When Gladys Aylward arrived in China in the early 1900s, she met elderly missionary Jeannie Lawson, who quickly introduced her to Chinese culture and to missionary work. A year later, Jeannie was dead, and Gladys was now the only European within miles and miles and miles.
Broke and directionless, Gladys pleaded with the Lord for guidance.
A few days later, the mandarin entered the roadside inn where Gladys had ministered alongside of Jeannie Lawson. The mandarin was the sovereign of all the villages in that district. He was responsible for law and order. Upon being introduced to Gladys, he informed her that he needed her help.
The Chinese government had recently forbidden the ancient practice of footbinding, and they expected the mandarin to enforce the new prohibition in his district. He came to Gladys because of her big feet. Gladys was shocked as she looked down at her feet--she wore a size 3!
He wished to employ Gladys to be his enforcer. The deal? She would travel from village to village, reminding villagers of the new law and checking to make sure everyone was complying. She would receive a mule for travel and a modest salary. Two soldiers would also be provided to accompany her.
Gladys explained that if she did this, she would also tell the people stories from the Bible. That was fine with the mandarin.
She had been broke and directionless. She prayed, and she was broke and directionless no more. Further, what a great opportunity to spread the gospel, going from village to village.
The Lord works in mysterious ways, and it is a delight to see how he's going to answer prayer.