Stanhope Gardens: Eider Books, 2020
Born in 1933, Emily Ward has seen much over her long life. She was not born into a Christian family, but a diligent assistant minister, Tom Alexander, played a significant role in her conversion in Glasgow. This led to her finally becoming a missionary nurse in Papua New Guinea. The social history that she records is fascinating, from the evacuation of children during the war, the food rationing, Emily’s struggles with tuberculosis, and her move to Australia at the age of 42. After the obligatory encounter with vegemite, Emily settled down to life in Newtown Baptist Church. From there, she moved on to work as a nurse in Mount Hagen, and then Tekin in Papua New Guinea.
The most fascinating parts of the book come with Emily’s description of life in the mountains of the West Sepik River area. Here she had to deal with the customary fear of the spirits, but we also read of the simple yet moving faith of new converts. She remembers one celebration of the Lord’s Supper: ‘We were so different, yet so alike, one in Him. I thanked the Lord for bringing me there that day.’ Hospitality was an important practice, and Emily was involved in a number of medical episodes which were almost miraculous in their outcomes. She helped to look after one Missionary Aviation Fellowship pilot, Ross Fraser, who crashed his plane. Later he was to become a Presbyterian minister in Western Australia. Back in Australia after eleven years in Papua New Guinea, Emily knew some bouts of intermittent anxiety, but felt sustained by the Lord. Finding a home in Penrith Presbyterian Church, she has continued to live out her faith: ‘Gracious survival is all about God’s grace.’ This is a book to read and pass on for others to read.
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The Lord’s Nurse: Glasgow, Sydney and Tekin
Emily C Ward | Eider Books