God’s Needle by Lily Gaynore & John Butterworth

How Lily Gaynor Brought Hope and Healing to the Land of the Witchdoctors



In 1957 freshly qualified nurse and WEC missionary Lily Gaynor set sail for Guinea-Bissau, to live among the Papel tribe and bring hope and healing to a land oppressed by disease and spirit worship.

Tuberculosis, malaria, and typhoid were rife. Children were grossly malnourished; witch doctors flourished. Lily set up a clinic under the mango trees, administering penicillin—God’s needle. Many villagers suffered agonizing toothache: Lily learned emergency dentistry. Medical care didn’t stop with people: pigs, cows, rabbits, and hens all passed through Lily’s hands.

Alongside her medical work she learned Papel, invented an alphabet, and translated the entire New Testament. She faced considerable opposition, not always from expected places. Witchdoctors cursed her; new converts were threatened with death; senior colleagues opposed her medical efforts.

Despite all obstacles this remarkable woman helped lay the foundations for a flourishing church. Today Guinea-Bissau has one of the strongest national churches in West Africa.


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