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Jailed by Idi Amin

04 January 2013

Leigh Hatts on the life of a mission partner


Where Love Leads You
Ruth Stranex Deeth
Onwards and Upwards Publishers £8.95*

THIS is the autobiography of a young woman from Blackpool who became a Crosslinks missionary.

Ruth is one of the last generation to have operated in Africa without emails and websites. When she nursed in primitive conditions in Uganda, there was just a weekly postal delivery.

The most dramatic part of the story recounts her arrest and imprisonment by Idi Amin. She was rescued by Bishop Janani Luwum, who was later martyred, and now appears in the Anglican calendar.

As a result of a book that she wrote about her experience, Amudat Sister (Patmos Press, 1977), Ruth's next assignment in Africa saw her trained in communications and working from a base in Tanzania. Her assistant in Mwanza during the 1980s, showing films and delivering sermons by cassette, was Mathayo Kasagara. She describes how he was a very reluctant ordinand, and her excitement, 30 years later, seeing him consecrated as the first Bishop of Lake Rukwa.

It was Ruth's misfortune to have a South African birth certificate, which forced her departure in 1990. She writes of the well-known difficulty, for those who have long been away in challenging conditions, of returning home and visiting supermarkets packed with too much choice.

But here the story takes an interesting turn. Despite the pull of Africa and her very strong resistance, Ruth finds herself called to be pastoral assistant at All Saints', Hartlepool. Here, all her skills of leadership, nursing, communication, and cooking are put to use in an unpromising area. Soon, church attendance is rising, and Peter Mandelson is opening the Christmas Fair.

Leigh Hatts is editor of In SE1, a South Bank arts magazine.
*obtainable from www.joiningthedotsdistribution.co.uk

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