The Inn of the Sixth Happiness

by Colin Dexter

I was watching this film on TV this week & was struck by the courage of the lady Gladys Aylward(who looks nothing like Ingrid by the way), especially the scene where she enters the prison compound alone during a riot . In the film she is almost axed.  Was this added to the film to give it more drama or did this really happen?

During her second year in Yangcheng, there was a riot in the men’s prison that no one could control.   The Mandarin sent her there to stop the riot.  What was a foreign missionary woman to do in the chaotic prison where convicts such as murderers, bandits and thieves were rioting and killing each other?  Gladys asked, “Why don’t you send the soldiers to stop it?  If I went in, they will kill me!”

The prison governor said, “How can they kill you?   You tell everybody that you have the living God inside you.  You preach it everywhere –in the streets and villages.”    Gladys prayed, “Oh God, give me strength” and she went in.

There were several dead bodies in the courtyard of the prison and blood everywhere.  A convict with a meat axe with blood on it was ready to strike.  Gladys prayed in her heart, “God, do your will.”  She stepped toward the man and commanded, “Hand that axe to me.”  Should he strike this “foreign devil?”  Suddenly his face dissolved into meekness and he handed her the axe.  She restored order in the hellish prison and later even helped to improve the prison conditions.

Gladys’s nickname changed from “foreign devil” to “Ai-Weh-Deh,” which means a “Virtuous one.  Gladys simply depended on God for help and served the Chinese people.

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