She was born into a humble working-class family in an industrial suburb of north London in 1902. She left school at 14 and worked as a lowly parlour maid in a wealthy house. She had no specific abilities she had no prospects, but she had dream.
One day she attended a Christian revival meeting in London and committed her life to sharing the freedom, peace and happiness that Jesus brings. She was so inspired by the presentation and deep in her heart felt she was called to be a missionary to China.
But she faced rejection when she struggled to learn the basics of the language and so was turned down by the China Inland Mission.
Despite many disappointments, very little money and no support, she decided to find her own way to China to share the good news about Jesus. And so, on the
A young woman travelling alone was fraught with many dangers and especially as there was tension at the Russian and Chinese borders at this time. Eventually Gladys arrived in Tientsin, in northwest China to begin her work with Jeannie Lawson, an elderly missionary.
The two women thought and prayed how they could help the local people and share their belief in Jesus. They decided to open an inn for the travelling mule caravans. They provided food, a warm place to sleep and stories of Jesus from the Bible every night.
Gladys soon found herself also caring for the orphans who were abandoned in her area. She became so well known that even the local governor, or mandarin as he was called requested that she help him to stop the cruel practice of binding women’s feet in his region.
Her love and compassion for the people was obvious and they soon learnt to trust her. Even the rioting prisoners who had a lack of food and no work to do, listened to her wise advice.
But the late 1930’s were days of strife in northern China as the government forces fought with the Japanese invaders. In the middle of this chaos and with a price on her head as a spy, Gladys gathered the 100 orphans in her care and walked with them for 27 days over the mountains to the safety of Xian and saved their lives.
What motivated Gladys to leave the comfort of her own country and travel to an unknown country to help people she didn’t even know? Gladys was following her dream, she was convinced God had a plan for her life and that He was calling her to go to China.
God is calling all of us. He has a special plan for our lives. In Isaiah 43:1, it says, ‘I have called you by name.’ God wants us to follow our dreams and find fulfilment. God only wants what is best for us.
In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’