On this day in 1956, five young missionaries, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian, established a camp at “Palm Beach”, a sandbar along the Curaray River, which runs through the rainforest of Ecuador.  Their goal, their task, was to reach the Auca Indians with the Gospel.  For several months, these young men have been flying over the village of the Auca Indians, dropping off gifts to the village from their plane.  When they felt the time was right, they landed their plane on a wide sand strip and set up a camp, hoping to make contact with the Indians and begin to preach to them the Gospel.

On this day in 1970, Gladys Aylward died.  While attending a revival service as a young woman, Gladys was stirred to serve as a foreign missionary.  After being rejected by the China Inland mission, Gladys heard of a 73-year old missionary woman, Jeanie Lawson, who was looking for someone to work with her in China.  Gladys quickly grabbed the opportunity and was soon on her way to China.  The two woman set up a mission along a high-traffic caravan route.  They opened the mission as an inn for weary travelers.  After giving the travelers good food and a place to sleep, they taught them from the Bible about Christ.  After the travelers left the mission, they carried the message they just heard along the rest of the caravan route to their final destination.

After the death of Mrs. Lawson, Gladys took her influence and Christian teaching to a governmental level.  She became the inspector on the new banning of foot binding (an ancient practice of tying Chinese girl’s feet together to make them small), which allowed her to travel the country, helping woman and teaching about God’s love.  When the Japanese invaded China during WWII, Gladys worked on behalf of the Chinese government.  Her work was so powerful that the Japanese put a reward out for her capture, the same amount as the reward for the Chinese Mandarin, or emperor.  When a fellow Christian friend begged Gladys to leave, she replied “A Christian never retreats!”  As she grew older, Gladys’s health began to deteriorate and she returned to England, where she traveled around the country and spoke at many churches.

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Biographical sketches of memorable Christians of the past

On this day in 1745, David Brainerd set aside his entire day for prayer and fasting.  For two years, Brainerd worked tirelessly among the Indians.  His weak, frail body faced hardship, pain, and disease.  But all his work seemed in vain.  Few of the Indians listened to him and some even wanted to kill him.  His own translator was an alcoholic and would at times translate Brainerd’s messages while he was drunk.   David Brainerd became extremely depressed and withdrawn.  He felt that these two years were absolutely wasted.  When 1745 came around, Brainerd knew that the task he faced, the challenges ahead, were too big for him to overcome.  So he set aside the entire day of January third to simply go before God and beg for an outpouring of  spiritual power.  He clung especially to the promise in John seven, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”.  As Brainerd’s year unfolded, God answered his prayer.  David’s translator was converted and an immediate change overcame him.  He began to translate with a power, fervency, and emotion that he had lacked before.  Scores of Indians soon decided to follow follow Christ.  Though he died just a few years after this, David Brainerd’s life became a challenge and example to countless others and his diary is one of the most influencial writings of Early American Christians.  What could God do in your life and ministry if you would simply spend a day pleading for Him?

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On this Day in Christian History By: Robert Morgan

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