Serving Church and nation for 50 years

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Like Malawi itself, the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi (EBCoM) celebrates its Golden Jubilee this year. In the first of five articles, SIM Malawi’s Communications Co-ordinator Ian Farrimond hears from church leaders how EBCoM is living out its five core values and making a difference in Malawi. In it we hear about EBCoM’s commitment to the truth of the Gospel

Evangelical Bible College of Malawi serving the Chhurch in Malawi for 50 years

The year is 1964. The Beatles are about to take the USA by storm, Malawi is about to be born, changing its name from Nyasaland, and in a suburb of Blantyre a farmhouse is about to become a new Bible College. 50 years later that farmhouse has been demolished to make way for an improved campus and the College itself is being called one of Malawi’s ‘best kept secrets’.

Established by five founding mission and church organisations, including the Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF), now SIM Malawi, the Likubula Bible Institute (LBI) was designed to offer sound theological teaching with a strongly evangelical basis. This was confirmed when, in the year 2000, the College changed its name from LBI to the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi (EBCoM).

Abusa Michael Phiri, current Principal of EBCoM

“What makes EBCoM distinctive, and attractive to prospective students, is its strong evangelical teaching and its academic excellence,” said EBCoM Principal Revd Michael Phiri. Revd Phiri was a student at EBCoM before becoming a lecturer and then College Principal.

“These principles have been held since I was a student. I saw this approach of combining strong theological training with a commitment to the academic and I looked to perpetuate them both as a lecturer and now as Principal of the College.”

Another strength of EBCoM is that it is inter-denominational. There are many individual church groups and denominations in Malawi but EBCoM offers a place where many, and certainly the more evangelical, can be confident of this level of training. This was confirmed by Francis Mkandawire, General Secretary of the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM).

“What makes EBCoM strong is that it is truly inter-denominational, and one of its biggest impacts on the Church in Malawi is the way it has trained pastors from many different denominations who are now serving countrywide,” he said.

“Another key impact is the way it is serving the evangelical community in Malawi. EAM was looking to establish its own evangelical Bible School but then we realised that we already had one in EBCoM. So instead of competing, EAM has been working with the College.”

Abusa Winston Chidambuyo, the second Malawian to hold the post of Principal at EBCoM

Its commitment to be ‘Evangel Minded’ – the first of its core values spelling out the EBCoM acronym -  is vital both for the College and for the wider Church in Malawi, as two former Principals of the College explained.

“EBCoM’s commitment is important for evangelical churches in Malawi,” said Revd Winston Chidzambuyo, currently the leader of the Zambezi Evangelical Church in Chirimba and formerly the second Malawian Principal of the College.

“If EBCoM fails it will be difficult for pastors to receive evangelical training. You can see the difference between evangelically trained pastors coming out of EBCoM and those from other theological colleges in Malawi.”

Revd Louis Ndekha, General Secretary of the Africa Evangelical Church and College Principal between 2008 and 2009, said: “I think EBCoM graduates have a different way of seeing and thinking about things. This is because they are trained to be different, so they are more able and prepared to speak out against injustices rather than just accepting the status quo.”

Students in the early days of EBCoM

So for EBCoM, the word evangelical is not just an abstract term, it is deep in the DNA of the College, a foundation on which it has been building over the last 50 years and on which it will continue to build in the years to come.

In the next article we shall look at the second core value, ‘Building up Christian Leaders and their Families’

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

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