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Minister's joy as he returns to vital mission work after nearly losing his life on way to Uganda

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Rev David McMillan in his church in Armagh

Rev David McMillan in his church in Armagh

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Rev David McMillan with friend Alastair Hamilton in Uganda

Rev David McMillan with friend Alastair Hamilton in Uganda

Rev David McMillan in his church in Armagh

A Free Presbyterian Minister from Co Armagh has spoken of the amazing feeling of returning to missionary work in Uganda after almost losing his life when he suffered a cardiac arrest at Dublin airport.

Rev David McMillan had just arrived in Dublin in April 2018 to set off for Africa when he was taken ill and only the quick thinking of travelling companion Alastair Hamilton, plus the intervention of paramedics, saved his life.

The Minister at Armagh Free Presbyterian Church returned to Dublin last year to meet the medic who revived him and has since made two visits back to Uganda to see the progress of the missionary work.

"It was amazing to be able to walk through those gates again," he said about his return to the Emmanuel Christian School, around 85 miles south of the Ugandan capital Kampala. "It was where I was meant to be."

The Free Presbyterian Church Mission Board are continuing to work on supporting the school through the current coronavirus pandemic, with the most recent team having returned to Northern Ireland just a few weeks before the travel restrictions were put in place.

"I hadn't actually planned to go back over there, but the opportunity came up when one of the people travelling had to pull out.

"There was no intention to head back with Alastair either, but we found ourselves together again and he never blinked an eye considering what we had been through together. He showed no concern, which was just what I needed.

"And to be honest, it really helped to be able to talk openly about what had happened. He was able to tell be a lot about it all, things I hadn't realised.

"It allowed both of us to put our thoughts to rest and just get on with doing what we were going there to do, and that's to help the people who needed our assistance.

"I always say now that Alastair is my guardian angel. We were meant to carry on with the work we had started.

"And when he dropped me off at home when we returned he said to my wife Roberta, here you go, he's in your care now.

"I thank the Lord that I've made such a good recovery," said David.

"I'm feeling very well, in fact there are days I can't believe how well I actually feel when I look back on what happened and how close I was to death."

Now firing on all cylinders again, David is determined to help the team of missionaries continue their work in overseeing the development of the Emmanuel Christian School in Uganda, still very much in the company of his guardian angel.

"I was back in Uganda again in November of last year with another Mission Board colleague, Barry Stewart, an elder in Magherafelt Free Presbyterian Church," said David.

"We went to Kenya first for six days to visit the missionaries there and Alastair, who is Mission Board Treasurer, joined us for that part of the trip. Then Barry and I flew down to Uganda to visit the school for a few days.

"It was at that time that we opened and dedicated the new community bore wells for the area around the school and that was a wonderful sense of achievement for all of us.

"We're still seeking to provide aid to 200 families in the area around the school to help them through these very difficult times," he continued.

"Most of these families are very poor and have very limited financial resources, especially at this time when there is little work or business so there is no cash coming in.

"We're working to provide maize, rice, salt, sugar, cooking oil and soap. The work continues.

"At the end of February, a team of seven people from Northern Ireland went out to the school for two weeks to wire for mains electric. A smaller team will return to complete this when the coronavirus crisis settles down."

The Free Presbyterian Church currently has three missionaries working in Uganda: Noreen McAfee, from Ballymoney, and Andrew and Hannah Foster, from Comber.

"I chair the sub committee overseeing the work at the school," said David. "I'm determined to use my chance to do just that."

Belfast Telegraph