Little girl screams woke Cong from a deep sleep. “Zhen!” He jumped up and ran into the dimly-lit room. Cong found his sister tied to a chair passed out from pain, her toes on one foot broken and now being bound. “Aunt, leave her be. Mother and Father did not want this for her.”
“You will go back to your room, Cong. You are too young to understand such things,” his uncle ordered.
Cong flung back the words, “I am old enough to know foot-binding is outlawed in our land. You will let her go.”
Aunt mocked him, “Funny little boy, go dream your boyish dreams.”
Cong ran from the room and leaned against the rocky ledge of his uncle's house. Tears made muddy tracks down his cheeks. His heart beat fast but his mind was thinking even faster. “Jesus, help me,” he cried out.
Cong heard a voice and turned around to see who spoke.
The voice spoke again, “Ai-weh-deh.”
Cong repeated back the name and then knew what he was to do. The missionary woman who told him and his family about the man named Jesus, Ai-weh-deh, she would know what to do.
Determined to get help, Cong ran barefoot across the cobbled road. When he whispered her name, a flood of memories washed over him. Ai-weh-deh baptized him and his whole family. Shivers went up and down his spine and he wiped away tears again.
An illness swept through the village and Cong and Zhen’s parents went to be with Jesus in Heaven. And now Cong was all his little sister had left, all who truly cared about her anyway. He knew the power of God in him would make him strong enough to always take care of Zhen, but a little fear still niggled at his heart. As he ran, memories flew at him much like wind in his face.
He remembered walking hand-in-hand with Zhen while their uncle’s servant poked and prodded them along. Cong bent his head in prayer. They were being moved far from the home they knew to an uncle who did not believe in Jesus.
Cong stopped to catch his breath. He fingered the homemade cross his father had made for him. He knew the missionary woman was right about Jesus. Cong could feel His Spirit in him that very minute and was encouraged. All this time Cong had to keep his new faith hidden in his heart just like he kept the miniature cross hidden in the deep recesses of his pocket. His uncle would beat him if he found out, but now, with Zhen’s screams still being replayed in his mind – he threw caution to the wind and continued to run to the only person who could help, the woman whose name Jesus whispered in his ear.
He balled up his fist as he thought of Wei. Their older cousin looked at Zhen with lusty teenage eyes. Wei whined to Aunt each time Cong attempted to keep him away from the girl. It was his aunt’s wish that Zhen be betrothed to him, for Zhen lived up to her name, Treasure. She had both inner and outer beauty that all appreciated, especially Wei.
Cong, also lived up to the meaning of his name, intelligent and clever. He made good time to Ai-weh-deh’s inn. This woman who ministered to his family was now the official foot inspector of the land. Her name was Gladys Alyward, a small woman who cared for these people of China. This Cong knew and felt no fear as he beat on the door.
Ai-weh-deh listened to Cong retell his story. She too grew angry and they set off quickly to save little Zhen.
Guards beat on the uncle’s door. “You must let us in on orders from the Mandarin.”
Ai-weh-deh followed Cong into the house. She sat on the floor and while the Uncle and Aunt watched, unwound the wraps that bound the tiny feet. She explained to Zhen that her feet would now have the opportunity to grow as big as God had intended.
Weeks later, Cong stood in the meadow and watched Zhen. She stopped to look at him. Cong smiled and waved. Satisfied all was well, she went back to her game of Eagles and Chicks she played with the other children that Ai-weh-deh had adopted as her own. They were free to learn more about Jesus without fear of beatings and Cong wore his beloved cross proudly around his neck.
This is a fictional story based on the missionary woman, Gladys Alyward.
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