An Open Door
As one of the missionary bush pilots who flew her, I can tell you that Maud was one of our very favourite people to serve. We would arm wrestle over who would have privilege to take trips with her and always come away encouraged and inspired to do more. To be everything she saw in us. To try to keep up with this older Irish lady who was out in front of us, being an example of what could be if we stayed close to the Lord.
On the day we got the message Maud had been shot, we didn’t know any of the circumstances surrounding the incident. The Mulita area had been very unstable with militia causing trouble throughout the country, information was sketchy, and we didn’t know what we were flying into.
But this was Maud, and every one of our pilots was ready to go for her and rushed around preparing the plane to pick her up. I had the honour of going. It always seemed like an honour to fly for this humble champion of the Faith.
As I read this book, I was challenged to a closer walk with the Lord, to become more like Him each day, and to finish well the work the He has given to me. A life of significance can be a great adventure! This book reveals the secret of how to make it so.
Jon Cadd (MAF Pilot/Program Manager East Congo)
This is not just an amazing book about Maud, a woman from Cookstown working in the Congo, but a power filled story of God at work among his people.
Pauline Kennedy (PCI Women’s Ministry and Presbyterian Women Development Officer).
“This is a wonderful account of the extraordinary life of Maud Kells, whose journey to answer the Lord’s call took her from rural County Tyrone to Buckingham Palace via the Democratic Republic of Congo. Each chapter gives readers an insight not only into Maud’s deep personal Christian faith, but also into her remarkable personality.
With each page, we learn more about her tremendous courage, compassion and her good humour. No wonder this book is such a compelling read. If you are looking for an inspirational book, then look no further than An Open Door. It recounts the life of a truly exceptional woman.”
Lady Sylvia Hermon, MP
"An Open Door" is a timely and beautifully told story of a truly inspirational life. Maud's unique life journey has been filled with so many episodes of exciting and intense drama, alongside which sit endless activities dedicated to the service of the Congolese people, particularly those of the remote and isolated area of Mulita.
This book will leave its reader amazed at what one life can accomplish, when poured out in love toward God and others in total self sacrifice. Maud’s supreme motivation is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with all she has and to glorify His Name, whatever the cost. Unsurprisingly, God has honoured her great desire and used her life to the huge material and spiritual benefit of the people of Mulita.
Dr Pat Morton
Maud's story is an inspiring example of life in the service of our Lord, an example that is needed in today's world. These aren't mere words on a page but a real life lived in real situations - a life lived deeply, sacrificially and faithfully for Christ. Her story inspires us to a life of faithfulness to God's calling and loving service to others. This is what will have a lasting impact in the world today.
Susan Sutton, International Director, WEC International
Maud Kells has a quite extraordinary record of service in the cause of Christ in The Democratic Republic of Congo. The remarkable, inspirational and heart warming events of her missionary life have been recorded here for the first time in book form. They bear witness to the wonderful way in which God is at work in Africa. Jean Gibson has confirmed herself as a writer of great skill in bringing to the wider church these testimonies of how Christ is being glorified in DRC. I commend this book most warmly.
Revd Dr Paul Bailie, CEO, Mission Africa.
Maud Kells was “impelled by the voice of God to replace missionaries in the Congo killed in the Simba rebellion”. This is a compelling and riveting story which is told with great honesty. I was gripped by the fear of some moments and great rejoicing in others. Maud deliberately placed herself in situations where only God could protect her, but she knew He had guided her there. And God did protect her and provided so many instances of answered prayer that one can’t deny His person or presence.
I had the privilege of doing surgical visits with Maud at Mulita and am so grateful for her example of faith, generosity and humility in the face of enormous obstacles.
Dr Philip Wood, WEC Canada
Journey of Hope
This is quite simply one of the very best books I have read about Africa. Jean has a remarkable gift of painting pictures in words. You will feel as though you are there, smelling the smells, meeting the people she has met, and sensing something of the heart of God for their needs and situations. In each chapter we are introduced to a person or a couple of people. We enter into their world on their terms, and go away knowing we have been on holy ground. I have long since realized that this particular gift of entering fully into the situation of others, and remembering people in detail, is most often given to women, and am grateful to Jean not only for her having seen situations so clearly, fully and warmly, but for taking the time to share them with us in her profound words.
The Right Rev Harold Millar, Bishop of Down and Dromore
'I loved reading this book. Jean's stories interweave heartache and hope in a way which challenges me about the devastating impact of extreme poverty, inspires me about the response of the global church and enthuses me to become a stronger, more Kingdom orientated Christian.'
Tim Magowan, Northern Ireland Director, Tearfund
God speaks to us primarily through stories. The bible is the great story book. Jean Gibson follows that pattern in these moving accounts of people’s lives in the beautiful and complex continent of Africa . In this ‘journey of hope’ we are introduced with sensitivity and realism to the harshness and joy of those who against ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ remain resolute. The God consciousness, which is almost tangible throughout Africa , is captured as each incident and experience is retold with the eyes of faith. When you have read this book you will begin to understand why the grassroots church, often without mission statements or five-year strategies, is not just growing but exploding in this, the Global South. Here you encounter ordinary people who not only believe but who live their lives ‘in step with the spirit’.
The Very Rev Dr Trevor W.J. Morrow, Presbyterian Church in Ireland
Jean Gibson combines her gift of story with her heart of compassion as she bids us listen to some of the people she met when she and her husband, Brian, returned to East Africa for a short visit. What we hear will disturb us. Each person’s true story is filled with challenge, struggle and pain far more intense, even brutal, than most of us in the West will ever have to face. But these are not tales of despair. On the contrary this is a book filled with the faith, hope and love of Christ. We are helped to understand something of the role of those from our culture who go to share as partners in God’s mission in Malawi and Kenya. Even more, we learn afresh from our African sisters and brothers in Christ what it really means to love, follow and trust him.
Rev Donald Ker, Secretary of Conference, Methodist Church in Ireland
“The book Journey of Hope is a raw account that puts a human face to some of the untold real life stories of sacrifice, courage, hope, resilience, faith, empathy and living the gospel. It is also a portrayal of the co-existence of contrasting cultures brought together by a strong belief in God’s faithfulness and social justice.”
Margaret Zondo, Program Administrator, International Ministries, Life & Mission Agency, Presbyterian Church in Canada
Joyful in Hope
"Jean Gibson has an extraordinary ability to draw us into the lives of the women whose stories she tells. I was completely absorbed, touched and challenged by the way they not only came to terms with a host of difficult situations, but faced them with courage, dignity and hope. This book is indeed a treasure trove of surprising joy in unexpected places."
Michele Guinness, author and speaker
"In his letter to the believers in Ephesus 2:10, the Apostle Paul wrote, For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. As Jean traces the story of one courageous woman’s life after another, she invites us to wonder at the beauty of God’s workmanship which shapes lives that, in the midst of the brokenness of our world, shine with His goodness. Read and be inspired to run with perseverance the race that is set before us."
Mike Treneer, International President, The Navigators
"What a wonderful compilation of personal stories lived in God. As I read, I was struck again by the faithfulness of this God who breaks into history and into our own personal histories. Each of these personal stories told so vividly by Jean, drew me again into the wonder of our God who is at work in the intimate details of our lives. Our life journeys are times of graced light and graced darkness. Jean’s book reminds us we live bathed in grace, and it is this that enables us to indeed live ‘joyfully in hope’"
Sally Longley, Retreat Leader, Spiritual Director and Hon Assoc Minister; Sydney, Australia.
Encouraged and excited is the way that “Joyful in Hope” has imprinted my life. As I followed their lives and stories of 8 women I was encouraged by their faithfulness and hope in Jesus as they faced very difficult family and sometimes life threatening situations. I was gripped by the sensitive way each story has been written and felt a bond with these people. I was continually reminded that when we become Christians God promises to be with us in all situations. He never promises, however, to remove the trials of the world. In spite of the difficulties faced these people have always felt God standing beside them every step of the way, pouring compassion on them even in very dark hours( Psalm 103:13). I found it difficult to put the book down and saw it as a great encouragement for my Christian walk.
Julie F. Mathews, Head of Education, Wesley Institute, New South Wales, Australia
This book is a story of real women living real lives. It shows us that there is hope in the midst of despair and that God does give inner strength to cope with life’s tragedies. It is a reminder that faith in God is the greatest hope we have - here we see the reality of women whose living faith in Jesus carries them through.
Women everywhere will draw much strength and encouragement from this book.
Caroline Hawthorne, General Secretary, Presbyterian Women
An accident, illness or trauma can change our lives in a moment. How would YOU cope? We are indebted to the individuals who have been willing to be vulnerable and share their warts and all stories in Joyful in Hope. Jean Gibson's gift of sensitively documenting these accounts brings hope to all of us that God's grace and comfort takes many forms.
John Brown, Operation Mobilisation
Seasons of Womanhood
"These personal stories will inspire, challenge, and encourage women in all stages of life. We journey with these women as they, and we, learn to overcome circumstances with God's help, finding ultimate peace."
Jean Daly, wife of Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO
"I was deeply challenged and encouraged by the stories of these different women. Their lives speak powerfully of God’s love and faithfulness through some of life’s most difficult twists and turns. Jean has created a lasting gift by bringing to us, in such a readable and compelling form, the faith journeys of these courageous women."
Chris Treneer, The Navigators, Colorado Springs, CO
"If it hasn't happened to you, it has happened to someone you know. Marital strife, affairs, divorce, illness, depression, substance abuse, civil or cultural upheaval, death of a loved one, abandonment, loneliness. We have all experienced that moment of fight or flight. How do we cope? What can be done? Jean Gibson shares the stories of real women in all seasons of life who have faced trauma and found creative and courageous ways to not only survive, but to thrive. This is one of those inspiring books you'll want to share with others."
Deanna Haught Kappelmann, Haught Topics, Dallas, TX
"Within the pages of this book are some remarkable stories of some remarkable women."
Di Parsons, Care for the Family
"I am delighted to be part of this book. As I look back over my own life and the lives of the other women here, I am overwhelmed by our God’s supreme faithfulness and love in every circumstance."
Joanne Hogg, vocalist with Iona
"Do read this book! I promise it will inspire you, and that you’ll pass it on to others. These ten very different women captured my imagination and gave my faith a real fillip. God is at work in our lives, bringing us a future and a hope."
Celia Bowring, CARE
"There are no celebrities in this book; no guaranteed happy endings, comfortable career choices or stories of star-struck success. Instead, there are real lives of real faith in a real God who shows up in the toughest of circumstances for the most ordinary of women."
Wendy Bray, writer, speaker, author of In the Palm of God’s Hand
"Jean Gibson understands what happens when we as women struggle on life’s journey. As our pasts reflect who we are, our futures are determined by embracing “ Whose” we are. When you meet Elaine, Suzanne, Pamela, Karen and others in this book, imagine your own name, with your own stories inserted into the pages. Jean’s writing encourages all of us to discover what is hiding behind our masks and to find the courage to remove those masks. Read on with courage and hope!"
Yvette Maher, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO
"This book is a real page-turner! The moving stories of ten women are very varied and the common thread of hope in Christ through their difficulties, is compelling. All who read them will be inspired and encouraged."
Fiona Castle, author and speaker, widow of Roy Castle the popular TV entertainer
"These stories make it clear that Christians are not exempt from the trials and tribulations of life. The women in this book have shown their true colours of faith and courage, and have not given up on God even when there appeared to be no hope. When life threw ugly darts at them, they found a strength to navigate life with a confidence that God was there helping them with each step. This book is an inspiration – read it and be encouraged."
Kay Lucas, Executive Director, Jeff Lucas International Ministries