A missionary who has served in Africa for nearly 50 years says God saved her life when she was attacked by bandits.
Maud Kells, from Cookstown in Northern Ireland, told the BBC about her ordeal after arriving safely home from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
She said she had no ill feeling to the bandit who shot her, commenting: “I just pray that through this experience, he will come to his senses and realise what a dreadful thing that he did do.”
New Year’s Honours
Maud has worked to build medical facilities, a school and an office and is now involved in constructing a nursery.
She was awarded an OBE in this year’s New Year’s Honours List – something she only discovered in her once a week check of emails in Congo.
Speaking to BBC Newsline about the violent attack, Maud explained that she was shot in the shoulder and nearly killed.
Airlifted to hospital
“The bullet just missed my lung. It just missed a large blood vessel by a fraction of a centimetre. If it had hit that, I would have just died on the spot from severe haemorrhaging”.
But as she lay wounded, she thought: “‘Lord I’m not really ready to go, I’m still in the middle of building this nursery'”.
It took some time for assistance to arrive as locals in the village of Mulita were concerned by the noise of the gun, but she was then airlifted to hospital with help from the Mission Aviation Fellowship charity.
Honour to suffer
Maud, who works for WEC International mission agency, returned to Northern Ireland and is receiving treatment for her injuries.
She told the BBC: “What an honour to suffer with our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Maud made her first visit to the African country in 1968 by boat and now splits her time between there and Cookstown.
Speaking after the attack Revd Tom Greer, her minister at Molesworth Presbyterian Church, said: “This news has come as a great shock to all of us.
“We believe that God’s protection has been on Maud, and we are thankful she is alive and is making a recovery.
“We are all praying not only for her, but also for the people of Mulita village who may also have been injured or killed in the attack.”