Build up Christian Leaders and their Families


In the second of a series of articles celebrating 50 years of the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi, Ian Farrimond looks at the College’s second core value; to ‘Build up Christian Leaders and their Families’ and its commitment to families ministering together.

The purpose of any theological college is to train people to go out and serve their church in whatever rôle is relevant at the time. Most, if not all, of the theological colleges in Malawi do this with some degree of success. But what about provisions for wives and children? Does the college look at the family unit as a whole or just the one being trained as a pastor?

The answer in terms of the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi (EBCoM) is a resounding ‘Yes’! A specific training course for wives of students was first introduced at EBCoM – or the Likubula Bible Institute (LBI) as it was then known – in the 1990s.

This is very much part of EBCoM’s wholistic approach to the way it trains its students. It is not just a question of good-quality theological training but an insistence on high-quality academic study coupled with training for the whole family. Indeed, a new designated nursery was constructed in 2004, and provision has been made in the student accommodation for married couples and families.

“The approach to ‘whole family’ development is the ‘B’ of our core values; ‘Building up Christian leaders and their families in biblical content, character and competence’,” said Revd Michael Phiri, EBCoM’s Principal (pictured left).

“We want both partners to understand what is involved and also we believe that both the man and the wife should be able to use the gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit.

“One of the courses we offer is in Early Child Development. This is important because it teaches mainly the women how to bring up their own children in a Christian context. But it has also enabled people to help with the development of other people’s children through work in Sunday School or even by women setting up their own

Children are a vital part of life at EBCoM

nursery and applying the principles learned here in that context.”

This approach is helping newly trained pastors to take up positions in areas in which they face many difficulties. But because both the pastor and his wife have had the EBCoM training they are both aware of the pressures of the work and how those can be handled. This has been particularly true in the case of the Zambezi Evangelical Church (ZEC).

“Almost three-quarters of all ZEC pastors are EBCoM graduates. This has helped us to grow as a Church, not just in numbers but also in how people live their lives, thanks to EBCoM graduates going into a new areas for us.

"For example we have EBCoM trained pastors, sometimes even unpaid, going into what we call ‘forgotten’ parts of the country. There is a real mission element to this and it is helping to spread the Gospel to new parts of Malawi,” said Revd Luckwell Mtima, General Secretary of ZEC and former graduate of EBCoM (pictured left).

In the next article we will look at the ‘C’ of the EBCoM core values – Community Transformation – and at the impact it is having on Malawi

The Evangelical Bible College of Malawi is supported by SIM Malawi Project MW 96757 Theological Education Support