This article written by Richard Chiku Gawani, a Pastoral Intern and Students Ministry Coordinator at Christ Presbyterian Church
Throughout my childhood, there was one moment I always looked forward to experiencing in life, and that is the moment when I will go to college. I believed that my life would not be the same. College to me was the place for self-discovery. An environment where I would experience life far from parents for the first time. The desire to join college was not simply motivated by the need to study a particular academic discipline but to experience a completely different life.
God graciously enabled me to join a multinational and cross cultural Christian university. I had always thought that a Bible college does not need a Christian campus Ministry since we are always studying the Bible. I later realized that this assumption is wrong because the pressures of university life in secular institutions are not different from some that are experienced in a Christian university. It was at this time when I got introduced to Reformed Student Organization (RSO), a campus ministry of New City Community Church in Uganda.
This ministry provided a platform of experiencing university life with a clear biblical perspective. I later became a student leader for this ministry and some part of my duties was to visit other surrounding universities, which most of them were secular institutions. It was from this experience when I discovered that the values on campus become the values in society. The philosophy, morality, and ethics taught by professors on university campuses slowly but surely work their way into public policy, media, and education.
The saddest thing that I noticed after discovering this truth was that most of the so-called Christian Ministries operating in various universities were not solid biblical ministries. It was easy to find many students claiming to belong to some Christian groupings at campus, but after a short conversation one would easily notice that most students were just excited to belong to a Christian group without any background of true biblical convictions.
Thinking of the young African Population which is believed to be the majority of the entire population, it is important to invest in the work of ministry that transforms the hearts of young people. Blantyre city where CPC is planted is an ideal place to concentrate on campus outreach. The church is surrounded by approximately 15 public and private universities and colleges with an enrollment of not less than 50,000 students. Christ Presbyterian Church is God’s answer for the reformation and revival in Malawi, as the only reformed confessional church in Blantyre.
In a typical African culture attaining university is not just an individual affair but a community’s pride. When we go on campus we do not only reach a student, we reach a family and the community. Moms, dads, brothers, and sisters are often impacted by the stories from students who return home with a changed life. The New Testament pattern of church growth showed entire families turning to Christ. That hasn’t changed. One weekend home visit from a student transformed by the gospel on campus can start a spiritual chain reaction that impacts every member of their family.
There has been a traditional approach of evangelizing students in Malawi, where one just storms the university campus with a loud P/A system and gathers students in an auditorium to dance to some songs and end with an exhortation. This is not how we hope to work on campus outreach as CPC; we intend to build personal relationships with the students as a church. It is our desire to let each member of the church to have close contact with the students so that the students will feel welcomed to share their personal struggles and seek assistance from a brotherly love perspective. We hope to engage CPC members to open up their homes for fellowship with the students as one way of cementing the relationships and mentoring the students in a more personal approach.
On campus we hope to encourage small Bible study groups within the week and gather for a large group once every weekend. It is also our desire to have a resource centre for students where in their own recreational time could gather and have godly interactions and access to sound Christian literature.
We hope that our campus presence would bring positive influence in students because for a long time now universities have been a place where Major movements, bad or good, start from. From spiritual revival to political revolution, the campus gives birth to change. Marxism, atheism, feminism, and practically every other “ism” that spread around the world at one time started as a tiny seed on a university campus.
It has been our desire to reach out to all the colleges surrounding us but with the current COVID-19 situation our efforts were limited due to the closure of schools and universities. This did not completely stop our initiatives because we managed to get in touch with students from one public university and with them we have been doing online bible studies. This initiative has helped us to keep in touch with the students even when they are in their homes. Through online Bible study we have observed the movement of God in our student members. They can now understand the doctrines of grace and are able to apply them in their lives. We have received feedback from over 25 students, testifying about the change that they have experienced in their everyday life with the study of God’s word in a Bible study. Since the COVID-19 precautions are easing up now, we are more determined to reach out to many students now.
As I finish I would like to emphasize that the future leaders of society are on our campuses. Virtually all of the world’s presidents, prime ministers, senators, members of parliaments, bankers, lawyers, judges, teachers, doctors, and business leaders have passed through the college and university system. In every critical aspect of a nation’s culture, the campus is where we find the future influencers. Please join our CPC initiative of reaching out to campus students in Malawi by praying with us. In a few years, may the Lord enable us to see Malawi having leaders who are transformed by God to become agents of meaningful revival in Malawi.