Sarah Padoko is the 2010 recipient of the James A. Hyde Marriage and Family and Pastoral Counseling Theory & Practice Award. The award, which was presented September 9, 2010, at the opening convocation of the 2010-11 academic year, recognizes a student in Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT) degree program at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary for demonstrated excellence in their first full year of involvement in the clinical and academic components of the program.
The award was established in 2009 to honor Dr. James A. Hyde, who directed the Seminary’s nationally recognized Marriage and Family Therapy program from 2003 to 2007. Among many accomplishments during his tenure, Hyde helped expand academic and public recognition of the program through its faculty, student achievement, and contributions to regional and national judicatory bodies in the marriage and family therapy and pastoral counseling fields.
“When I heard my name called to receive the award, I was filled with joy and felt honored for something I did not expect. The award has set the bar higher for me, and I am grateful for the encouragement,” said Padoko, who is from Malawi and is a Louisville Seminary International Scholar in the Promise for Ministry Scholarships for Excellence program.
Padoko sensed a call to ministry in pastoral counseling after working with people who were struggling with HIV/AIDS in her country. In 1999, she and her husband, Fletcher Padoko, established Kasupe Ministries in Lilongwe, Malawi, to help improve the living standards of their village through household food security, spiritual direction, health care, HIV/AIDS programs, and education. Today, their ministry assists more than 1,200 orphans and individuals whose lives have been impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“I felt the need to help these people more than what I was doing,” said Sarah, who experienced the economic and emotional challenges first-hand.
She learned about the marriage and family therapy program at Louisville Seminary through her husband, who earned his Master of Arts (Religion) degree at the seminary while she managed Kasupe Ministries. In 2009, following his graduation, she enrolled in the Seminary’s program, confident that it could help her think theologically on different issues that people face in life.
“The MAMFT program at LPTS is important to me because Malawi, and Africa as a whole, needs skilled therapists in the field who will help counsel people in a professional way, and I am being trained to be one of them.
“I have experienced, as well as witnessed, the results caused by brokenness. I have empathized with those who have lost hope. I have also experienced the change that can take place when one is going through a difficult situation. Both experiences have given me the desire to minister to the hurting as well as to those who are the most vulnerable in society. I want to be used by God to give hope in situations that seem hopeless. My desire is to show others that God is real and cares about God’s creation. I want to be able to offer the hope of Christ to the people I serve––not just meet temporary physical or emotional needs,” she explains.
As part of the fall convocation, prizes were also presented to students for their exemplary work in theology; biblical studies; and practical theology.