by John Singinie
We are humbled and happy to share with you some of the results of discipleship in Malawi. We can recall when we first started the ministry, how we envisioned the possible results that could follow if people put into practice the principles we were going to introduce as per our vision.
For the first 2 years, as we introduced the discipleship, it seemed like it would not have much impact since people were set in their old ways of presenting the gospel. Most pastors and leaders believed that success was in mass gatherings – preaching to crowds – or preaching in a big church with lots of church members. It was none of their concern whether people were being discipled or not. All they were looking for was a crowd of people (followers). This approach caused the church to be ineffective; new Christians were not becoming mature believers and were ineffective in their churches as well as in the communities they came from.
For the past number of years the DCI team has been tirelessly going from place to place in the north and some parts of the Central Region of Malawi, training pastors and leaders about the principles of discipleship, the explosive growth process, and one to one discipleship – which is the great commission the Master left us to do as his sent ones. During the early years, we were not convinced that this approach would work, because most pastors didn’t buy into it. It appeared to be the slowest way to go about advancing the Kingdom of God. Malawian culture says that growth is when one has a very big church or fellowship with a lot of people. But time proved otherwise.
One thing that kept us going teaching pastors and leaders the principles of one-to-one discipleship and establishing Life Groups was that this is how the early church worked also, (see Acts 20:20). Paul, the apostle, taught from house to house as well as one on one with his followers. So we continued on, despite the fact that we did not immediately see the desired results. We have been greatly encouraging with the results of the trainings which we have been doing for a number of years. Discipleship is a process; it takes time but the results that follow are explosive.
So far we have seen individuals being discipled to maturity, leaders are being produced, life groups are being established, churches are experiencing both numerical and spiritual growth, and communities are being transformed as the result of bringing the gospel through discipleship. This has also resulted in many churches being planted. Lives have been changed through the ministry of life groups.
Recently we have had some discussions regarding the explosive growth procedures with a number of leaders from different areas we have visited. We have discovered that our Malawian culture is changing. Whereas it was first believed that teaching multitudes (doing crusades) was the measure of success, we now believe that teaching individuals through one to one discipleship is the best way to experience growth. This has become a day to day lifestyle – it’s our new culture.
We thank God that people have finally caught the vision, and we are seeing more and more life groups started in villages all over northern Malawi. Even if the Lord should call us home today this work will carry on, for it has become an individual culture, people are passing it on naturally. We have come to know this through the follow-up programs we are now conducting, as well as through the EXPLOSIVE GROWTH discussions we are having with the leaders who are working in their villages. These leaders have themselves experienced tangible results through the implementation of the principles we taught them.
We have also, at times, run into people in various villages who do not know us, and they immediately try to introduce us to the DCI principles. They don’t know that we are the ones that introduced it in their area through their church leaders or pastors. These are the second, third and fourth generation of believers that have been trained. This is evidence that discipleship has become a way of living here in Malawi. God is at work here, and the whole story has not yet been told. Eternity alone will tell the whole truth.
John Singinie, DCI Team leader, Malawi