Religion: The Virtuous One

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Symbol of Pride. The Chinese called her Ai Wei-teh ("The Virtuous One"), the nearest they could get to Aylward. As the years went by, Ai Wei-teh's fame spread, and she was often called in for help and advice by Chinese officials. But one thing troubled her: her British passport seemed to her a symbol of pride. "I have given up my home and my parents for God," she told herself. "But I'm still different . . ." So she tore up her passport and became a Chinese citizen. The notice was posted on the doors of the town hall and everyone came to see it. "Then they knew I was truly one of them."

When the Japanese invasion drew nearer, Ai Wei-teh shepherded more than 100 homeless children on foot to a representative of Mme. Chiang Kai-shek's, a 27-day journey away. But Gladys Aylward has no memory of their safe arrival. She collapsed from exhaustion just before the end, and was taken delirious to a hospital. This year, the China Inland Mission, which once told the London parlormaid that she was unfit to be a missionary, bought her a round-trip ticket to England.

Last week 46-year-old Missionary Aylward fingered her Chinese passport. "China is my home," she said. "I'll go back to China even if they turn out every foreigner. You see, I am Chinese."

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