I grew up with the stirring story of Gladys Alyward, the little Cockney domestic servant, who went to China in the '30s as a missionary, without the blessing of the China Inland Mission and with just a few pence in her pocket. Her life of faith in God and great human courage is worth reading or re-reading: The small woman by Alan Burgess. See if you can find a copy! I was inspired by the tales of how she forced muleteers to sleep the night in the Inn of the Eight Happinesses (the Eight Beatitudes) so she could tell them Gospel stories, unbound the feet of little girls, faced a prison riot, the Japanese invasion and led 'her' children to safety. Gladys had to leave China during the Chinese Revolution and settled in Taiwan where she died in 1970.
The wonderful movie entitled the Inn of the Sixth Happiness starring a magnificent Ingrid Bergman is also a golden oldie worth revisiting. You can watch a tantalising 10 minute synopsis of the movie on You Tube.com. I guarantee it will whet your appetite.
And to contemplate on this Wednesday are the Eight Beatitudes (Matthew 5), the be-attitudes which Gladys exemplified so well:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteouness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.