by Duke Muchindu
How Christian is our Christian education? The 5th of December 2009 was a momentous day for the city of Ndola. It is written in many scholarly articles that Christianity in Africa is a mile wide and only an inch deep. My belief however is that Africa is on turning point in this regard. IAPCHE – The International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education – is an organization that has been in existence for over 25 years. It is internationally head quartered in Iowa at Dordt College in the USA. Despite its long existence, little is known of this initiative in Zambia and many African countries.
The mission of IAPCHE is to seek to promote a supportive framework for advancing Christian educational endeavors based on African cultural values in today’s global context. IAPCHE aims to achieve this by interacting with initiatives from other areas of the world for mutual benefit and enrichment. It’s main goal is to facilitate collaborative links and facilities, together with resources that promote an understanding of the essential features of an authentic Christian approach to education. This involves a critically creative approach that brings genuine transformational character to Christian educational endeavors.
On this day, scholars, pastors and representatives of various Christian and secular educational institutes were invited to Northrise to attend an IAPCHE conference planning meeting. A representative of IAPCHE graced the occasion. Reverend Isaac N. Mutua is the African regional executive director of CPCHEA (International Association for the Promotion of Christian Higher Education). CPCHEA is the African Regional Expression of IAPCHE, in other words it is the African office for IAPCHE.
The meeting opened with a prayer, followed by formal introductions of the participants. Reverend Mutua then took the podium and explained the purpose of his visit and what IAPCHE and CPCHEA stood for. He lamented the fact that IAPCHE is concentrated in South Africa, its birth place, but also thought Zambia was centrally placed to host a regional conference for Southern Africa. He emphasized the fact that in this era there is no room for us to work in isolation because we need each other. The only conference that IAPCHE has ever held in Zambia was way back in 1987 in Lusaka the capital of Zambia. This meeting however was discussing the possibility of holding the conference in Ndola specifically at Northrise University main campus in August 2010. Reverend Mutua urged each participant present to become a member of IAPCHE or CPCHEA. Becoming a member of either initiative means one automatically becomes a member of both.
The meeting finally came to a close some minutes before 6pm with everyone agreeing to support this very important cause, “reclaiming the various world disciplines to the glory of God”. An interim hosting committee comprising eight participants was put in place to begin the work of organizing the conference that will be held sometime in August 2010. The conference will attract scholars and other stakeholders from the region and internationally in an effort of interaction to discuss the development of a comprehensive Christian education. Mr Peter Pedersen of Kaniki Bible college in Ndola gave a closing remark saying “I have never heard of this organization before, but what I think is that what is happening today should have happened yesterday, or five years ago or more. Am very grateful that there are Zambians and Africans rising up to take what God has given us and the potential on this continent and bringing it to a situation of interaction with other similar organizations for education. This is so important.”