As a youngster, I heard about Gladys Aylward's mission work in China, but hadn't remembered her until a friend recently mentioned her. This prompted me to read her story again.
There is much to be astonished by and to give thanks for in the way the Lord used this courageous little woman to spread His Gospel but, for me, one of the most memorable passages in the whole book was this:
Refugees from the east came pouring into Sian speaking completely different dialects. Among them were three godly Christians from Shansi, Mr. and Mrs. Wong and Mr. Cheng.
These three and myself decided that something must be done, so we obtained permission to use the disused factory belonging to Chang Tsi Ni as a church in which we could preach in an understandable dialect for these refugees.
We called it the Independent Christian Church, but we were certainly not isolated. Near us was the Baptist Church with George Young as its pastor, and the Church of England with Bishop Sheng as its vicar, and our three churches were in perfect unison. We were one in spirit, in purpose , and in desire - nothing but true service to God and blessing for the needy souls around us. We might have had different names, but we were surely "all one in Christ Jesus."
If a refugee went to the Baptist Church or the Church of England and it was felt that maybe we would be able to help them more easily, then he was escorted to us and introduced. If one church had a convention then the members of the other two attended and were blessed.
If you know Gladys's story, which is full of almost incomprehensible circumstances, it may seem strange that this particular passage would strike me as significant. But it brought home to me one of the fruits of persecution...it forces us to lay aside our petty disagreements (as well as our weighty ones) and labor side by side for the cause of the Christ we serve. Our vision becomes clear and focused when we lose the "luxury" of alienating one another over fine points of doctrine and we suddenly SEE that our purpose is ONE.