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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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?