in his chair, waiting for us to parade outside the city and turn our lives over to become his slaves. Won't he be surprised.

The thirty thousand man army marched forward. The earth rumbled as they drew closer. Nahash stood and looked to the fields around the city. His eyes went wide and he screamed, "Arm yourselves." 

But they weren't ready. Saul led the army, dedicated by Samuel to the Lord. They pushed into Nahash's camp wielding their swords. Our army joined them. We fought those Ammorites through the heat of the day. We didn't mind at all. 

The Lord had rescued us. Our brothers had rescued us. 

The Lord won the battle for us!

The Israelite army echoed cheers again and again to Saul. They sang and danced their praises to God. One man shouted, "Bring the men here who said Saul  should not reign over us. We will kill them."

Saul held up his hands and shouted. "No. No one will be put to death  today. For the Lord has brought this salvation for Israel."

Samuel nodded. "Yes. This is true. Come now, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom."

We gathered in Gilgal to offer sacrifices in praise to God for saving us. We also made Saul our  king before the Lord.

1. What message did the messenger bring to the elders of Israel?
2. What did they tell Nahash?
3. Who all came to their rescue?
4. What did Samuel do?
5. Who won the battle?
6. What did the people do after the battle?

Monday, January 9, 2012

I Will Not Give Up My Faith

By Mary Vee

From Glady's Aylward's Journal

What seemed like a wonderful start to the spread of the Gospel of Christ ended up in bravery and tragedy.

The communist took over the University in our city. They handed out surveys to all the students and forced them to complete the questions. I asked for one of the forms to see what the students had to do. 

At first, the questions seemed like other questionnaires: Who is your mother, how much money do your relatives have, and so on. 

But at the bottom of the form, in smaller print, the question which would soon cause great trials appeared. If the person sided with the government, he or she had to write a "O" in the box. If they didn't, he or she had to write an "X".

Five hundred of the university students had asked Christ into their heart in recent days. Some of the five hundred students answered "O" in their box, and others answered "X".

The students who answered "O" were taken to a special room and told to bully the students who answered "X". "Make them feel bad. Scare them into answering 'O' the next time."

The students did what they were told. The bullying hurt many students in more ways then just beatings. The students who marked "X" on their survey met each day for prayer and Bible readings to have the strength to face the day of torture. The communists found the group and placed a guard with each student to prevent them from meeting. The students grew hungry, tired, and beaten. 

After some time, the communists handed out the surveys to the university students again. The results: More students showed their faith by checking X! The officials became very angry. 

The next day the students who marked X in the box were lined up in a public square. An announcer called a your female student forward from the group. She pressed her thin shoulders back and walked to the microphone as she was ordered. The announcer barked, "I will give you one last chance to speak."

I didn't know if she would surrender or not. Her life was at stake. What would she say?

The girl stepped closer to the mic. Her clothes were torn, her body beaten, and she had lost a lot of weight. She said, "Before the last two weeks of training from the government...I thought I knew the Bible was God's Word and that Jesus died for me. And now...

"Now...I know the Bible is God's Word and that Jesus died for my sins." She stepped away from the microphone. Two soldiers grabbed her arms and dragged her a few feet away where she was front of all the others. Each of the remaining students who marked their box "X" did the same. They chose to stand for their faith in Christ.

There is a verse that comes to my mind, "Only one life will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." While only Christians for a short time, these students showed the communists and the people of their city a resolve not to surrender their faith. 

I have two more stories to share with you before I end my work. See you next week.

Gladys Aylward

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, 
 is laid for your faith in his excellent word! 
 What more can he say than to you he hath said, 
 to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled? 

 "Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, 
 for I am thy God and will still give thee aid; 
 I'll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand 
 upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand. 

 "When through deep waters I call thee to go, 
 the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow; 
 for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, 
 and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress. 

 "When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie, 
 my grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply; 
 the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design 
 thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine
Words by Keen 1787

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saul Stirs the People to Fight

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 11

A Messenger from Jabesh's Journal

That evil Ammonite captain, Nahash, camped outside the city Jabesh ready to squash us with his army. I along with other messengers ran to the tribes of Israel to ask for help.

Click here here  to read how this mess started.  

All my life I had trained to run long distances. Today, I let my legs run like a predator. My job: take the message to Saul, the new king of Israel.

I found a place to cross the Jordan river and ran southwest to Gibeah where Saul lived. 

When I arrived the people crowded around me. One brought me something to drink. One man asked. "What happened?" 

The people pressed closer to hear my message. "The evil Nahash has prepared an attack against Jabesh. He said he would accept surrender only if we agreed to let him take out our right eyes. We need help!"

The people just stood their...crying. No one said, "Yes, we'll help. Grab your weapons!" They cried louder the more they talked among themselves. What good did that do? 

A tall man came from a nearby field. He walked behind a heard which he directed toward the road. He turned towards the noise and walked to the crowd. "What's going on? Why are you crying?" I didn't know who he was until the crowd parted and bowed.

A man stepped forward. "This messenger came from Jabesh. He said Nahash and his army are camped outside the city and will attack unless they surrender. If they surrender he will take out everyone's right eye and make them slaves. He has come to ask for help."

Saul's face turned red and he balled his fist. 

Then something unusual happened. Saul's face changed, like the Spirit of God came upon him. He raised his fist and faced me. He didn't seem angry with me. No. His rage seemed against someone else.  

He said, "I know as well as you do that the other tribes won't come to your aid." He huffed. "I am tired of them refusing to help their own brothers. This has got to stop."

Saul took the yoke of an oxen and cut it into pieces. He ordered messengers to come forward. "Each of you take a piece  of this yoke to one territory of Israel along with this message: Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle will have this done to their oxen."

The message seemed to work! Three hundred thirty thousand Israelite soldiers met at Bezek to fight. Saul seemed pleased. "Messenger, return to your city with this word: Tomorrow by the time the sun is hot you will have help."

I couldn't wait to deliver the message. I ran faster than a bird can fly back to my home. The leaders met at once to hear what I had to say. One leader raised his hands when I'd finished and said, "Marvelous news." Another said, "I'm surprised. Clearly the Lord has brought this blessing."

One leader said, "What shall we tell Nahash? We don't want to warn him that an army is coming to our rescue." Another leader smiled with mischief in his eyes. "We should let Nahash think we will surrender tomorrow. He will have his guard down." Another nodded. "Yes, Nahash will be so busy laughing he won't see the army coming." 

The men discussed the issue longer then walked together to the top of the city wall and shouted, "Nahash, tomorrow we will come out to you. You may do with us whatever seems good to you."

Come back next time to see if Saul's army can save them.

1. Where did the messenger from Jabesh take his message?
2. What did the people do when they heard his words?
3. Who came out from the field?
4. What did he say after hearing the message?
5. Did the Israelites listen to him?
6. What message did Saul send back to Jabesh?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nahesh the Tyrant

By Mary Vee
I Samuel 11

A Messenger from Jabesh's Journal

We woke one terrible morning to find Nahash the Ammonite camped with his army outside our city, Jabesh Gilead. This man was evil. Why did he come to our peaceful city?

All Israel knew about Nahash and his desire to not only conquer cities, but also to embarrass the citizens as much as possible. 

We knew he'd attack and kill all the people from our city. Or, maybe if he had a good day, he might decide to take us as prisoners, torture us, and make us slaves. Neither choice worked for me.

Our city leaders met together. They were scared, all right.

They stroked their beards. 

Sweat beaded on their foreheads.

Their voices trembled. 

Not one could say a solution that pleased the others.

The head elder sighed. "Our only choice is surrender. We can't fight him and win." The other leaders groaned but finally nodded their agreement.  

Women and children watched us climb to the top of the city wall. Their eyes showed hope and trust. Who are we that Nahash had to attack our small city? Why did he have to come here? I called out to Nahash. "Set your terms, Nahash and we will surrender. We agree to be your slaves."

Nahash didn't wait a second before laughing like an evil villain. "Sure. I accept your surrender. Here are my terms: you must all agree to let me take out the right eye of every person in your city." He laughed again. "This way, you will be embarrassed before all Israel."

Well we didn't expect him to say that! 

The leaders rushed off to a meeting room and chattered like squirrels trying to work out a solution. One said, "Ask for an extension." Another said. "Yes, we need seven days to ask for help." And another said, "No other tribe has come to the aid of another in need for a long time, no one will come." The leaders shook their heads and sat back in their chairs. After a few moments of quiet one said, "He's right, but we have no other choice."

No one would come from any tribe to help, he said. Sad words, but true. Each tribe pretty much lived by themselves and ignored the others. We didn't act like a nation. If no tribe answered our plea for help against Nahash, well, I guess I'd be a slave with one eye. 

The leaders and I walked back to the same place on top of the city wall. I called down to the evil Nahash. "Give us seven days to send messengers to all the territory of Israel. If no one comes to save us, we will agree to your terms."

Nahash knew the other tribes wouldn't come help, we weren't the first city he tormented. He burst into his dastardly laugh again. "Sure, call for help. Call anyone you'd like. In seven days I will have your right eyes."

He strutted back to his tent, laughing with his soldiers.

The elders chose the fastest message runners to take our plea for help to each tribe. I was sent to Gibeah to tell Saul, our new king. I hope he can help.

Come back next time to see what Saul chooses to do.

1. Who camped outside Jabesh Gilead?
2. What did he want to do?
3. Why didn't the people of Jabesh Gilead fight?
4. What was wrong with the other tribes of Israel? 
5. Who didn't they ask for help?
6. When the leaders asked to surrender what did Nahash say?
7. What did the leaders decide to do?
8. Did Nahash agree? Why?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gladys Aylward's Resolution

By Mary Vee

From Glady's Journal

The war in China had finally ended. 

Homes had been destroyed; separated family members searched for each other. I'd say their biggest problem was not knowing what to do next.

Survivors roamed from place to place searching for a home, food, and a new beginning.

I, too, needed a home. My health did not require me to stay with the doctor's family any longer. I needed my own place to live.

One of the big churches in the city posted an ad for help. They wanted someone to tell the refugees about Christ. So many people flooded into the city from the north seeking help. So many needed Christ.

I applied for the job with the condition that I could continue my work with the prison and the leper colony. The church agreed and gave me a small room in the back of the church to live.

I moved into my room and began my ministry, all of which took place outside of the building. One day I decided to explore the church building. Upstairs, in the place where people should gather to hear God's Word, furniture had been overturned and dirt covered everything. How could God's house be treated this way?

The war had destroyed people's houses, people's lives, and now I saw it had also ruined God's house. As I stood in the dark and dingy room, a ray of sun peeked through the gobs of dirt on the stain glass windows. It shined down in the room at the moment. I shook my head, discouraged.

God spoke to my heart. He wanted His light to shine in this room. I made a resolution that day to clean one portion of the church and pray for that place each day. I worked for several days but grew tired due to my health. 

I didn't want to give up my resolution to God. I told the pastor of the church what I did. He smiled and agreed to help. The two of us worked to clean and pray. Another day, one of my adopted sons came to visit me. He too stayed to help clean and pray. Then a man from the church came, and another. After forty days the church had been cleaned, sparkling, and radiant!

Now we needed people to fill the church. The pastor and I went out to the city streets and held Gospel meetings. After each meeting we invited people to services at the church. I prayed that God would send more help. Two people couldn't possibly reach all the refugees.

A few days later a request came in the mail from the Youth for Christ organization. They offered to hold Gospel meetings if we provided the volunteers. They also agreed to pay all the expenses. 

God is good. He had the church cleaned up, prayed for, and then invitations sent to the people to come.

Gladys Aylward