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Project: Blantyre, Malawi


Johann and Retha Van der Ham have been teaching God's principles of stewardship in one of our world's poorest countries for 18 years. Before they launched the first Crown Stewardship School in the world, their mission work involved church planting in Lesotho through some grueling, tough conditions. Walking for 7 km, climbing half way up a mountain to get to their hut, cooking on fire, fetching water at a stream, digging a pit latrine for personal relief, cultivating the land, building a road with pick and shovel, learning a foreign language and being part of a rural community was the best training ground for missions they could have asked for. Their work now at the School has been hard and at times, progress has felt slow. But recently Johann shared, "Today, we sense that there's a swirl in the world for sustainable missions, and that's exciting for us. We feel we are pioneering something special." And they are!

At the Crown Stewardship Center in Malawi, Johann made his focus to train trainers, and growth and transformation took off. People come from all over Malawi and other African countries to be trained, but also from the United States, Argentina, Venezuela, and Chile. Trainers are being taught and are returning home immediately implementing what they learned for the transformation of individuals, families, villages, even entire communities.  

Johann shared, "We are are truly thankful to see God's fingerprints and He is being faithful in fulfilling His vision for His people through weak instruments like us. And the multiplication is coming in the nations!" 

Johann & Retha van der Ham were born in South Africa. They met at Bible College and got married in 1991. They serve as elders in their church, Living Stones, where they have served as elders since 2011. They have three daughters and a son-in-law. Things that excite them are rock climbing, photography, and music.



  • Malawi ranks among the 10 poorest countries in the world (1), where 50.7% live under the poverty line (2).
  • Average household is 4.4 in the south and 4.8 in the north (3).
  • Malawi has a 68.6% literacy rate (4).
  • Poverty is driven by poor performance of the agriculture sector, volatile economic growth, population growth and limited opportunities in non-farm activities(5).
  • -Average household income is $100-$200 USD a year (6), GDP per capita is $505 USD

During the six weeks training the students participate in many field trip activities.  They are climbing Mulanje Mountain, visiting large farming estates and a game park to witness the beauty of God’s creation.

Disaster response
Malawi and the surrounding countries are frequently devastated with droughts and floods. Cyclones have become more prevalent in the region. Over the years Crown Malawi has been able to partner with relief agencies in food distribution, temporary shelters and rebuilding of communities after disasters.  Many of the students attending the stewardship school have been privileged to participate in this labor of love.

Praying over Crown trainees
Showing the short film series, God Provides

Life Change Through Story Telling
Story telling is probably the best way to transfer knowledge in rural Africa.  With this in mind, Johann produced two movies in the local language which addresses the stewardship of the land and of finance. These movies are used hand in hand with the African Money Map, a resource developed for subsistence farmers.


Johann & Retha have been passionately encouraging development in Malawi since 1999.  They have a strong conviction that the Lord Jesus broke the  curse of poverty over Africa through his death and resurrection.  Building on this foundation, their focus is the training of faithful management of the land, finance and family.  Part of the training effort was the establishment of the Crown Stewardship School in Blantyre  Malawi in 2012.  The school presents an in depth six weeks discipleship program that equips faithful trainers to be launched into rural communities where they then train others.  Many mission organizations and NGO’s have sent their staff members for training at the Crown Stewardship School.  Lately the school has been drawing students from all over the world.  The Lord added five missionary families from South Africa, Canada and the Netherlands to the Crown team in Malawi who serves in different geographical areas.  Two more training centers have been established which are targeting rural farmers. The Crown Stewardship School is surrounded by demonstration gardens.  There is a strong focus on practical application of every subject presented.  The students get ample opportunities to practice what they have learned right on the premises. The subjects taught in the stewardship school are:

  • Foundations for Farming
  • Composting
  • Composting Toilets
  • Vegetable Production
  • Agroforestry
  • Mushroom Production
  • Beekeeping
  • Character First
  • Money Map
  • Personality ID
  • Foundations for Business