“Success” and Missions: G. Aylward

What would the Baptist missionary Gladys Aylward (1902-1970) teach us about biblical missions?

  • ‘As an adult, Aylward stood less than 5 feet tall in her ragged clothes, and she had little formal education. This small woman looked unlikely to make much of a difference in the world. According to her credentials, it was doubtful she would affect thousands with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • ‘When our lives feel stagnant and ordinary, Aylward’s life can encourage us. God uses the weak—not the strong—so that no flesh should glory in his presence (1 Cor. 1:27–31). Aylward didn’t set out to become a well-known missionary. She didn’t expect to be a world-changer. She simply set her face on Christ, then toward China. God accomplished the rest.’
  • ‘Our plans may fail. Aylward’s mentors insisted she join a missionary society, enroll in their college, and be sent to the mission field under their care. The missionary society committee, however, found her unfit in terms of education and intellect. They rejected her and told her the Chinese language would be far too difficult for her to learn. With her rejection by the missionary society, Aylward’s dream seemed impossible.’
  • ‘God’s plans won’t fail. Aylward’s initial plan to get to China may have failed, but God’s plan to use her there succeeded. She put her hope in his sovereign plan, knowing whatever he willed would succeed. She trusted that this was the way God would be most glorified.’
  • ‘…Aylward’s story encourages us that even our failures lead to success–when we define success as God does.’
  • ‘…despite her weaknesses.’

Read the whole thing here

(GSiV: Missions and Evangelism, Miller: Success, Failure, and Grace, Suffering in vocational ministry)