A fresh pair of eyes: looking at advantages and challenges


Reverend Robert Masikamu took over as the Principal of the Evangelical Bible College of Malawi (EBCoM) in July 2016

 With no EBCoM background, he has found himself on a steep learning curve

When it comes to the role of Principal of EBCoM, Robert Masikamu finds himself in an unique situation. Unlike a significant number of his predecessors who were either students at EBCoM, then later joined the faculty as lecturers, or who were members of one of EBCoM’s founding bodies, before becoming Principal, Revd Masikamu comes to the role with no prior experience of EBCoM whatsoever.

Passion for teaching

What he does bring to the post is an absolute passion for teaching and a strategic mind which has already, in his first six months, helped to redevelop the five-year Strategic Plan which is currently being considered and worked through by the EBCoM Council.

Revd Masikamu comes to EBCoM with a background in the Church of the Nazarene. His Bible training was through the African Nazarene University in Nairobi, Kenya, and, immediately prior to taking up his post at EBCoM, he was a Pastor in the Nazarene church in Salima in the Central Region of Malawi, and had established a private secondary school and Tutorial Business College in the area of which the owner was his close friend. He has teaching experience from primary school to university level. Indeed, this love for teaching, now that he is here in Blantyre, has led him to minister alongside a Pastor in the Church of the Nazarene where he is taking a lead in Bible teaching.

EBCoM is as old as Malawi having been founded in 1964 the year of Independence

Advantages and problems

He realises that his newness to the Bible College can be an advantage, but it can also bring some problems, as he explained:

“One of the big advantages for me coming into EBCoM is that I can bring a completely fresh pair of eyes to look at what goes on here. 

“I feel I can bring a new perspective to the post of Principal but it does mean I have a lot of catching up to do because I don’t know how things work. I have been in this post for six months now and I think I am getting a good handle on things.

No change for the sake of change

“What I must be careful about, and this could be a big problem, is to understand what does need changing and how to go about bringing that change into place. I should try and avoid wanting to change things just for the sake of change, but rather actually look hard at where the issues are, to bring about positive changes in those areas, and leave alone what is working well.

“Knowing what to change and what to leave alone requires a special grace, which I hope I am being granted,” he said.

One of the things he is keen to keep is the core values which have underpinned EBCoM for many years. In the draft Strategic Plan, the following statement from EBCoM’s Constitution undergirds the whole plan:

The purpose of the College is reaffirmed as being: to train men and women in the knowledge of the Lord and of the Scriptures, and other relevant subjects, with a view to providing suitable leaders and workers in the Church.

Graduation joy and celebration for EBCoM students

Recommitment to core values

In doing so, we re-commit to our core values that support us in delivering biblically based, academically rigorous, practical, and culturally relevant training that promotes spiritual maturity and service. So, we will: be

Evangel minded

Build Christian leaders,

transform Communities,

show Oneness in ministry,

make Ministers for God.

Unpacking the vision, Revd Masikamu makes it clear that he sees sound financial management as one of the main areas for development. 

“We have had financial deficits but the hope is to see the College to financial stability, and my aim in this area is to have a balanced and sustainable budget,” he said.

Prayer Points

Please pray and give thanks for

1. Transformed lives: within the college community, as God enables staff and students to interact with, learn from and grow with one another, and beyond, as graduates go out into ministry in their home churches

2. Finances: although better than recent years, the College needs a regular and sustainable flow of money to ensure its work and its future plans can be achieved

3. Unity: that there is unity among and between students and faculty. Pray that this would continue to help underpin the work and reputation of the College

“Student numbers are up to around 150, and we are now seeing students coming from denominations and organisations other than the five founding organisations. By spreading to other Churches, we are starting to get the message out about EBCoM.”

But it is not just increasing student numbers which are being looked at to help the college’s long-term sustainability.

Income-generating scheme

There are proposals to look at building flats on the campus which could be rented out, and therefore generate an income stream.

He also talks of the impact of the partnership between the College and SIM Malawi.

SIM Malawi’s predecessor organisation, the Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF), was one of the founders of the College, and one of its missionaries, Robert Barr, was the founding Principal.

Currently, three SIM Malawi missionaries are key members of the college staff, and others are members of the EBCoM Council.

Ultimately, what is important is the ministry impact of the partnership on the College through the teaching staff, council involvement and also through a number of projects, such as Theological Education Support and Church Leadership Scholarships.

“The SIM Malawi missionaries we have on the staff of the College play a very full and active part in the academic work of EBCoM, and help our students greatly,” said Revd Masikamu.

SIM Malawi missionary Ruth Guinness wrking with a group of EBCoM students

Historic links with SIM Malawi

“The SIM Malawi projects also are a great benefit, not just to EBCoM but also to the Africa Evangelical Church, as the students who are being supported by these projects**  (see end of article) are coming from that denomination,” he said.

“This means they have a regular stream of well trained and qualified people who go out as pastors or leaders in the Church.”

Academic changes/additions are also on the agenda for EBCoM. Currently,

students work to certificate- and diploma-level studies, but long-held plans for a new degree course to be brought on board have finally been given the green light by the Board of Theological Studies. ***New lecturers will be needed to help share the work-load of higher student numbers and this will also require new staff accommodation to be built alongside an extension to the Administration Block to house faculty offices, and also an enlarged library*.

As old as Malawi

EBCoM is as old as Malawi itself, being established in 1964, the year in which the former Nyasaland gained independence from Britain. Over the 53 years of its existence it has had a significant impact on Malawian life, especially its spiritual life. Building on this tradition, the hope is that EBCoM in the future will continue to enhance its reputation in this way.

“I feel positive about the future because of what we have achieved in the past,” said Revd Masikamu.

“What we need more of in the future is ‘called ones’ to come as students and faculty: people who have a real passion for mission and serving God: people who want to make a difference in the world rather than just being here for the sake of employment and earning a living.

Force for the Gospel

“With God’s help I am sure that we shall see this happen and we will be able to see EBCoM not as a well-kept secret, but as a force for the gospel in and beyond Malawi.”

The work of EBCoM is supported by three SIM Malawi projects

*MW86520 Evangelical Bible College of Malawi assists infrastructure & resource development and continuing professional development for staff

** MW96454 Church Leadership Scholarships assist the training of AEC pastors

*** MW97657 Theological Education Support assists funding teaching staff and maintenance work