Heroes are stung by failure too!

Brother Andrew (1928-alive)

     In 1953 Andy intended to begin study at the World Evangelization Crusade school in Scotland. Still in Holland, he was informed WEC had no openings. He went to England anyway. His English was not only unintelligible but laughable. After he was finally allowed entrance to the school, within days his back 'went out'. Often he would crumple from excruciating pain and just lie wherever he fell until someone found him. After two years he realized his graduation was going to put the school in a very awkward position. Because of his disability the WEC could not offer him a position as a missionary. Word would spread that the school betrayed its own graduates. Andy loved the school and its mission. There was only one honorable thing to do. Andy left without graduating. At the age of 27 he returned to Holland with no degree, no position, no money and no future plans - other than a wild notion of going behind the Iron Curtain to a youth conference in Poland - a Communist youth conference at that!

God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew (with John and Elizabeth Sherill), 1967, and For the Love of My Brothers by Brother Andrew (with Verne Becker), 1998]

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Gladys Aylward (1902-1970)

In 1930, having failed her chance to become a missionary for the China Inland Mission, Gladys set out on a journey to China. But she could not afford sea passage, so she took the train! Most people did not even know it was possible to cross Communist Russia by train to reach China . When friends found out they urged her not to go. She went nevertheless. For weeks she huddled in her compartment, eating food from her luggage, as the train rumbled across Russia. But her plan went haywire as she neared China. The train came to dead stop. No one was around but soldiers. The two countries were skirmishing at the border. She had to actually hike back along the railroad tracks - lugging her two bags - in dead of winter in Siberian wilderness! When night fell she kept from freezing by burrowing under her luggage. She wondered why she heard dogs barking. The next evening she trudged into a town. Officials there tampered with her passport, changing 'missionary' to 'machinist'. Surely she would be glad to stay in Russia, they argued, and help the glorious Communist state. What was she going to do? Then she realized with stinging clarity the 'barking dogs' the night before was a pack of wolves. Then she had a second revelation: the Communists were planning to send her off to some remote work camp!
     Oh Lord, was there ever such a foolish failure as Gladys Aylward?

The Small Woman by Alan Burgess, 1957]

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Resume of Andy van der Bijl at age 27:
   No money.
   No job.
   No wife.
   No future?

Gladys Aylward fail? Read about her right here!

Gladys Aylward

"Wherefore, though of myself of all the saints the most unworthy, yet I, but with great fear and trembling at the sight of my own weakness, did set upon the work, and did according to my gift, and the proportion of my faith, preach that blessed gospel that God had showed me in the holy Word of truth; which, when the country understood, they came in to hear the Word by hundreds, and that from all parts…"

"Now as Satan laboured by reproaches and slanders, to make me vile among my countrymen, that, if possible, my preaching might be made of none effect, so there was added hereto a long and tedious imprisonment, that thereby I might be frighted from my service for Christ, and the world terrified, and made afraid to hear me preach…"

John Bunyan in 1665, after five years of imprisonment

John Bunyan (1628-1688)

English prison in 1665 was a deadly place. Cells had no heat, no beds, no bedding. To sleep better, prisoners had to get straw and blankets from outside. Food was bread and water. To eat better, prisoners had to get food from outside. John Bunyan was 37 years old. For the last five years he had spent every moment inside prison bars. In the first months of imprisonment the jailer had let him slip out at night, but once John failed to get back before dawn. So he had lost that favor. He was in prison indefinitely for refusing to stop preaching. He had preached to common people, usually about the sins of the privileged. Now those privileged had him behind bars. He bound the end of boot laces - thousands upon thousands - to be able to send pennies to his family. But probably most of that pittance his faithful wife spent on a few niceties to send him. He studied his precious Bible, as well as ministering other prisoners. Oh, he - the scribbler - wrote heated tracts too. He even penned his spiritual journey: Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. And how his pen dug into his soul:
          The parting with my wife and poor children has often been to me in this place
           as pulling the flesh from the bones…often brought to my mind (are) the many
           hardships, miseries,and needs that poor family were likely to meet with…especially
           my poor blind child, who lay nearer to my heart than all the others. Oh, the
           thoughts of the hardship my poor blind one might undergo would break my heart
           to pieces. Poor child, what sorrow are you likely to have for your portion in this
           world! You must be beaten, must beg, suffer cold, hunger, nakedness, and a
           thousand calamities..
     Yes, Bunyan seemed quite the saint to other prisoners. But the devil nagged him 'what kind of a man but a failure leaves a young wife and four children unsupported?' And the four were not even her own but from John's first wife. Doubt sprang up in him every time his family stood outside on the street and waved up at him. His young wife was growing old without a husband. His seeing children's eyes were becoming as vacant as their oldest sister's blind eyes. He was becoming with each visit more a caged man too proud not to preach, not a husband, not a father, certainly not a saint…

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners by John Bunyan, 1666]

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