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Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime

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Written for readers age 10 and up -- enjoyed by adults! Without formal education or a missionary organization to back her, Gladys raised her own finances for the overland trip that would bring her to the country and people that God had etched so deeply on her heart...China! What follows is an amazing adventure of faith and determination. Gladys Aylward, a housemaid from En Written for readers age 10 and up -- enjoyed by adults! Without formal education or a missionary organization to back her, Gladys raised her own finances for the overland trip that would bring her to the country and people that God had etched so deeply on her heart...China! What follows is an amazing adventure of faith and determination. Gladys Aylward, a housemaid from England, dared to trust God in the face of dire and seemingly hopeless circumstances. Her life is one of the truly great missionary stories of our era.


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Written for readers age 10 and up -- enjoyed by adults! Without formal education or a missionary organization to back her, Gladys raised her own finances for the overland trip that would bring her to the country and people that God had etched so deeply on her heart...China! What follows is an amazing adventure of faith and determination. Gladys Aylward, a housemaid from En Written for readers age 10 and up -- enjoyed by adults! Without formal education or a missionary organization to back her, Gladys raised her own finances for the overland trip that would bring her to the country and people that God had etched so deeply on her heart...China! What follows is an amazing adventure of faith and determination. Gladys Aylward, a housemaid from England, dared to trust God in the face of dire and seemingly hopeless circumstances. Her life is one of the truly great missionary stories of our era.

30 review for Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    This is an amazing story about an incredible woman who God used to reach the people of China. She went through so much but the impact she made was indescribable! I am looking forward to reading this with my sons when they get a little older, and reading more books in this series about other missionaries.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I read this book aloud to Aurora as part of our Sonlight curriculum this year. I don't think I, personally, would have chosen it as a read-aloud for 4th graders. The book is quite heavy. It's the true story of Gladys Aylward and her experiences as a missionary in China. It is set during the time of the second world war. Ms. Aylward's life was filled with stories of God's amazing provision but also a fair amount of blood, desperation, hunger, and death. Aurora did not like it. What stood out to h I read this book aloud to Aurora as part of our Sonlight curriculum this year. I don't think I, personally, would have chosen it as a read-aloud for 4th graders. The book is quite heavy. It's the true story of Gladys Aylward and her experiences as a missionary in China. It is set during the time of the second world war. Ms. Aylward's life was filled with stories of God's amazing provision but also a fair amount of blood, desperation, hunger, and death. Aurora did not like it. What stood out to her were all the sad stories, rather than the ways in which God provided. I definitely think this book is a worthwhile read for adults, or even teens. Ms. Aylward lived an amazing life, and it's a story worth telling. I just don't think it's a good fit for elementary students.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kayla

    I really enjoyed this book. What this woman endured was amazing to me, and I don't think many could have done what she did. She was definitely a devout Christian and her example made me want to do better. Definitely increased my faith to do the hard things God asks of us. I really enjoyed this book. What this woman endured was amazing to me, and I don't think many could have done what she did. She was definitely a devout Christian and her example made me want to do better. Definitely increased my faith to do the hard things God asks of us.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Laura (Book Scrounger)

    I had heard of "The Small Woman" before, but mostly just remembered the story about her deescalating a prison riot. But there is a lot more to her story, much of it almost stranger than fiction, but still amazing. Parts were a bit intense for a 7-year-old (there are a couple beheading scenes and some war violence is described, so I found it appropriate to skip over some details), but we were nevertheless awed and amazed by how one woman's unwavering devotion was used by God to save and impact so I had heard of "The Small Woman" before, but mostly just remembered the story about her deescalating a prison riot. But there is a lot more to her story, much of it almost stranger than fiction, but still amazing. Parts were a bit intense for a 7-year-old (there are a couple beheading scenes and some war violence is described, so I found it appropriate to skip over some details), but we were nevertheless awed and amazed by how one woman's unwavering devotion was used by God to save and impact so many lives.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Read this to my 8 and 10 year old boys, and all 3 of us loved it. Gripping story, written well for kids to feel the heartache and joy, but still age appropriate. Really wonderful book exploring the life and sacrifice of a woman who was determined to follow God.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gaylina

    What an amazing story. So much missionary history. God is faithful. So much suffering by so many for their faith in Christ. Gladys Aylward was a brave woman. She was the Billy Graham of China. I loved reading of her courage. I highly recommend this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Judy G

    Wonderful book about a selfless, courageous woman who followed God’s call despite tremendous difficulties along the way, and the impact it had on untold numbers of people.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Holly Hallman

    This was a great book because of the unbelievable true story. Gladys followed god and loved all his people her courage and strength are so beautiful.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chandra

    Gladys Aylward's life was full of challenges, which was the perfect backdrop for the Lord to abundantly provide... My boys said this was their second favorite biography ever to George Mueller! This book felt like a good overview and made me want to read a more in-depth biography on her life. Gladys Aylward's life was full of challenges, which was the perfect backdrop for the Lord to abundantly provide... My boys said this was their second favorite biography ever to George Mueller! This book felt like a good overview and made me want to read a more in-depth biography on her life.

  10. 4 out of 5

    April

    A neat story of the triumphs and tears of hard work, persistence, and a single woman's desire to minister. So much heartache and tears, but she kept on. A neat story of the triumphs and tears of hard work, persistence, and a single woman's desire to minister. So much heartache and tears, but she kept on.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tina Parry

    So inspiring! A life given to the Lord and others is a life well-lived!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Gladys Aylward was an inspiring woman who followed God with all her heart. Her story challenges me to do the same - to pursue Him fearlessly.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Ethan loved this one. It has a slow start but once you get going it is jaw dropping. Not as many missionary experiences as you would expect in the first half but neat story with a glimpse into China 1938. As the book went on I couldn’t believe the things she managed. Truly a spectacular woman.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Oh my, what a great story! My daughter recommended this book to me and I am so glad she did. I will not soon forget Gladys Aylward who as a missionary to China accomplished the unbelievable. In England as a young woman, Gladys decided her destiny was in China, but she had little to nothing to go on. She failed missionary school, did not have money to travel, did not know Chinese language and customs, was not skilled in preaching or teaching and had only one possible contact in China to help her Oh my, what a great story! My daughter recommended this book to me and I am so glad she did. I will not soon forget Gladys Aylward who as a missionary to China accomplished the unbelievable. In England as a young woman, Gladys decided her destiny was in China, but she had little to nothing to go on. She failed missionary school, did not have money to travel, did not know Chinese language and customs, was not skilled in preaching or teaching and had only one possible contact in China to help her get started. But all of this did not stop her. She overcame incredible odds and many dangers to reach China. Once there she showed remarkable faith in God and courage, overcoming her fears to help and gain the trust of the Chinese people. As a result of her efforts, many people became Christians and many lives were improved. The challenges she lived through - war torn country, the needs of many orphans and refugees are highlighted in the book. Her strength and determination were super human. You will be amazed by the life of Gladys Aylward, I sure was.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    The dictionary defines adventure as "an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks." The life & work of missionary Gladys Aylward can be described as nothing less than an adventure. At the "old" age of 32, Gladys embarks on a journey to China, where she knows she is called to be a missionary. Filled mishaps & harrowing escapes, Gladys makes it to her destination, in the northern mountaintops of China. As sets about her work, sharing the Gospel with everyone she meets, her integrity & The dictionary defines adventure as "an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks." The life & work of missionary Gladys Aylward can be described as nothing less than an adventure. At the "old" age of 32, Gladys embarks on a journey to China, where she knows she is called to be a missionary. Filled mishaps & harrowing escapes, Gladys makes it to her destination, in the northern mountaintops of China. As sets about her work, sharing the Gospel with everyone she meets, her integrity & hard work catch the attention of the public official of the town. Gladys is asked to help unbind the feet of women in her province, and shares God's love along the way. Gladys' amazing ministry is culminated during the Japanese occupation, and the Communist rule, when she finally leaves the land she's known for 30 years. But her legacy still remains today, and inspires generations of young missionaries & world changers to embrace adventure and God's call on their lives. She is truly a hero of the faith. I absolutely loved this book, and read it in about 2 days. It's quick, yet thorough, giving much detail on Gladys' work. I am nothing short of inspired after reading this book. Full of confidence in God's call on her life, Gladys sets out to bring Good News to China for the rest of her life. Challenge accepted.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tori Hook

    Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime is one of those rare books that renews your faith and is a grand adventure, as I believe most if not all in this series will be. As a young woman, Gladys became irrevocably convinced that God wanted her to serve as a missionary in China. Though it took her years to get there, she finally arrived in China, and started ministering to the people. Following her arrival (an adventure of its own), Gladys continued to serve God in so many incredible ways whil Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime is one of those rare books that renews your faith and is a grand adventure, as I believe most if not all in this series will be. As a young woman, Gladys became irrevocably convinced that God wanted her to serve as a missionary in China. Though it took her years to get there, she finally arrived in China, and started ministering to the people. Following her arrival (an adventure of its own), Gladys continued to serve God in so many incredible ways while she was in China. I had heard very little about Gladys Aylward before I read this book, but I must say that she was an incredible woman. Her faith through trials, her bravery when things seemed impossible, her willingness to serve in whatever way was put in front of her. I truly loved reading about her, and would even consider her someone I'd want to model myself after. What an amazing woman of God. If you want to be moved in your faith, then this book (and the rest of the series too, presumably) is for you.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tina at Mommynificent

    I enjoyed reading this book aloud with my girls. As with all the books in this series that we've read so far, this story is very inspiring and challenges us to dream big! I've never had to pre-read any books in this series before, and I didn't do so with this one, but I found myself regretting that. There were some extremely gory scenes in this book including the main character witnessing someone being beheaded and the head rolling across the town square and landing at her feet. These scenes wou I enjoyed reading this book aloud with my girls. As with all the books in this series that we've read so far, this story is very inspiring and challenges us to dream big! I've never had to pre-read any books in this series before, and I didn't do so with this one, but I found myself regretting that. There were some extremely gory scenes in this book including the main character witnessing someone being beheaded and the head rolling across the town square and landing at her feet. These scenes would have completely freaked my 5 and 9-year olds out so I found myself editing on the fly several times throughout the book which I don't enjoy doing as I am not particularly good at it. I truly can't imagine going through the things Gladys and the children went through and I would never want to minimize any of their suffering, but if you are sharing this with young children as I was, be aware that you may need to do some quick editing or maybe look for a different biography of Miss Aylward that is aimed at a younger audience.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne Emerson benoit

    Not as good as the first one that I read...but still amazing to think there are people who serve God in this way.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    We enjoyed the book, she was one tough lady. The movie based on it called "the inn of the sixth happiness" is okay, but would have been so much better if they stuck with the book. We enjoyed the book, she was one tough lady. The movie based on it called "the inn of the sixth happiness" is okay, but would have been so much better if they stuck with the book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Danica Abisror

    This was an exciting missionary story that I read to my 6-year old. He (and I) really enjoyed it!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ginny

    Gladys's story is inspiring, and I want to learn more about her. My sons enjoyed every bit of her story. Gladys's story is inspiring, and I want to learn more about her. My sons enjoyed every bit of her story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    A very nice biography of a wonderful woman.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    What an amazing story! Gladys Alyward really had some determination to serve the Lord! Another great biography by Benge

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adam Balshan

    4 stars [Biography] (W: 3.5, T: 4.25, P: 4) Exact rating: 3.92 #5 in genre, out of 28 A fast read, rousing, simple, and readable. Almost stunning truth.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    *some spoilers ahead* Wow, what an incredible life she had! Against insurmountable odds, she lives her dream to become a missionary in China, and hits one obstacle after another, but never gives up. She becomes an innkeeper, adopts like a 100 children as she runs an orphanage, quiets a prison riot, becomes an official foot inspect for the Chinese province, escapes with 94 children when the Japanese invade her town, all while telling the good news of Jesus everywhere...it's incredible what she ha *some spoilers ahead* Wow, what an incredible life she had! Against insurmountable odds, she lives her dream to become a missionary in China, and hits one obstacle after another, but never gives up. She becomes an innkeeper, adopts like a 100 children as she runs an orphanage, quiets a prison riot, becomes an official foot inspect for the Chinese province, escapes with 94 children when the Japanese invade her town, all while telling the good news of Jesus everywhere...it's incredible what she has gone through! After reading a lot of Young Adult adventure books, it's amazing to think that this person was REAL, and lived a life that seems like it would fit into one of these YA adventure books-relatively poor and not well educated girl dreams of traveling to China, gets kicked out of school because she's not good enough, works as a housemaid and educates herself as much as she can, until she saves up to go to China, spends weeks travelling to China, ending up on a train, walking, and on a mule litter until she arrives to be "an apprentice" to find that her mentor is old and crotchety. They have to find a way to make a living, as outcasts in this small Chinese village, where everyone mocks and ridicules them, so they start an inn...but before long, her mentor DIES and she's left all alone to figure out what she has to do to survive without the money her mentor had and without her guidance. As she continues in her work, she becomes more respected in the community and becomes an ally to the local Chinese official in charge of the village, and ends up being called upon to help stop the cruel foot-binding practice of the Chinese, as well as numerous other tasks. She grows in popularity in the area, she takes in orphans, and then next you know, the village is being bombed by the Japanese! She becomes a wanted woman, with a price on her head, she hides out in caves, escapes the village under cover of night, and takes a gruelling 3 week trek as refugees, mostly on foot, facing starvation and sickness, to take her orphanage kids to safety. After all that she's suffered, the war ends, but the Communists take over and brutally execute the Christian students she ministered to at a university. Through it all, she never loses her faith, and continues the work she loves-telling others about the love of Jesus. A beautiful story, full of triumphant moments that leave you in awe of how one English woman could have lived all of this!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heather Glenn

    Twenty years ago, I read this book. I don’t often re-read a book because it feels like wasted time. I have a finite number of books in my life from which I’ll be able to learn. Why waste time on repetition? But I am glad that I reread this children’s rendition of a Gladys Aylward biography. Condensed into a narrative palatable to children, there is the danger of fantasizing the life of Gladys Aylward, particularly with the tagline “the Adventure of a Lifetime.” Her hardships do seem sensationaliz Twenty years ago, I read this book. I don’t often re-read a book because it feels like wasted time. I have a finite number of books in my life from which I’ll be able to learn. Why waste time on repetition? But I am glad that I reread this children’s rendition of a Gladys Aylward biography. Condensed into a narrative palatable to children, there is the danger of fantasizing the life of Gladys Aylward, particularly with the tagline “the Adventure of a Lifetime.” Her hardships do seem sensationalized to thrilling tidbits, and, if not careful, the reader will be tempted to think that all of missionary life is filled with exciting tales of God’s obvious, mighty hand. But what about the silent in-between spaces? The years that were simply hard work with no apparent result? Or even, never seeing any result at all? As an adult, I found myself yelling, “He’s gonna rape you, Gladys! Run, woman! Run!” on more than one occasion. She truly should have been kidnapped, raped, or killed multiple times. The depiction of the peaceful Chinese culture turns deadly with the rise of communism where, in the end, she witnesses over two hundred Chinese university students beheaded as they are each given a turn to renounce the name of Jesus and choose to proclaim His glory instead. Is adventure the right word for a life like this? It is too trite. Amidst the “adventure controversy,” this one thing is true: I expect far too little of the God who has worked all of the things Gladys Aylward witnessed. I don’t think we should hope to have adventures in life but merely stand as witnesses to the greatness of our God. Despite this book’s apparent flaws, I’m glad to have remembered God’s greatness because of it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    E

    Gladys Aylward aspired to be a missionary to the people of China. As a young woman, she enrolled in missionary training school, but was devastated when she was told by the school director that she was not good enough to be a missionary. Perhaps, he told her, she should be a maid in China instead. Glady was determined to make a way, and through her through her faith, she became a missionary, reaching many for Christ. Thank you, YWAM Publishing! FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book f Gladys Aylward aspired to be a missionary to the people of China. As a young woman, she enrolled in missionary training school, but was devastated when she was told by the school director that she was not good enough to be a missionary. Perhaps, he told her, she should be a maid in China instead. Glady was determined to make a way, and through her through her faith, she became a missionary, reaching many for Christ. Thank you, YWAM Publishing! FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This book is very inspirational and shows a very strong role model for young women in particular. I liked that it showed how strong Gladys Aylward was in striving for her God-given vision. She believed in her heart that she had to go to China, and she didn’t give up, even after being told by someone in authority that she wasn’t good enough. Gladys believed that she had a mission to go tell people about God, and the obstacles didn’t stop her. Her faith pushed her to keep going, and that can inspire any Christian. This book is highly recommended!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    Wow, what a story! I am always encouraged when I read about the life of faithful missionaries over the years. What a testimony to the faithfulness and love of our savior and God; the story of Gladys Alyward is one that should be remembered for all time and passed down as a witness to the power of the Gospel and the important roles each of us have in the Kingdom of God. Gladys was just an English girl who wanted to serve God in China; she didn't know Chinese, she had no financial support, and she Wow, what a story! I am always encouraged when I read about the life of faithful missionaries over the years. What a testimony to the faithfulness and love of our savior and God; the story of Gladys Alyward is one that should be remembered for all time and passed down as a witness to the power of the Gospel and the important roles each of us have in the Kingdom of God. Gladys was just an English girl who wanted to serve God in China; she didn't know Chinese, she had no financial support, and she was kicked out of Bible school to make room for other students with "more potential". But Gladys was a woman of dogged determination, and, even when things got worse and worse, she persevered and was enabled by God to effect tremendous good in China and to spread the Gospel to people who had never heard it before. If you've never heard her story, pick up this book and read!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marques

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Gladys Aylward Janet and Geoff Benge This book tells the story of Gladys Aylward, an Englishwoman who had failing grades at Bible school, but overcame impossible odds to become a missionary in China. Gladys was rejected by local mission boards due to her poor grades and age of 26. She saved up enough money for a 1-way train ticket to China. On the way to her destination, she went through a war zone and evaded capture miraculously several times. Once in China, things weren’t what she expected at fi Gladys Aylward Janet and Geoff Benge This book tells the story of Gladys Aylward, an Englishwoman who had failing grades at Bible school, but overcame impossible odds to become a missionary in China. Gladys was rejected by local mission boards due to her poor grades and age of 26. She saved up enough money for a 1-way train ticket to China. On the way to her destination, she went through a war zone and evaded capture miraculously several times. Once in China, things weren’t what she expected at first, but after learning the local dialect and becoming a “foot inspector,” she earned the admiration of the village folks—including both the head mandarin and prison warden. Gladys adopted many orphan children and had nearly 200 at one point. Gladys’s life was full of difficulties yes, but plenty of adventure as well. Measured by the people she impacted, her life was a very rich one indeed.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amy Meyers

    What an amazing life! This is also going to add to my list of books of how terrible the Communists were. There were four chapters that included gruesome scenes that parents of sensitive or younger children would want to edit or summarize. MFW scheduled this for their ECC curriculum, and gave a heads-up about the first two, but not the latter two. The last one was when the Communists beheaded 200 young Christian students for not supporting their political party. They chose to support Jesus instea What an amazing life! This is also going to add to my list of books of how terrible the Communists were. There were four chapters that included gruesome scenes that parents of sensitive or younger children would want to edit or summarize. MFW scheduled this for their ECC curriculum, and gave a heads-up about the first two, but not the latter two. The last one was when the Communists beheaded 200 young Christian students for not supporting their political party. They chose to support Jesus instead. This seems like true Christianity to me. I think this was one of the Benges' better books, but in general, I'm still a little underwhelmed regarding their writing style. In some ways, their writing style could be more descriptive, but in other ways it would be more subtle. I'm still trying to understand what about it doesn't draw me in as I feel it should.

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