Hundreds gather in St. Patrick’s church, Coleraine for “Afternoon Tea with Maud Kells.” After 40 years as a WEC missionary in the Congo, Maud was shot by bandits in January this year. She survived and soon found that the terrifying experience has given her many opportunities to glorify about Jesus. Here’s just a taste of what she shared:
The Lord has wonderfully answered prayer in so, so many ways. When the bandits shot me, they meant evil for me, but God meant it for good. The response and the opportunities God has given me to has been wonderful.
I was brought up going to church and Sunday School. As a child, I knew about Jesus in my head but not in my heart. It was in the Royal in Belfast through the Nurses Christian Fellowship that I came to know the Lord as my Saviour. After I asked Jesus into my heart, He was so real to me that night. I had such a great sense of the Lord’s presence. Before that when I tried to read the Bible it was like double-Dutch but after that the Bible came alive to me.
The Bible is what has kept me on the mission field for 40 years. It is the most important book in my life.
I heard the challenge to be a missionary but I thought I couldn’t do that. One day I decided instead of having lunch I would go up to my room and pray that God would show me what to do. I got down on my hands and knees and prayed. As I did that, I thought the Lord was calling me. But I was still doubtful so I prayed that within 24 hours I would hear something about a Bible college as a confirmation. The next day in my pigeon hole there was a syllabus of a Bible college in Glasgow.
I still felt inadequate. But I Corinthians I: 27 – 29 means so much to me: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.“
Anything that I’ve been able to accomplish in Africa has been because of the Lord Jesus Christ. I went off to the WEC missionary college in Glasgow and spent two years there. There were memorial services to the missionaries who had been martyred at that time and God called me to replace one of them, so that is how I got the call to the Congo
In 1968, I sailed to the mission field. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself take up his cross and follow me…” – it doesn’t say come after me for a picnic. We should not be surprised whenever difficult things happen in our lifetime.
1 Peter 4:12 don’t be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering. Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you will be overjoyed when the glory is revealed.
I worked at various mission stations until 1986 when I went to Molito (west of Rwanda). They wanted me to start a little hospital. They had built mud buildings but as I started to teach hygiene, I called the church leaders and said “We need a proper building with bricks and a floor that can be washed.”
They got a brick machine which made two bricks at a time. Ladies come to the antenatal clinic would bring stones for the foundation. At that time a lot of ladies were dying in childbirth in the bush so my first goal was to build a maternity unit. Later we built a surgical ward and operating theatre.
Congo has been on the news for the wrong news. In 1996, people were so disillusioned with the corrupt regime that there was a coup d’état. During that time we kept being evacuated, then coming back and then being evacuated again.
Eventually, I got back to Molita in 2004. A lot of the houses had been burnt to the ground and the landrover had been stolen so it was like starting up again. It was great just to see God’s hand at work. Eventually we completed our hospital and built a proper school for the kids. The little children also wanted to come so we decided we need a nursery. We had just started that last year but it came to an abrupt end when I was shot.
In more recent years, I only spend six months in the Congo and six months at home. There is no pharmacy so I order medical supplies from Kampala and charter a small MAF plane to bring all the supplies with me.
I have a satellite phone for emergencies. Although of course when I was shot, I was the only one who knew how to use it and and I wasn’t in any fit state to use it!
On Christmas day, I had spent half the night bringing a baby into the world. I’m only called in for the difficult deliveries and I always pray with the mothers. We asked if she was a Christian and she said, “No.” As we progressed through the labour we explained the gospel to her. Eventually when the baby arrived, healthy and strong I said, “Let’s thank God for how He has answered prayer.” She said,” Before you pray, I would like to become a Christian.” What a lovely Christmas day!
A few days after New Year, just after midnight, someone rapped at my window to tell me that a lady needed a C-section. Everything was fine so they didn’t need me to go across to the hospital. But 50 minutes later there was another rap on the bedroom window.
A man’s voice said, “You are urgently needed in the maternity unit.” It never dawned on me that it would be hoax. My night guard and I began walking over to hospital. Half way there we met a group of people who told us that there was no problem with the C-section.
We decided to return to the house and as we were going up the side of the house, the bandits came running up dressed in camouflage. One grabbed my night guard and pulled him away. The other bandit was pointing a gun at me but I didn’t realise it was a gun. I went to grab what I thought was a stick and at that moment he pulled the trigger. Then I knew it was a gun!
Did you realise you had been shot? If you had been there you would have known! There was a terrific bang and pain as the bullet came out my back. It missed a huge blood vessel. If it had punctured that I would have died on the spot. I fractured two vertebrae and two ribs.
I yelled at the top of my voice hoping somebody would hear me. I could feel the blood trickling down my back so I went to a wall to try to stop the blood flow. I kept yelling. Nobody came because they were terrified.
I thought, this was how the Lord felt when He was left alone at the crucifixion. One girl did appear but she went hysterical when she saw me. It was a very long ten minutes but eventually my nightguard got free from the bandit and he went and called the pastor. Finally everybody came out.
I remember thinking, God’s in control. I had such a sense of God’s peace – no panic or no fear. I felt no anger against the bandits and I can only say that was a miracle from God.
They got me into the house and I collapsed. If it wasn’t for my night guard I would have died. Eventually they sent messages to MAF to arrange for me to be evacuated. I have no recollection of any of that. I was near death but God wonderfully answered prayer. It took three months for my wound to heal.
The biggest surprise of my life was to be awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours list. It is thanks to all my supporters and to the Lord. It was such an honour to have Prince William to present me with the award.