Investment In Our Youth

By Allan Chintedza

Investment in our youth
The choice made by the Church leadership was to put youth development in primary position before the expansion of the Church Sanctuary. Logistically, it made sense to start with the Youth Centre, in order to provide an alternative place of worship during the second phase expansion programme, including offices for the Church’s leadership and administration, who are currently in the existing church building.

Benefits that will flow from the Youth Centre will, however, affect and have a wider impact on residents of Lilongwe City and district and the country as a whole. For example, countries that are doing well and developing at a faster rate like India and China have invested a lot in the development of the youth in terms of education and skills developments. Malawi, like most of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, is facing a significant challenge on how to retain the benefits of cultural norms and traditions in the face of free access to information and the growth of social media in the new digital age. Internet access has brought with it other side effects and negative influences. There is an increase in drug and alcohol abuse among the youth of our country and loss of life attributable to this phenomenon is on the increase. Teenage pregnancies are rampant, so too infidelity, resulting in the spread of HIV/AIDs among the young age group bracket. Capital City Baptist Church and its congregation and the wider community have not been spared from this.

The Government of Malawi has come up with policies to try to tackle some of these challenges. The new Marriage Act of 2015 is designed to prevent early marriages and associated teenage pregnancies. The new Access to Information Bill will go a long way to ensuring that the youth of this country will be part of the decision-making process from an informed and knowledgeable base. But Government on its own cannot address all the challenges, especially given its budget limitations. The local community, including the family unit has equally to take a part in terms of roles and responsibilities. The Church as part of civil society has a crucial role to play.

As a society, we need to offer an alternative solution to the negative influences brought about by access to the Internet and increased urban living, that have led to an erosion of the traditions and cultural values that used to bind communities together. The Church can take a significant role here, by inculcating Christian ethics and moral values that are based on sound biblical principles. There is need for alternative resources targeted at our young people, to ensure that their energies are put to positive use. This includes the development of facilities that can harness wholesome values including healthy sport, creativity, and the development of knowledge and skills. The Church can help in tackling moral issues in practical ways through provision of guidance and counselling, offering choices based on spiritual renewal and a chance to change.

The Youth Centre will provide a solution to some of these problems and has the capacity to make a far- reaching impact on our society. It will assist in shaping future leaders who embrace a Christian ethical framework, benefitting not only the Church and the local community, but also government, commerce and the education sector. Better grounded leaders, will have integrity to fight the ongoing challenge of corruption that is facing our country. They can grasp the prospect of providing good governance and so upholding our constitution.