Maud Kells, OBE commemorates 50 years’ service with WEC International in her book An Open Door: A True Story of Courage in Congo released on 1 April 2019.
“See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” Rev 3:8
These words of scripture began a lifelong work of service for Maud Kells with WEC International in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Her work building a maternity unit and training local doctors and nurses in the rainforest area of Mulita was disrupted on several occasions by evacuation from DRC and, most recently, when Maud miraculously survived a shooting in 2015. Now, on her 80th birthday, Maud is telling the story of her life’s work serving God as a missionary midwife: An Open Door: A True Story of Courage in Congo launched on 1 April.
In 1964, whilst training as a midwife in Glasgow, God placed a call on Maud to work in the Congo. The verse from Revelation 3:8 was a call to trust in God’s leading – at the time, political unrest in the region left the door to the Congo. However, as Maud’s testimony reveals time and again throughout her book, “nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37). Maud set sail for DRC in October 1968, where she began working in Wamba, Neobongo and finally, in 1989, Mulita, where she stayed for the remainder of her time in DRC.
In Mulita, Maud was asked to train midwives, although she also set about demonstrating God’s love for his children by helping to meet the practical needs of the community. During her time overseas, she trained nurses for five hospitals and thirty health centres, as well as building and staffing a proper brick and cement maternity building to replace the existing mud hut.
Maud’s story constantly reveals God’s provision and protection over her, both in DRC and further afield.
The centre now delivers thirty new-borns each month, with many of the children born there coming to faith in the church attached to the clinic. It was at her home within this complex that Maud was shot in 2015, whilst bandits attempted to rob her house. Nonetheless, Maud’s commitment to the maternity centre and her practical ministry in DRC remained strong and her faith unshaken by the shooting.
This incredible story of courage in the face of danger and opposition to her mission characterises Maud’s testimony throughout her fifty years in DRC. Her memoir tells of an emergency evacuation in 1998 in which Maud and other missionaries waited to be rescued by aeroplane after rebels threatened to take foreign aid workers hostage. If not for Maud’s white anorak used to signal a safe place for the plane to land, the evacuation may not have been successful. Maud’s story constantly reveals God’s provision and protection over her both in DRC and further afield.
Adapting to working in turbulent situations, Maud worked in South Sudan between 1998 and 2002 as it was too dangerous for mission work in DRC. Reflecting on this chapter of her work, Maud writes, “I maintain that one can adapt to any situation if they have the right mind-set.” Certainly, Maud’s testimony stands as an incredible reminder of finding new faith and dynamic spiritual growth during turbulent and unpredictable experiences. Upon each return to DRC, Maud explains that words from scripture encouraged her to persevere and trust in God’s leading – a practice that sustained her spiritually throughout her life.
“On leaving I looked out over the sea of faces and waving hands as I said ‘good-bye’ realizing the majority were born in our little maternity unit and most were born again by God’s Holy Spirit in the church in our backyard... truly a precious and wonderful harvest.”
In 2019, Maud made her final trip to DRC, delivering medical supplies to the maternity unit in Mulita. She recalls her final goodbye to her friends and colleagues: “on leaving I looked out over the sea of faces and waving hands as I said ‘good-bye’ realizing the majority were born in our little maternity unit and most were born again by God’s Holy Spirit in the church in our backyard... truly a precious and wonderful harvest.” In 2015, Maud received an OBE in recognition of her services and commitment to the people of Mulita.
Maud’s incredible story, told fully in her book An Open Door: A True Story of Courage in Congo, was written in collaboration with her close friend, Jean Gibson. When asked what she hopes her readers will take away from her testimony, Maud writes, “I trust they will praise and glorify our wonderful Lord Jesus, and that they will be challenged to serve Him too.” It doesn’t really get better than that!