Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has hailed missionary Maud Kells as one of the most inspirational ladies she has ever met.
Mrs Foster met Maud at a fundraiser for WEC International in Ballygawley Presbyterian Church this week.
Maud was shot twice in the shoulder by intruders at her home in the Democratic Republic of Congo in January 2015.
Recently the Cookstown pensioner returned to DR Congo not even a year after she was almost killed there by bandits.
“I was honoured to be asked to introduce Maud Kells. Maud is one of the most inspirational ladies I have ever met. Her work rate is phenomenal and at 77 seems to defy her age,” said Mrs Foster.
“As I listened to Maud telling us about her work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo I was struck by her humility and unassuming character. A real example to us all. Her story of how she was shot was incredible and showed a determination and trust in God so rarely witnessed today. We need more Maud Kells in this world.”
Mrs Foster said Maud had “helped establish” a hospital in the region as well as roads and in so doing has “preached a very practical gospel”.
She continued: “As a mid-wife, her focus was on maternity but she told us how she has been involved in road building, crop management, acquiring medical supplies and many different building projects to bring vital facilities to the area.
“Maud’s reason for existence is to share her faith, serve her Lord and help alleviate the poverty. She is employing local people to clear sites for facilities, make bricks and construct buildings including a maternity unit, operating unit, surgical ward, primary school and an office block. She has helped train local nurses and funded fees for medical student to become doctors.
“The maternity unit in Mulita handles about 30 births every month. Before it was built many women died in childbirth. Some of those who use the unit have to walk 20-30 miles to get there.
“I’m delighted that the hall was really well filled and almost £2k was raised for WEC International.”
Mrs Foster added: “Please continue to pray for Maud and support her practically as she does an incredible work for the people living in the DRC. I was really saddened to hear subsequent to the event that Maud has broken a few bones in her hand. Knowing Maud that will not impede her work and she will make a return to DRC as soon as she can.”