Sustaining the Mission of the Church in Education A Narrative of Christian Higher Education in Post-1990 Zambia

Nelly Mwale


The article explores the activities of selected Christian Higher Education (CHE) institutions in the quest to sustain themselves in a changing university education funding landscape in Zambia. The purpose was to understand the experiences of self-sustainability initiatives of the Christian universities in Zambia, like other private institutions of higher education in Zambia that had no form of funding from the government. At a time when local church leadership advocated for self-propagating, self-ministering and self-sustaining church-affiliated institutions (owing to a paradigm shift towards local, self-sustaining initiatives), Christian universities needed to devise their own strategies for self-sustainability. The article draws on the three self-theory (indigenous church mission theory) and an interpretive phenomenological approach in which data were collected through document analysis and observations (supplemented by interviews with key informants from the church leadership and Christian universities). The article shows that Christian universities were enterprising and had ventured into farming and basic food processing. Other initiatives included fundraising ventures, which included talk shows soliciting support and donations of assorted items (ranging from land to library materials), bidding for research grants, and undertaking research. The article argues that although most of these initiatives were grounded in being self-sustaining, they demonstrated the meaning attached to holistic Christian university education, as students were part of these initiatives, thereby directly and indirectly contributing to the creation of a self-sustaining Christian university community. The article contributes to missiological scholarship by applying the self-sustaining principle of Venn to Christian universities as providers of education that contributes to fulfilling the mandate of creating students who become agents of change. 


Christian university, self-sustaining, Church, Christian higher education, mission and three selfs.

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