Now for the final part of Gladys Aylward’s arrest, where we find out what really happened to her converted general!
I heard nothing more of the general, for the situation swayed back and forth for another two years, sometimes one side winning, sometimes the other. My house was in ruins, so I lived not far off in another house, whose owners had been killed. But I continued to use the old courtyard as a primitive dressing station for the wounded. Often as many as forty men were lying on the floor while I did my best with what poor medical supplies I could muster. I washed their wounds, tied them up, and then sent them off to their own camps. One day a batch of wounded soldiers had just gone and I was attempting to clean the place up somewhat, when a dirty beggar hobbled in.
“Do you want to come in and sit down?” I asked.
He sat down on a stone – we had no furniture. He looked desperately ill, and almost starving.
“Bring some warm food,” I said to Timothy. The boy hurried off to the place we called home, and a few moments later returned with a bowl of porridge. I went on cleaning up the yard.
“Don’t you know me?” the beggar asked as I came near him.
“No, I don’t”
“I belong to Jesus.”
“When you have had some food you can tell me about Jesus.”
“But I still belong to Jesus.” This seemed to be the only sensible remark he could make.
After he had eaten his food, I said, “Where are you going?”
“Where is home?”
“But surely you do not belong to Yangcheng!”
“I belong to Jesus,” he repeated again.
Timothy pulled me aside. “Don’t you know who he is?”
“He says he belongs to Yancheng, but I think he is ill in his head.”
“He is the general,” Timothy whispered.
I turned and stared at the poor, miserable specimen sitting on the cold stone. “What is your name?” I asked gently.
“No name. I belong to Jesus.”
That evening I took him home. Timothy and I cared for him and, very slowly, his health improved. Then I took him to the village where I had my orphans and where I had often gone to hide during the war.
As my beggar grew stronger, I learned more of his story. On the day when he had bravely confessed his faith before the troops, he had waited in vain for the men to come and promise their allegiance to him. That evening, instead of coming to pray with me as he had promised, he was arrested by his own men. They took away his clothes, tied him on a mule, and went off during the night.
For many months they continued as bandits, burning, looting and rioting. They dragged their general with them everywhere, afraid that he would expose them to the government if they let him go. In every possible way they tried to break his faith. He was tortured, starved, kicked, and beaten, but still he held out. Fixed in his mind was the knowledge that because he belonged to Jesus Christ he could no longer be a bandit.
After nine months of this terrible testing, when they were in the northernmost part of the province, a man came to where he was tied up one night and said, “We did far better when you were our leader. We want you back. Will you lead us again?”
“No, because I must still stand for Jesus Christ.”
“Then if you are really sure, I will help you get away.”
Later the man managed to give him a suit of peasant clothes and set him on the way back. He begged in the villages, worked in the fields, always afraid that his men would find him and wreak terrible vengeance on him. In every place, though he knew so little, he told people that he belonged to Jesus Christ and was His servant.
The life he had endured took its toll, however, and he became very ill. Some village women helped him, though by now his mind was very clouded. All he could remember was that he belonged to Jesus and Yangcheng, and, after months of wandering, he made his way to Yangcheng, and, instead of a bullying, cursing general, came into the same courtyard as a poor, battered, penniless beggar. This faith implanted that one night of struggle had been as a grain of mustard seed and had remained unmovable, though all else had gone from him.
As his health improved, his mind cleared once more; but the blustering bandit had gone. In the village the children adored him and hung around him. No one except Timothy and myself knew his true identity. To the Christians he was Lao Dah (Big Brother) and they truly loved him. The women gave him little delicacies they made, and the men brought him back ling tang (raw sugar) when they returned with their mules, and to them ling tang was very precious.
But Lao Dah never really grew strong again. His chest had been weakened by suffering and exposure, and a year after his return, he died. The Christians in the village mourned him with great sorrow – to them he had indeed become Lao Dah.
We never knew his real name, but I was proud to have him buried as Wong-wei-deh, my brother; proud to know that “my son in the faith” had endured so faithfully for our Saviour and Lord.”
Aylward, Gladys, and Christine Hunter. The Small Woman of the Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Chicago: Moody Press, 1970. Print.
Amazing. How is that for a testimony of enduring all things? Below are some beautiful promises that tell us of this. In Christ, we are “more than overcomers” (Romans 8:37) because “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12
“…the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” – Matthew 24:13
“And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” – Hebrews 6:15
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Revelation 3:13