Sojourner Truth was a woman set on fire by a sense of faith, strength, and passion. Her life had an impact on a world full of injustice. Sojourner Truth was a woman who’s story from over a century ago still has an impact on our lives today. It is my pleasure to share her faith story on this podcast.
In such a short podcast, it was impossible to do Sojourner Truth’s story justice. There is so much more to know about her life and legacy. Many fabulous resources tell her story, the most famous of which is her own book, Narrative of Sojourner Truth. Here is a list of resources I used in researching this podcast:
Truth, Sojourner. Narrative of Sojourner Truth. Penguin: New York, 1998. First published 1850.
DeRusha, Michelle. 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI, 2014.
McDonough, Yona Zeldis. Who Was Sojourner Truth? Penguin Workshop, New York, New York, 2015.
How does Sojourner Truth’s faith story affect you? If it encourages, challenges, or inspires you in some way, please share below in the comment section. You can also join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.
Full Disclosure: If I am going to be asking other women to share their faith stories on this podcast, then I thought I should be vulnerable enough to share my own story. Everyone who has walked with Jesus has a story of His grace to share, and this is one of mine.
In this podcast you’ll hear a story of sadness, fear, the devastation of an eating disorder, a life-changing experience, and the grace God used to rescue me from a path of self-destruction.
“I don’t remember a time that I didn’t know Jesus, but I think there’s a difference between knowing about Him, and reading about Him, and experiencing Him. So, when I fell off a ledge, He caught me, and that’s how I experienced Him.”
Two passages of Scripture are mentioned in today’s podcast and both were important to my journey of faith and my recovery: Psalm 91 & Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 NKJV
I hope this story is an encouragement to your own faith. If something you heard in today’s episode resonated with you, please share in the comment section below or join in the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.
In today’s podcast episode, you’ll hear from Christina Morgan, who has a story to tell about God’s faithfulness and provision in her life. Throughout her story, she encourages us to have confidence that God will provide the means to go where He has called us.
In today’s podcast, Christina quotes I Timothy 6:6 as being a verse she finds herself going back to frequently for perspective and encouragement:
I am so grateful to Christina for sharing her story. I was really blessed by it personally, and I hope you were too. God is called Jehovah Jireh (“The Lord Will Provide”) in the Old Testament, and we all need to be reminded of His promise of provision in our lives.
Anyone who has had anxiety can attest to the struggles and battles that it can bring into daily life. In today’s episode, Missy shares her own struggles with anxiety and how God has met her and sustained her through her fears.
Missy shares in today’s episode how God’s faithfulness has encouraged her over the past couple of years as she has experienced intense bouts of anxiety. She also talks about how God has used people (her husband and others) to support her along the way, as well as how Scripture helps her combat some of her anxious thoughts.
Missy also shares in today’s episode about how she reached out to JJ Heller and was encouraged with a book recommendation that has been very helpful to her:
From Panic to Power by Lucinda Bassett
Scripture mentioned in today’s episode: Psalm 121 and Psalm 91
If something you heard in today’s episode resonated with you, please share in the comment section below, or join in the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.
This podcast episode focuses on soul care and relationships: specifically, the importance of surrounding yourself with healthy, supportive relationships. It’s within the context of these relationships that we shape our reality.
This episode, although short, mentions a few different resources, which I have linked to below:
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20 ESV
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10: 24 and 25 ESV
Was there anything in today’s episode that interested, challenged, or encouraged you? If so, please comment below with your thoughts, or join PRN’s Facebook page to join in the conversation. If you enjoy this podcast, please subscribe and share with your friends!
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a missionary? In this podcast, we’ll hear from Dawn Detweiler who, along with her husband Nathan, lives and works as a missionary in Maribor, Slovenia. She talks honestly about the challenges and rewards of mission work. She also shares what it’s like to learn another language and to raise a family cross-culturally. Additionally, she discusses how her faith has grown over the past few years as she and her husband have faced obstacles on the mission field.
Was there anything that Dawn spoke about in today’s episode that surprised, interested, or inspired you? If so, please comment below with your thoughts, or join us on PRN’s Facebook page to join in the conversation. If you enjoy this podcast, please subscribe and share with your friends!
In the life of every believer come seasons of trial and hardship. In this episode, Cynthia shares her story of learning to “press in” to the Lord during one such season in her own life. She talks about “seeking the Lord in the heartache.”
Many passages of Scripture are spoken of in this interview:
On comforting others – II Corinthians 1: 3 – 4 ESV – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
On being content and cultivating faithfulness: Psalms 37: 3-5 NASB
Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and a]cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
Cynthia’s long-term verses that she finds herself always going back to: Proverbs 3: 1 – 6
I am very grateful to Cynthia for sharing her story. I was really blessed by this interview, and I’m sure that many of you were too. Was there something in Cynthia’s story that spoke to you or encouraged you? If you would like to share your thoughts, join us on the PRN, Pause, Renew, Next, Facebook page. You can also share your thoughts in the comment section below.
May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.
Pause, Renew, Next!
Missy: Hi, I’m Missy, and you’re listening to PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. A podcast about soul- care, Scripture, and stories of faith. If you like this podcast, please subscribe and tell your friends. Enjoy!
Ginny: Welcome to PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. The podcast. I’m Ginny Detweiler. I’m happy today to introduce you to one of my favorite people: Cynthia Simpson. I’ve known her for many years, and I’ve watched her faith firsthand. Cynthia, can you introduce yourself and tell a little bit about yourself to our listeners?
Cynthia: Yes, so I’m Cynthia, and I am a mom of three boys and my husband. We live in Greenville, South Carolina. We are very involved in our church family, but then also I just love to be outdoors with my boys. I’m waiting for them to get a bit older so I can take the mountain biking, and do all kinds of outdoorsy things. So right now we’re sticking to nature trails and biking around our neighborhood, but we’re gonna graduate someday.
Ginny: Awesome. So Cynthia and I actually went to college together, and for many, many years after college you were a house parent in group homes. Can you talk a little bit about what that experience was like?
Cynthia: Yeah, so I just felt like the Lord; just, you know, I always had a heart for missions but I never had a heart to go outside the country, and I quickly realized that the mission field in the United States is: it’s still the “orphan and the widow”, but our “orphan” in the United States is the foster care system. And so that’s where, you know, it’s kids, just, their families cannot take care of them, and so being in group homes you saw a lot of hurt, you saw a lot of brokenness. And so I think it was really hard to see that and to see that it was hard to fix. Like, you couldn’t just go in and fix it, but the flip-side was I saw Jesus fixed so much, in so many small areas where there were just victories and answered prayer, miracles: just amazing how God would just intervene in different lives of the different children and even adults that we were working with: just stories upon stories. And so, I did it, actually, for over ten years. I did it five years before I got married and then six years with my husband. And it’s just amazing the life stories that you hear and to see some of the kids that have grown up, you know, and are on their own now. And so it’s been a very neat journey. I loved it. It was a good job.
Ginny: Neat. I know that lately you’ve been walking through some hard things with your family, and I wondered if you would like to talk a little bit about that with us?
Cynthia: Sure. So basically my youngest son has been dealing with eczema for a little over two years, maybe closer to three, and, you know, initially it was just kind of a small eczema. When most people have eczema, you know, it’s just certain places on their body, and it’s not a big deal. In the last six months, it’s flared up to be 80 to 90% of his body, and we, in the past two years but especially the last six months, we’ve done a lot of just trying to figure it out, you know, and eczema is so tricky. But we have been to allergists. We’ve been to doctors. We’ve done testing, you know, skin testing, blood testing. We have done a lot of naturalists. We’ve done a lot of natural medicine. And to the point where it just really feels like we’re in the middle of it, and you just don’t see the answered prayer. And I think the hard thing too is it being my son, and he’s four now. But you know he has to wear mittens a lot, like all night, and then a lot of times during the day we have to keep mittens on him so that he’s not tearing up his skin. And it’s just really hard to see him struggling with, not only just being so itchy and scratchy and uncomfortable, but just like not feeling well. He literally will be lethargic and sad and just not interacting with his brothers. And so it’s kind of becoming, it’s a consuming thing because you can’t resolve it. And so we’ve done so much prayer, and you know there’s so many friends and family who are praying for us and praying for my son’s healing, and we haven’t seen it. And so then when you’re in a path like that for a long period of time, you start to say, “Oh, why are we not, like we’re doing everything right, we’re supposed to be doing. Why are we not seeing an answer?” And I think that we all face that at certain times of questioning: “Okay, Lord, your Word says this, but I don’t see it. Like I don’t see working.” And so I kind of saw a diagram one time of kind of like this hill, and when you first are saved and have your experiences with the Lord, you’re at the top of the hill. And then, as you walk with the Lord, at some point you’re gonna hit a valley. You know, and that valley is gonna be different things, and that valley can be different depths, but when you get in the valley you have a choice of either ignoring the struggle and pretending like it’s not there and going back up to the top. Or you can wrestle, and you can say, “Okay Lord, these are your promises. This is what you said, but I don’t see it.” You know, in like almost like arguing with the Lord, or…
Ginny: I think “wrestling” is a really good word for that.
Cynthia: Like wrestling, like it just, and you wrestle through it, and then as you wrestle through it, the Lord brings the healing or the breakthrough or whatever it is, and then you’re on a new higher hill where you’re stronger. And even a couple of weeks ago in church I remember the pastor saying, “You know you’re in a tough time when you can redefine ‘tough.'” Because two years ago I thought my son’s eczema was tough, and what I’ve been experiencing last six months makes two years ago look like a piece of cake. Like, I would love to go back to what it looked like before. And it’s just gotten even harder. So it’s like you know you’re in a rough season, when it’s being, when you’re a definition of rough is, is not, is harder than what your rough used to be. I guess kind of repeated myself.
Ginny: I completely understand what you’re trying to say.
Cynthia: But I think what I love about that is the pursuit, and that may be that, you know, most of us, you know, if we struggle for anything over a month, we’re just like, “Okay Lord, where are you at?” But then to talk to people who have been struggling with things for decades. You know, and for me like this six months to two years you know just depending on what I’m talking about as far as eczema and the wanting healing and not seeing it. It feels like forever when you’re dealing with it day in and day out, and it’s affecting your day-to-day life. It’s not like it’s something that just comes and goes. It’s something like hourly, and then even at nights, like when he is in his really bad flare-ups, you know, he’s up anywhere from an hour to three or four hours a night. Which means I’m not that much, and so then I’m not sleeping. And so that’s a really hard season to try to parent and love well and to walk well during the day on like four hours of sleep, when you’re a mom.
Ginny: Especially past the newborn stage: that is rough.
Cynthia: So I think just recognizing this season for what it is, and not giving up on the Lord, and not giving up on His promises. And that’s just, like I’ve had an opportunity to pray for other people for their breakthrough, and I’m like bawling because I want my breakthrough. Like I want to have breakthrough in our struggle. But at the same time, like, if we’re not seeing breakthrough, and we’re not seeing healing right now, it’s not because I need to learn a lesson. It’s because the Lord sees something bigger and something better. And like my son is so strong and just a little warrior. And so to see him be strengthened in this, and through him struggle with it, and for us to grow in it too. It’s just, you know, it’s been a walk.
Ginny: Yeah. So I know a lot of people can relate to struggling, but what is it like as a mom. Because I think when it’s in your own body is hard enough, but to watch your child is a different thing. What is that like?
Cynthia: It feels really hopeless. Because you can’t do anything. Then you’re doing everything you can. And you’re using all your own wisdom and all your understanding, and you’re still not getting it. And I think that’s just when I lean into the Lord. Like I write down scriptures, and I wrote down a scripture: it’s in my journal written down. And it says that, “I will give you understanding in everything” – second Timothy 2:7. And so, like, that’s a promise. Okay Lord, you said you’re gonna give me understanding in everything, so I stand on it. Like you don’t understand right now what’s going on, but healing is coming. And so you know like with our son, he wants to eat certain foods he can’t eat, and so I always tell him like, “Hey buddy, you can’t have right now, but someday you’re gonna be able to eat eggs, and you’re gonna be able to have milk.” And you know those kind of things where it’s not hard to cut that stuff out. There’s so many things that you can eat. It’s not hard to cut it out, but just to have the freedom again will be super nice. So we look forward to that.
Ginny: The words that you used with me when we talked about what it is that you wanted to share on this podcast were “to be able to press in during hard times.” So describe what you mean by “press in.” Because I think I know what you mean, and I think you even bringing up Scripture tells us, but can you describe what that looks like for you?
Cynthia: Well, I mean I think if you challenge anyone to look at when they’re struggling with something, like, if they have – if you have a relationship with the Lord, then when you’re struggling that pushes you closer to Him. And I hope that it does, and I think that the Lord allows us, things to come against us so that we will press into Him. And so for me, instead of just the whole thing of like when you get in the valley you can just give up and pretend like it’s not happening and pretend like life is hunky-dory and nothing’s wrong, or you can say, “This is a struggle, and I don’t know how to handle this, and I don’t know how to fix this, but here’s what Scripture says.” You know, and so pressing in for me is that I’m spending time with the Lord daily; I’m making it a priority. Because then when I get the unexpected phone call from the doctor, or my son wakes up, and it’s an awful day, and I can tell at 9 o’clock in the morning, you know, he’s gonna be wearing mittens all day, and you know I’m gonna be trying different techniques to try to calm him down and keep him distracted from his discomfort. You just lean into that, you know, and you sing praises. Because I think anytime that you’re focused on your circumstances, it gets very depressing, and so I just have try to remind myself, like turn on the praise music and worship the Lord. And you know because then the children start dancing and singing and having a good time too, and it turns into a really good dance party around breakfast time when we turn on praise music. But I think that’s pressing in. It’s seeking the Lord in the heartache. And like, okay, we’re dealing with this, but what can I learn? What can – how can I see you working? Like how can I see what you’re doing in this hardship? And so like for us, like, if Nolan’s having a good day, I’m just like, “Thank you Lord; thank you for today.” I don’t know what tomorrow looks like. You know we’ve tried different medicines and stuff, and so if the medicine works that’s great! Like, and I know in the back of my mind it’s a two-week medicine, and it’s in two weeks I’m gonna be back at square one, but I’m gonna be thankful for these two weeks. So just like being thankful every day.
Ginny: Yeah, it’s a different mentality altogether.
Cynthia: Yeah, and it’s not always easy. Like, and you have good days and bad days, but I think it’s – the Lord’s really blessed me with strong friendships, and some friends who have walked through this before me. And so to be able to have their encouragement and shoulders to lean on has been really strong. So, I’m sure some day I’m gonna be on the other side, and I’m gonna call back from the mountaintop, you know, the people who were in the valley. And I read this in a book a while back. I think it’s Hannah Hurnard. And she was saying that when you’re on the mountaintop, after you’ve climbed out of the valley, you call back: “You can make it.” And so the people who are crawling in the valley, and trying to get up the mountain, and they can’t see the mountaintop, they can still hear your voice, and so you call back to them, and you say, “Hey, I made it. You can make it.” And so I think that’s what my friend is doing for me, and so then someday I’ll be able to do that for another mom who’s kind of struggling. Yeah.
Ginny: That’s in 2nd Corinthians, he says that we’ll be able to comfort others with the comfort that he’s given us. I think that’s so real, and I love that you have that support.
Cynthia: Yeah, it’s good.
Ginny: Can you talk about a time that the Lord really ministered to you, like, that you really felt His comfort during a hard time.
Cynthia: I mean, I think it’s been multiple different times in this whole situation because it’s been, like I said, almost three years long, and there’s been some really low valleys in those three years, and then there’s been, you know, times where it didn’t feel like, you know, it was just kind of life, and you just kind of deal with it: you don’t think about it being a valley. But I can remember one time when my son was really sick, and it was kind of related to his eczema, but it was separate. And he was just really not doing well, and thankfully he wasn’t admitted to a hospital, but he was just very sick at home. And I just remember saying, “God, you’ve got to do something, because if you don’t, if we keep going down this road, this road is death. Like, that’s where his body is going.” And so just like crying out to the Lord, and just like, “I need help.” And just feeling the Lord’s presence in the room of like, “I love your son more than you do, and I want him better more than you do.” And knowing that, and I think the Lord just keeps bringing it back to me so often. Like, “I love him. I have plans for him to prosper him and not to harm him, to give him a hope and a future.” And so I just hold on to those, and I think the Lord speaks it to me, so many, like there’s like that one specific time on the couch I remember, but then it’s like the sweet Spirit of the Lord just keeps reminding me over and over again of that moment and of His love for my son and for me. So, you don’t want to, like, wish hardship on yourself ever. Sometimes like I just want life to be easier; I just wish life could be easier. But then I have to say, what if life was easier, would I be in the word as much as I am now? Would I be looking for His promises? Would I be writing down His promises and then going back over them and reading them to myself and reminding myself and reading it before I go to bed and, you know like, sticking it on my wall and making my kids memorize Scripture that they probably don’t want to memorize? Like would I really be pushing myself and the people around me closer to the Lord if I felt like I wasn’t struggling with something? I mean I might be bad. I shouldn’t need to struggle to press in.
Ginny: I think it’s human nature: that’s what it is. I think we’re all like that. And that’s really part of the reason I want to do this podcast, because as a counselor I hold a lot of stories for people, and I think as Christians, especially, we’re guaranteed in the Bible that we’ll go through trials, but not often do we go around talking about them. Especially not at church sometimes, which is a shame, and so there are a lot of people that need to hear those stories that can be encouraged when they’re in the heat of it.
Cynthia: And I think that’s something if we’re honest with our self everybody’s struggling with something. It’s just a different area, whether it’s self-esteem or family or finances or whatever, you know. And for us, like, you know, Nolan’s health is a huge struggle, and it’s in the forefront of our minds most days. But there’s other struggles in our life that are happening. You know, they just kind of get second rate because your son’s health is number one. But I think, you know, everybody’s struggling.
Ginny: How would you encourage other women who are in a difficult situation or who are waiting on the Lord?
Cynthia: I would just say don’t give up. Have hope. You know God is a God of hope, and so no one, you know, I guess that I have friends who speak into my life, and I’ve been blessed in that way. But I heard someone say one time, “If you can’t hear God, you can read God.” If you’re in that season of waiting and struggling you better be in the Word, because that’s the only thing that’s going to get you through, is reading the Word and putting it in your spirit. Proverbs 3 says – it’s talking about the Lord’s commandments and His Word – it says, “Don’t let them leave you. Bind them around your neck and write them on the tablet of your heart.” And I think to be intentional about being in the Word is so important because in seasons of my life, especially in that newborn baby season, it’s really easy to drop your Bible reading. But I’ve had other seasons where running in the mornings took precedence over my reading my Bible, and so I was giving up my Bible time to run. So I was praying, and I was, you know, maybe meditating, maybe, while I was running, but I wasn’t in the Word, and I think it really slowed me down as far as my relationship with the Lord. And so I love to run, and I’ll pick it up again someday, but never again will I pick it up at the expense of reading the Bible – like my Bible time – because I’ve just recognized how important that is.
Ginny: That is good and a really important reminder for all of us to do that. I think it’s hard as busy women to sometimes make that a priority. I loved what you said about hope, and the Bible says that hope will not put us to shame. And I recently wrote a blog post about that, so friends if you want to go back and read my blog post about that, please feel free to do that on my website! Hope is like one of the most important things. So to close out our podcast, I have a couple of more fun questions for you because you’ve been talking about some hard stuff. So who is somebody who inspires you?
Cynthia: You know this is kind of funny. I think obviously my parents play a huge role in my inspiration, in my dedication to my family, and to the Lord, but it’s gotta be my grandma. Like, she passed away like three years ago, but, oh my goodness, we’re so much alike, and so I love her, and I love to think about her, and just the things that she’s taught me has been really neat. And so she’s always an inspiration. So I always try to think about how would she do this, or you know “I just stuck my foot in my mouth.” Uh, yep, grandma did that a lot too.
Ginny: Do you have a favorite quote of hers or something that she would tell you?
Cynthia: No, I just remember like her laugh. It’s just – her shoulders would shake, and she would kinda go, I can’t describe it, but I just love her laugh, and so I don’t know. She’s just a neat woman and just her legacy. I think that’s one thing that as I get older… like I’m not that old. I’m only 36, right? You starte to think about legacy, and I look at her legacy and I say, “Wow.” Her legacy was amazing, and that’s what I want because we’re guaranteed to die so what am I living for? I’m living to pass along the love of Scripture, the love for Jesus, the love of worship and praise, and giving thanks, like to be a thankful person, and to be a person who’s creative, and can handle things, so yeah. I mean she’s just an inspiration as far as how much she did.
Ginny: To close us out, what is your favorite Bible verse and why?
Cynthia: Okay, so I kind of, I have a really hard time when people ask me that question because just the whole Bible is good, right? And I’ve never had like a life verse like some people do, so my favorite Scripture verse is usually the one that’s speaking to me right now.
Ginny: Girl, we’re so much alike, because I’m the same way.
Cynthia: Well, I feel like… This is my thoughts on the matter, is that: if you’re trying to live in the past, or you’re stuck on a Scripture from the past, then it’s not a fresh revelation, and it’s good, but it’s living on the past. It’s like old stale bread. So I want something that’s for this season.
Ginny: So let me ask it a different way. What is your favorite Bible verse of the moment?
Cynthia: Yes. Thank you. Okay, so this is a really good one. I have two, so I’m just gonna have to read all of them. Okay so the first one is Psalms 37 and it’s 3 – 5: “Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” And I think that’s for me huge. It’s just being content where I’m at and cultivating faithfulness with the Lord. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in him, and he will do it.” So as I walk this road of, you know, just things going on in our life in general, but then also my son’s health. Just trusting him and committing our way to him and knowing that the Lord has plans that we just need to walk day in and day out and be in touch with Him. But then kind of one that’s more long-term – that’s kind of like my first of the week – more of my long-term, I just keep going back to this Scripture verse, that actually my children are memorizing it right now, and so we’ve added like little hand motions to it, and it’s really fun: “My son do not forget my teaching but let your heart keep my commands. For a length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart so you will find favor and a good repute in the side of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” and I just love all this – the whole thing.
Ginny: Great. I love that you said that, and I love that it’s on this podcast, because that is one of the 3 S’s: soul-care, Scripture, and stories so I love that. Thank you for sharing. Well friends if you’re listening, if you have any thoughts or comments about what you heard today about what Cynthia said or anything that relates to your own experience, join me on my Facebook page PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. to join in the conversation or feel free to comment on the website pauserenewnext.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and spread the word to others who you think would enjoy it as well. You can find PRN on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and can find the podcast on our website, pauserenewnext.com, on iTunes, Google Play, or anywhere else podcasts can be found. New podcasts are released each Tuesday and a new blog post each Friday. This is Ginny Detweiler with PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. The Podcast. May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.
A 20 minute podcast does not do Gladys Aylward’s story justice. If you enjoy what you hear on this podcast, there are some really interesting books that go into greater detail about her story. One famous book about her life is The Small Woman, by Alan Burgess. You can find two more books about her in the source list below.
What stood out to you about this story?
Things that stood out to me about Gladys Aylward were her courage and bravery in the face of opposition. Her belief that God had called her to China led to a fierce resolve. She didn’t wait for doors to open, she sometimes forced them open herself. Building this fierce resolve seemed to increase her spiritual muscles and the attributes that she would need for the hard things God called her to do in China. Those attributes are also the things that caused the Chinese people to love and respect her.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or epiphanies about Gladys Aylward’s story. Join our Facebook page at PRN – Pause, Renew, Next to join in the conversation, or feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus!
Pause, Renew, Next!
Atwood, Kathryn J. (2017). Women Heroes of World War II. Chicago, Ilinois: Chicago Review Press Inc.
Benge, Janet; Benge, Geoff (1998), Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime YWAM Publishing
Movie listed in the podcast: The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)
Hi, I’m Tammy, and you’re listening to PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. a podcast about soul-care, Scripture, and stories of faith. If you like this podcast, please subscribe and tell your friends. Enjoy!
Welcome to PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. The Podcast. I’m Ginny Detweiler, and today we are going be talking about the faith story of a woman who lived an incredibly adventurous life. Really her story could be made into a movie – it’s got it all: it’s got adventure, it’s got action, it’s got drama, it’s got tragedy, some comedy. I’m just kidding – really it’s already been made into a movie, and the name of it is The Inn of the Sixth Happiness with Ingrid Bergman. If you don’t already know who I’m talking about, today we’re gonna be talking about Gladys Aylward, and we’re gonna be starting back in the 1930s when she was still in her twenties.
At that time she had recently become a Christian and had felt a very strong call to go to China as a missionary. In fact, she was accepted by the China Inland Mission to study to be a missionary in China, but after a few months they let her go because she didn’t show enough progress in the Chinese language. She was not dissuaded. She decided to work as a domestic house worker for Sir Francis Younghusband who was a British Army officer and Explorer and had spent much time in Asia. While she worked she began saving money, and soon she had worked up enough courage and enough money, that she went to try to buy a ship passage.
But when she got there, the teller was less than encouraging. He said “Ma’am, don’t you know you only have three pounds? You need at least 90 to be able to get to China.” But she was not discouraged. She said, “Well surely there’s a cheaper way to get there than that!” And he said, “Well ma’am, there is. You can go on a train. But don’t you know there’s a war right now between China and Siberia? If you go by train, there’s a good chance that you’ll die long before you get there.” But she again was not discouraged, and she said, “Sir, it will take me so long to save that money, surely all be over by the time I get there.”
So she worked and worked and saved money. She worked every chance she could, and each week she would take her money and put money down on her ship passage. All this time she really had no plan about what she was going to do when she got to China. She didn’t even know where in China she was headed, but she saved nonetheless.
During that time, one day she had an important conversation. Someone told her about a missionary lady in China named Jenny Lawson who had recently decided to retire and had gone back to China to live there. And so our friend Gladys decided that that’s exactly where she would go. She would go help Jenny Lawson.
One day she did save up enough money, and she got on a train and headed across Europe on to the trans-Siberian railway. Slowly, as they went into Russia, there were less and less civilians on the train and more and more soldiers, until she was the last civilian left. Although the soldiers only spoke Russian and she only spoke English, they communicated well enough with hand motions and gestures. And it was very clear that the soldiers wanted her to get off, but she was not going to get off. She said “I have paid my money to get to China, and I’m going to get there.” But finally they stopped, and they could hear gunfire, and the soldiers made her get off the train and walk back to the last train station.
Now remember, she was in Siberia. She walked through the snow miles to get back to the last train station, and when she got there she had no clue what she was going to do. She only had a one pound note that was stuck in her corset and no plan as to what she could do from there.
She was detained by Russians who changed her passport from saying “missionary” to “machinist”, and it was clear that they planned to send her to be a free worker somewhere in Russia. Thankfully, she escaped with the help of some locals, who helped her get onto a Japanese ship. But as she was about to get onto the ship, six Russian officials chased her and surrounded her. Quick thinking, she threw her bags onto the ship, and threw the one pound note up into the air so they were confused and grabbing for it, and then jumped onto the ship herself.
Eventually she did make her way to China. When she got there, she found Mrs. Lawson had moved, and she had to track her down. Nothing was as she expected: not the trip; not Mrs. Lawson; not even the people or her reception in China after all the work that she’d gone to do to get there.
Mrs. Lawson herself was a lady in her 70’s, and she was not really warm and fuzzy. She had white hair and blue eyes and was very, very blunt.
The people there did not receive Gladys well either. In fact, one day in town the children laughed at her, and some ladies threw mud at her. She ran home crying, and Mrs. Lawson was not sympathetic. She said, “Well they think that were foreign devils, but there’s no use crying about it. We just have to persuade them differently.”
So they came up with a plan to begin an inn. At that place, there was not a road. There were just mule trains that would pass through. So their plan was to take their home and make it into an inn for the muleteers. However, they wouldn’t come inside, so Mrs. Lawson said, “Gladys, I want you to stand outside, and when they come by you’re gonna pull the reins and pull them into our courtyard, so that they can’t escape.” So she did! Can you imagine poor little Gladys in her 20’s or 30’s is standing out there and pulling little muleteers into their inn so they had to stay. Well, it didn’t go well at first, but in the long term it worked out very well, because they got a great reputation for telling great stories. And what stories did they tell? But Bible stories of course.
Sadly, Mrs. Lawson died within the first year that Gladys arrived. And that really left her in another bind, because now what was she going to do? How would she be a missionary by herself? Thankfully, in that year she’d learned quite a bit of the language. And she could kind of keep up the inn, but she really didn’t know what was going to come next.
But God had it figured out. He sent the Mandarin of the province to visit her, and the Mandarin asked her: would she go on a special mission for him around to area villages and give orders for the women to stop practicing foot binding. Now that had been a practice for many, many, many generations, and the women there really were crippled because they could not walk on their little feet from where they had bound them for so long. So the new edict said that anyone under the age of 10 had to have their feet unbound. And it was Gladys’s job to go around and spread the news. The Mandarin gave her some soldiers to accompany her to give her a little oomph when she told them. Still, Gladys wasn’t so sure about this idea, but the Mandarin said, “Well I can’t send a man to do the job, and all the women have had bound feet and won’t be able to walk that far. You’re the only one that can do it.” And so she had a new job, and actually she was respected and loved, and she became known as the storyteller because everywhere she went she would tell stories from the Bible about God and about the Gospel.
One day, Gladys was approached by a child seller who was trying to sell her a child. Gladys was outraged. She went to the Mandarin to talk about it. He heard her, and he agreed that it was outrageous and that it was evil, but said that there was nothing he could do about it.
So Gladys went back and bought the child. She named her Nine Pence because that’s how much she spent. And Nine Pence became her daughter. She adopted her. Soon there was a little boy outside, and Nine Pence asked if she could eat a little less and if Gladys could eat a little less, that maybe they could adopt that little boy too. And soon she adopted him. And don’t you know, before long, she had 19 children.
Well by this time, she decided it was probably a good idea to become a Chinese citizen. And when she did, she took the name 艾偉德, which is the name that the Chinese people had given her, and it meant “virtuous woman.” And during that time she took in more and more children and really started an orphanage.
Soon war broke out, and for the Chinese people that was nothing new because they were unofficial wars all the time. But this was different. Japan had invaded China, and little did they know they were in the middle of World War II. Soon Japan bombed their town, and there was great destruction and fear.
Again the Mandarin came and asked for her help. He said, “China is having to do a scorched earth policy, because Japan comes and invades and takes all of our supplies, so we’ve got to get rid of everything.” Gladys was very sad because China was like her new homeland and she loved it dearly. Some Chinese officials came and asked her if she would work as a spy for China. Because she loved China so much, she said that she would at least as far as her conscience would allow.
Time Magazine did an article about her that became really popular in the United States and gave her a kind of 15 minutes of fame. By this time, she was taking care of 200 children in China, and they needed to move to a safer area. There was a man who helped her and took 100 of them to a safer area, and she was waiting for him to come back and return to take the other 100. But he never returned. Later she would find out that he had been killed by some Japanese soldiers, and when they had killed him they found the Time article on him, and now she was a marked woman too.
Soon an officer came to the door and warned her that she needed to leave, but she said, “Christians never retreat.” He said, “艾偉德, you need to know that Japan has marked you.” And he pulled out a paper that had her name along with two others, one of whom was the Mandarin, and said that they were wanted dead or alive. She went upstairs and prayed, because although she wasn’t afraid to die she wanted to make sure she was making the right choice. She opened her Bible and read, “Flee ye to the mountains.” And so she decided she would go.
She had to take the children to safety herself. All she had was 94 children, the clothes on their backs, a cast iron pot, millet enough for two days to feed the children, and she had all the children carry their shoes around their waists. They tied them around their waist because the soles of their shoes were made of bark and they were only supposed to be good for a month. They would need them much longer than that.
In 12 days they finally got to the Yellow River, and she knew, if they could make it to the Yellow River, that after that they could take a train or a boat the rest of the way. When they reached the town next to the river, there were no people anywhere. Finally they found a little old man by himself underneath the tree. Gladys spoke to him and asked where all the people were. He said they had run away because they knew Japan was coming for them. She asked why did he not leave, and he said it’s because his children had already been killed by Japanese soldiers, and he’d rather use his last breath to spit on them than to run away. He urged her to run back into the mountains. He said. “You by yourself might make it, but with all these children there’s no way you will survive.”
But she went on anyway, and they sat by the Yellow River and waited for a boat. Four days went by and no boats came. The children said, “艾偉德, why can you not make the Yellow River part like Moses did in the Old Testament?” And so they prayed together.
Now, at this time Gladys was not doing well physically. She was exhausted. But even more than that, she had sustained an injury earlier from a Japanese soldier who butted her head with the end of a rifle. Since that time, she had dizzy spells, and times where she just wasn’t herself.
So as they sat by the Yellow River and waited and waited and waited they sang, and they prayed. And finally an officer appeared. Gladys went and talked to him, and she said, “Is there any way that you can help us? We need a boat.” And the man said, “Of course I would love to help you, but know that even if you get on a boat there’s a good chance that Japan will shoot you from the air. In fact,” as he watched the kids playing in the reeds he said, “Japan has been coming by and shooting into those reeds, but for some reason this week we haven’t seen any of the airplanes.” So sure enough he got them a boat and ferried them across. It took three trips, but they all made it across. And when they got to the other side, they got on a train.
Of course, as you would suspect after listening to the rest of this story, you can bet that that train didn’t make it very far before it too was detained, because Japan had targeted China’s railroads. 艾偉德 could not imagine what they would do now. She was so tired. She was told that the only way that they could make it to where they need to go was to go through the mountains. They looked up. The mountains were so high, they were hidden by clouds. Gladys asked how many days it would take to travel them by foot, and she was told four or five days.
This is the one time in the whole story where she lost it. She sat down in front of all those 94 children and cried and cried and cried, and some of the kids also started crying. But soon she stood up, wiped her face, and said, “Everyone needs a good cry every once in a while, but now it’s time to move.” And so they got up, and they started walking, and they climbed those mountains for five days until they reached the other side. And amazingly, even though everybody was completely exhausted, there were no major injuries.
When they reached the other side and tried to get on the trains, they were told, “The trains here are longer running. The only trains that are now running are coal trains, and you can’t ride on those.” Gladys and the children were so tired, so Gladys told them to pull out their little bed rolls and lay on the platform, just like she had all those years ago in Russia, and she fell asleep. Soon she was awoken by one of the Train officials who said, “We heard your story and will let you ride on the coal trains if you want.”
So all the kids climbed on top of the coal cars, and they made little boxes around themselves made out of coal so that when they went around curves the kids would not fall off.
I know, right? This is insane. This whole story is wild and crazy, but none of the children die in this story, and that’s the amazing part.
When they woke up the next morning, everybody was completely black from all the coal dust. So there was no way that the Japanese could see them: they were completely camouflaged. And the only danger they were in, besides potentially rolling off, was a bombing, which did not happen. So three days later they finally arrived in the city where they were supposed to drop the children off at the orphanage.
But again they were not allowed to get off. Nobody was allowed to get off the train. They said, “You’re gonna have to keep on moving.” Gladys at this point was so tired that she was going in and out of consciousness. Three days later they finally arrived in another city where there was an orphanage, and they were able to get off. And Gladys took all of the children to an orphanage and dropped them off, and then continued on her way.
Two days later, she passed out and fell into a coma. That’s how bad off she had actually been all of that time. And she stayed in a hospital for a couple of months. She was there at a Baptist Hospital.
And when she woke up, she heard English speaking people, and they said that she had been so bad off, not only had she had fever and exhaustion and malnutrition, but she also had typhus and pneumonia. In fact, it took her years to get fully well.
After World War II another civil war broke out in China. And you know that one: it was the communist regime where Mao Zedong became the new communist leader. During that time, Gladys also went through some hard times. There were a lot of people becoming Christians, and there was a university where two hundred students have recently become Christians, and she knew many of them. One day the communist leaders brought all the students out and read out the names of the students who had said that they were not for the communist government. And that was two hundred students. One by one they read their names. The first girl came forward. And they said, “Now are you for communism? What do you believe in now?” And she said, “Two months ago I believed in Jesus Christ, but after you have treated us so harshly I believe even more in Jesus Christ.” And they took her out and beheaded her in front of everyone. And Gladys watched as they killed all 199 one after the other in the same fashion. She was devastated as she watched the first girl die, but she stayed throughout the entire massacre and prayed a prayer for them that Mrs. Lawson had taught her many years before. “Lord, let me not be afraid to die, but if I am to die let me die well.”
Soon the time came that she had to leave China, which she loved dearly. Not because she was afraid of her own life, but because she feared that she was drawing attention to those she was trying to help. So she left, and when she went back to Great Britain she tried to continue to help the Chinese refugees. She was not able to go back to China because she was denied entry due to the communist government. So although she loved the Chinese people, and she never stopped loving them, she went and worked in Taiwan instead. She worked in an orphanage there, and she died in her late 60’s, still helping orphans.
Tell me, what stood out to you about this story? As I was listening to her story and learning all about her, there were some really important things that stood out to me. Number one, how God was there for her every step of the way, even when a lot of us would have thought that He had gone missing. I mean, how many people go through and see as many hardships as she saw. Nothing seemed to come easy for her, but to me her courage, bravery, and the belief that God had called her to something led her to a fierce follow-through that rarely do we see in today’s culture. She didn’t wait for doors to open, she forced them open herself. She built a fierce resolve that seemed to build spiritual muscles and attributes that she would need for the hard things that God called her to do in China. Those are also the things that caused the Chinese people to love and respect her.
What stands out to you about her story? I’d love to hear about it. Join our Facebook page at PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. to join in the conversation, or, of course, feel free to comment on the website: pauserenewnext.com.
If you have enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe and spread the word to your friends. You can like us at Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. New podcasts will be released each Tuesday and new blog posts each Friday.
This is Ginny Detweiler with PRN: Pause. Renew. Next. The Podcast. May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus!
It’s here! The first promo episode of my new Podcast – PRN, Pause Renew Next! I hope you enjoy!
Full transcript below:
Welcome to PRN – Pause, Renew, Next, the Podcast. I’m Ginny Detweiler, and I’m so excited to share with you in this episode, the vision that I have for this podcast.
For those of you who are new to the Pause, Renew, Next, concept, let me explain. It seems that our culture is constantly speeding up, and with it our schedules and thought lives. It’s no wonder that many women feel constantly overwhelmed and stressed out. Our faith can be affected by busyness and stress as well.
Pause stands for taking some time to be still – some quiet time to allow your body and brain to calm down so that you can soak in the Word of God and listen to His voice.
Renew, stands for a time of reflection, shifting perspective, allowing what you read in God’s Word to change you from the inside.
Next is the part where we move on with our day – being able to put the Word into action and apply it to our lives.
Although this ministry was born out of a blog, the truth is that many people just don’t have time to read blogs. Podcasts are where it’s at. Information and entertainment on the go. I’m including myself in this too. I love podcasts and often listen to podcasts while I do chores around the house or on my drive to work! This podcast will incorporate the Pause, Renew, Next mentality, but will have a different format. We’ll be focusing on three main subjects I like to call the 3 Ss- Soulcare, Scripture, and Stories.
Soulcare, because as busy women, many of us lack in this department. Sure, soulcare has many things in common with self-care, but I just really like the term better, because I feel it encompasses the whole person – relationships, body, mind, and spirit.
Scripture – because it is at the root of all truth. It is living and active. It has the power to change us.
The part I am most excited about are the stories. I think we all love a good story. My hope is that we will hear stories of faith on this podcast that will leave us encouraged and challenged. A few years ago I was thinking about how few times I hear people tell stories of how God has answered their prayers, performed miracles, sustained them through hardship, met them in suffering, etc. I decided that I would write down the stories of faith from my family members and make a book. Of course, I never actually did it. Follow through, and all of that….
Still, I hope that is what happens with this podcast. That women of faith will be encouraged by each other’s testimonies of God’s faithfulness and goodness…Maybe even get a glimpse of what it really looks like to live for His Kingdom.
In Hebrews 12, Paul likens the journey of faith to a race. He writes, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
My vision for this podcast, is that you have a cheering section on your race. Know that you’re not alone. This race is hard. It takes endurance, encouragement, and sometimes even a little physical therapy.
In some podcasts, I will be telling stories of women of faith who have already finished their race. If anyone has something to teach us about how to run well, it’s a finisher! We need some of those in the great cloud of witnesses to pass on their wisdom to us who are still setting our pace.
In other podcasts, I will be interviewing women who have stories to tell about how they have seen God move in their lives and how he has increased their faith.
Most of us are not famous or extraordinary. So, don’t expect that everything you hear on this podcast will fall into those categories. No, it’s the ordinary and mundane where God often meets us and sustains us. And these stories will not really be about the women and how awesome they are, but about Jesus, and how he has moved and is moving in their lives.
For the remainder of this first podcast, I would like to focus on soulcare.
I am an energetic person, and I always have a million things to do. It’s very hard for me to slow down and make myself be still to have quiet time with the Lord. Add to that stress, or worry, or children misbehaving, and you might as well forget any kind of sustained concentration. I’m sure many of you can relate.
Do you ever go to have quiet time with Jesus, and just feel like you can’t concentrate? Like the day has been so stressful, and your thoughts are running a million miles a minute. Maybe your phone is sitting there, just waiting for you to check Facebook. Maybe your brain is still checking off your to do list. It’s hard to get your body and your brain to slow down enough to really meditate on God’s Word, isn’t it?
Deep breathing can be a really helpful exercise. It helps our bodies slow down, and often when our bodies slow down, our brains can calm down too. Picture watching a baby, or a cat or dog, taking a nap. You’ll notice their bellies go up and down while they sleep. This is how we breathe when we’re peaceful or at rest – we belly breathe. When we are stressed, afraid or angry, our bodies do everything much faster – our heart rates increase, our thoughts race, and our breathing gets more shallow and faster as well. Deep breathing is an exercise that can help you slow down.
I’m going to call it belly breathing, because when you breathe deeply, your belly should expand, not your chest. Imagine a balloon opening up and expanding down into your belly when you breathe. Let’s practice together.
Breathe in slowly through your nose, filling up your belly. Now hold it for one or two seconds. Then slowly exhale through your mouth. Let’s do it again. Inhale through your nose, hold it a for a second, then slowly exhale through your mouth. You can do this a few times in a row. You’ll probably notice after a few breaths that you feel calmer. There are some really cool apps out there with visuals that you can use while you deep breathe. The great thing about this exercise is that you can use it anytime, anywhere, and no one has to know you’re doing it – before a test, at church, before a speech or presentation, or when you’re late to work and you’re feeling really stressed.
Try taking a few deep breaths before you read the Bible the next time you’re feeling unable to concentrate. I am warning you not to try this exercise if you’re doing your quiet time on your bed. You might just fall asleep instead!
Well, that’s it for our intro podcast.. Next week, we’ll be looking at the life of a woman who really did live a pretty extraordinary life. I’m not going to tell you who she is, but I will give you one hint: she was really great at hiking!
If you like this podcast, feel free to subscribe, or you can find it at my website: pauserenewnext.com. New podcasts are released each Tuesday, and new blog posts each Friday. Follow PRN on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. If you enjoy it, please spread the word!
This is Ginny Detweiler with PRN: Pause, Renew, Next, the Podcast. May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.