Jeremy and Luta Garbat-Welch
Mission Co-Workers in Malawi since 2014
Serving with partner churches and organizations in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, South Sudan, and Zambia
About Jeremy and Luta's Ministry: : As Africa Community Health Facilitator, Luta Garbat-Welch will advise partners on community health and development programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, South Sudan, and Zambia. She will promote the development of Community Health Evangelism programs, an initiative that brings people together around priorities of evangelism, community health, and discipleship. From her home base in Malawi, Luta will make periodic visits to the other four countries and help partners in each country learn from one another. Her duties include a special focus on the health ministries of Malawi’s Synod of Livingstonia, helping the synod with organizational development and the implementation of its strategic plan. Jeremy is a trained chaplain and will be exploring opportunities to use his skills with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian which has expressed great interest in chaplaincy training.
Regional Profile: The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began its participation in God’s work in Africa when the first American Presbyterian missionaries arrived on the island of Corisco (present-day Equatorial Guinea in West Africa) in 1869. Traditionally the PC(USA) has been particularly concerned for the poorest and most marginalized people groups in Africa. While the continent has abundant natural resources, unjust economic and political systems have kept the people from enjoying their benefits. Africa is home to severe poverty and millions lose their lives each year to the diseases that accompany poverty such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. The PC(USA) is working to address these problems with African partners through education, health care, and community development ministries. At the same time, our partner churches in Africa are growing rapidly and are experiencing severe clergy shortages. The PC(USA) is working with our partners to train more leaders through seminaries and special training events.
About Jeremy and Luta: Luta and Jeremy will serve on the continent where each of them heard a call to mission service.
Luta, who grew up in Africa as the daughter of Presbyterian mission co-workers, sensed a call at the age of 7 to “love the least of these” as a mission co-worker.
“As I grew up and experienced new things and new ideas this call was further clarified in bringing health and wholeness to individuals and communities,” she says. “This led to a degree in public health.”
Since obtaining her degree, she has gained experience through several health-related jobs in the United States. “Through my work, I have been committed to partnering with communities to identify their strengths and resources and bring about wholeness.”
Jeremy felt a tug toward long-term mission service while working in Cameroon. He was involved in an 18-month mission assignment distributing donated computers and helping Cameroonian schools start or upgrade computer labs.
“I heard God calling me to serve as a hospital chaplain and to help train chaplains in countries where seminaries do not generally offer such courses,” Jeremy says. “Seminary, chaplain training, and hospital experience have helped confirm my call to not only serve patients in hospitals, but to help train ministers,” he says.
As the son of missionaries in Africa, Jeremy, like Luta, experienced the continent as a child. “While we have always been open to wherever God would lead us in mission, we have always felt our gifts have been shaped by and for the work in Africa.” Jeremy observes.
Luta will bring her gifts for facilitating positive change in communities and her public health expertise. Initially, Jeremy will focus on assisting Luta in this role and caring for their young son, Jathniel. Eventually, he anticipates helping African partner churches train ministers in pastoral care.
Both Luta and Jeremy say they are excited to return to the continent that shaped their childhoods. “We look forward to the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes that remind us of home,” Luta says.
Luta’s parents are Doug and Ruth Welch, who served in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Malawi. Jeremy’s parents, James and Marla Garbat, worked in Cameroon under appointment by the North American Baptist Conference.
Prior to entering mission service, Luta served with Catholic Charities of Louisville as its statewide refugee health coordinator. She also has worked for Kentucky’s Department of Public Health as its lead immunization epidemiologist and as an immunization assessment coordinator and HIV health policy specialist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Whitworth College, a Presbyterian school in Spokane, Washington, and a Master of Public Health degree from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.
Jeremy worked as a staff chaplain at the University of Kentucky’s Albert B. Chandler Hospital. He has completed clinical pastoral education residencies at Norton Healthcare System and Baptist Healthcare System, both based in Louisville. He earned an undergraduate degree from Whitworth College with a double major in mathematics and computer science. He holds a Master of Divinity degree and a Master of Arts degree in pastoral counseling from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.
An ordained Disciples of Christ minister, Jeremy is a member of Hurstbourne Christian Church in Louisville. Luta has been involved in two Louisville congregations, Hurstbourne Christian and Beechmont Presbyterian.
Jeremy - March 1
Luta - February 29