God will protect me, says Congo missionary Maud as she prepares to go back to village where she was shot
Missionary Maud Kells has said that God will protect her when she goes back to the Congo where she was shot and nearly killed by bandits nine months ago.
The brave 75-year-old also intends to help free a man who is in prison for his alleged role in the merciless attack on her.
The missionary nurse and bible teacher from Co Tyrone has also used her own money to help free another alleged attacker.
Both men are Christians who have worked with Maud in her church role and her mission's plans to build a nursery for the community.
The simple reason behind this inspiring generosity of spirit is that the Cookstown woman has unequivocal confidence in the men's innocence.
And she believes it is unfair for the men she has known for years to be imprisoned and accused of her shooting in early January.
The Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year said: "Before I go back to the Congo by the end of the year, I want a promise from the Lord.
"If it's his will, then he will give me promises of protection. He has done that already with verses Psalm 9,1 'For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways'.
"I will put my faith and trust in God just as I always have done through the years."
Maud was shot by bandits who broke into her home in the remote rainforest village of Mulita in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It was late at night and pitch dark as there is no electricity supplied to that particular part of the country.
She was lucky not to have died or been left paralysed as a bullet smashed a rib as it passed clean through her. Maud lost a considerable amount of blood and was airlifted to a nearby hospital where she began to make a remarkable recovery.
She was transferred back home to Northern Ireland six weeks later.
At one point, she said that she did not think she would ever return.
Maud now finds herself in the position of helping her night guard - who was with her when she was shot - try to secure his release from prison as he is suspected of being connected to the shooting.
Maud said: "I just hate to think of people having to suffer because of my attack. I have been working very hard to try and get them released.
"One has been released now and the other, my night guard, will be in the next day or so hopefully.
"He has been in prison for over a month now and has been very badly treated.
"He became very ill and nearly died a fortnight ago but I was able to send out some money to help buy him medicine."
Maud said that her night guard was also an evangelist in the church.
The man who has been released was a trusted hospital secretary and the other was a carpenter who was also a deacon at the mission.
Fearing that he would be beaten up and imprisoned by the authorities, the carpenter fled and is now hiding in the forest.
Two other men were arrested shortly after the shooting but the security forces believe that a third person must have been involved.
"It's all bribery and corruption out there," said Maud.
"I've had to pay quite a lot of money to try and get the men out. I tried to find out why my night guard was in prison and was told it was because he had not tried to stop the bandits from shooting me. But there is no way that he could have prevented them.
"I've known these men for all these years.
"I know them inside out and I just know that they wouldn't do anything like that. They were always very supportive in protecting me in the past."
The Presbyterian missionary has other important reasons to return to the Congo.
She wants to complete the nursery that the church was building and she wants to officially hand over to her successor.