Tag Archives: Mainland China

Gladys Aylward (1902-1970)

This year is the 50th anniversary of the death of Gladys Aylward (1902-1970): “English missionary in China and Taiwan who worked to end the traditional Chinese practice of binding women’s feet, led a large group of orphans out of occupied China, and set up orphanages in Hong Kong and Taiwan”…

Gladys Aylward is buried in Taiwan, only 12 km from where I live here at St. John’s University. Her grave is in the grounds of Christ’s College, 臺北基督學院, located on the top of a very steep wooded hill above Guandu. Every time I go into Taipei by road or MRT, I pass by just below that college, but this is only my third visit to see the grave. Bit put off by that steep hill, the heat and all the mosquitoes up there under the trees!

My good friend and CMS mission partner colleague, Shelagh was called to the mission field as a child through hearing Gladys Aylward speak at her church in Canada. Shelagh served as a missionary nurse overseas until she retired only a few years ago – and when she visited Taiwan in 2009, Bishop Lai took us up that steep hill to visit the grave. He noticed the seal (right photo below) of the then President of the Republic of China (Chiang Kai-shek 蔣中正) on the grave – Gladys Aylward became a citizen of the ROC in 1936 (though I see that the gravestone says 1941). With all the political turmoil of the time, she eventually settled in Taiwan, ROC in 1958, and died on January 2, 1970.

Gladys Aylward’s Chinese name is 艾偉德 Ai Wei-De, the characters are written vertically on the wall behind the tomb (left photo above). Her life story was published in ‘The Small Woman’ by Alan Burgess (1957), and from that book, made into what Gladys Aylward always thought to be a wildly exaggerated romantic Hollywood classic, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958), starring Ingrid Bergman. Ah, but it’s a great movie! Apparently it was filmed in N. Wales and the children in the movie were from the Chinese community in Liverpool.

The words on her grave are as follows:

MISS GLADYS AYLWARD
MISSIONARY (1902-1970)
Born on the Twenty-Forth of February, Nineteen Hundred and Two in London, England
She came to China in Nineteen Hundred and Thirty to preach the Gospel, in response to the Lord’s call:
And became a citizen of the Republic of China in Nineteen Hundred and Forty one
She was laid to rest in the Lord, at Taipei, Taiwan, on the Second Day of January, Nineteen Hundred and Seventy
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”. John 12:24”

The grave is hidden away on the main campus, on the edge of the steep hill, next to graves of the founder and others associated with the college. The vegetation has grown up and the steep slopes are covered in trees and plants. Down below are several new high-rise apartment buildings that are almost taller than the hill itself. The graveyard is really a little oasis in the midst of a busy bustling area of Taipei. Oasis for mosquitoes that is – don’t stay there long or you’ll get eaten alive!

And most moving for me is the quote on her grave in English and Chinese:

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit’. John 12:24

‘一粒麥子不落在地裏死了,仍舊是一粒;若是死了,就結出許多子粒來’ 約翰福音 12:24

CMS Link Visit to Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield

Fantastic church, wonderful people, and a whole lot of lovely new Chinese friends!

My links with Huddersfield go back years and years, and Holy Trinity Church, just north of the centre of the town, has always been really supportive of CMS ~ and of me too!

IMG_3462_1When my good friends Pam and Nigel moved to Holy Trinity from Heighington, Co. Durham in the late 1980’s, and there I was, preparing to join CMS and go to Tanzania, Holy Trinity offered their support – and hey presto, they’re still supporting me all these years later.   Actually Pam and Nigel have been away all this weekend, but came back in time to welcome me to visit this morning and were even persuaded to pose for a photo ~ smiling away as ever!

Last time I was at the church a few years ago, Sharon, wife of Rev. Calvert Prentis was inspired to come to Taiwan to visit, which she did a few months later.  It was a great time for everyone!

Now Holy Trinity has a new vicar, Mike ~ so yesterday was the first time we’d met.  A very moving morning service followed by ‘bring and share’ lunch, and then an afternoon of fun activities ~ my PowerPoint of Taiwan and then Chinese calligraphy, lanterns and spring blossom art activities.  30-40 people stayed on for the afternoon ~ a very creative bunch!

Ever grateful to Wei from China who brought along her Chinese friends to help run the calligraphy.  A great success.  And really nice to make some new Chinese friends.  One was actually visiting for the Chinese New Year, and visiting a church for the very first time, so it was a special welcome for him!

It may have been pouring with rain for most of the day, but hey, inside was as happy, fun and sunny as can be ∼ yippee!

IMG_3465_1And this morning, Monday, snow and wind and cold alternating with bright sun, and to round off my visit to Huddersfield, off I went with 92-year-old church member Pam to visit 99-year-old church member Joan. Such a great time we had together! Joan still does all her own cooking, and although she’s housebound, she’s in great shape!  Turns out that Joan’s 100th birthday is on April 20, and guess what? Instead of presents she’s asked her friends and family for donations to CMS.  Wow!  Definitely the salt of the earth, so supportive.   Thank you Joan!

And a big THANK YOU to all at Holy Trinity for all your support over the years, and your very warm welcome this past weekend, as always!