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An Approaching Famine

A letter from Jim and Jodi McGill in the U.S., on Interpretation Assignment from Malawi

September 2015

Write to Jim McGill
Write to Jodi McGill

Individuals:  Give online to E200385 for Jim and Jodi McGill’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D506718 for Jim and Jodi McGill’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

Hello from Georgia!

We have been in the U.S.A. nearly three months and are acclimating “pachoko pachoko” in Chitumbuka or slowly, slowly in English.

We mentioned in our previous letter that before leaving Malawi we were able to visit our Malawian grandmother and many others at Embangweni.  We laughed as we reminisced about our early days at Embangweni, and we shared hugs and sighs as we reflected on the number of people who had died from AIDS and malaria and other illnesses during our 20 years of knowing each other.  It was difficult leaving our Malawian grandmother when we had to return to Mzuzu as she is quite elderly by Malawian standards and we do not know if we will see her again. It was she we mentioned in the last newsletter when sharing about the predicted famine in Malawi this year.  She said she normally harvests over 100 bags of maize in a season; yet this year her yield was only 9. She estimated that her family needs at least 75 bags for their personal needs and that is relatively small.

8th grade students sitting in their classroom just prior to the delivery of the benches

8th grade students sitting in their classroom just prior to the delivery of the benches

Many of you may already be familiar with the news of the approaching famine in Malawi from the Malawi Mission Network (MMN), news briefs from the PC(USA), and/or partners, friends, and family living in Malawi.  The PC(USA) is lobbying the U.S. government to step in adequately and quickly and along with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and MMN are working with partners within the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian (CCAP) throughout Malawi so maize can be purchased and delivered before people begin starving.  See this link for more details and consider participating in a day of fasting and prayer for Malawi on October 18.

Another update from a previous newsletter is the arrival of school benches for which a cookbook sale at First Presbyterian Church, Greenwood, S.C., provided the funds.  Getting the benches made and delivered took longer than planned or hoped for, but the wonderful news is, they are there now.

The same classroom with the students seated on the new benches

The same classroom with the students seated on the new benches

While in the U.S. Jim will continue to work to find international support and promote the SMART Center of the Development Department of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia.  The SMART Centre continues to improve its training of local artisans to produce high-quality, low-cost water and sanitation facilities.  The SMART Centre is now a member of the SMART Centre Group, an international consortium of similar training centers that can share knowledge and experiences.

Upon our return to the U.S.A., John, Joseph, Selina, and Salome were fortunate to be able to attend a two-week Christian summer camp in North Carolina, thanks to donations to an Enrichment Scholarship for children of mission co-workers. And through the same scholarship Michael and Jason are currently participating in a soccer club. While the kids were in camp we were blessed to have a week with fellow co-workers and PC(USA) staff in Louisville.  The week was bittersweet. We had fellowship and worship with colleagues we had never met and who are doing amazing work living, working with, and sharing the gospel with diverse people groups, and we had time with mission co-workers who are being called from mission service due to inadequate funding within World Mission. There were discussions on how we can inform people about and involve people in World Mission’s work of poverty alleviation, evangelism and reconciliation as well as how to share the current financial situation regarding funding for mission co-workers.  Designated gifts to World Mission will assist keeping our mission co-workers in the field.

In discussion with World Mission Jim’s responsibilities have expanded, in addition to the Interpretation Assignment responsibilities, to include consulting with groups working with PC(USA) on water and sanitation issues.  Jim is therefore looking forward to working in South Sudan over the next year to support the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan with its development work through the PRDA (Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency) and their partner Trinity Presbytery in South Carolina.  While in the U.S. Jim will continue to promote the SMART Center of the Development Department of the Synod of Livingstonia and work to find international support for its purpose of training local artisans in low-cost, practical, reproducible methods in water supply and sanitation.

Jodi has been busy getting everyone settled in their three different schools. Michael and Jason are in 11th grade and trying to fit their previous British curriculum into U.S. high school graduation requirements. Salome and Selina have started 8th grade, and it is 5th grade for John and Joseph.  Jodi has also begun volunteering two or three days a week at the downtown Atlanta location of the Community Advanced Practice Nurse’s Clinic, which provides free physical, mental, and preventive health care to homeless and medically underserved individuals and families in metropolitan Atlanta.

Our Interpretation Assignment began with Jim traveling to the Malawi Mission Network in Plymouth, Michigan, near Detroit in August and has already included visits to places in N.C., S.C., Va., and Fla.  The visits have included a variety of events from the more traditional “Minute for Mission” and presentations at suppers to youth building their own PVC pipe water pump, sharing at men’s breakfast, and speaking at local high school and university classes and PW gatherings. We will be visiting churches throughout the 2015-2016 academic year and look forward to visiting with many of you.  Please email us at

Just writing “thank you” seems inadequate to express our gratitude for your prayers, emails, letters, postcards, and financial support.  We know the time and resources you share with us are indicative of your love and concern for those we work with.  We are all so appreciative of your dedication to sharing God’s love.

Peace be with you,
Jodi and Jim

The 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 156
Read more about Jim and Jodi McGill’s ministry

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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