Malawi: Raising an Upright Generation

Ellen Napala has a vision. And, as General Secretary of the Student Christian Organisation of Malawi (SCOM), the IFES national movement, she also has many responsibilities. But she keeps the purpose for them all in clear sight. “I want everyone to feel the presence of God’s children, to see their light”, she says.  

The need for this presence and light is great – socially and morally. 

Although great strides have been made in tackling the country’s AIDS epidemic, HIV rates remain among the highest in the world. With the effects of global heating (e.g. cyclones), COVID-19, and pervasive social inequalities, students need a faith that will minister to these social realities – on campus and beyond.  

This conviction has been threaded through Ellen’s 20 years of ministry in SCOM. As staff, she headed up SCOM’s Social Development Department, particularly their engagement with HIV programs. In fact, when later asked to become General Secretary, she was somewhat reluctant, worried that this new role would take her away from grassroots interactions that empowered students and communities for holistic transformation.  

Sadly, due to funding shortfalls, some social action programs have ceased, but during her time in leadership the social development work has remained central. At the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, SCOM – with support from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland – is currently providing meals and accommodation for 21 less privileged students who would otherwise have to fend for themselves. And in February, two SCOM graduates donated 600 pine trees, subsequently planted by students at secondary schools – “a beautiful act of stewardship that spreads God’s love and nurtures the earth he has entrusted to us”. 

The moral need is also pressing. The ungodly behaviour of many professing Christians has undermined the witness of SCOM and the church in Malawi. So, Ellen’s hopes for revival stretch beyond students making a declaration of faith in Jesus – she wants to see SCOM students and graduates leading lives dedicated to him, full of godliness, bright with holiness. This is why SCOM’s ministry focus for the year is “Raising an Upright Generation”. Under this theme, Ellen and IFES regional staff led sessions on academic excellence, sex, and relationships across five educational venues in Ntchisi earlier this month. Through these and similar visits, students have not only been turning to Christ but also committing themselves to sexual purity. 

This is a life-changing and society-changing vision.  

Will you pray for Ellen and the staff and students in SCOM as they seek to raise an upright generation that demonstrates godly action and models Christlike behaviour? 

  • Give thanks for Ellen and her clear vision – and for the ways that SCOM has been engaging with social issues, climate change, and Christian integrity. The General Secretary role, however, can be physically demanding and emotionally draining; ask the Lord to give Ellen fresh strength and special grace.  
  • Since SCOM groups across the country tend to be quite independent, the staff team are seeking to develop a stronger sense of solidarity and common vision, as well as a deeper connection with IFES. Pray that more students like Lakina, who attended World Assembly last year (see here), will reap the benefits of wider fellowship. 
  • Pray that God will provide for SCOM as they work on mobilising resources. Since the pandemic, they have had to reduce the staff team from 17 to 11. Ask that God will meet personnel needs and supply the funds for social action programs, allowing more of God’s presence and light to be felt. 
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