Encouraged in Faith

A letter from Martha Sommers, soon to be serving in Malawi

August 2017

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Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing you as I await my flight, following a wonderful meeting with the Malawi Mission Network, where I was able to share some great news. In February 2018, after my time itinerating in the US, I will be assuming a position in Malawi at the Nkhoma hospital in the Nkhoma synod working to develop their family medicine training program. Nkhoma Mission hospital is the one mission hospital in Malawi that Malawi’s College of Medicine is utilizing for postgraduate training in family medicine, and I will be working to develop their family medicine training program. This is an exciting time in Malawi, as the Ministry of Health, Malawi College of Medicine, and the Christian Hospital Association of Malawi through Nkhoma Hospital are collaborating in this training. My new position is temporary and will last at least a year, as the continued violence in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo makes it impossible for me to return to Tshikaji to teach family medicine in the near future.

Omaha Street Percussion members performing at the Malawi Mission Network meeting in Omaha.

Attending this year’s Malawi Mission Network, hosted by Faith Presbyterian Network in Omaha, Nebraska, provided preparatory sustenance for the next stage of my journey. It was here that Debbie Braaksma, the PC(USA) World Mission Africa area coordinator, shared the following definition of PC(USA) mission networks: “Collegial partnerships between various PCUSA entities, governing bodies, and associations working together around a specific region, people group, or programmatic area of international mission.” Among the Malawi Mission Network’s greatest strengths are deep friendships between members.

I arrived by car from Denver, traveling along with long-term members Carol and Jim Nussbaumer and Rich Keller, catching up along the way. As we approached the outskirts of Omaha, Jim played music from when the Embangweni Hospital Chapel Choir (from Malawi), toured the US in 2000, visiting many PC(USA) congregations. As we traveled into Omaha on Interstate 80, ready to meet up with American and Malawian members of the network, our hearts reflected Romans 1:12: “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by you.”

Fun with colorfully dressed friends at Malawi Mission Network.

The first evening of the meeting, we gathered for dinner at Faith Presbyterian’s fellowship hall. Gladness filled my heart as Reverend Levi and Ruth Nyondo came over to greet me as their child, a child of our partner church, CCAP. They had traveled from Malawi to represent the PC(USA)’s partner, the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP).

Reverend Levi and Ruth shared with others how I first met them when I was “just a girl,” back in 1993, when they were serving their first congregation in Mabiri, Malawi. Ruth was ill, and I had the privilege of going to their house to treat her.

It’s been 24 years since I was that young girl, a Marshall University family medicine resident doing a tropical medicine rotation under the guidance of then PC(USA) mission coworker, Dr. Becky Loomis. After finishing my training and working in northern Wisconsin, I would return to Malawi to work within the PC(USA)’s partnership with the Synod of Livingstonia at Embangweni and Ekwendeni hospital. I am so thankful for how the sacred space of the doctor-patient relationship allowed me to participate in the healing and lives of patients and their families, and to gain the trust of communities. My role grew beyond my clinician role, and I was many times asked to represent the hospital at very long board meetings and national committees. So many lessons learned in patience, timing, and working toward consensus. May I pass the best of what I have learned to the Malawian doctors I will be training as family medicine residents at Nkhoma CCAP hospital.

Reverend Levi (second from right) and Ruth Nyondo (third from right) lead a Malawian hymn at the Malawi Mission Network.

I rejoiced with Reverend Nyondo and Ruth that we are all alive, healthy, and part of a beautiful long-term partnership. Reverend Nyondo is now general secretary of the Synod of Livingstonia. Embangweni and Ekwendeni hospitals are now led by Malawian doctors trained at Malawi’s College of Medicine, which was just beginning back in 1993.

As I travel through the US visiting so many of you, please pray that we will continue to follow Romans 1:12 and encourage each other in faith. The best way to communicate continues to be through these Mission Connections letters, email, and friending me on Facebook. Please donate financially, as you are able, to the ministry that we do together. Thank you for journeying with me.

Love to you all,


Please read this important message from Jose Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission

Dear Friend of Presbyterian Mission,
What a joy to send this letter! As Presbyterian World Mission’s new director, I thank God for your faithful support of our mission co-workers. The enclosed newsletter celebrates the work you made possible by your prayers, engagement, and generous financial gifts. We can’t thank you enough.

After I began in April, I met with mission co-workers and global partners and was blessed to see firsthand the mighty ways God is working through them! Our global partners are asking us to help them move forward with life-changing ministries. Because of your support, we can say “yes” to these creative and exciting initiatives.

I write to invite you to make an even deeper commitment to this work. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? We need your gifts to end the year strong. With your help, we filled two new mission co-worker positions and plan to recruit for others. The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer the call to serve.

Second, would you ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s mission budget for 2018 and beyond? Our mission co-workers serve three-year or four-year terms. Your multi-year commitment will encourage them greatly.

Our mission co-workers are funded entirely from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours. Now more than ever, we need your financial support.

In faith, our mission co-workers accepted a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission sent them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts?

With gratitude,
Jose Luis Casal

P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!

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