The Woman Of Today

To underscore this principle I would like for us to look at some women of more recent times who, regardless of what people thought and, no doubt, inspired by the many examples of women in the Scripture, were obedient to the call of God in their lives.

Gladys Aylward
We will first look at a woman named Gladys Aylward.

Gladys Aylward was born in London, England, in 1902 into a working class family. She entered work at the age of fourteen as a house servant. It included heavy chores, long hours, and low pay. Gladys had been going to church on and off in her life. She was familiar with the message but had no personal relationship with God. One night a stranger confronted her and asked about her spiritual need, which convinced her to go and see the pastor. She talked with the pastor’s wife and was saved. Gladys’ life was changed after she was converted. She dreamed of going to another country and sharing her beliefs about Jesus as a missionary. This led her to the China Inland Mission. She joined their preparation course but failed the exams.

She took on other jobs and saved money. One day, she heard of a 73-year-old missionary, Mrs. Lawson, who needed a young missionary helper in China. So, with all the money she had saved, she bought a train ticket on the Trans Siberian railway. Finally, on October 15 1932, Gladys said goodbye to her friends and family and set out for China. She went across England and Europe without any troubles. But eastern Russia was a dangerous war zone where there were conflicts with China. When she was not allowed to go any farther on the train, she got off and walked in the snow to the nearest train station. Her passport was stolen from her. Because of these problems she was forced to take a boat to Japan and then to China. From there she rode a train, a bus, and a mule, to get to the city of Yangchen, where she met Mrs Lawson.

Yangchen was an overnight stop for mule caravans that carried coal, raw cotton, pots, and iron goods. It occurred to the women that their most effective way of preaching the Gospel would be to set up an Inn. The building in which they lived had been an Inn, and with some repair work could be used as such again. They stored up a supply of food for mules and men and when a caravan passed by, Gladys dashed out, grabbed the rein of the lead mule, and turned it into their courtyard. The animal went willingly, knowing that turning into a courtyard meant food and water and rest for the night. The other mules followed and the men, who took care of the animals, had no choice. They were given good food and warm beds at the standard price, their mules were well cared for, and there was free entertainment in the evening -the innkeepers told stories about a man named Jesus.
Some of these men became Christians and many of them, both Christians and non-Christians, remembered the stories, and retold them to men at other stops along the caravan trails.
In the meantime, Gladys practiced her Chinese and became fluent in it.

One day Mrs Lawson suffered a severe fall and died a few days later. Gladys was left to run the mission alone with the help of the Chinese cook, Yang.

A few weeks after the death of Mrs Lawson, Gladys met the Mandarin of Yangchen. He asked her to become the official foot inspector. This job was to go around and tell people that from then on binding girls’ feet was illegal and they must be unbound. The Mandarin needed someone with unbound feet to do this and Gladys accepted, knowing that this would give her an opportunity to preach the Gospel as well.

So she went on visiting and re-visiting houses to check on the girls and people started to get to know her. Two years after she went to China the Mandarin asked her to stop a riot in prison where the men were killing each other. Gladys walked into the prison and found out that they were in need of more food as well as work. She told the warden how to go about improving things for the prisoners and as a consequence became known as the “Virtuous One”.

Shortly after, she saw a woman begging by the road, accompanied by a child covered with sores and obviously suffering from malnutrition. She found out that the little girl had been kidnapped by the woman to help her in her begging and bought the child from the woman. A year later the little girl brought a little boy home and so Gladys’ family began to grow.

Then the war came. In the spring of 1938 the Japanese planes bombed the city of Yangchen killing many, and many survivors fled into the mountains. Gladys eventually decided to flee to the government orphanage at Sian, bringing with her all the children she had accumulated, about 100 in number.

With the children in tow, she walked for twelve days. On the twelfth day they arrived at the Yellow River with no way to cross it. All boat traffic had stopped. The children wanted to know: “Why don’t we cross?” She said, “There are no boats.” They said, “God can do anything. Ask Him to get us across.” They all knelt and prayed. Then they sang. A Chinese officer with a patrol heard the singing and rode up. He heard their story and said, “I think you can get a boat.” They crossed, and after a few more difficulties, Gladys delivered her charges into competent hands in Sian.

She eventually started a church in Sian, and went on to other places, including a settlement for lepers near the borders of Tibet. She returned to England in 1947 but went to Taiwan in 1955, where she opened an orphanage, which she continued to run until her death in 1970.

Lottie Moon
Our next example is a woman named Lottie Moon.

Lottie Moon was born in 1840, the third of five girls and two boys, at the family’s tobacco plantation in Virginia, USA. Her father was a lay leader in the Baptist church the family attended but he died when Lottie was only thirteen.
Lottie’s education included high school and college where she earned a degree in teaching. A lively and outspoken girl, Lottie was indifferent to her Southern Baptist upbringing until her late teens when God touched her during revival meetings.

Lottie helped set up a school for young girls. The school was thriving under her leadership when she felt quite a different call: to go to China as a missionary.
Single women on the mission field? Most mission work at that time was done by married men, but the wives of some of the missionaries discovered that only women could reach Chinese women. To everyone’s surprise Lottie’s younger sister Edmonia accepted a call to go to North China in 1872. Lottie followed a year later. She was thirty-three years old. Edmononia did not last as a missionary but Lottie did.
She was a small woman, only four feet three, but she had stamina, a lively spirit, vision, and a passion to win souls for God.

Mission policies limited what ministries women could do. But Lottie waged a slow, respectful but relentless campaign to give women missionaries the freedom to minister and have an equal voice in mission proceedings.
She eventually began to wear Chinese clothes, adopted Chinese customs and learned to be sensitive to the Chinese culture. In turn, she was deeply loved by the Chinese people.

Lottie began her work in China by teaching in a girl’s school, but while accompanying some of the married missionary wives on visits from village to village outside the bigger cities, she discovered her passion: direct evangelism. But there were so many hungry, lost souls and so few missionaries! For forty years she kept up the pressure for the Southern Baptists to become giving, sending, mission-minded people.

The war with Japan in 1894, the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 and the National Uprising in 1911, all profoundly affected mission work. Famine and disease took their toll as well. Lottie agonised over the suffering of the people who were literally starving to death all around her. She pled for more money and more resources, but the mission board was heavily in debt and could send nothing.

Unknown to her fellow-missionaries Lottie shared her own meagre money and food with everyone around her. In 1912, she only weighed fifty pounds. Alarmed, fellow-missionaries arranged for her to be sent back home, but she died on board ship in Kobe harbour, Japan, at the age of seventy-two.

Mary Slessor
We will now look at a woman named Mary Slessor

Mary Slessor was born in 1848 in Scotland, the second of seven children. Her father was a shoemaker. Her mother was a deeply religious woman, who had a keen interest in missionary work in the Calabar region of Nigeria, Africa.

From the age of eleven Mary began to spend half of her days at a school provided by mill owners, and the other half she worked for the company.
At fourteen she began to work full-time, which meant working from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with just an hour for breakfast and lunch. She developed an intense interest in religion and when a mission was started Mary volunteered to become a teacher.
Eventually, she applied to the Foreign Mission Board of the United Presbyterian Church offering her life to the people of the Calabar region.

After a brief period of training Mary travelled by boat to Ethiopia in 1876 and arrived at her destination in West Africa just over a month later. She was twenty-eight years old.
In this primitive society, women were treated worse than cattle, and Mary was so successful in raising their standing that she may be considered as one of the pioneers of women’s rights in Africa.
Unlike most missionaries, she lived in native style and became thoroughly conversant with the language, the culture and customs, and the day-to-day lives of those she served so well. Mary set up mission hospitals for treating illnesses and injuries suffered by the native people.

She was constantly asking the Foreign Mission Board in Edinburgh to finance extensions of her work. Gradually the money was forthcoming and, as new missionaries came to help Mary, she was able to move to new places.
Recurring illnesses and general hardships took their toll on this remarkable woman. By 1915 her physical strength had greatly declined and the woman, who had once had thought nothing of all-night treks through the rain forest, could now only travel in a hand-cart propelled by one of her assistants. After having suffered from fever over a long period, Mary, who was known as “mother of all the peoples, or simply “ma” died on January 1915.

Catherine Booth
We will also look at the life of a woman named Catherine Booth.
Catherine was the daughter of a coach builder. She was born in England in 1829.

From an early age, Catherine was a serious and sensitive girl. She had a strong Christian upbringing and had read her Bible eight times by the time she was twelve years old. At the age of fourteen, she was seriously ill and spent a great deal of time in bed. She kept herself busy, however, and was especially concerned about problems associated with alcohol. She wrote articles for a magazine which discouraged drinking. It was not until she was sixteen, however, and after much struggling, that she was truly born again.

In 1852 Catherine met William Booth, a Methodist minister. William had strong views on church ministers believing they should be “loosing the chains of injustice, freeing the captive and oppressed, sharing food and home, clothing the naked and carrying out family responsibilities.” Catherine shared William’s commitment to social reform but disagreed with his view on women. On one occasion she objected to William describing the idea of women as the “weaker sex”. William was also opposed to the idea of women preachers. When Catherine argued with William about this he added that although he would not stop Catherine from preaching, he would “not like it”. Despite their disagreements about the role of women in the church, the couple married in 1855.

It was not until 1860 that Catherine first started to preach. Her sermon was so impressive that her husband changed his mind about women preachers. Catherine soon developed a reputation as an outstanding speaker but many Christians were outraged. In 1864, in London’s East End, the couple began the Christian Mission which later developed into the Salvation Army.

At first, the Church of England was extremely hostile to the Salvation Army. One of the many complaints against William Booth was his elevation of women to men’s status, for in the Salvation Army a woman officer enjoyed equal status with a man.
Although William Booth had initially rejected the idea of women preachers, by then he had completely changed his mind, and wrote that “the best men in the Army are the women”.

It was while working with the poor in London that Catherine found out about what was known as “sweat labour”. That is, women and children working long hours for low wages in poor conditions. Catherine discovered red-eyed women working for eleven hours a day. She worked hard to improve the working conditions of these women.

Catherine died at the age of sixty-one. Her loss was a challenge for the thousands who remembered her as an untiring soldier in God’s Army.[4]

Corrie ten Boom
Another example is Corrie ten Boom

Cornelia ten Boom was born in Holland in 1892. Her father was a watchmaker. She had two sisters and a brother. When Corrie grew up she was the first woman in Holland to qualify as a watchmaker.
On May 10th 1940, German forces invaded Holland. Soon after this, the ten Boom family began to help Jews escape from the Germans.

On February 28th 1944, the ten Boom family was arrested for this work. Corrie and her sister were eventually moved to a concentration camp in Germany, where Corrie’s sister died later. Corrie was released from prison camp some months before the end of the war in 1945.

She began a travelling ministry, which lasted for over thirty years. During those years she visited many countries, including America, England, Russia and the Philippines. She even visited Germany where she met some of the guards from the prison camp she had been held in. Though it was not easy, she learned to love and forgive them.

Wherever she went she tried to visit people in prison. She knew just how they felt. She had spent four months alone in a cell and she had been beaten. People she loved, had been cruelly treated, some had been killed. But she also knew that God can take away all feelings of bitterness and hatred.
Finally Corrie became too old to travel. In 1977 she settled down in America, where she continued to do all she could to share God’s goodness with other people. She died in 1983.

Jackie Pullinger
Our final example is a woman named Jackie Pullinger
Jackie Pullinger is a present day example of a woman used by God.
She has worked alongside drug addicts and gang members in Hong Kong.

Jackie, who was born in England, decided that she wanted to be a missionary when she was in Sunday School even though she was unclear as to what a missionary was. However, as she grew up, her childhood ambition took a back seat while she found herself studying at the Royal College of Music.
It was only when she started meeting regularly with other Christians in a friend’s home that she thought about being a missionary again. Then one night she had a dream.

In that dream she saw a woman holding her arms out. She wondered what the woman wanted; she looked desperate for something. Then Jackie saw the words: What can you give us? After a series of dreams Jackie decided to go to Hong Kong.
She applied to every mission group she could think of, and also church organisations, as well as the Hong Kong Government – but all doors were closed in her face. She was considered too young, too inexperienced, and without the right qualifications.
She was about to give up when the vicar of a church in which she once helped told her, against the wisdom of everything she had heard, to go to Hong Kong anyway. So she did.

In 1966, Jackie gathered up all the money she had and bought a passage on the cheapest boat to Hong Kong she could find. She had only enough money for a one-way ticket so there was no turning back.
She found a job teaching at a primary school. She set up a small youth club and many of the boys who came were members of gangs. They eventually began to trust her and believe that she really cared for them. Many of these boys were drug addicts. Jackie eventually opened a home for drug addicts.

Over time, her efforts to show and tell the love of Jesus had an amazing degree of success. As her work grew she found herself able to open a second home. By the time a third home was needed she, with the help of American missionaries, set up the St Stephen’s Society, which continues its work in Hong Kong and South-East Asia today. This society has become one of the most successful drug rehabilitation programmes in the world, rescuing hundreds of young people from a life of misery on the streets.

In conclusion, I would like to say that God’s Word clearly shows us His design for us, which is that men and women are to work together in the Kingdom of God in perfect harmony, as equals, in accordance with their God-given gifts and callings.

My prayer for you is that you’ll walk in obedience to His design for you.

Loes Tam
1. Source obtained from the Internet.
2. Source obtained from the Internet.
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