Stanford Pearson Mchenga was a minister of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Blantyre Synod who became influential nationally in Malawi through his work as a newspaper columnist. He was born on January 24, 1952 in Chiputula Village, Chingale, Zomba District. In 1980, he married Violet Maganga who was also from Chingale, and they had four children, James, Andrew, Roselyn and Peter. Mchenga was a Yao by tribe and spoke Yao, Chichewa, English and Tumbuka. 
In 1974 he felt called by God to serve in full time ministry but when he applied to Blantyre Synod he was turned down on the grounds that he was too young to begin theological training. A further application the following year was also unsuccessful but when he applied for the third time in 1978, he was accepted. He completed his studies at Zomba Theological College and was ordained in August 1983 as a Minister of Word and Sacraments under CCAP Blantyre Synod.
He served as a parish minister at Bamba, Chiuta Presbytery, 1982-86, Mpatsa, 1986-88, Chingoli, Mulanje Presbytery, 1988-89, Nchalo in the Lower Shire, 1989-91, Nsoni, Chiradzulu Presbytery, 1991-92, Michiru in Blantyre, 1992-95, Chigumula in Blantyre, 1995-97, Bemvu in Ntcheu, 1997-99, St Andrews, Mulunje Presbytery, 1999-2001, Naotcha 2002-06 and Makalanga, 2007-10. Additionally, he served as the Synod Prison Chaplain while he was at Naotcha and as Chaplain to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital when he was at Makalanga. He retired in 2010 but remained active in ministry and was elected chairman of the Retired Ministers Association.
His ministry was well received in all the congregations where he served and he proved to be gifted in enabling people to work together harmoniously. So much so that he was often appointed to congregations that were troubled by disputes and quarrels. He became known in the Synod as the “fire extinguisher” because of his skills in conflict management. The Synod often turned to him when a new minister was needed for a congregation that was divided and disputatious. His gifts for restoring peace and harmony in such situations were highly valued by the Synod and by the congregations where he served.
While serving as a pastor he also took every opportunity to advance his education. In 1987 he gained a Certificate in Learning for Transformation from Zimbabwe Christian Council, in 2005 he completed a Bachelor of Theology (Honours) at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa, later the same year he was awarded a Certificate by the Metro-Urban Institute in Pittsburgh, USA, in 2006 he graduated Master of Arts from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and in 2008 he gained a Certificate with People and Research Communication International. He was passionate about reading, buying books wherever he went and informing himself about many different subjects. This eventually led him to start writing. At first he wrote small books that could be used in Blantyre Synod’s Christian education programmes but in 1995 he began to write for a much wider audience when he was invited to become a columnist in the Saturday Nation newspaper.
This was a time of dramatic political change in Malawi as the country moved from a one-party to a multi-party system of government. This led to the introduction of many new freedoms, including freedom of the press. Prior to 1992 only government-controlled newspapers were allowed in Malawi. As the situation liberalized, Malawians were hungry to read about the political developments taking place in their country. To satisfy their appetite more than 30 newspapers were launched. Most were short-lived but one that survived and flourished was The Nation, which commenced distribution on 26 July 1993 as an important voice against one party rule during the transition to multi-party democracy. It became a daily newspaper on 11 July 1994, coming out every day from Monday to Friday. Its sister newspaper The Saturday Nation, later renamed Weekend Nation, was launched in 1995.
One of the senior staff at The Nation had been a member of Mchenga’s congregation when he was serving at Chingoli in Mulanje. Now he approached his former pastor to ask if he would be willing to contribute a regular column to The Saturday Nation. Mchenga had no hesitation in accepting the invitation. His weekly column was titled “Spiritual Reflection” and he quickly built up an enthusiastic readership who found his writing inspirational and made sure they did not miss any issue of the paper. When a Sunday issue of the paper was launched in 2006, his column became one of its fixtures. His articles had such titles as “Lasting satisfaction”,  “We are the Salt, the Light”,  “We are gifted”,  “Let’s reunite”,  “Why Seventy two?”,  “A great Man”,  “Purpose driven church”,  “Light will conquer darkness”,  “The apple pie”,  “Friends need encouragement”,  “A better future”,  and “Eternal truth.”  His email address was given at the end of each article and he received a constant stream of feedback from appreciative readers. He never missed a week and his column became a familiar feature on the landscape of Malawi’s print media.
Meanwhile, however, his health was deteriorating. He had fallen ill while studying at Fort Hare University in 2005 and when he returned to Malawi he was diagnosed with diabetes and kidney failure. He continued to suffer from this illness and it led to the amputation of one of his legs. Despite this setback he continued to be active in ministry and was still able to get around by car. However, his health continued to deteriorate until he died on November 24, 2014. He was buried at his home in Chingale. One of his sons, Peter, was inspired by his father’s writing and became an author, publishing many articles about spiritual matters on social media.
- Violet Mchenga and James Mchenga, wife and son of Rev Stanford Mchenga, interview by author, July 5, 2022, Blantyre.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 29, July 19, 2009.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 19, May 10, 2009.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 23, June 7, 2009.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 26, June 28, 2009.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 22, May 31, 2009.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 21, May 24, 2009.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 30, July 26, 2009.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 41, October 11, 2009.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 42, October 18, 2009.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 52, December 27, 2009.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 46, November 15, 2009.
- Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 44, November 1, 2009.
Mchenga, Stanford. “A Better Future.” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 46, November 15, 2009.
¬¬——–. “A Great Man.” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 21, May 24, 2009.
——–. “Eternal Truth.” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 44, November 1, 2009.
——–. “Friends Need Encouragement.” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 52, December 27, 2009.
——–. “Lasting Satisfaction.” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 29, July 19, 2009.
——–. “Let’s Unite.” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 26, June 28, 2009.
——–. “Light will Conquer Darkness.” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 41, October 11, 2009.
——–. “Purpose Driven Church.” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 30, July 26, 2009.
——–. “The Apple Pie.” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 42, October 18, 2009.
——–. “We are Gifted.” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 23, June 7, 2009.
——–. “We are the Salt, the Light.” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 19, May 10, 2009.
——–. “Why Seventy-Two?” Nation on Sunday, Vol. 4 No. 22, May 31, 2009.
Mchenga, Violet and James Mchenga. Interview by author, July 5, 2022, Blantyre.
This article, submitted in November 2022, was researched and written by Osward Chinyama, minister of Mount Olive congregation in the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Blantyre Synod, under the supervision of Professor Kenneth R. Ross as one of the requirements of the Church History course on the MTh in Contextual Theology at Zomba Theological University.