Editor's Viewpoint: Missionary Maud the epitome of a Christian
The island of Ireland has a proud tradition stretching back centuries of sending Christian missionaries of many denominations to all parts of the world, but few can have been as remarkable as Cookstown woman Maud Kells.
She spent more than five decades in one of the most dangerous countries in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, using her nursing skills to help women in remote areas to deliver their children safely. Before her arrival in 1964 a large proportion of babies died at birth or shortly after.
Maud helped to train local women in maternity care and also had a hands-on role in building a hospital and nursery in the jungle village of Mulita.
It was there that she almost lost her life after being lured from her home one night in January 2015 on a hoax maternity call. As she returned she was grabbed by one of two robbers who had got into her compound, and in a struggle was shot once.
Miraculously the bullet passed through her, missing her lung, a major artery and her spine, although she did suffer a fractured rib.
Incredibly, after recuperating in Northern Ireland she was later to return to the village to ensure that her life's work was being continued.
To say that Maud has a deep faith is not to do it justice. Her faith is what motivates her and what inspired her to go to the Congo at first and to continue her work through various civil wars and other disturbances, which forced her to flee the country on occasion.
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Now she has written a book on her incredible life and it reads as much as an adventure story as the biography of a truly Christian woman.
Maud, in her typically modest way, would insist that she has done no more than many other missionaries.
While many may share her vision, few have dedicated their lives so entirely to helping those less fortunate than themselves and in bringing the true message of Christianity to people through good works as well as good words.
Her life has been lived by a set of values which are so rarely seen in the modern world, where instant gratification is the order of the day and the overwhelming desire is so often to outdo one's neighbour, rather than seek to help him or her.
Maud holds the OBE for her sterling work and was also the Belfast Telegraph's Woman of the Year in 2015. But, frankly, she deserves such recognition every year.