The Glissmanns have been in Malawi since 2010. From 2010-2018 with TEEM and now working remotely for the Theological Education by Extension College (TEEC) in South Africa while based in Blantyre, Malawi. In 2010, Volker was seconded to work for a Malawian church-based theological education programme called Theological Education by Extension in Malawi or simply TEEM.

For the last number of years, Volker has been involved a special form of theological education called Theological Education by Extension (TEE). TEE is an alternative leadership training system, bringing theological, biblical and practical leadership training to people right where they live and worship. Today, TEE programmes are widely used in many countries around the world. They are particularly important in churches who rely heavily on lay people to preach and teach in local prayer houses and congregations. 

TEEM is TEE in the Malawian context, providing self-study course material on basic biblical, doctrinal, practical and ministerial subjects. From 2010 to 2018, Volker was the Director of TEEM (Theological Education by Extension in Malawi) and but was also involved in TEE consultancy in southern Africa and globally.

In the summer of 2018, Volker handed over the leadership of TEEM to his successor as the plan was for him to move to South Africa and join the Theological Education by Extension College (TEEC) there. However due to visa issues, the Glissmanns have remained in Malawi, where Volker continues to provide consultancy to TEEM by developing grassroots training courses. However, the main secondment for Volker is to work in conjunction with his South African colleagues in developing, designing and writing a new Bachelor in Theology programme as well as updating some older courses. TEEC is a unique theological college in that the majority of its students would traditionally be unable to access theological training. TEEC offers courses to those unable to attend residential training but who continue to minister in their communities.

JinHyeog works as a full-time music teacher at a primary school in Blantyre.

Volker writes, “The strength of the church depends on well-trained ministers, as well as on fully-equipped church leaders and members. Not everyone can leave their jobs and study full-time. Decentralised training like TEE provides good quality and relevant theological education locally to people enabling them to be better equipped to fully participate in God's mission.”

Volker was born in Germany and JinHyeog in South Korea. They served with Operation Mobilisation in Russia from 1997 to 2000. Out of this experience they developed a strong desire to continue to serve Christ's church. JinHyeog was privileged to serve in their home congregation Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church in Lisburn as Music Director for a few years before the family left for Malawi. Volker and JinHyeog have three children, their oldest daughter studies in England while the boys are at school in Blantyre.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Volker and JinHyeog have continued to serve in Southern Africa and have adapted their work and witness to comply with local restrictions. 

Prayer Points

  • Pray for wisdom and openness to the Holy Spirit while planning, designing and writing course material for the Malawian and South African context

  • Pray for wisdom for Volker as he balances the work in Malawi and South Africa with being available with advice for other TEE programmes in other parts of the world. 

  • Pray for JinHyeog as she teaches and that she will be able to continue to inspire the children.

  • Pray for good health and daily protection for the Glissmann family; and that in all they do, say and are, their witness will bring glory to God.

Volker and JinHyeog have recorded two film clips (a short 3 minute clip and longer 15 minute clip) which can be downloaded and used in church services, prayer meetings or events to raise awareness and prayer for what God is doing across the world, as we seek to go deep and wide in global mission involvement.

 

(For previous Digital Dispatches video clips click here)

 


Latest Report

February 2023

The Glissmanns are living in Malawi. Jinhyeog is involved in a local primary school as a music teacher. Volker works off-campus as a programme developer for TEEC, the Theological Education by Extension College in Johannesburg, South Africa, and does grassroots theological training in Malawi.

Looking back – looking forward


The end-of-year break is always a good place to reflect on the last year and plan for the year ahead. One of the highlights of 2022 was that we finished writing the third course in our grassroots series that covers the biblical story. We graduated our first Knowing the Spirit (Acts to Jude) group in Zomba in May. Currently, I am running three groups of the same course in a church in Blantyre. The course is discussion based, and rerunning the course, helps to identify gaps of understanding in the course and other questions that Malawian grassroots Christians identify as gaps in their understanding. The students repeatedly ask questions on "the Afterlife", "discipleship and spiritual growth", and the book of Revelation. We shall see what is possible this year. What always amazes me is that the better understanding gained from the Malawian grassroots directly feeds into the "main" job of revising the Bachelor with TEEC in South Africa. On paper, it looks very disconnected, but in God's plan, it is a continuation. 

Interestingly, issues arising in grassroots training in Malawi directly relate to and feed into my work with the Bachelor revision. 

Challenges remain, and a Cholera outbreak hit Malawi. The opening of schools in Blantyre was delayed. We got the first Cholera vaccine in January, but then the vaccine ran out. South Africa is hit by a significant shortage of electricity which sometimes makes communication with the office in Johannesburg challenging. The Malawi Kwacha was devalued by 25% overnight last year, and prices steeply rose. It affects the cost of living as many imported goods have become quite expensive, and not everything needed is produced locally. For example, a ream of 500 pages of A4 pager now is double what it was at the beginning of last year. The printing cost for our self-study workbooks tripled in price to beyond affordable (we had to go back to low-quality photocopying). The Ukraine war increased the prices of flour (and bread) and cooking oil. Last November a petrol and diesel shortage meant that we spent significant hours queueing for petrol. But the rains look very good this year, and as a country dependent on rain-fed agriculture, this is very hopeful. 

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for continuing grassroots training here in Malawi and for new course ideas that can help strengthen the local church.
  • Please pray for Malawi and South Africa, as the last few months have brought many challenges. Please continue to pray for good and gentle rains so that Malawi is food secure this year.
  • Please continue to pray for the health and safety of the whole family.

Contact Details: PO Box 30048
Chichiri
Blantyre 3
MALAWI
Central Africa
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