Hope for Mental Health Challenges

Racheal Mwale is a vibrant and compassionate woman with a heavy burden for the students in her country of Zambia.

As the co-National SLM (Student-led Movements) leader for Zambia, she works with a team of volunteers and student leaders to grow ministries of evangelism and discipleship into movements of multiplying disciples.

Not long ago, as Racheal met with students, she began to hear stories of their struggle with anxiety and depression. Her concern grew as different campuses reported an unprecedented amount of suicide attempts. She wanted to understand more and began taking classes on mental health to pursue a degree and certification.

At the same time, she was participating in an SLM Women’s Leadership Mentor group, helped and supported by SLM women staff from 10 different African countries. During their monthly online meeting and a 3-day Refresh Retreat, she learned spiritual practices for resting in the Lord’s love. She was encouraged to create daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms for life and ministry with the Lord.

Later, during one of her quarterly silent retreats, as she was struggling in prayer over her students’ challenges, the Lord gave her the vision of offering mental health resources as she shared the Gospel.

She shares, “I have found it so refreshing since I am serving God from a place of rest. I am not stressed or panicked; instead, I enjoy resting in God’s love as I serve him. I have seen a difference in myself and my ministry. He is the one that is leading me in how to do ministry with wisdom and discernment.”

She began to offer emotional support groups where those struggling with mental health-related issues can receive loving support and acceptance. As a result, she has had many significant opportunities to connect with students that she wouldn’t have otherwise. They come to her with their questions and struggles.

Along with sharing the life-giving hope of Jesus with them, she has excellent tools that offer practical help with their anxiety and depression, as well as good referrals of organizations and professionals where they can find further help and support

Recently, she discerned from the way a student was communicating on a WhatsApp thread that he was suicidal. She immediately reached out to Kangwa. They met the next day. He shared openly about his distress over his parents’ divorce, their lack of relationship with him, and his struggle to find a reason to go on living. That day, he chose to trust in the Lord for his salvation and received a purpose for living. He is also participating in a small group where he is growing in his faith and receiving support with the difficult situation in his family.


  • Pray for Racheal and other SLM staff to discern the times and find significant and relevant ways to communicate the Good News of life in Jesus with students living in this fragile and anxious time.
  • Pray that they will live and do ministry in rhythms of rest in the Lord’s love for them so that they are strengthened and can offer hope from an overflow of their experience of God’s love.
  • Racheal is currently raising support for studies to prepare her to better meet these needs. If God nudges you to help her, please contact her at  racheal.mwale@cccz.org

Sheri Onishi has been on staff with Cru for 37 years, serving with the campus ministry (SLM) in the US, Venezuela, Latin America, and the Caribbean leadership team. She now serves in Women’s Leadership Initiatives on the VP SLM team. She has a masters from Dallas Theological Seminary and is a certified Spiritual Director. She is married to Keith and is mama to Rachel, Mary, and Tucker.

3 thoughts on “Hope for Mental Health Challenges”

  1. Adantsi Richard

    Thank you, Rachel, for the impact you are making. How the Father must be happy with the efforts to attend to their mental needs as well.

  2. steve.morgan@cru.org

    Sheri and Racheal,
    I loved hearing the story of Racheal, discerning the times and needs of the students, and finding an innovative way to connect with them. Thank you for sharing your story.

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Sheri Onishi

Sheri Onishi

Keith and I currently live in San Jose, Costa Rica (SLM in Latin America and the Caribbean) we have three amazing children. Rachel (19) is a sophomore and Texas Tech, Mary is 15 and Tucker is 12.

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