Why One-On-One Discipling Works in the Malawi Villages

Jun 22, 2017

We use the Exchanged Life teachings all the time on Malawi. The Wheel and Line is part of our training of the leaders and pastors.Go to this link for more information: ( http://gracefellowshipinternational.com/resources/wheel-and-line/ )
What I have noticed in Malawi is that because people are living in community in the villages in Malawi, the Gospel spreads more easily. Jesus said, “By this will all men know that you belong to me, by your love for one another.” That is lived out in these villages and energizes the spread of the Gospel. The people there say that they know they living wrong but don’t know how to change. The Gospel and the Word helps them know how to change. Since June 2015 over 600 Life Groups have started. In one area, the number of Life Groups doubles every six months! Our Team has handed out over 20,000 New Testaments and over 20,000 Basic discipling booklets. Most go to new believers. We praise God for His goodness in allowing us to witness this.
We also teach the pastors that Ephesians 4:11-13 tells them to equip people for works of ministry, in other words, give your ministry away by training others. This translates in churches growing and new churches being planted by these pastors and leaders. One pastor trained 98 leaders and another trained 104 in the last 2 years since June 2015.
I think the major problem in our North American churches is that we do everything in side the building and expect people to come to us. In Malawian villages the people live outside, mostly and their lives are seen by all. The Life Groups and Churches, as communities of believers, are noticed by those outside the church and become curious to know what has changed their lives.
Pastors think that preaching every Sunday is what God want them to do, whereas the Bible tells us that they need to train others.
We, in North America, think one-on-one discipling is too slow and a waste of time, but if you understand the multiplication factor, it works faster than any other way of spreading the Good News. Also in a one-on-one situation the person is not pressured by peer influence. We have noticed that this is an important factor in the growth of the work in Malawi as well.

– Hans and Elly

Testimonial Videos

Christopher Gondwe’s story of salvation (Video)
When we visited Karonga, Northern Malawi April 2017, we heard the testimony of Christopher Gondwe and how God saved him from a wasted life to one used by God for His glory!

We were in Enukweni, Northern Malawi in April 2017. We heard this amazing story from a witchdoctor who received Christ by faith and how her life was changed, not only hers, but also her family!


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Euthini: Second Leaders’ Training – March 2017




We had a wonderful trip to and from Euthini.

We used the Mpherembe road. It’s unfortunate that the government has taken almost five years without renovating the dirt road, and with the rains the road has become so bumpy with a lot of pot holes. We had to try to drive slowly and smart for the good life span of our vehicle. And as we were about to reach Kabwafu trading centre we got stuck In a pot hole that was made across the road by rain waters. We pushed the car and we started off again.

We were welcomed again in the house of Pastor Simeon Jere, who welcomed us with joy. We were given food to eat and went to bed early. We were tired due to the strain of driving. We were given the same room that we used last time, where inside we had 2 mattresses and we used our sleeping bags. We experienced hot temperatures especially during the night time.

The next day we started our trainings, and the leaders were very happy to see us again for the second trainings. It happened that some of the next generation leaders who were trained by these leaders showed a lot of interest and they came to participate with us. Seeing their presence that’s when we decided to revise the explosive growth teaching. So we emphasized to the leaders whom we trained last time to continue training more leaders, because for this reason the work will easily explode, and not forgetting the passing on principle. Some of these leaders could walk coming to the trainings and they were covering a distance of about 12 km, but still it is within Euthini. Now for this reason we know for sure that these leaders will carry on the work from where they stay to other places, for they will not be quiet but to pass it on, which means within a short period of time the whole Euthini will be covered up with the multiplying life groups.

Simeon, our host, lives closer to Euthini secondary school and due to that he has an opportunity to reach out to many students, and each day as we were there we could see him leading students to Christ through prayers, and teaching them the Christian basics. Some of the students that were being discipled by him are now through with secondary school education, but still he continues discipling them. And amongst them we had Wylos Mkandawire who also attended the trainings with us this time. He is a very committed leader and very curious indeed.

We enjoyed the trainings with the leaders, and during the Dynamic Discipling workshop it was so wonderful to see how the leaders were conducting the workshop, it was alive and exciting to see. During this work shop it happened that Given Mtonga was discipling Joseph Nkhambule who belongs to Church of Christ. He was not born again; and in the course of the workshop Joseph realized that he needed to accept Christ in his life. After admitting that, that’s when Given led him to Christ through prayer.


Since Euthini receives early rains that is why most of the crops in the area are maturing and some of the maize fields are drying up, and soon they will be harvesting their maize crops.



Simeon said that we are very grateful for you, the DCI team. We have learnt a lot and we are not the same and your coming to this place has made us to get an extra revival for the work of God. He continued by saying that, we are also thankful for the gifts of the New Testaments Bibles that you bring to us. That helps us a lot for discipleship.


As we were going back to Mzuzu we took a detour to visit the Kabwafu Life Group for a follow-up program. We were encouraged to hear much on how the work is growing. Queen Moyo, who is the coach, said that a lot of the LG are multiplying and many people are coming to Christ by the help of these life groups…. Queen added by saying that in all places where leaders have been relocated, there are already new leaders who are continuing the work. We expect that the leaders who have been relocated will still continue doing this DCI work for they are already well trained leaders and they have a zeal for reaching out and disciple making.

And after all the reports and discussions I collected the Explosive growth forms that indicates on how leaders are being trained, how life groups are multiplying, and how one to one discipleship is taking place in the area. And it’s very encouraging to hear that the materials that we give to them are bringing a change in the lives of many people.

This is how we travelled to Euthini for our second trainings and Kabwafu for our follow up program.


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Training in Nkhomboli, February 2017

Dear Friends,

I hope that you have all had a wonderful Christmas and that the New Year is off to a good start. I know, it’s been more than a month and that Christmas is less than 11 months away, but somehow we seem to gauge our year by the celebration of that momentous event when Jesus came to earth to show us the Father’s love.

Our DCI team in Malawi has had a well-earned vacation, but now are back “on the road”. Having 2 fields trips behind them already this year and currently on their third trip (to Kapando) they have begun a new series of teachings in the villages. Last September, the team visited 8 of the villages where they had completed the trainings, and we received the multiplication charts. When I say, “completed the trainings”, I mean that they have gone to each specific area 3 times for 4-5 days at a time over the course of 5-6 months, teaching the leaders about the Explosive Growth principles…teaching them how to do one-to-one discipleship, the principles of multiplying Life Groups, and training leaders to reproduce themselves. We have heard so many testimonies from those who have been trained about how the lessons have been well received and immediately put into practice. We can count – from these multiplication charts alone – 251 life groups and 275 well trained leaders. Since each training session usually sees between 4-10 potential leaders in attendance, the verse in John 13:35 (“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”) is proven to be true. Neighbouring villages are asking, “Why are you different? We want what you have!” Unfortunately, we can’t track all the groups, but we know that there are many more! Each life group has an apprentice and a host/hostess also.

Exif_JPEG_420These 10 leaders attended at the first training week in Nkhomboli recently.

We know there are well over 400 Life Groups, of between 10 and 40 members each, functioning in northern Malawi – reaching out to their neighbours and family members; discipling those who have come to Christ for salvation. Each leader who has been trained is actively training others who will do the same. Some of the trained leaders have been moved (due to work) and have taken the DCI principles with them to their new villages – this is another way that the work expands even faster than we can keep track of. The Team tries to find a “coach” (or man-of-peace) for each area. We have several men/women whom God has raised up to become coaches. Each one has trained other peopleExif_JPEG_420

One of the leaders receiving his certificate for completing the Dynamic Basics lessons.

who have become coaches in their own areas. We are beginning to see overlap in the northern Malawi area. This is amazing! We are truly thankful.

In George’s recent report to us, he told us that pastor Owen Tembo from Zambia, who has attended the trainings in Nkhomboli (close to the border), is eager for the Team to come to Zambia to train up leaders there. This area of Zambia is predominantly Tumbuka speaking, so we are thankful for open doors. Please pray with us about this.

Nkhomboli is a very difficult area. It suffers from much witchcraft, excessive drinking, and also false prophets. Here’s a little excerpt from Andrew’s report regarding the false prophets:Exif_JPEG_420

”As we were there we saw a big church with grass thatched roof which belongs to a certain prophet. Due to a good interaction with the leaders, we had an opportunity to hear more of what the prophet teaches to the people in the area. The leaders whom we were teaching commented that DCI trainings are good for it clearly teaches us to know that we are saved by grace, and we have acceptance, assurance and protection from the Lord. That means a born again Christian has got 100% protection, acceptance and assurance. Now most of prophets they don’t want to share this knowledge with people. They want that people should remain ignorant and keep on trusting on them – the “man of God” instead of trusting God. … With the coming of DCI teachings here, we know for sure that our area is healed from ignorance for we shall not be quiet but pass on what we have learnt from here so that our people too should have the basic knowledge of the word of God which will help them to identify false teachings, and start trusting in the Lord. And through the teachings of DCI people will know the power that God has given them as they have accepted Christ as their personal Savior.”

For those not yet partnering with us, please consider becoming a partner. The growth of the ministry means there is need for more and more material to be printed, more travel, etc. Please visit http://www.dynamicchurches.org where you will find ways to give online and where you can watch our recent video report which we prepared for the Gideons. For email updates, go to this link: goo.gl/PHU48m

Praise God for His abundant blessings! Thank you so much for your support in prayer and in finances. May God bless you!

With love,

Hans and Elly Timmermans

dci logo


Progress in Northern Malawi

August 30, 2014


Andrew teaching Life Group leaders. Notice the brick furniture.

Since our last trip to Malawi in November/December 2013, when we spent our time training our team we have observed great progress in discipleship/Life Group multiplication. The Team is now making a number of visits to a village and staying for an extended time in the village. They use this time to follow a teaching schedule aimed at training the leaders and helping them catch the vision of multiplication and one-on-one disciple making. These extended visits also allow for individual visits with village people and that is a real blessing to these villagers and the Team members as well. Apparently this kind of visiting is not done in Malawi, but now that our Team is doing it everyone enjoys it and the Team hears stories of God’s faithfulness they would otherwise miss.

Travel is a major problem. Public transport is very dangerous at times.

George in the bus. Notice the free-standing door...

George in the bus. Notice the free-standing door…

A pickup truck "bus".

A pickup truck “bus”.

A bridge over troubled waters ...

A bridge over troubled waters …


As you can see from these photos, travelling is not a picnic and takes much valuable time for the Team since public transit is very infrequent and not very dependable. God has kept the Team safe, so far. And we praise God for this.

A few months ago funds were donated to buy one motorbike. This makes travel much more efficient and safe. Also transport between villages is easier so more can get done while the Team is teaching in the villages. Often the place Motorbikewhere the teaching takes place and the lodging for the night are far apart (a 45 minute walk or so). Also visiting people in their homes is easier with the motorbike for the same reasons. But one 125 cc motorbike is not big enough to carry two men and their luggage…. We are praying for another motorbike. See more information under the heading “Travel in Northern Malawi”.

Let me tell you some stories the Team told us about Baula (they have been to many others, but we will talk about this one today:

Walking to next appointment.

Walking to next appointment.

The Team has been to Baula a number of times. Elly and I have been to Baula 4 and 3 times respectively. It is one of the first villages Elly started Life Groups in. She started 5 Life Groups in 2011. In 2012 we went back and taught some more as well as last year, 2013. The Team has begun training the leaders using the newly developed curriculum and have been back twice to do this targeted training. The new training is meeting with much appreciation and success. Andrew writes about two Life Groups that had leaders who are part of a polygamous family. As they were being taught and also read the New Testaments they felt strongly that they should not be leaders. So others became leaders and the groups are doing well.

Andrew writes this in his report about this situation: “We asked God to give us wisdom in approaching this situation. Instantly the Lord provided me with an insight that I should teach the whole Life Group on how to choose an apprentice from the manual. And I also quoted 1 Timothy 3:1-7. After I shared that to the Life Group, I had no idea about the impact which has been taking place in their lives. It was our concern and have been praying about it.”

“Now James Ngulube (the local DCI Trainer, ed.) said: ‘During our first visit Isobel Chirwa (….) asked for help from James. On what she can do upon knowing the truth (being part of polygamous family, ed.) she confessed that she is not worthy to be the leader of that Life Group.’ This was after we left the place. James made the arrangement to attend one of their Life Group meetings and address the issue. James addressed the issue amicably and anew leader is now chosen by the name of Raphael Hara.” (Isabel is continuing to attend theLife Group meetings).”





“Eunice, who was the leader of another Life Group in the Baula area had the same problem as Isobel and resigned from her position as well. Andrew reports that Eunice is now discipling Jano, a 17 year old girl from the Dynamic Basics. We praise God for these humble followers of Christ who read the Word and want to obey it, because they love the Lord.” She is still a strong member of the Life Group.

“The Team reports the testimony of Joana, “She testifies that her spiritual life has improved, because in a Life Group there is opportunity to study the Bible personally and also through the Bible studies one knows how to interpret the Bible. I have benefited a lot from these Life Studies and now am able to reach out with the Gospel. She said she first had no Bible to read, but now I’m able to read my own Bible. I thank the Gideons of Canada for assisting me/us here with these Bibles. I received my Bible during the first visit July 15-18, when the first trainings took place. At first I was unable to read and get the real meaning of the word, but now through theBible Studies in the Life Group I am able to grasp the real meaning of the Scripture. I am now praying for my children and husband to know Christ.”

James, the Baula trainer, tells us that they arrange for baptisms every four months at Kasito. This place is about 6-7 Km away and they walk there to baptize people because there is more water there in the river during the rainy season.

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Progress through Discipleship

March 21, 2014

Exciting News of God’s Work in Northern Malawi

A Chief 1As Hans and I continue to reflect on the ministry that God has called us to in Malawi, we stand amazed in wonder and awe! What a great God we have. I think of what a privilege it is to know God and to know the power of deliverance from the penalty of sin through the spilt blood of the Lamb of God. Were it not for that, I, too, would stand before a holy God – guilty, condemned to die. That is the condition of the vast majority of the Malawians in northern Malawi. But when we see and hear of their repentance and desire to change their ways when they hear about the good news of salvation and God’s plan for their lives, our hearts swell with thanksgiving. God loves these people and He is bringing them into an everlasting relationship with Himself.

The reports we get from the field are exciting. Many people are being saved and discipled; leaders are being trained to start life groups. Our team is using the Dynamic Discipling booklets. People are taught one-to-one discipling and are taught to pass it on. The Apprentice Leaders Manual has been translated into Tumbuka (local language), and a supply of them has been printed in Malawi as needed.

One of our team members recently went to Gate of Heaven Church (Pastor McLean’s church) in Mzuzu to continue the training which had already been started. Let me share with you what he writes in his report on this training:

“The evaluation on the progress was encouraging. The trainings the Church received on the one to one discipling has helped the church to grow more than twice what it was at first. The members are now growing mighty in their faith and are able to reach out into their community with the Gospel and are seeing a great harvest of souls, which has resulted into the growth of the church. So far the church has 8 life groups and all the members of the life groups are actively involved in the work of the ministry.
Having the word of God (receiving the free bible) is making a huge difference in their lives. First of all, in their personal lives, they testified that having a Bible has helped their spiritual lives to grow. They are able to know the word by themselves by reading their Bibles. They testified that since they received the Bibles their lives have never been the same. Secondly, having the Word has made a difference even in their community, because through the Word which they have come to know, they are able to teach other people in their community which has resulted in many lives being transformed.”



The team faithfully keeps us informed of the growth of the work and the results of their ministry. God has certainly blessed us.


We thank God for each of you who have a vital part in this ministry. We are so dependent on your prayers, and also your financial support. Thank you!!

Elly and Hans Timmermans

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USA Network for Good: https://goo.gl/i8gu8y

Travel in Northern Malawi

Sept. 1, 2014

This post will highlight the travel conditions in Malawi. For us in North America it is hard to comprehend how difficult it is to get around in Malawi. We have good roads and personal vehicles that can take us where we want to go in comfort. The roads are well maintained and the signage tells us the direction to our destination. At convenient intervals we have rest areas with toilet facilities and restaurants to look after our physical needs as well as supply us with more gasoline so we can continue to our destination.

village along M1

M1 going through a village

Over loaded lumber truck

Over loaded lumber truck

Women carrying loads...

Women carrying loads…






The main highway in Malawi is a two lane road the size of our rural roads, but with large chunks of road deck missing at times. The inclines into the mountains are so steep that large trucks have to climb these in their lowest gear and full throttle. Break downs are very common as the engines give out or the springs collapse under the too heavy loads.The road is shared by ever present pedestrians, women carrying heavy loads on their heads and babies on their back, men pushing bicycles loaded high with fire wood, maize, charcoal and anything else that needs to be delivered or taken home.



Minibus with broken door.

Small vans also share the road. These are used as taxis and, again, are loaded with people and goods. We in the West, can hardly imagine how stuffed full these taxi vans are. A van, the size of a Dodge Caravan, is loaded with as many as 12 people or more. Elly reminded me of an instance where a mini bus designed to carry 12 people had 33 plus luggage on top. Here's praying we'll get where we need to go! Then the space behind the back seat and wherever more space can be found is filled with bags of maize, firewood, charcoal or whatever the passengers need to take with them. A rope holds the back door closed. Sometimes the side door has come off it’s hinges and needs to be tied to the vehicle with a rope as well.

I have seen vehicles with such poor alignments that the back wheels were travelling a different path from the front wheels. Once I saw a bus that was almost 8″ out of alignment.

Battling the steep mountain switchbacks

Battling the steep mountain switchbacks

Reading the newspaper ads for vehicles for sale I saw one ad for a mini bus. It had rolled only once…. Most vehicles are maintained by road side mechanics who have had no formal training. Spotting potential problems is not a strong suit for these people. The drivers drive until the vehicle stops or is protesting so strongly that a problem cannot be ignored any longer.

sandy road 3Since the roads are in such poor shape and the secondary roads (if you can even call them that) are just modified cow paths with surfaces varying from a clay surface to deep loose sand or sharp rocks, the vehicles take an unimaginable beating. Everything rattles loose over time, and then it breaks.

New vehicles are available in Malawi, but are prohibitively expensive, the government doubles the price through taxation. Even used vehicles are very dear by the time they arrive in Malawi for sale from places such as Japan. These are vehicles that have done most of their travelling in their home country. The Malawians buy these “new” vehicles and drive

Bicycle repair shop

Bicycle repair shop

them till they won’t go any more. Tires on these vehicles are also often thread bare. I have seen the steel belts poke through the rubber on one occasion. Safety inspections are unheard of, so making a journey requires lots of prayer and an army of angels for safety.

In Mzuzu, the largest city in the North of Malawi, bike taxis are very common. There are rules for these taxis. They are allowed to travel on certain roads, but often they ignore these rules. This often leads to tragic accidents, because traffic is very heavy on these roads.

The road from Lubinga to Mzuzu is especially dangerous, thick with mini bus taxis and heavy trucks, the bicycle taxied often get pushed off the road with sometimes deadly results.

village trading centre en route to Lilongwe

Boma trading centre is the trading hub for an area.

PU with people

Public transit by private pick up.


Going to the next village.

Public transit, as in these mini busses or big, Greyhound type busses, don’t travel to every village. They sometimes only go to the “boma”, the commercial centre of the area once a day. So in order to catch this “bus” you need to be very early waiting for it to come. The “bus” can only hold so many people and when full you have to wait till the next day. After that the traveller is on his own to find his way to the village he wants to visit. This may often involve a walk of some hours over very rough foot paths, all the while trying to carry his belongings.



Rocky rural dirt road.

Rocky rural dirt road.

Burning fuel truck, driver forgot to set the handbrake.

Going on a trip to the city?

Going on a trip to the city?