Retired ophthalmologist expresses her love of mission through generosity
By Pat Cole | Mission Crossroads Magazine
As a child growing up in Luverne, Minnesota, Doris Schoon learned the words to “Jesus Loves Me” in Chinese.
Doris was touched by this simple exercise led by her pastor, the Rev. Otto Braskamp, who had once been a Presbyterian missionary in China. Though she no longer remembers the Chinese lyrics, the music of mission continues to play in her heart.
Doris, a retired ophthalmologist from Anaheim, California, is a faithful and generous financial supporter of Presbyterian mission work and mission co-workers. She views the service of mission co-workers as a sign of vitality in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
“By giving to mission, everyone can play a role in the church’s witness and demonstrate their gratitude to God,” Doris said.
Doris’ commitment to mission came early in life. As a recent high school graduate, she went to a Presbyterian young adult conference in Grinnell, Iowa, where the group was invited to consider mission service. “We were asked if any of us were interested in going into full-time missionary work, and I raised my hand,” she recalled. “That’s what I intended to do.”
As a young doctor, Doris followed through on this intention. While she was doing an internship in New York, the PC(USA)’s Board of National Missions approached her about working at Embudo Presbyterian Hospital in northern New Mexico. She served for two years at the former mission hospital, where she filled in for doctors who were on leave.
“Every morning we read from the Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study,” she said. “It was a really inspiring and worthwhile two years.”
Life’s circumstances took her vocational path in a different direction, but she never lost interest in mission. While in private practice in California, she took a short-term leave to serve at an eye clinic in Kenya that was founded by a doctor friend.
Her church and its mission work remained a priority for Doris as her career progressed into research and finally into service for veterans. She spent her last 15 years of practice at the Long Beach Veterans Administration Hospital.
“I really enjoyed working with veterans,” she said. She added that “almost every one of them would bring up something religious.”
Doris was committed to improving the eyesight of her patients, but she was also interested in how they saw the world through the eyes of faith. Similarly, she appreciates the holistic work of Presbyterian World Mission and the breadth of ministries performed by mission co-workers. Reflecting this broad interest, most of her gifts to mission co-worker support go to benefit the ministries of all mission co-workers.
“If somebody is going in my place, I want to make sure that I am helping to take care of them,” she said.
Pat Cole is a communications specialist in Mission Engagement & Support with the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
This article appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Mission Crossroads magazine, which is printed and mailed free to subscribers’ homes three times a year by Presbyterian World Mission.
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