Start Small, Start Now

By Kara Oliver

DRI is grateful to Noel Daire Kumwenda (Malawi) for writing this update.

“Start small and start now” is the challenge to publishing team leaders from southern Africa heard at a workshop in Kitwe, Zambia, May 6 – 8. Rev. Dr. Laishi Bwalya uttered the challenge after participating in the Zambia Publishing Team launch and seeing the progress that has been made by the Zimbabwe Publishing Team that started in 2010.

Ten publishing team leaders from the Mozambique and Zimbabwe Episcopal areas and the Malawi and Zambia Provisional Conferences attended a two-day workshop organised by Discipleship Resources International (DRI), a ministry of Discipleship Ministries. Rev. Dr. Gift Machinga gave a presentation entitled, “Using Resources to Support Evangelism and Discipleship.” He challenged publishing teams “to produce resources that will inform, form, and transform people around Africa.”

Rev. Robert Kilembo, Assistant to the Bishop in South Congo and newly named team leader for the Zambia Publishing Team that was launched May 7, voiced the concern and commitment of all the teams present, “We do not have resources, but we are starting now.”

DRI started creating and supporting publishing teams in Africa in 2010, and now it has launched 16 publishing teams in Africa, the Philippines, and Eastern Europe. DRI staff have been committed to visiting each team on an annual basis, but with so many teams it is now experimenting with regional and langage group gatherings so that the teams can learn from each other.

Dr. Machinga said conferences in Africa are looking for resources that are standardized, theologically sound, and affordable. Publishing teams exist to produce resources that will aid evangelism and fulfill the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. “We have a future to work for,” he said. “We rejoice in other people’s legacy, and it’s now our time to work and leave tangible resources for future generations.”

“The workshop was an eye-opener to all of us,” said Rev. Naftal Massella Naftal of the Mozambique South Annual Conference, “because we learned we can share resources that other teams are producing and translate them into our languages.” Naftal returned to his annual conference publishing team to say, “Don’t wait for many dollars; start small and start now, even if it is only four pages.”

The Francophone publishing teams and a representative from Tanzania met for a similar workshop in November 2016. This regional gathering confirms the value of peer learning. As Dr. Machinga said, “There is no replacement for exchange of ideas and experiences.”

With the Zambian team starting just two days before the meeting, Project Coordinator Rev. Dr. Laishi Bwalya said it was a learning experience to hear from other more experienced publishing teams. This type of workshop “is a platform where we can learn from failures and successes of other publishing teams,” said Rev. Kilembo.

Future plans

DRI plans to utilize these regional and language group workshops as annual meetings to share expertise and resources and enhance publishing skills. According to Kara Lassen Oliver, DRI’s Director of Publishing Initiatives, these trainings will build capacity of team members and continue to develop leaders across the continent.


Leaders from each episcopal area expressed appreciation for setting up publishing teams and pronounced this experimental platform a success. There is indeed value in leaders sharing experiences and resources across the United Methodist connection.

“God has given Africa a valuable gift through DRI. Thank you for responding to God’s call. The truth is that your labour is an investment in Africa,” said Dr. Machinga.

Rev. Kilembo thanked DRI, bishops and all stakeholders who offer their help materially and spiritually as an investment in Africa. He also encouraged other boards and committees to emulate the example set by DRI to bring their committees together so that they can share and effectively contribute to making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.