Maud Kells: Funeral details for Northern Ireland missionary to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who triumphed over bandits and witchdoctors
and live on Freeview channel 276
The fearless Cookstown midwife spent 50 years in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Originally leaving NI for the DRC in 1968, she survived national uprisings, trained nurses, built schools and hospitals, taught at bible college, and wrote a book about her life - ‘An Open Door’.
The WEC International missionary died peacefully at the Macmillan Unit of the Antrim Area Hospital on Thursday, aged 84.
During her training, she joined the Nurses Christian Fellowship and felt able to overcome what she describes as a sense of "inadequacy and lack of confidence" by putting her trust in God instead of herself.
"I remember clearly going up the Congo River in incredible heat and seeing palm trees for the first time... Gradually I began to feel at home and realised that in my own small way I could make a difference and do God’s work.
"I prayed all the time, as I still do each day, especially in the mornings. My spiritual breakfast is prayer."
In 2015 robbers lured her out of her Mulita home in the middle of the night by pretending to be the husband of a sickly patient, pointing a rifle at her.
"I thought the gun was just a bit of wood or something just to frighten me, so I went to grab it and he just pulled the trigger."
A bullet passed through her, missing a large blood vessel and her spinal cord by fractions of a centimetre. "It was a miracle - God saved my life," she said.
Maud felt "no real bitterness" for the gunman. "I just pray that through this experience he will come to his senses and realise what a dreadful thing that he did,” she said.
She later returned to Mulita and was awarded an OBE.
Another victory was how she once helped free a four-year-old girl from slavery to a witchdoctor.
Wondering why the girl had a dirty rope down her back and waist, cutting into her skin, her mother explained she had lost several children and had asked the witchdoctor for protection.
"He said he could stop her from dying, from the evil spirits taking her - but she would always be a slave to him.
"And so he put this rope around her and said every year they had to bring a goat to him and shed the blood.
"I told her that I had gone to the Congo to explain that Jesus came to earth to free us from the bondage to sin and evil spirits - and if she put her trust in God he could free her and that she would not die at the hands of the evil spirits.
"Eventually she trusted the Lord and cut the ropes off the child herself. She was really a completely new person."
Asked if sacrificing a family, home and career had been worth it, she said it was "well worth it".
Many women died in childbirth before she oversaw the construction of a hospital. And many children received education in the school she helped to build.
"When I was 18 I trusted the Lord, " she said. "Before that I could not understand why I was alive and what was the reason for living."
Her funeral service is in Molesworth Presbyterian Church on Sunday, 29 October at 2.15pm, followed by interment in St. John’s Parish Churchyard, Moneymore.