One of the things that hit me last night as I finished up Gladys Aylwards book is the fact that the movie never mentioned how she felt about Communism.
It is a shame to me and this story that the movie makers never bothered to mention the deep regard Gladys had for Mrs. Chiang Kai-Shek and the overwhelming sadness she felt with Communist rule. She later died in Taiwan.
“At the end of the three months we were all forced to appear in the market square. Under a huge squad of Communist police we saw the two hundred students marched into the square. In a witness box stood a man with a list of names. He called out the first.
A girl of seventeen stepped forward. She was refined and beautiful, and had been brought up in one of those lovely courtyards that belonged to the wealthy of Peking before the war.
She had been sent here for safety—now she stood before her accusers! “What position are you standing in now?” bellowed the voice of the man in the box. She walked to the little platform.
She faltered a little and we thought she was going to fall. Why put this slim, frail slip of a girl up first? we questioned. Poor child, how can she stand?
Then her voice rang out, suddenly clear and strong. “Sir, when I went for my three months’ indoctrination I thought Jesus Christ was real. I thought the Bible was true.
Now I know Jesus Christ is real, I know this Book is true!”
One after the other of those two hundred names were called out, and not one faltered, though they knew enough of their persecutors by now to know that they would be made to suffer.
Every one of them was beheaded that very day in the marketplace.
Before each execution the victim was given one last chance to recant; but even those at the end, who had been forced to watch the terrible butchery of all the others, did not flinch. “Why,” people ask, “did God allow it?” Was it because He loved them so much that He took them before worse terrors and tortures befell them? Theirs, maybe, was the easier death.
They went straight to those many mansions their Saviour had gone before to prepare for them.
They had followed Him even unto death.”
Here is a wonderful passage from Glady’s book depicting some missionary work in Tibet.
“After a few moments I said, “Shall we sing a chorus?” So we sat and sang, and our voices must have carried far in the clear mountain air. Suddenly Dr. Huang jumped to his feet. “There is our man,” he cried. And before I could stop him, he had dashed off. I sat alone, feeling very small and frail in this lonely barren country.
Finally I saw two little specks on the mountainside. As he drew nearer, Dr. Huang kept shouting, “Come on up; I have found our man.” But I sat stolidly on. To me there seemed no sense in scrambling up that steep, rock-strewn hillside. Eventually Dr. Huang reached me and said, “God obviously means us to go up, so come along.” “But what about our bundles?” “Leave them. There is no one here to steal them.” Half carried and half pushed, I scrambled up and found, leaning against a rock, a Tibetan lama priest. I stared from him to Dr. Huang.
I knew that lamas were supposed to have nothing to do with women, also that outwardly they appeared to be holy men, but inwardly many of them were bad, immoral, ignorant and superstitious. “Did you tell him I was a woman?” I demanded of Dr. Huang. “Yes, but he invited you to come to spend the night in the lamasery.” I hesitated. What were we letting ourselves in for? Why should Tibetan priests invite me into their sacred buildings? “There is nowhere else for us to go,”
Dr. Huang pointed out. Suddenly the man spoke and, although his accent was strange, I could understand what he said. “We have waited long for you to tell us about the God who loves.” My heart jumped and, without another word, we followed our guide up the path.
Then we reached the lamasery and I caught my breath at the beauty of the scene. The side of the mountain which we had climbed was barren, yellow and rocky; but on this side, because there was water, the mountain was covered in rich green grass and lovely flowering vines. And at the top stood the lamasery, imposing and stately. As we approached, my fears returned. The huge gate closed as we went in, and I thought, we are in, but will we ever get out again?
A party of lamas greeted us almost reverently and escorted me to a small room. Then men padded backward and forward, bringing everything they could think of for my comfort—tiger rugs, cushions, water for washing, and dish after dish of daintily prepared food. It seemed like a dream!
After our strenuous climb, I felt very weary; I had just decided I would lie down to rest when two men knocked at the door and politely requested me to accompany them. I was joined by Dr. Huang and we were escorted through one courtyard after another until we came to a very large one.
In this were five hundred hassocks made of coconut leaves ranged in a rough semicircle, and on each of these hassocks sat a lama with his hands piously crossed and his head bent. We were taken to two empty hassocks in the center, and sat down. What on earth are we expected to do? I wondered nervously. Dr. Huang said, “Now we will begin. You sing.” “But what shall I sing?” “Anything.” So in a very trembling voice I sang in Chinese the American chorus “Glorious Freedom.” A deathly silence followed. Then Dr. Huang began to talk.
He told them about the Baby who was born in a stable in Bethlehem; then he told them of the Saviour who died on Calvary. “Now sing again,” he said. So I sang, then I talked; I sang again, then he talked; I sang again, then I talked. Still the five hundred lamas sat immobile on their hassocks. We could not see their faces, but why did they not speak or make a move to end this meeting which looked as if it might go on all night?
I was on the verge of collapse, so I said in a low voice, “I will fall off this hassock in a minute.” “Then we will finish,” Dr. Huang replied. And rising, we sailed out of the great hall. Later we discovered that as guests we must be the first to move. Politeness demanded that our audience sat still as long as we sat! Again I started to go to bed, but was disturbed by a knock on the door.
Two priests stood outside. “Woman, are you too tired to tell us more?” they asked humbly. “Are you allowed to come into my room?” “Yes, if there are two of us.” They came in, they listened intently and they went away. A few minutes later two more came, and so it went on all night. Always the same question, “Will you explain how and why He died? Will you explain how it is He could love me?”
These men never questioned that God was the Creator of the world, they never doubted the fact of the virgin birth, they did not consider any of the miracles incredible. To them it was the wonder of God’s love which obsessed them. The story of Christ’s death on Calvary filled their minds with awe and reverence.
The next morning, when the priests were gathered in their temple, Dr. Huang and I had the opportunity of comparing notes, and I found that the same thing had happened in his room. Here, indeed, were men thirsting for the old, old story of God’s wonderful plan of salvation. We decided we would stay a little longer.
We stayed a week; and all that time, whenever the men were free from their duties, they came and asked for more. At last we decided we must leave the following day, so we announced that for the last night we would gladly talk to those who wanted to visit us.
That evening I received a summons to go before the head lama whom we had not seen so far. Dr. Huang was not invited; I was to go alone. The ordinary lamas were a kind of Chinese border race, but I imagined the head of such a large lamasery would surely be a true Tibetan, and I wondered how we would overcome the language difficulty. I found a fine looking man, seated on a beautiful cushion, with servants attending him. To my amazement he addressed me in the pure Mandarin Chinese of Peking, which I understood perfectly. We discussed various things, then greatly daring, I said, “Why did you let me—a foreign woman—come into your lamasery?
Why did you allow me to speak to your priests?” “It is a long story. Out on our mountainside grows a licorice herb which my lamas collect and sell in the cities. One year the men who had taken the herb harvest down on the mules were passing through a village when they saw a man waving a paper while he called out, ‘Who wants one? Salvation free and for nothing. He who believes gets salvation and lives forever.
If you want to learn more of this come to the gospel hall.’” The lamas, utterly astounded at such a doctrine, took the tract and brought it back to the lamasery. I was then shown the tract, now worn and in pieces, stuck on the wall. It was a perfectly ordinary tract, simply quoting John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That was all, but from it they had learned that somewhere there was a “God who loved.” Everybody read it and reread it or had it read to them.
The head lama continued the story after I had read that important scrap of paper. “The next year, when our men took the herb down to the cities they were told to find out where ‘The God who loved’ lived, but for five years they could learn nothing more. “Then the man who had first received the tract vowed he would not come back until he learned more about this God. They went on and on until they came to Len Chow.
There they saw an important-looking man on the street, and asked their usual question, ‘Can you tell us where the God who loves lives?’ “‘Oh, yes,’ he said. ‘Go down that street, and you will come to a large gateway with three signs over it—“Faith, Hope, Charity.” Go in there; they will tell you about God.’ “Jubilantly they approached the small China Inland Mission station and asked the same question of the Chinese evangelist, He told them all he could, then gave them each a copy of the Gospels. “Eagerly they hurried back to the lamasery and we read the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We believed all that it contained, though there was much we could not understand. But one verse seemed of special importance. Christ had said, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel,’ so obviously one day someone would come to tell us more, about this wonderful God. All we had to do was to wait and, when God sent a messenger, to be ready to receive him. For another three years we waited.
Then two lamas, out on the hillside gathering sticks, heard someone singing. ‘Those are the messengers we are waiting for,’ they said. ‘Only people who know God will sing.’ “While one went back to tell the rest of us to prepare for the long-expected guests, the other came down to meet you on the hillside.” That was why everything was done for our comfort, why they gladly clambered down and brought up our bundles, why they received us with hungry hearts.
We did not ask these men if they were saved; I do not know if they came out from the lamasery. I had preached His gospel in this place that God had appointed; I left the rest to Him and the work of the Holy Spirit.
At the end of the chapter she said this about the Tibeten monks:
“No lamasery stands on that beautiful hillside now, for the Communists destroyed it and drove away all its inmates. What happened to those five hundred lamas, I often wonder. That many of them believed, trusted and received salvation, I have no shadow of doubt. God had prepared the soil;
Dr. Huang and I were proud to be used as His messengers; only in eternity will we ever learn the result of one of the strangest weeks I have ever spent.”