When Edith Moules left school at fourteen, she worked as a maid in a clergyman's house. At sixteen she was converted. She was won for the Lord by the love she found at a girls' Bible class. By the time she was eighteen, she knew that the Lord wanted her to work for Him. She began preparations to go to India. She went to Bible School but after two terms she left, a failure. She then did a nursing course. She began to understand that the Lord wanted her to work in Africa. She joined WEC. She went to Belgium to learn French and to do a tropical medicine course before leaving for the Belgium Congo in 1927.
On the boat to Africa, she heard about the need for work among leprosy patients, but she definitely was not interested. Leprosy was just too frightening! She opened a clinic at Naga. Within twelve years she was treating 200 patients a day.
Then one day an old man and a young lad were standing on the edge of the crowd. They had leprosy. What should she do? She was frightened of the disease. If she treated them, others would come along and in the end the work would overwhelm her. But they had walked 120 kilometres on their injured feet. How can she send them away without any treatment? She waited until everyone else had gone, then she showed them to a small hut where they could sleep. She took them some food. As long as she refused to help them, she had no peace with God. Four days passed and, reluctantly, she began to treat them. Just as she had thought, within a few days, sixty lepers had arrived and within a few years, five thousand had been treated!
The years passed. She was sick, her husband died, and the Lord gave her a new vision : to use the work of leprosy treatment to open up other countries for the gospel. In 1947 she visited several countries in West Africa. The doctors had already told her that she had cancer. They told her that with rest she could live for a year and a half, but if she carried on as usual, only six months.
She arrived in Guinea and went to see the governor. She told him all that the Lord had done in the Congo. He was interested; if the mission put in a request, he would see what he could do about getting them visas. The request was filed, but months passed with no news from Lisbon.
Edith had already returned to England, there she was busy challenging young people with the vision of using leprosy work for the Lord. She waited until she could wait no longer then went to Portugal. When she heard that the governor of Portuguese Guinea had just arrived she asked for an interview. He knew that she was seriously ill so he came to see her. Edith asked him to help her get an interview with the secretary of state. He agreed.
Edith explained to the secretary that there were five people ready to go to Guinea to start a leprosy treatment program, but if they could not get visas soon, they would have to go elsewhere. Within a few days, the secretary had arranged for five visas and was ready to grant more if they were needed.
Shortly afterwards "Ma Moli" died, but she had found the key to opening the door for the work in Portuguese Guinea.
This article is reprinted, with permission, from Light Shines in the Darkness, The History of the Church in Guinea-Bissau (1940-1974) (Bubaque, Guinea-Bissau: Missão Evangélica, 1996). All rights reserved.