January 23rd, 2021

Grace, will, opportunity

By Submitted Article on February 8, 2020.

To be of value

First of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

The movie “Inn of the Sixth Happiness” portrays the courageous move of Gladys Aylward to China as missionary in the 1930s.

When she said to an army captain that she came to China to be of value, he urged her to go back to England where she belonged. “They will not give you credit. You will not be able to open the inn. You have no friends. You have no money. You don’t know the language. It isn’t your country. It isn’t your problem.”

When she refused to leave, the captain reiterated, “How can you be of value here? By trying to make people believe what you believe? By saving souls that don’t want to be saved? The dangers that confront you, those are real. Leave now while you still can.”

She remained adamant to stay on, so the captain asked the mandarin to help her leave. The mandarin only heard “help her” and appointed her as foot-inspector to stop the foot binding of young girls.

As she gradually mastered the language, she became a loved and valued member of the mandarin’s council. She cared for orphans, taught children to read, and improved conditions for prisoners. When Japan attacked that part of China, she took 100 orphans on foot over mountainous terrain to safety.

Against all odds, Gladys Aylward became a person of value. We all need that.

Those who feel they have no value don’t have to sit and wait passively for the golden apple to fall in their laps. Being of value is a combination of grace, will and opportunity.

Gladys Aylward started by saving up money for the long journey by train over Europe and Russia to China. On her arrival, she had to overcome many obstacles to gradually grow into a person of value.

By sustaining their family with home, food, clothes and schooling, parents stay people of great value. When children look back with affection to the home and family they grew up in, it underscores the value of being part of a family – despite drawbacks and imperfections.

The Bible gives us some facts about eight disciples of Jesus. The four that did not say or do anything worth recording became valuable apostles, too, when they received the Holy Spirit. All the disciples, except John, died as martyrs while proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Although some thought the apostle Paul was a better writer than speaker (2 Cor. 10:10), God made him valuable by inspiring him to testify faithfully in person and letters about the saving power of Christ.

Paul’s life in the Acts of the Apostles as well as his 13 epistles have been eagerly studied by the church for 20 centuries.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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