The Homeless Veteran: Guest Post by Bobby Hegedish

Engaging with homeless people I encounter has become a joy and a passion for me.  My friend Bobby Hegedish has discovered a similar calling. I think you will love his story of a homeless veteran. Orlando (although a city like Cleveland where I call home) has a much different vibe than most of the cities I have been to. Ethnic, cultural and economical diversity paint the town colors that make it known as “The City Beautiful.” I don’t usually find myself walking the streets of downtown Orlando past 11:00 PM. However, walking the streets recently to where my parked car was located gave me a sense of being small. Surrounded by skyscrapers and people, from wanderers to third-shift workers, I had a sense of being invisible. But in a moment of discrete observation and contemplation, the city around me became like a scene from a good documentary. What happened next would have made a great scene in such a film. Muttered words I could barely understand came from a man passing by on my right, head to the ground and papers in hand. From when I was a child, I have had a particular burden for those who had less and the homeless. Regardless of how they got there, it was their reality. Yet in small suburban Cleveland growing up, there weren’t many people with those situations to interact with. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) Stopping in my tracks, I turned to the man in a split-second decision to attempt a conversation with him. I’ve tried many ways of serving the poor throughout the past several years: giving money or food, taking them out to eat, giving rides, and even a place to stay. These have been exercises as well as tests of faith for me. However, it is so easy to dismiss and project critical, judgmental thoughts onto folks like this man, who I found out was named David. These initial heart-level responses are inherent: external circumstances which trigger pre-disposed responses. Call it “flight Read more

Write the Vision: Guest Post by Stacey Thacker

  “And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.’” (Habakkuk 2:2) A couple of years ago I found a kindred heart on the pages of God’s Word. His name was Habakkuk. He has a tiny three-chapter book in the Old Testament with his name on it. Maybe I liked him immediately because he wrestled with God. Or perhaps it was because of something God told Habakkuk to do, even though he was feeling fresh out of amazing like me. “What did God tell Habakkuk to do? He told the prophet to pick up the chisel and write the vision on a tablet. God also told him how to do it. The phrase “keep it simple.” Now consider that God had to tell farmer-turned-prophet Habakkuk to keep his message simple. He didn’t have a hashtag, images purchased from iStock, or even colored pens to make his message extra special. He didn’t have a Journaling Bible or a You-Tube video. He had a simple message written on tablets of stone, and God said, “Hey, Habakkuk, just write what you saw. Nothing less. Nothing more.” When God speaks we don’t need to dress it up or make it fancy. His Word, his vision, his instructions are enough. God told Habakkuk to write it down. And he did. I know what you may be thinking: “But I’m not a writer. I failed writing in college. I avoid writing grocery lists. This doesn’t apply to me.” Before you move on, though, let me just put this out there for you to consider: Habakkuk was a farmer. Peter was a fisherman. David was a shepherd. Matthew was a tax collector. James was a carpenter. I am a mom. Write the vision on people's hearts. You don’t have to identify as a writer to write down faith-affirming words inspired by God. You simply have to be willing. And whether anyone sees your words or you tuck them away in a journal like I did for years, your words matter because your soul matters. Writing is indeed clarifying soul work. And isn’t that what we need Read more

Our Loving Bitmojis--Just in Time for Valentine's

We would know we love each other if we never said the words because of the little things we do daily to demonstrate Read more

Lingering in the Word of God Brings Transformation

This is the third post from my word for the year—linger. What does a true follower of Jesus look like and live like? I ask that question often, especially as I read—and linger--in the Word God. Today I was in Romans 12—which is abounding with words that unveil the beautiful, character-growing transformation that God has promised to do in our lives. A Living Sacrifice The chapter is brimming with instructions to encourage us to surrender to God’s labor of love in our lives. So we will take a brief look at just verses 1-2, and hopefully continue through the chapter in later posts. And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, NLT) Paul is addressing you and me as well as the believers in Rome: brothers and sisters—all of us! What he wants to say to us is so vital and essential that he pleads with us. Because of all God has done for us, he reasons, we must give our bodies to God. This giving of ourselves is no small matter—we are to give ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice. A living sacrifice? Clearly something different than the sacrifices of animals. What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? (Here’s a hint: We will find out what that looks like as we encounter the verses that follow in the rest of the chapter.) And a holy sacrifice? Me? You? Holy? Only because we have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus. And acceptable to God? Again, only because we have been bought by Jesus’ death on the cross. How does our Father receive our very personal sacrifices? As worship. Perhaps this giving of our living selves is Read more

Hidden Figures - the work and worth of women at Tim Fall

  For years I have been an advocate for the staff women in our ministry, seeking greater opportunities for them to use their gifts. In more recent years my friend and acquaintance circle has expanded to embrace many women of color. So it's no surprise that I loved Hidden Figures. It is a beautiful story of overcoming prejudice and discrimination to accomplish great things.  And I am grateful that Tim Fall invited me to write a personal reflection on the movie. I hope this "review" will get you up and on your way to see it.. Here's a taste, then head on over to Tim's blog, Just One Train Wreck After Another, to keep reading.   My stomach knotted. Already? Would there be trouble even in the opening scene? Three young black women on their way to work at NASA in the early 1960s stalled on the side of a country road. As the “mechanical one” worked to fix the problem, a police officer pulled up behind them. Cheerfulness turned to confrontation. My whole body tensed as I remembered such encounters in books I had read, in movies I had seen, in stories my friends had related. Gratefully “working at NASA” rescued them and the officer escorted them to their jobs. I attended the showing of Hidden Figures with the global leaders of Cru. It’s become tradition at the annual Executive Team retreat to take a break and attend a current significant movie. I asked why Hidden Figures was chosen, though there were other important films available in the same theater.... Keep reading: What about you?  What emotions did this stir? c2017 Judy Read more

Kingdom Women

Kingdom Women: Fannie Lou Hamer–Southern Grit by Melody Copenny

This is part of an ongoing series on Kingdom Women—women God has used and is using in His great Kingdom endeavor.  We will meet these women in God’s Word, in the early church, in the dark  ages, in the past great missionary efforts and among today’s true followers of Jesus.  My friend Melody Copenny introduces us to a woman who demonstrated true southern grit in the civil rights movement.

Fannie Lou Hamer

One day I know the struggle will change. There’s got to be a change—not only for Mississippi, not only for the people in the United States, but people all over the world.”

“You don’t run away from problems—you just face them.”

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

I feel sorry for anybody that could let hate wrap them up. Ain’t no such thing as I can hate anybody and hope to see God’s face.”

Fannie Lou Hamer said what she meant and meant what she said. She spoke the truth. She was the kind of woman who reminds me of my grandmother: strong, determined, and with an “I don’t take no mess from nobody” type of sensibility.

It takes grit to face hopeless.

Many African American southern women are like this, whether they come from the red clay country roads of Georgia, like my grandmother Lena, or the delta lands of Mississippi, like Fannie Lou Hamer. You needed that grit to get you through days that felt hopeless. You needed that gumption to push you forward. You had to keep going to give life to dreams about futures that could be better for those coming after you.

Jim Crow laws and racial segregation were the way of life in the American South the first half of the 20th century. State laws that upheld discrimination simply because one’s skin was dark and race was black imposed decades of unfair living conditions and unequal education. These laws dug daily into the mental and emotional psyche of African Americans dwelling below the Mason-Dixie line.

The constitutional right to vote that all Americans have was denied regularly to African Americans living in the South during this time. Fannie Lou was one of those Americans. The daughter of sharecroppers born in 1917 and a sharecropper herself, she and her husband Perry worked in a system that modeled the economic trappings of Southern slavery decades earlier. Sharecroppers were physically free, but were bound financially in chains to those who owned the land they farmed their crops on. Fannie Lou faced the challenges of this system and the poverty that came with it.

“You don’t run away from problems—you just face them.”

In 1961, Fannie Lou had surgery to remove a tumor. During the procedure an unauthorized hysterectomy was performed on her, stripping away her chances to have children naturally. Her American Experience biography details: “She was given a hysterectomy while in the hospital for minor surgery, a procedure so common it was known as a “Mississippi appendectomy.”

“[In] the North Sunflower County Hospital, I would say about six out of the 10 Negro women that go to the hospital are sterilized with the tubes tied,” she told a Washington, DC audience three years later.”

“The forced sterilization was one of the moments that set Hamer on the path to the forefront of the Mississippi Civil Rights movement.”

She connected with voting rights meetings led by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and attempted to register to vote with a group of her neighbors in August 1962. They were not allowed to register and on the trip back home, their bus was stopped.

Fannie Lou

It takes grit to face fear.

Writer Charles Marsh details the account of Charles McLaurin, a SNCC worker who knew Fannie Lou, and the legitimate fears of the passengers in his Washington Post article, “God’s Long Summer:”

“The driver was arrested on the charge of operating a bus that too closely resembled a school bus, and he was taken to jail, leaving the rest of the people alone to contemplate their prospects for a safe return home. Everyone became frightened, McLaurin recalls.”

“They didn’t know whether they were going to have to sit out there on the road or whether in a few minutes the police were going to come back and put everybody in jail.”

“Then Fannie Lou Hamer, standing toward the back of the bus, started to hum, then sing,

Have a little talk with Jesus

Tell him all about our troubles,

Hear our feeble cry,

Answer by and by,

Feel the little prayer wheel turning,

Feel a fire a burning,

Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.

“Soon the others followed the lead of her deep, strong voice, and the group sang through their fears. They sang other songs as well: “This Little Light of Mine,” “Freedom’s Coming and It Won’t Be Long,” “Down by the Riverside.” Someone shouted with delight, ‘That’s Fannie Lou, she know how to sing.’”

Her singing ingenuity brought a new dynamic to the Civil Rights Movement, ushering in the use of Negro spirituals to build morale among protesters. This morale blew hope into the hearts of people who were ready to see America give freedom to all of her citizens.

Fannie Lou

“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

In 1964, Fannie Lou gave a powerful testimony at the Democratic National Convention, urging the convention’s Credentials Committee to consider an integrated delegation, which included her, versus an all-white, pro-segregation Mississippi delegation that was in place. She also ran for Congress that same year.

Fannie Lou was a woman of faith, kingdom minded and socially conscious who fought for the rights of others, specifically those from the Mississippi Delta. She knew what it felt like to be tried and tired, beat down and broken.

She endured assaults and arrests just to secure her right to vote and the rights of others. But like 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 illustrates, in all of this she wasn’t destroyed. She wasn’t without hope. This kingdom woman fanned the flames of hope in the hearts of many others. She helped them find their own true grit, as her bio illustrates:

“Tracy Sugarman, who spent the summer in Mississippi as both a volunteer and a journalist, accompanied Hamer as she visited Delta churches to encourage parishioners to register to vote. “Mrs. Hamer rose majestically to her feet,” he wrote.

“Her magnificent voice rolled through the chapel as she enlisted the Biblical ranks of martyrs and heroes to summon these folk to the Freedom banner. Her mounting, rolling battery of quotations and allusions from the Old and New Testaments stunned the audience with its thunder.”

Fannie Lou received several honorary degrees, including a Ph.D from Howard University before she passed in 1977.

Southern grit, true grit, in its best form. That’s Fannie Lou Hamer. I’m proud to be a part of her legacy as an African American woman, a Southern woman, and a kingdom woman.

Like Fannie Lou, how is God using you to fan flames of hope in the hearts of others?

How can you bring change to your community and this world beyond the walls of your church?

Excerpts taken from:

PBS: Freedom Riders

The History Channel: Sharecropping

American Experience: Fannie Lou Hamer

God’s Long Summer

American Experience: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Powerful Testimony

Melody CopenneyMelody Latrice Copenny is a poet, writer, author and storyteller living a gospel-centered life. An Atlanta native, she resides in Orlando and writes to be real, relevant and reveal. She’s a journalist and communicator for Cru, serving with the Writers Team where she covers national and international stories with themes of hope and eternity in mind.

Melody’s passionate about helping grievers grieve well as they walk through “the valley of the shadows” and shares her healing through this journey at Finding Melodie. A lover of the hot mess alert, she enjoys a flexitarian-pescatarian-vegetarian lifestyle with hints of vegan tastes, running 5K and 10K races with her Black Girls Run! sole sisters and listening to classic soul, funk and R&B music.

You can view her active digital footprints at Cherished Women, Missionary Writer, The Gram and Twitterland.

Posted on by JudyDouglass in Kingdom Women Leave a comment

Kingdom Women: Taking the Gospel to China 2 by Susan Allendorf

This is part of an ongoing series on Kingdom Women—women God has used and is using in His great Kingdom endeavor.  We meet these women in God’s Word, in the early church, in the dark  ages, in the past great missionary efforts and among today’s true followers of Jesus. The Trio described here were part of a group of mostly single women who took the gospel into Inland China. You can read Part One here. The full story is told in Not Less Than Everything by Valerie Griffiths, granddaughter of Hudson Taylor. 


by Susan Allendorf


Mildred Cable and Eva and Francesca French spent their first 20 years in China in Shanxi province. Their ministry there had a huge impact on the churches and in the five adjacent provinces. Because of their work, Christian women were emerging as significant leaders.

The main need for the churches during those years was the training of women and girls. Putting aside their love for evangelism, the Trio had devoted themselves to education. Mildred commented at a China Inland Mission (CIM) conference in 1922, “We purpose moving from our settled stations to unevangelized regions; but in practice the time never seems to come.” When the government forced the closing of the senior school that same year, they were free to focus on evangelism.

The three womenA NEW DIRECTION:
The need was great. Their research had shown that there was no Christian witness for 1,000 miles along the Silk Road from the town of Jiuquan in north central China to the town of Urumqi not far from the northwestern border with Mongolia. They knew that the Silk Road was a major route for travelers. But they also knew its dangers. Winter months there were bitterly cold, and summer months were unbearably hot. Their living conditions would be primitive.

This would not be an easy journey, especially for 3 middle aged women who had spent the previous 20 years in the structure of a girls’ school and a women’s Bible college. As part of their research, they wrote to Geraldine Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s daughter-in-law, asking for advice. At 60 years of age herself, she had just spent 5 winter months in the far northwest. She wrote back encouraging them, that “enthusiasm and experience were more important than youthful fitness.”

Despite the concerns of mission leadership, they were undeterred. The Trio began their journey on June 11, 1923. Traveling by rickshaw, they headed northwest toward the Silk Road. Distances were great, with one day’s journey being about 20 miles. Travel to Jiuquan, at the southern border of the Gobi desert, usually took 50 days. They took their time, visiting mission stations and holding meetings for women along the way. Their plan was to stop briefly in the town of Zhangye, but God had something else in mind.

map 1

A young Chinese couple, Dr. and Mrs. Kao, had begun a ministry of pioneer evangelism in the Zhangye area in 1918. They had a small group of converts. With their modest, productive farm and his income from medical work, their small group grew into a self-supporting Christian community.

Their focus was evangelism. Dr. Kao was a gifted evangelist, but he lacked the gift of teaching which was essential for grounding his people in the broader foundations of the faith. He and his people had been praying for God to send two older, experienced women teachers.

After the Trio visited Dr. Kao’s church, he proposed a plan to meet their call to evangelism and his need for teachers. The Trio would spend the summer months that year in Zhangye doing concentrated teaching. They would then join the church’s evangelistic teams to autumn fairs in the area. During the winter, a team from the church would join the Trio going further northwest to the town of Jiuquan.

The Trio was in agreement, and the partnership they formed with Dr. Kao formed the basis of their work for the next 10 years. They developed a process of evangelism, training and sending out disciples for further evangelism, which resulted in explosive multiplication.

During their first winter in Jiuquan, it became their home base for future ministry. It was six days journey from Zhangye, and was known as “the last town in China” before the Gobi desert and the frontier. It was very strategic, as every person crossing the desert had to stop there for two to three days to gather supplies. It was also at the intersection of two major trade routes. Because literature was scarce and valued, anything the Trio gave to travelers was treasured or passed along the trade routes.

In Jiuquan, the men students studied and then preached in the streets, and also sold Bible portions. The women students worked to break down barriers of fear with friendship, visiting women in their homes, and sharing the gospel as often as possible.

The following Spring, most of the students returned to Zhangye. A few remained with the Trio, going northward to evangelize during Spring festivals before returning to Zhangye for their summer Bible classes. They returned the following winter to their base in Jiuquan. Noticing that curious children followed them constantly around town, they began holding children’s services every evening. Forming a children’s band, the music drew in the adults who streamed in each night for music and a brief message. Because of the children’s band and services for the adults, as the Trio visited homes, everyone already knew them and welcomed them in.

Chinese architecture

In partnership with Dr. Kao’s church, the Trio experienced a fruitful season. Although Jiuquan was their home base, they knew they were called to move further afield in proclaiming the gospel. In August, they set out toward the desert, visiting all the towns between Jiuquan and the border. Taking their time, they looked to see what opportunities arose. They had conversations with travelers along the road and in the inns. They would stop and stay awhile in towns and villages off the main road, building relationships as they went. Valerie Griffiths shares that Mildred always had her eye on strategy, endeavoring to survey the whole area as they travelled, establishing objectives and planning the future, as the early CIM pioneers had done across China.

When the women passed through Jiayuquan at the end of the Great Wall, they saw the city gates filled with poems written by exiles leaving China. In their years of ministry, the Trio had seen how the people of China spent their lives trying to earn forgiveness. As they left the city, Mildred, Eva and Francesca put their own poster on the gates, offering a message of hope: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Traveling southwest, they visited Dunhuang, the City of Sand (another crossroads town for people from India, China, and Tibet). Here, they met a new people group, the Muslim Uighurs. At this point, the Trio had lived among at least six different cultures, and over time felt at home in all of them.

In 1926, north China was deep in civil war. The Trio decided this was a good time for a furlough. They set out back along the Silk Road across the Gobi desert. Traveling by an overland route, they finally arrived in London on October 27, 1926. There was tremendous interest in their work, and they had many opportunities for speaking engagements. During their time in London, they were honored with national and royal recognition for their journeys.

Returning to China in 1928, The Trio found it much more difficult to get there this time, and they had to travel inland from the coast. Widespread civil war across China had caused most of the missionary population to evacuate the interior. During the absence of the Trio, national church leaders were of necessity forced to function on their own. The result was tremendous spiritual growth in their lives.

map 2

The Hexi Corridor is a string of oases along China’s Silk Road. As the Trio began their journey westward along that route, they found that every city had locked and guarded its gates in the face of encroaching Muslim forces. They continued to conduct ministry as they waited, and after several months, were able to set out once again.

One of the Trio’s strengths was spontaneous conversation along the way. Some of these conversations were in unexpected places. In Dunhuang, the women found two places of quiet where they could escape the crowds. Wong Tao-si, a Buddhist priest, ran a guest house for travelers. They spent many hours there talking to him about Jesus, and they gave him books to read. Their other refuge was the Lake of the Crescent Moon, three miles from town. The sole resident there was another Buddhist priest who gave shelter to the occasional traveler.

As they were leaving there one day, a weary lama (Tibetan monk) arrived. They gave him a copy of John’s gospel and began to tell him about Jesus. They recorded his response, writing, “His face lit up. ‘I know about this,’ he said. ‘This Jesus of whom you speak has been troubling me lately in my dreams. I know I shall have to believe in him.’ And he went on his way.”

Stopping later in the town of Hami, they spent several weeks there. One day they visited the local lama at the temple. Their approach with people was always friendly and respectful. The following conversation is a good example of their gentleness in sharing the gospel:

The Trio: They asked the lama what the crowds were looking for when they came to the temple.
Lama: “The remission of their sins.”
The Trio: “Do you know of any way by which sin may be remitted?”
Lama: “No, I do not. Men must do good actions and thus acquire merit.”
The Trio: “Forgiveness is free, lama, and eternal life is a gift. It is not to be won by good works or fastings, for all have sinned. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is Saviour of the world and all who trust in Him have life – eternal life.”

provinces of china

Leaving the town of Hami, the Trio traveled 6 more days, arriving back in Urumqi. They were a tremendous aid to George Hunter and Percy Mather, single missionaries there. These men were limited in their ability to reach women with the gospel. As a result of the Trio’s visits there, many more women were able to be reached. This time they spent 2 months visiting homes daily. Percy Mather reported that numbers at the Sunday services grew steadily, and the Trio organized a women’s mission for a week. He wrote, “It was fine to see the Church crowded every midday and to watch some three hundred women listening to the gospel message. Our Sunday services are now a great sight and at last the women’s side of the Church is filled as well as the men’s.”

After another furlough of 3 years in Britain, the Trio returned to Urumqi in 1935. Eva was now 64, Francesca 62 and Mildred 57. Because of a prolonged wait for permits, they had to wait for winter to begin their journey down the Silk Road. This gave them another opportunity to strengthen the church there. Once they set back out along the towns of the Hexi Corridor, they received warm welcomes from all who knew them.

Reaching Jiuquan, they stayed for 6 months, resuming their ministries of children’s services, literacy classes, and Bible studies. They also visited in homes and traveled in the surrounding area, but knew their time was limited because of increasing Communist pressures and subsequent tensions. Also, Mildred was struggling with asthma.

In 1936, the order came that all foreigners must leave. Bidding their friends a sad goodbye, they boarded a lorry for the 400 mile journey back to Lanzhou in Gansu province. On the way, the Lord gave them an unexpected gift. The lorry broke down in Zhangye and they had to spend the night there. By early morning, word had passed around the church, and by 6 a.m. people were arriving from miles around to spend one final day with the women who had come to mean so much to them.

From that point on the road was closed, so Eva, Mildred and Francesca travelled by train to Beijing, where they boarded the Siberian railway for London. There they settled, keeping in touch with and giving their support to various Christian ministries and missionary societies. The Trio had become well-known and respected among the Christian population, and they were in great demand.

In 1943, Mildred and Francesca finished their book about the Gobi desert. It is considered to be unsurpassed, even today. They were awarded two medals for their travels, the Livingstone Medal and the Lawrence of Arabia Memorial Medal. In 1943 they were invited to Buckingham Palace for tea and to show their photographs.

Mildred, continuing to struggle with her health, died unexpectedly in April 1952 at the age of 74. Eva and Francesca died within 3 weeks of each other in 1961. Eva was 91 and Francesca was 89.

Their impact on the church in China was profound. In her book, Not Less Than Everything, Valerie Griffiths shares that impact with these words, “The Trio had resolutely set out to make Jesus known along the main trade route; they achieved this, selling relevant books and distributing literature in several languages, which would then be carried throughout Asia. They visited and revisited, building relationships and winning confidence and respect, repeating the message until people began to understand. It speaks volumes that the Muslims referred to them as ‘the Teachers of Righteousness.’ They travelled five times along the 1,000 miles of the Silk Road from Jiuquan to Urumqi, and over the years systematically visited the towns and oases of the Hexi Corridor six times.”

Mildred’s comments in 1933 remain true: “During the more than 30 years of my missionary life I have seen the seed spring up in such unexpected places that I have done with questionings and fears as to whether there will be results. Statistics in things spiritual mean nothing to me now. It is ours unstintingly to sow the seed whose life is in itself. It is God’s husbandry and He will give the increase.”

Reading Mildred Cable’s words, I can’t help but think of a quote from Dr. Bill Bright in the latter half of the 20th century, “Success in witnessing is simply sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.”

The Trio has left a legacy upon my life. I am awed by their story, but I am also reminded that they began their journey as ordinary young women who allowed God to use them in an extraordinary way. The thing that made them great was their courage and faithfulness to follow the call of God upon their lives and to walk daily in the power of the Holy Spirit, regardless of the obstacles along the way. They finished well, and I am inspired to follow their example.

What about you?  Where have you followed Jesus into the unknown?

Quotes from Not Less Than Everything: The courageous women who carried the Christian gospel to China, by Valerie Griffiths

Susan AllendorfIMG_5856Susan Allendorf has been on staff with Cru for 30 years. She has served previously in the Campus Ministry, International School of Theology, Nairobi International School of Theology, Orlando Institute and CrossRoads. For the last 14 years, Susan has served on the Women’s Resources team in the Global Leadership Office.  She is currently a writer and editor with the Women’s Resources Communications Team. Susan is a widow and mother of a grown daughter, Amy. She loves to read, spend time with her daughter, and take day trips around Central Florida.

Posted on by JudyDouglass in Kingdom Women Leave a comment

Kingdom Women: Taking the Gospel to China 1 by Susan Allendorf

This is part of an ongoing series on Kingdom Women—women God has used and is using in His great Kingdom endeavor.  We will meet these women in God’s Word, in the early church, in the dark  ages, in the past great missionary efforts and among today’s true followers of Jesus. The Trio described here were part of a group of mostly single women who took the gospel into Inland China.  The full story is told in Not Less Than Everything by Valerie Griffiths, granddaughter of Hudson Taylor.

The Trio
by Susan Allendorf

“We travel with 3 amazing single women, Mildred Cable, and sisters Eva and Francesca French, who shared a ministry for over 35 years before their deaths in the 1950s and 1960s. Their work and influence was breathtaking, spreading across the 4 northern provinces of
China and beyond, training other women and spreading the gospel.”

Not Less Than Everything: The courageous women who carried the Christian gospel to China
by Valerie Griffiths, p. 8

Beginning in the 1820’s, women missionaries, married and single, were called to play a vital role in opening China to the gospel. They all faced hardship and sacrifice. Many experienced loneliness and isolation, arduous journeys and extreme heat, dangers, political strife, violence and civil war. Often facing criticism and misunderstanding from Christian communities back home, they nevertheless pioneered ministries of evangelism, discipleship and Christian education into China’s vast interior.

Among the many stories of these early pioneers, I am most captured by the lives of three single women, Mildred Cable, and sisters Eva and Francesca French. They worked together in ministry for over 35 years, and came to be known lovingly as The Trio. Serving in four northern provinces of China and beyond, their contribution was staggering.

Spunky and adventurous from childhood, Eva had a gift for personal evangelism. She arrived in China in 1893. Because her health suffered in the coastal regions, Hudson Taylor sent her, along with a Chinese woman for company, to the hot, dry climate of Shanxi province in Northern China. Her health improved, and she began a long, effective ministry visiting in homes and sharing the Christian message with village women over a wide area.

With the onset of the Boxer Rebellion, Eva began to prepare the believers for possible severe persecution. It came in the summer of 1900. Eva and other missionaries were evacuated. Valerie Griffiths records their ordeal. “They experienced fifty days of heat, misery, fatigue, hunger, thirst, and rioting as they fled from town to town, sleeping wherever they could.” She notes that twice during this ordeal Eva called upon her childhood courage and defiance, walking through the rioting crowds to plead for protection from government officials. The Chinese Christians suffered these dangers, as well, and helped the missionaries reach safety.

Shanxi Province

Shanxi Province

When these difficulties subsided, Eva was able to return to Shanxi province, now with Mildred Cable who had recently arrived. They found that many Chinese believers had been martyred, and began the task of visiting all the remaining believers throughout the area.

Mildred had had a rigid upbringing as a child, which greatly influenced her and prepared her for the hardships she would face in China. Yet, she was described as having an innate capacity for joy. Before arriving in China, Mildred had studied privately, qualifying in pharmacy, and also studying physics, chemistry, anatomy, surgery and midwifery. She had planned to marry a young man who was also going to China. But, she received a letter from him saying he had changed his mind. He wanted her to marry him and stay in Britain. Heartbroken, she followed her calling, and as she said, “kept her eyes firmly fixed on China.” She arrived there in 1901.

Eva became Mildred’s senior missionary in the town of Huozhou. Working with a Chinese pastor and his wife, they founded schools for girls, evangelized women, and began working in 19 surrounding villages. The women they worked with were illiterate and bound by superstition. They were bound in other ways, as well. For centuries the custom of foot-binding had crippled millions of women. It was painful, often impossible for them to walk. So, they were mostly confined to their homes. They could only hear the Christian message if women visited them at home.

There was a growing movement against foot-binding, but Eva and Mildred found they could only reach most women by going from home to home. They found many doors open, and hundreds wanted more teaching.

Valerie Griffiths shares,

“All the newly baptized women had unbound their feet. Nothing could repair the physical damage done to them in childhood, but choosing the Christian way led them into a new freedom. They left behind their fear and superstition and the burden of trying to earn merit, and entered into a life where there was a God who loved them and welcomed them into his family. Unbinding their feet became symbolic of a much greater inner freedom.”

Because of the courageous witness of Chinese believers during the Boxer Rebellion, crowds of non-Christian Chinese began visiting churches and wanting to know more about the Christian faith. Eva and Mildred were witnessing the beginning of a mass movement. They began to ask themselves, “What does the Chinese church need now?”

They received two answers. First, they needed more help in evangelism. They began to step back from the front lines and train the Chinese Christians to take their place in evangelism.

The second need was for educated Christian wives and mothers in the younger generation. Through the financial gift of a friend, they were able in 1904 to open a school in Huozhou. They trained young wives of Christian workers as well as school girls. They taught the Bible using romanised script.

Eva and Mildred went back to England on furlough in 1908. Eva’s sister, Francesca, had been caring for their ailing parents. Upon their death, she was able to think about joining Eva and Mildred in their work. Francesca had strong literary gifts and persuasive skill in discussions. She and Mildred would work together on several books, with Mildred writing the main material and Francesca doing the editorial work.

Trio and Topsy, an orphan they took in

Trio and Topsy, an orphan they took in

In 1909, the three women returned to China, where they came to be known as The Trio. They settled into their various roles. Eva continued doing evangelism. Francesca helped Mildred with the school. She also handled their daily domestic routines.

In 1910 they did something new, which resulted in a great ministry opportunity. They opened the mission compound to the public, and as a result, much local interest was created. They decided to have a 6-day mission for women, which they publicized broadly in towns and villages up to 50 miles away. It was a tremendous success, with 350 visiting women attending. Added to their 150 church women, student teachers, and schoolgirls, 500 women altogether attended the mission. In the closing hours, 250 women stood to share publicly what they had learned.

The Trio’s 20 years in Shanxi province had a great impact on the churches there as well as in adjacent provinces. However, it soon became obvious that their time there was coming to an end. In 1922 the Chinese government began opening their own public schools. They also prevented Christian schools from teaching the Christian faith, and they refused to recognize their students’ qualifications unless they registered with the national schools. The Governor of Shanxi province was desperate for teachers in his schools, and took their student teachers in training immediately, as well as those with any secondary education.

At mid-life, The Trio could have retired or decided to do less demanding work. Instead, they asked once again, “What does China need now?” They prayed, researched the current situation in China and talked to people who could offer advice. When the answer came, it stunned everyone who knew them. The incredible story of how God used these 3 women in the following years will be Part Two: Along the Silk Road and Beyond. Look for it in coming weeks.

Susan AllendorfIMG_5856Susan Allendorf has been on staff with Cru for 30 years. She has served previously in the Campus Ministry, International School of Theology, Nairobi International School of Theology, Orlando Institute and CrossRoads. For the last 14 years, Susan has served on the Women’s Resources team in the Global Leadership Office.  She is currently a writer/editor with the Women’s Resources Communications Team.  Susan is a widow and mother of a grown daughter, Amy. She loves to read, spend time with her daughter, and take day trips around Central Florida.


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Kingdom Women: Gladys Aylward by Emily Selway

This is part of an ongoing series on Kingdom Women—women God has used and is using in His great Kingdom endeavor.  We will meet these women in God’s Word, in the early church, in the dark  ages, in the past great missionary efforts and among today’s true followers of Jesus.  This women has an amazing story of courage and faithfulness

Gladys AylwardTwo words characterize Gladys Aylward’s life: obedience and provision.

Born in 1902 into a working-class family in Edmonton, England, Gladys’ early life was hardly noteworthy. A poor student, she dropped out of school at the age of 14 and began working menial jobs wherever she could find them. Though her parents were Christians and took her to church often as a child, by her late teens she had lost her interest in God.

But God had not lost interest in Gladys, and He led her into an evangelistic meeting in her early twenties, where she accepted Christ as her savior. At that same meeting, the course for the rest of her life was being set. She found an article about China, and was struck to her core by the thought of “millions of Chinese [who] had never heard of Jesus.”

In characteristic humility, Gladys’ first thought was to recruit others to do this important work. But she found no interest. Even her own brother refused, saying, “Not me!…That’s an old maid’s job. Why don’t you go yourself?”

Though the sentiment was less than polite, the thought made its impression. Gladys set her mind toward China, and in December of 1929, she applied to the China Inland Mission. This was Gladys first act of obedience towards God’s call, and would begin a long chain of simple, focused acts of obedience that would continue throughout the rest of her life.

The second characteristic of her life was also about to begin – that of God’s provision. A poor student from childhood, Gladys struggled with the more academic portions of her formalized missionary training. At the end of the first portion of her training, Gladys was deemed “not fit” and was asked to leave.

Gladys was heartbroken–she had been so sure that God wanted to send her to China. Confused and disappointed, she went to work as a household servant for an older couple who had once served as missionaries in China. They encouraged her to continue to be obedient to God’s calling, reassuring her that if God wanted her in China, He would put her there. And indeed, within a few short years, that is exactly what He did.

Through a series of connections, Gladys heard of a missionary woman in China who needed an assistant. This was it – God’s calling! She determined that she would travel there on her own, via train (through war-torn Russia). To afford the fare, she worked several jobs. Friends and family pitched in what they could. In less than a year, Gladys, a poor, working-class girl, had managed to pull together the 90-pound fare. God was providing.

This provision continued throughout the rest of Gladys’ life. When she was hungry, He would provide food. When she was in danger, He would provide escape. When she needed money, He would provide a job.

Gladys, in turn, responded with simple, direct obedience. Gladys never considered her obedience extraordinary, either. Once, when approached by a reporter who wanted to interview her, she brushed him off saying that she had led a very uninteresting life. This humble attitude allowed her to gratefully take up whatever opportunities arose. Whether tending to a pack of mules, caring for a dying missionary, or cleaning a church. Gladys did what needed to be done.

At one point, Gladys was offered a position with the government as a “foot inspector.” This job entailed traveling from village to village, educating villagers about and enforcing the recent legislation that banned the practice of foot binding.

Realizing the opportunity before her, Gladys informed the mandarin (the officer who would accompany her to the villages) that she would use the chance to share the Gospel. The officer allowed her, reasoning that Christians didn’t bind their feet. And so, in fluent Mandarin (the language the missions board had concluded she would never be able to learn) she traveled from village to village, preaching the Gospel and establishing new churches.

Gladys’ life was characterized with opportunities like this. God would provide an opportunity, and Gladys would seize it. It never seemed extraordinary to her. In her mind, God was the master, and she was the servant. She was only doing what she was told–even if that meant single-handedly stopping a prison riot, or leading a group of 100 orphans through the mountains with an army of invading Japanese soldiers at their heels.

Gladys was a simple, poor, uneducated woman. But God used her for great things. She is a perfect example of the saying, “God doesn’t call the qualified—He qualifies the called.”

Her example encourages me to live my life by faith, attending to each calling with obedience and trust. Her lifetime of obedience, even in menial tasks, pushes me to lay down my pride in pursuit of God’s kingdom. Ultimately, she reminds me that there is one qualification to do God’s work, and that is a willingness to live by faith.

“I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China. There was somebody else. I don’t know who it was–God’s first choice. It must have been a man–a wonderful man, a well-educated man. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn’t willing. And God looked down and saw Gladys Aylward.” – Gladys Aylward

What about you?  Has God seen your willingness?

Emily SelwayEmily Selway is a hyperactive dreamer with a passion for seeing people come to know and treasure Christ. A graduate of Ohio University with a degree in Visual Communications, Emily loves writing, photography, coffee and cats. She has never met an ice cream cone she didn’t like, and enjoys spending her free time reading, hiking, and making other people laugh. She and her husband, Clay, recently joined staff with Cru and are preparing to serve with the ministry at Ohio University.

You can find Emily on Twitter, Instagram, or at her blog.


“Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God” by Noel Piper

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Kingdom Women: Eliza Davis-A Divine Connection by Joy Davis

Eliza DavisWhen I am teaching the course “Personal Leadership Development” at a seminary in Africa, I use a book by Bill Clinton called The Making of a Leader. Out of the nine chapters in the book, Clinton spends two of the chapters explaining the concept of Divine Connections.

This term is used to help the reader understand that only God can connect people together divinely, either by situation and circumstances that can bring them together face-to-face or by some other means. In this case an African-American Missionary to Liberia named Eliza George Davis’ past connected with my present in 2012, but was not revealed until today, 2015.

A good comparison

Often I find myself comparing my life and ministry with missionaries from the past and present. The comparison can be good or bad. In finding out a little about the life of Eliza George Davis, I stumbled upon a Divine Connection, a good comparison with a rich contribution to the Kingdom, but I was unprepared for the depth of my discovery. I just peeked into the life of missionary Eliza George Davis a little bit, and found that she made a footprint in Monrovia, Liberia in 1914, that I stepped into on one of my missionary trips to Liberia in 2012.

Let me explain. Eliza George Davis,1879 -1980, was born in Texas and had a calling on her life to serve as a missionary to Africa. Despite opposition she arrive in Monrovia in 1914 as an evangelist supported financially by the National Baptist Convention. She planted 27 churches and opened a school called the Bible Industrial Academy (renamed the Suehn Industrial Mission).

dedicating school

Dedicating School

The school ministered to children, tutoring and teaching them the gospel message. It is said that in the first two years of her ministry she saw more than 1, 000 people accept the Lord in Liberia. Eliza married and raised three children she adopted. Hardship hit the area and the school suffered financially, eventually closing. For years after that, the National Baptist Convention campaigned to reopen the school, which yielded several failed attempts.

On November 8, 2012, a team of 11 people from the National Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board, took off from JFK in New York bound for Monrovia, Liberia, to participate in the 2012 Centennial Celebration of the Suehn Industrial Mission. I was part of that team.

I had no knowledge of the history or relationship with Eliza George Davis as the original founder of Suehn. As part of the National Baptist Convention, this was-another attempt to rebuild and reopen the school that had been totally destroyed during the 15-year Civil War from 1990-2005. Today, together with the people of Liberia and members of the National Baptist Convention Foreign Mission Board, we are rebuilding Suehn.

“News of the re-establishment of the Suehn and Bendu Mission Stations has been welcomed on both sides of the ocean. Alumni of the missions in both the U.S. and Liberia are sharing in the excitement, with plans for outreach and in contributions of time, input, and personal and professional resource.” Rev. William B. Moore, Chairman, FMB, NBC, USA, INC., Mission Herald 2012

A Divine Connection

While in Liberia, I visited the ruins of the Suehn Industrial Mission. We held a ceremony on the grounds where the school once stood and rededicated it to the Lord for rebuilding.

While thinking on African American missionaries from our rich history and past, I stumbled upon this unknown Christian soldier, not knowing that we had a divine connection:

Although we have never met, we stood in the same place in Liberia at different times in history. Eliza had a call upon her life and loved serving in Africa, as do I. She planted churches in Liberia and I helped plant my first church in Nairobi, Kenya, this year. Her mission was to teach children to read the Bible and show them helpful life skills. I am a missionary with Cru and serve as City Coordinator of S.A.Y. Yes!®–After-school mentoring and tutoring program for at-risk children in the inner city. What a comparison!

If I could compare myself to someone like Eliza with such perseverance, faithfulness, commitment and dedication to the Lord, I would say that is a good comparison and a Divine Connection.

Hearing the Call of the Lord…

Eliza heard the voice of the Lord and stated: “My African brother is calling me; Hark! Hark! I hear his voice . . . Would you say stay when God said go?”

I stand on the word of God from Isaiah 6:8 “And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then said I, “Here am I: send me.”

The fact that my last name is Davis is another Divine Connection.

What about you?  Has God given you some divine connections?

Excerpts taken from:

National Baptist Convention, Foreign Mission board–press-releases/foreign-mission-board-update–rebuilding

joy davisDr. Joy Davis is an ordained and licensed Minister. She is on staff with CRU- Campus Crusade for Christ Internationall. and serves as City Coordinator, S.A.Y. Yes!® Centers for Youth Development. She has led the S.A.Y. Yes! training in Guyana, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Haiti.

She has more than 25 years of experience in the area of Youth Development, Missions, and Discipleship. She is an adjunct Professor at ILU in Nairobi, Kenya, where she teaches Personal Leadership Development.

She is a published author of Developing Disciples of Victory, a handbook on discipleship and new members in the local church. She is the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient for Community Transformation, from Ashland Theological Seminary.

In 1999, Rev. Dr. Joy received her Master of Arts in Christian Education from Ashland Theological Seminary, (ATS) Ashland, Ohio, and in 2002 she received a Master of Divinity. She earned a Doctor of Ministry in 2007 from ATS. She is a Vietnam Era Veteran, and served in the US Army. She was born and raised in the inner city of Detroit, MI and relocated to Orlando, FL in 2013.

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