A Rooted in Jesus team has recently returned from Ethiopia, where we were delighted to be invited to provide the first Rooted in Jesus training for the forthcoming Diocese of Gambella in the new Anglican Province of Alexandria.
Team leader Bishop Martin Bretytenbach reports:
“It was a privilege and joy to bring Rooted in Jesus (RinJ) to Ethiopia for the first time! The local and visiting teams agreed that the conference went really well, and that God can use RinJ to establish firm foundations and deep roots for disciple-making in the Anglican Church there. Each member of the team was well prepared and presented their material clearly and with authority. All members of the team also spent time relating to the participants individually and in groups.
Before the Conference even took place, the Diocesan Team had already been identified. It was a huge positive to have the support of the Bishops, and the Diocesan and regional Coordinators in place from the beginning. The visiting and local teams met the day before the conference to get to know one another, prepare and pray together. We also met each evening during the conference to review progress and pray. During these times they set goals and made plans for RinJ in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. Bishop Kim Seng is requiring the use of RinJ in Confirmation preparation, leadership training and training for ordination in Ethiopia.
The conference took place at the SIM Conference Centre on the beautiful Bishoftu Guda Lake, about 50km SE of Addis Ababa. Most of those who attended were from the western part of Ethiopia (Gambella), which borders on South Sudan. The languages represented were English (which the majority could understand to some degree, Amharic, Nuer (the people prefer the name Thok Naath), Anywak & other smaller languages.
This was the annual Clergy Retreat/Conference, and those attending were clergy (about 33 including the Bishops and Mrs Kuan) and seminary students (about 8). It was very encouraging to see the good and supportive relationships among those who participated. Clearly they enjoy worshipping and serving God together.
Engagement with the material
The team was excited and encouraged by the real thirst for the Word of God; and the participants’ desire to engage with God and grow as disciples. We saw most of the groups having a lot of fun with the practical demonstrations and memory verses. It was very clear to us that RinJ is able to meet a great need, and has given them tools for ministry and disciple-making that they were eager to receive.
The three workshops (Pastoral Care, Leading RinJ and Prayer) were enthusiastically attended and the participants engaged with us and the material actively. There were many questions, especially about the details of how to start and run groups. There was a lot of prayer for one another. The ministry sessions were deep, especially the one on Knowing God’s Love, where participants nailed to the cross their needs for forgiveness and to forgive. It was deeply moving to minister among people who have suffered but are fully committed to proclaiming God’s reign in their contexts.
Challenges and opportunities
The Anglican Church in Ethiopia, especially Gambella, is very “young” in terms of infrastructure, training and oversight – until now there has been spontaneous growth of the Anglican Church, largely through migration from South Sudan. Many have suffered and live and work in difficult and dangerous circumstances. However, there are plans to establish two new Dioceses: one in Gambella, and one covering the rest of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. A theological seminary has been established in Gambella, and RinJ will help greatly in laying solid foundations of faith and practical discipleship.
It was exciting to be part of the first team to take RinJ to Ethiopia. I pray that, as the people of Ethiopia are ‘rooted and grounded’ in God’s love through faith in Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, God may ‘accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine’ (Ephesians 3:17-21). To God be the glory forever. Amen.”
Team member Ven Hectorina Totsetsi reflects: “It was my dream and wish to fulfill the mission of Jesus to go and make disciples throughout the world. I am very passionate about Rooted in Jesus; RinJ is changing people’s lives. My visit to Ethiopia was a huge experience and exciting moment. I gained a lot of experience of how people interact and engage with others in Ethiopia. I experienced kindness and gentleness on the road and in Addis Ababa. I learned how to engage and manage diversity. The visit to Ethiopia inspired and uplifted my spirit.”
Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by the Mathetes Trust. To find out more please visit the Rooted in Jesus website.
Rooted in Jesus has now been introduced to eight Anglican dioceses and two denominational networks in Kenya. In recent months training conferences have been held in the Diocese of Butere, the Diocese of Kitale, and the Diocese of Kericho.
The Diocese of Kitale
The Diocese of Kitale lies in north-west Kenya. Created in 1997, it now has 71 parishes and 4 missionary areas, served by 93 clergy. The mission of the diocese is to promote God’s kingdom through teaching, discipling and serving for wholistic transformation, and when Emmanuel Chemengich was appointed its second bishop in 2018 one of his first actions was to request a training conference for Rooted in Jesus.
In September 2019 the Diocesan Synod formally endorsed the partnership with Rooted in Jesus, and at the end of January 137 clergy and lay readers came to St Luke’s cathedral for a four day residential training conference. The conference was led by a team from the US, UK and Kenya, and 126 people were commissioned to start groups.
Team Leader Richard Morgan writes:
There were many points during various times of worship, prayer and ministry where the Spirit’s presence was very tangible. Participants commented on how this had been a spiritual experience for them and not simply informational. Bishop Emmanuel was a great example to his people. After introducing us, he said ‘Now I’m going to sit down as a student’, took his seat, and faithfully attended every single session of the conference. He was the first to receive a certificate of completion and has already identified some of the people he will invite to the Rooted in Jesus group that he will lead. We pray that the Spirit would continue to deepen these faithful ministers in their relationship with Christ and empower them for ministry in this Diocese.
The Diocese of Butere
One of the team members in Kitale was Revd Capt Benjamin Kibara, who is the Rooted in Jesus Coordinator for the Diocese of Butere. Butere adopted Rooted in Jesus in 2017, and at the end of 2019 they hosted their first Rooted in Jesus Junior conference. 89 Sunday School teachers responded enthusiastically to the training, with much time spent in prayer. An additional conference was held to encourage the existing leaders of the adult groups and train a new generation of leaders, and this was attended by a further 140 people. Team leader Ben Beecroft believes that Butere now has the potential to become a flagship diocese for Rooted in Jesus.
All this was borne out by Benjamin Kibara in Kitale, where he shared his experience of Rooted in Jesus in a report which those present described as ‘electrifying.’ Benjamin has sent through an annual report which shows that there are now 712 adult and Junior Rooted in Jesus groups spread across the diocese, with new groups being formed by those who have completed the course. ‘Many group members are gradually understanding how to make disciples,’ he says.
Diocese of Kericho
Earlier this month a team from Trinity church, Cheltenham travelled to Narok to lead a Rooted in Jesus conference for the clergy and lay leaders of the diocese. Team leader Tim Grew reports:
Based at St Luke’s in Narok, the Diocesan senior team were delighted that very nearly their entire clergy team were present, each bringing a key lay leader with them, so we were just under 60 delegates in total. Bishop Ernest and his senior staff were present throughout. The level of engagement was high for the duration. All sessions were positive; feedback was excellent. All in all, I’d say that God answered our specific prayers, including being anointed for the responsibility of facilitating the conference, and seeing a high level of enthusiasm and acceptance of the RinJ vision, approach and material.
We had some lovely testimony from folk – one key MU leader saying she’d had a total breakthrough in her sense of being loved deeply by the Father; some healings, including a man’s back that had given him fairly constant pain since a car accident in 2007. He waited 24 hours before sharing, just to be sure! Another man who had been praying and hoping to learn and grow more in the gifts of the Spirit, just delighted as we taught/shared/practised in this area. Praise Jesus.
To find out more about Rooted in Jesus in Kenya visit our website page here. Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by the Mathetes Trust.
2019 has been an encouraging year. Conferences have been held by us and our partners in 8 countries, bringing the total number of people now trained to lead groups to just under 16,000. Translation of the books into the appropriate local languages is an ongoing task, and this year we have produced booklets in a further 5 languages. In the course of the year we have received reports from nearly 40 dioceses, and we have a growing number of invitations for next year.
The full report can be downloaded HERE, and we have reported on some of the year’s work in our regular blog posts. To catch up on the highlights and share in some more recent news, read on!
The Diocese of the Rift Valley, Tanzania
The Diocese of the Rift Valley (left) became the first diocese to hold two Rooted in Jesus conferences in a single year. The first was held in February and the second in November, both led by Jacob Robert. Coordinator George Mbago reported that groups had started in every parish, with 40 doing particularly well, most of which have now moved on to the second book. Groups are led by pastors, catechists and Mothers Union members; others are being formed following the second conference. Perhaps the most striking testimony came from Bishop John Lupaa, who had himself led a group for just four people in a small rural church with a dilapidated building and very few members. Having taken those four through the first book, he encouraged them to start groups of their own. Just under a year on, that church has 84 members and a new building!
The Diocese of Mpwapwa
Dustan Mtoro has served as Rooted in Jesus Coordinator in Mpwapwa for 8 years. He reports that there are nearly 300 groups in the diocese, some using the adult programme, some using Rooted in Jesus Junior; many have completed the course, and in everyparish both church commitment and every member participation have risen dramatically. Last year an ambitious fund raising campaign for a new building organised through the RinJ groups raised the sum required within three months.
Dustan has now retired, and his successor Anderson Madimilo adds that “For us it is a success everywhere; it has raised the giving, it has established the faith in our Christians. The number of Christians has grown, because we no longer lose people to other churches as we used to. Because the groups pray together, many people have had their problems solved, their lives changed.”
Rooted in Jesus spreads across Southern Africa
In South Africa Rooted in Jesus is supported by Growing the Church and coordinated by Estelle Adams. In 2019 training was offered in the Dioceses of Lesotho, Natal, Free State and Johannesburg. One year in, Bishop Dintoe Letloenyane of the Diocese of the Free State shared his thoughts about Rooted in Jesus with Bishop Martin Breytenbach:
“I must say we are very excited about this ministry, Rooted in Jesus, which is all to do with making disciples for Christ in his church. In the bishop’s office I lead a Rooted in Jesus group for the staff. We can see that Rooted in Jesus is helping a lot of people to come to the Lord, to know who they are, to develop their faith, and it’s also helping their families, because whenever there is trouble or challenges at home, people know that Christ is there to help them. We have a priest who has really taken the local church by storm through Rooted in Jesus. We have seen how people have given their commitment and their life to the Lord – men who never really thought that they could give their services, they have come to work in the church. We have seen women with spades and forks doing gardening and making vegetable gardens for themselves and to feed the people around them. But it’s really about bringing people to the Lord Jesus Christ, who feeds us, who quenches our thirst, who heals us, who has given the promise that he will walk with us each and every step of our lives. And so we are very excited about Rooted in Jesus.”
In September Estelle reflected: “I can’t contain myself when I see how amazingly this Discipleship tool is working in the dioceses, but also in the lives of individuals.”
Supporting ministry in difficult situations
Many of the countries which have adopted Rooted in Jesus enjoy peace and stability, if not always prosperity. For others, the situation is more demanding. It is our particular privilege to support those who minister in these challenging situations.
Diocese of Kadugli, South Sudan
In October a Rooted in Jesus conference was held in Kadugli at the invitation of Bishop Hassan, led by a team from the linked Diocese of Salisbury, UK. The churches in Kadugli have undergone a very difficult time due to the political conflict which has dominated the country. A Roman Catholic priest explained that the wars had drawn Christians of all denominations closer. He also said the people were traumatised by war and were much strengthened that Christians had come from England to encourage them. We posted a full report in an earlier post.
Diocese of Katanga, DR Congo
Rooted in Jesus was introduced to the Diocese of Katanga in 2014, and in March we reported how Bishop Elisha Tendwa used it as the basis for ministry in the missionary Diocese of Kalemie. In July we were glad to be able to send some Bibles for the new groups in one of the refugee camps, and in December we received the following report from Coordinator Stephane Makata:
“The RinJ teachings have helped all the parishes in the Diocese; many testimonies have been seen and confirmed among the believers. Through these teachings God will help the church to have the good way to follow and how to remain faithful to Him. The RinJ teachings have helped us reach many goals. The group members and leaders are growing in number, churches are planted (especially in the camp of displaced people). These teachings are helping the believers to take hold of the word of God. RinJ leaders and members have participated in the processes of conflict resolution and peace making; this does not mean only to teach people the word of God but also to teach them how to love their neighbours, forgive them and build peace.”
Diocese of Toliara, Madagascar
The Diocese of Toliara covers a huge, undeveloped area in southern Madagascar, and suffers regularly from drought, violent cyclones and famine. They have been using Rooted in Jesus since 2011, and the programme is now overseen by CMS missionary Derek Waller. During 2019 Derek and his team have provided ongoing training in each of the 10 parishes of the diocese, with people walking long distances both to attend and to lead their groups. Derek reports that in Ankilifaly a group has completed all 4 books, and 6 of the members are now leading groups of their own. Progress is inevitably slow, but people are growing and new churches being planted.
Diocese of Niassa, Mozambique
Another diocese affected by both material and educational poverty is Niassa, in Mozambique, where Rooted in Jesus has been in use since 2006, when it contributed to a period of great renewal and growth. Relaunched with a new generation of leaders in 2018, it is now supported by coordinator Anold Gezan, who has been conducting day seminars to support the new leaders across the diocese. Next year Bishop Vicente plans to introduce Rooted in Jesus Junior for the first time. He reflects on the importance of discipleship:
“Our diocese is growing numerically, but how are we growing spiritually? The mandate Jesus gave was to go and make disciples. When Rooted in Jesus was implemented last year it really made an impact. You can see that from the clergy, even in the communities, because we have established small groups and people’s lives have been changed. When you see that, it’s a great joy to you as a servant of Jesus”.
Diocese of Kondoa, Tanzania
The Diocese of Kondoa in Tanzania is located in an area where 90% of the population are Muslim, which brings huge challenges for the church. The diocese is growing steadily under the leadership of Bishop Given Gaula, and in November held its first Rooted in Jesus conference. Bishop Given hopes that Rooted in Jesus will help the Christians, many of whom have had little formal education, to grow in faith, as well as providing them with a tool they can use to reach out to their communities.
News from Kenya
In October the Diocese of Butere held its third set of Rooted in Jesus conferences. 140 existing and new leaders attended during the first week, and 89 Sunday School teachers came together for the second. Team leader Ben Beecroft reports that the Sunday School teachers (below) responded with great enthusiasm and really threw themselves into all elements of the conference. Both conferences were marked by strong engagement with the sessions and a spiritual hunger to grow. Adult groups are running all over the diocese now, and Ben observes that Butere has the potential to become a flagship diocese for RinJ & Junior in Kenya, with many leaders who could help with RinJ teams elsewhere.
News from Uganda
We first went to Uganda back in 2012. Since then Rooted in Jesus has been adopted by 9 dioceses, of which the most recent is the Diocese of East Ruwenzori. A team from the UK, Burundi and Tanzania visited in May. 171 people attended the conference, with all 7 archdeaconries and 42 parishes represented. Participants included the clergy, Mothers Union leaders, parish Mission Coordinators, Lay Readers and Fathers Union leaders. We posted a full report here.
Other dioceses to report recently include the Diocese of Soroti , where Coordinator Pascal Odele writes that there are now 107 active groups across the diocese – a great achievement during a period of episcopal interregnum. In the Diocese of Karamoja John Onyao reports that he is using Rooted in Jesus to plant a church in his new parish. And in the Diocese of Mityana coordinators John Musaasizi and Jethro Ssebulime have continued to visit parishes to provide teaching and support:
“Jethro and I are very thankful to the Lord Jesus for enabling us to get to Binikira last Sunday. We wanted to find out whether Mark the Rooted in Jesus trainer is still maintaining the same pace of discipleship multiplication. We enjoyed participating in the reality of our expectation. The trained groups that attended church worship yesterday morning made it crystal clear that they had applied all what they learned in their daily life experience, including forming discipleship groups at their local settings. They also gained respect in the communities where they live. Much was testified. They memorized required Scripture and hid verses in their hearts. We tested them by giving them opportunities to recite what they had hidden in their hearts. They not only recited, but they also explained the application of verses in their daily lives. We thanked Mark for being an outstanding discipleship trainer in the entire Diocese of Mityana.”
News from Burundi
Elisha Academy is the Rooted in Jesus Coordinator in the Diocese of Muyinga. He reports:
“The Diocese began when they had almost 25 parishes. But now after using Rooted in Jesus, more than 5 parishes have been inaugurated. This is a result of the Rooted in Jesus mission. This place is a good place for doing this ministry because many people need to hear about Jesus.”
We were delighted that Elisha was able to join the team to East Ruwenzori in May.
We were also pleased to support Peter Kay, who this year ran a follow-up conference for the RinJ leaders in the FECABu network of churches in Bujumbura. Peter reports that some 400 people are currently meeting in 25 groups.
The work of Dignity in Zambia
It has been a privilege over the last 10 years to share Rooted in Jesus with Dignity, a UK charity which plants small community groups in rural areas – initially in Zambia, but increasingly in neighbouring countries. Jo Kimball reports that here are now 763 Life Groups involving over 15,000 people; the groups use Rooted in Jesus alongside Dignity’s material which focuses on ministry to the community:
“We are thankful for the role Rooted in Jesus has played in helping many Life Group members draw close to Jesus. Charles has only been attending Life Groups for 3 months and can already see a change in himself. ‘There are a lot of changes in me since I joined a Life Group. I feel like I have been set free because many of the things I never understood, now I understand them!’”
You can read more of Dignity’s remarkable story on their website.
It is always a huge privilege to be a small part of people’s lives, and to hear their testimonies. In the Diocese of Koforidua, Ghana, Augustine Baafi shared his reaction to the conference with disarming honesty:
“I didn’t really want to be part of this conference. But I spoke to my grandfather. He said to me, “Augustine, I want you to be part of this programme.” So I took it with brave courage and I said I am going just to witness and not to be part of it. So I came by, and when I came here, it’s not like an institution or a church programme, but it was more or less like a family. And I’ve learned here that Jesus is not only what we read about in the Bible, but is more like a father to us, a brother, a sister or a mother to us. Jesus is real to us, and whenever we call on Jesus, he’s going to be part of our life and he’s inviting us also to be part of his family, this great and big family that he’s calling us to be with. I came here to be an observer, but I have learned that I’m part of the group, and the big family that God wants me to be part of.”
Augustine is now training for the priesthood.
Barry Blackford shares the difference prayer made to the toddler son of a conference participant in Kadugli, Sudan:
“At the start of one of the morning breaks, a young mother came for healing for her son. He was totally full of fear and refused to leave her side. Whatever she did had to be done with an extra limb attached to her leg. The lad was about 3-4 years old, the same age as my youngest grandson who is totally fearless. We prayed for the lad and cut him off from his ancestral spirits. Within an hour he wandered up to me on his own to give me a high-5 and then ran back to mum. By the time we got to lunch he was going out the front with the other children and by the end of the day he went home with some of the others whilst mum stayed at the conference. Mum had also been unwell when she came and was also healed.”
A young woman named Firoza shared her testimony with the team from Growing the Church in the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman, South Africa:
“It has been seven months since I converted from Islam to Christianity. Then one of theparishioners called and asked if I would like to attend a Rooted in Jesus course. Not knowing what to expect, I agreed. “The facilitators explained the difference between a convert and a disciple of Christ. We were divided into three small groups to read and discuss scriptures in the bible. Some of the priests shared beautiful testimonies of what happened to them when the bible was first opened to them. While I was engaging, there was always someone that would share a scripture that would speak to me. We also made acquaintances with people from other parishes. I was intrigued by their enthusiasm and how they wanted to know more about the Word of God. Others shared ideas on how they where going to start small discipleship groups and work from the books received. Rooted in Jesus helped me understand more about the Christian faith, the power of prayer and how to stand firm in the faith. The material in the course has also given me so much peace of mind. It has taught me to live as Jesus did and assured me that whenever I face challenges, God will always be with me.”
Blessing in two directions : team members give thanks
We often say that those who give their time and resources to join Rooted in Jesus teams are blessed in as great a measure as those to whom they minister, and this has continued to be the case this year:
“I have never had such a big lesson in relying so entirely on God. It has been a very exciting and defining moment, and I have never been so free of doubt and so confident in him. Since coming back, this has hugely helped the way I lead in my own ministry and the way in which I approach the unknown, hand things from my control over to his, and to trust everything to him.” – Ben
“The experience has confirmed my struggle – I cannot believe that it’s possible to live an authentic Christian life in this country without a meaningful and sacrificial relationship supporting and being supported by, our brothers and sisters in poorer countries; I’m challenged to believe and trust more, and I have a different perspective on the issues and problems people face in this country” – Andrew
“I was convinced God wanted us to go, and there were indications that God intended to do something, so I had a sense of anticipation. Did he act? YOU BET! It was a real privilege to see God working in power among the participants, and to experience his blessing myself. Furthermore, I found God had additional aims, as he used our visit to encourage believers who were traumatised by 30 years of civil war. I have gained in confidence, and speak with more assurance. I have also become increasingly hungry for God and for means to serve him better.” – John
“The delegates on both conferences were so encouraging and welcoming. It was hard work, we didn’t stop from morning prayers 7am to 3:30pm, but it was so uplifting and enjoyable to be with such wonderful Christian people. I loved every minute of the conferences and prayerfully so did the delegates.” – Sarah
One day I might be able to tell you just how much Rooted in Jesus changed my life.” – Stephen
The last word?
What does it feel like to be involved with Rooted in Jesus? Mike Cotterell reflects:
“Many things happen while on Mission, some planned like the Conferences themselves but then extras, like ‘chance’ meetings that God seems to orchestrate. A conference looks like this: A Team, a group of participants and a location over four days. But another side of the reality is that there are thousands of significant moments: Person to person conversations, individuals listening and in conversation with God. Sharing of testimonies, acts of kindness, encounters with God; whole conference experiences of the presence of God. So, a Conference is a complex network of lives touching each other, with the Holy Spirit an active ingredient, like yeast in a batch of dough. God inspiring his agenda and firing his people; and this against a background of human weakness and negative spiritual interference.”
Mike is a long-standing Rooted in Jesus Team Leader, and a Trustee of the Mathetes Trust.
We are grateful to all those who have given up their time to go on teams, and to our dedicated group of intercessors who pray for each conference as it happens. We are thankful for the generosity of those who have supported Rooted in Jesus financially this year. And last and most importantly of all, we are hugely grateful to our hosts, who invite us to share in their ministry – for their trust, for their hospitality, and for the privilege of partnership in the gospel.
Kondoa is a small town which sits on the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley in central Tanzania. It’s an unremarkable place, an ordinary rural community whose people support themselves predominantly by subsistence farming – but it’s bursting with remarkable history: geological, cultural and spiritual. Missionary Vincent Donovan famously remarked that God enables a people, any people, to reach salvation through their culture and tribal, racial customs and traditions. And perhaps the key to understanding the ministry of the Diocese of Kondoa today is to be found in its history.
The Great Rift Valley formed some 25 million years ago, as powerful tectonic shifts deep underground pulled the landscape apart, creating a great rift down the middle of what today is Tanzania. Kondoa sits on the edge of the escarpment which rises above the valley on its eastern side. It’s an odd landscape, dotted with massive granite boulders which look as if they had been tossed there by giants; a mysterious landscape which for thousands of years has invited its inhabitants to consider the spiritual realities which lie behind the visible world. And from the earliest times, that invitation has been accepted: these boulders shelter some of the oldest cultural and religious rock art in the world, thought to date from 50,000 to 2,000 years ago. Some of the sites are still used for traditional spiritual ceremonies to this day.
But there are many ways of thinking about spiritual questions, and sometimes answers are suggested not by geological but by cultural factors. The 19th century saw a huge increase in the Arab slave and ivory caravans which passed through this region on their way from the slave dealing areas in the west to the export markets on the east coast. The economic welfare of these inland communities was bound up with this trade, and many of the peoples along the route abandoned the traditional religion of their ancestors and embraced Islam. Kondoa, once a place of rest for the slave caravans, today has a population which is 90% Muslim.
Fast forward to the late 19th century. As Christian missionaries brought the gospel to Tanzania, Anglican dioceses were founded, starting in the former slave trading regions. In 1927 the Diocese of Central Tanganyika became the third Anglican diocese in Tanzania, covering a vast area which included Kondoa. For many years the bishop of the diocese cherished the hope that one day Kondoa could become a diocese in its own right.
But Kondoa is a difficult place to minister. Not only because of its majority Muslim population, but because of its poverty. The road system is very poor, with just one tarmacked road running through its centre. The economy is mostly subsistence farming, with only 25% of the land cultivated; erratic rainfall mans that crop failure is common. Electricity is available in Kondoa itself but not yet in the villages, most of which do not have running water; educational attainment is the second lowest in the country. But notwithstanding these difficulties, the Diocese of Kondoa was eventually founded in 2001 – following a rather unexpected development.
The spiritual foundations for growth
By the 1990s an Anglican pastor named Given and a New Zealand missionary named David were working together to bring the gospel to the people of Kondoa. ‘Given’, named by the nurse who had saved his life as a premature baby, was the son of an illegitimate mother and an alcoholic father; he spent the first 14 years of his life in a leaking hut, often going without food for days at a time. But his mother was a strong Christian, and when Given was 14 a visiting preacher invited people to give their lives to Jesus. Given welcomed Jesus as his Saviour, and began a journey which has shaped the Diocese of Kondoa to this day. One thing led to another as God’s plan unfolded. Given was confirmed; he was sent by the Bishop to school; he trained with the Church Army as an Evangelist; and he began with David to minister the gospel in the villages of Kondoa.
One day Given and David were travelling when they came across a woman who had collapsed. Doctors had been called and said she needed a blood transfusion to save her life. Her friends and family had offered their blood but were found to be of the wrong blood group. “Try mine,” David said. It was the correct group. He gave blood, and the woman was healed. Given traces the spiritual foundation of the Diocese of Kondoa to this moment. It was, he says, a huge step forward for the gospel. Three things were important:
A man gave his blood to a woman – in Muslim society women are considered inferior to men
A man gave his blood to a blackwoman – in Muslim society a black woman is considered inferior to an Arab woman
A white man gave his blood to a black woman. Remember, this is a place which offered shelter to the slave caravans…
The giving of blood, Given says, represented the sacrifice of Jesus. Something had happened in the heavenly places, and from that day onwards the gospel began to spread in Kondoa.
The ministry of the Diocese today
In 2001 Kondoa became a diocese in its own right, and in 2012 Given was asked to become its second bishop. In worldly terms this was not an attractive prospect, and Given had two other job offers at the same time. But his wife Lilian, who is also ordained, suggested they spend a night in prayer. God spoke to them from the Book of Esther: for such a time as this… Given was consecrated later that year as Rt Revd Dr Given Gaula, second Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kondoa.
Today the Diocese of Kondoa has 34 parishes, 8 deacons, 50 pastors and 97 catechists, and serves a population of 600,000 people. The Cathedral is currently the only parish in the diocese which is self sustaining financially, and most of the pastors are not paid. But despite these difficulties the diocese is growing. There are now some 18,000 Anglicans, up from just 7,000 in 2012, and whereas then there were no church buildings at all, now there are many. The diocese even has its own Bible College.
Rooted in Jesus is introduced to Kondoa
In June 2019 Bishop Given, with the support of the Barnabas Fund and the Diocese of Rochester with which Kondoa is linked, invited us to send a Rooted in Jesus team to the diocese. Rooted in Jesus is designed to support people who may have received little formal education and yet who wish to learn more about the Christian faith – people in places like Kondoa. Bishop Given hopes that the groups will both strengthen the faith of church members, and provide a tool for evangelism in local communities across the diocese.
So the first Rooted in Jesus conference was held in November 2019, in the church which currently serves as the cathedral. The team of facilitators was led by Canon Jacob Robert from the Diocese of Mara, and the conference was attended by 126 pastors, catechists, evangelists and Bible College students. The team provided teaching on the nature of discipleship, on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and on the rewards and difficulties of ministry. Team member Bishop Elisha Tendwa shared his inspirational experiences of planting a diocese with Rooted in Jesus in DR Congo. Participants engaged attentively in the workshops on leadership, pastoral care and prayer, and twenty bravely volunteered to lead practice groups. Outside boys played football in the sandy riverbed, two women trudged up and down with cans of water for the plants in the cathedral’s plant nursery, and children gathered to watch a Muslim family train their new camel. Something new was happening in the midst of the ordinary people of this ordinary place.
There were many poignant moments in the conference, not least when people shared the despair they feel at being a religious minority in their own communities, despite Tanzania being a largely Christian country. Many said that they have experienced discrimination on the basis of their faith; but as the days passed gradually people began to feel that Rooted in Jesus offers the hope of reaching out to their neighbours with the gospel. The most painful moment, though, was when Bishop Given explained that despite his urgent desire to be fully present at the conference, he must go home to be with his mother, who had been admitted urgently to hospital. Marina, a lifelong Christian, had been seriously ill since Easter; and the following day she died. Given, whose childhood faith had been nurtured by his mother in such difficult circumstances, has remained the primary support for his family for many years, and he was with her as she died. The team was able to visit him and offer their condolences after the conference. “My mum was everything to me,” Bishop Given said sadly as he told of her death, sharing his conviction that her release from suffering was nonetheless an answer to the prayers of the faithful.
“The Lord appointed seventy-two others … He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Luke 10: 1-3
It was agreed that the groups would be formally launched across the diocese on 30th November. The Rooted in Jesus programme will be coordinated by Canon Lameck Masambi, the Diocesan Mission and Evangelism Officer. Reports will be provided by group leaders to the pastors, discussed in the parish councils, and passed to the area deans. Lameck will meet regularly with the area deans to review progress.
Our prayers remain with Bishop Gaula and his family, with Canon Lameck and with all those who will lead the groups, trusting that Rooted in Jesus will contribute to the ongoing spiritual growth of the people of Kondoa.
Bishop Given Gaula and Canon Lameck Masambi
Rooted in Jesus is published and overseen by The Mathetes Trust, and supported in the Diocese of Kondoa by the Barnabas Fund and by the Diocese of Rochester. The diocese has its own website, and you can read Bishop Given’s personal testimony here.
Posted by Revd Dr Alison Morgan, 15th December 2019.
Report by Glynnis Moorcroft, Diocesan RinJ Coordinator
A Rooted in Jesus (RinJ) Training Conference was held in the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman at St Cyprian’s Cathedral Hall from Wednesday, 25 September to Friday, 27 September 2019. It was led by four GtC facilitators. The three-day training was intense but a real blessing to those who attended it.
The training included:
Daily morning devotions, teaching sessions which included “An introduction to Rooted in Jesus?” “Rewards and Challenges of Ministry”, “The Work of the Holy Spirit” – and more. Practice Lessons covered: “What is the problem?” “Who is Jesus” and “Assurance of Victory.” Ministry topics: “Knowing God’s Love,” “Rewards and Challenges of Ministry” and “Repentance and Renewal.” The presence of God’s Spirit was very evident and experienced by many.
The Holy Spirit gave us the freedom to pray for each other. Some were moved to tears. Worshipping God through song and prayer during the training was meaningful and enriching. Many received Christ and left the training feeling transformed, encouraged, strengthened, and ready to serve oth- ers by starting their own RinJ groups in their different parishes.
One lady said to me: “I did not find it all that exciting until we did the Holy Spirit session. I stood there and others prayed and laid hands on me. I started crying and the Holy Spirit touched me deeply.”
Another told me how she cried with release and relief after the teaching on the Holy Spirit. “The teaching on the Holy Spirit at the Rooted in Jesus Training Conference was more powerful than we could ever have imagined.”
Team member Anthony McAnda has already started a small group at St Barnabas and Denzyl Sampson from St Mary the Virgin in Barkly West, has also started one. More are being started as I write. To God be all the glory!
Petrus Long commented:
“This Rooted in Jesus Training Conference had a great impact on my life. It caused me to look at the bible with new eyes. My desire to read the bible has also greatly increased. The RinJ small group, which I had started, means so much to me. We started with 4 members and increased to 8. All the members are so enthusiastic and would like to meet more often than once a week. That we will reconsider next year. We also trust that our youth will start a new group in the future and we intend to start a community RinJ Group too”.
Firoza shares her testimony
“It has been seven months since I converted from Islam to Christianity. Then one of the parishioners called and asked if I would like to attend a Rooted in Jesus course. Not knowing what to expect, I agreed.
“The facilitators explained the difference between a convert and a disciple of Christ. We were divided into three small groups to read and discuss scriptures in the bible. Some of the priests shared beautiful testimonies of what happened to them when the bible was first opened to them.
“While I was engaging, there was always someone that would share a scripture that would speak to me. We also made acquaintances with people from other parishes. I was intrigued by their enthusiasm and how they wanted to know more about the Word of God.
Others shared ideas on how they where going to start small discipleship groups and work from the books received. Rooted in Jesus helped me understand more about the Christian faith, the power of prayer and how to stand firm in the faith. We learned several memory verses. The material in the RinJ course has also given me so much peace of mind. It has taught me to live as Jesus did and assured me that whenever I face challenges, God will always be with me.”
In South Africa Rooted in Jesus is supported by Growing the Church, a church growth institute that serves the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Growing the Church is directed by Revd Trevor Pearce. This report first appeared in the GtC November 2019 newsletter.
Rooted in Jesus was created in 2002 for the Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at the request of its Diocesan Missioner, Stanley Hotay. In 2011 Stanley was elected as the third bishop of the diocese, and in 2014 he became the National Director for Rooted in Jesus in the Province of Tanzania.
Over the last 18 years Rooted in Jesus has been introduced to twenty of the twenty-eight dioceses in the Province. Each diocese appoints its own coordinator, usually the Head of the Mission or Christian Education Department. Every couple of years a National Coordinator conference is held, and the fourth of these has just taken place at Munguishi Bible College near Arusha.
Set in its own grounds and surrounded by a 90 acre farm, Munguishi provided a relaxing venue for the conference. The Principal of the College, Joseph Bea, and his wife Martha, gave a wonderful welcome to the ten delegates who were able to attend, many of whom had travelled long distances to be there.
The Challenge of discipleship
The conference was hosted by Bishop Stanley, who opened with a rousing talk on the ability of the Church in Tanzania to take responsibility for its own growth and development. He pointed out that almost half the world population is African, and that Africa is home to a staggering 400 million Christians, more than anywhere else in the world. “We must understand the Word of God, believe it and live it, use the resources given to us by God, and invest not just in adults but also in children,” he said.
Stanley went on to explain how Rooted in Jesus was created as a resource to help people understand and practise their faith. “We had no resources to teach with,” he said; “our culture is to talk. We needed a suitable course for Africa, which permits people to talk, not read. Sometimes we can think we do not need God. We come to church, but we want to get on with our daily lives during the week. We are not rooted. We need to repent and change our perspectives. If we are rooted in Jesus, the church will be healed.”
Each Diocesan Coordinator had been asked to present a report on the progress of Rooted in Jesus within their diocese. For some, the programme is well established both among adults and, using Rooted in Jesus Junior, in Sunday schools. For others, various factors had inhibited the groups and growth had slowed. Each presentation was followed by careful discussion, and suggestions and proposals for the best way forward were made.
Some highlights from the reports:
Canon Jacob Robert of the Diocese of Mara reported that there are currently 72 groups meeting in 26 parishes. Rooted in Jesus was first introduced to the diocese in 2009, and many of those who have previously completed the course have become active in ministry, preaching, church planting, and prayer. The older teenagers who have completed Rooted in Jesus Junior are now teaching the younger ones, and many children are now actively sharing their faith with others. There has been considerable church growth across the diocese as a result of Rooted in Jesus.
Revd Clement Manyatta of the Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro explained that Rooted in Jesus Junior is used as a two year programme to prepare young people for confirmation; 57 groups have completed the first four books of the Junior programme. The children learn very fast, he said; they are like sponges. There are 15 parishes using the adult programme, but the real need is to introduce it to the many new churches – over the last 5 years no fewer than 300 churches have been planted, mostly in Masai areas, with one among a previously unreached people group, the Tatoga, who had never heard of Jesus; 900 people from this community have now welcomed him into their hearts. We are revising the old Masai translation of Rooted in Jesus so that the new Christians, who often have only untrained local evangelists to care for them, will be able to learn about their new faith in their own language; and Clement will look at the possibility of translating it into Tatoga as well.
Canon Anderson Madimilo of the Diocese of Mpwapwa explained that he is new in post following the retirement of Dustan Mtoro, but reported that “this ministry is in all 13 deaneries in our diocese. For us it is a success everywhere. In these deaneries we have 123 Rooted in Jesus Junior groups with 1108 children, and 154 adult groups with 1284 members.” He went on to explain the impact that Rooted in Jesus has had in all the churches of the diocese; “it has raised the giving, it has established the faith in our Christians, because many now like the programme and love the church. The number of Christians has grown, because we no longer lose people to other churches as we used to. Because the groups pray together, many people have had their problems solved, their lives changed.” Anderson went on to outline his plans for the future, which are to see two new groups planted in each church, and to hold a big seminar for all the group leaders.
Canon Jacob Robert
Revd Clement Manyatta
Canon Anderson Madimilo
Canon George Mbago
Canon George Mbago of the Diocese of the Rift Valley – which had held its second Rooted in Jesus training conference just the week before – reported that in the first year many groups have started, with 40 of them doing particularly well; all these have now moved on to the second book. Others stopped during the cultivation period, but he hopes they will now resume. Groups are led by pastors, catechists and Mothers Union members. Perhaps the most striking testimony came from Bishop John Lupaa, who had himself led a group for just four people in a small rural church with a dilapidated building and very few members. Having taken those four through the first book, he encouraged them to start groups of their own. Just under a year on, that church has 84 members and a new building!
Other reports were more muted, with the most common challenge being changes in leadership within the diocese – the bishop himself, or the coordinator; continuity in leadership, everyone agreed, is a key factor for the success of Rooted in Jesus. Canon James Tuli reported that the Diocese of Shinyanga has been without a diocesan bishop for four years, which has resulted in an inevitable slow-down in ministry; he brought a request for further training from the newly appointed Bishop Johnson Chinyong’ole.
Revd Anderson Daudi of the Diocese of Kiteto had come straight from an Evangelism Conference in Dodoma. Kiteto has used Rooted in Jesus from its beginning – indeed many of the practices which are now standard were first developed in Kiteto under the leadership of Bishop John Hayden. The present bishop is Isaiah Chambala, formerly the Coordinator for Rooted in Jesus in Arusha deanery; Isaiah has himself taken part in a number of Rooted in Jesus teams both within Tanzania and internationally. Anderson reported that further training is planned in the diocese at the end of the year, focussing on Rooted in Jesus Junior.
Mrs Josephine Semwenda leads the Mothers Union in the Diocese of Morogoro, and has direct responsibility for the Junior programme – but not the adult programme, which has lost some of its impetus following the retirement of the diocesan coordinator. Josephine had however been able to invite Canon Dustan Mtoro from neighbouring Mpwapwa to provide further training for the deanery coordinators, and she suggested that it would be helpful for them to visit other dioceses for mutual encouragement and support.
Finally, Canon Lameck Masambi from the Diocese of Kondoa was attending for the first time, his diocese having just hosted their first conference. He reported that 126 people had been trained, and expressed his hope that Rooted in Jesus will help with the daunting task of evangelism in this predominantly rural diocese, in which over 90% of the population are Muslim. Rooted in Jesus will be launched across the diocese on 30th November.
Canon James Tuli
Revd Anderson Daudi
Mrs Josephine Semwenda
Canon Lameck Masambi
Looking to the future
One of the great benefits of drawing together all the Diocesan Coordinators in this way is that it creates a strong team atmosphere. All of the Coordinators have leadership responsibilities in their own dioceses, and they had much to offer one another by way of encouragement and advice. As Rooted in Jesus becomes ever more firmly established across the Province, this is the group from whom the training teams are now drawn.
The second major benefit of the conference was that it enabled these leaders to pool their experience and think strategically about the future. How can they strengthen Rooted in Jesus in their own dioceses and in those not represented, as well as introduce it to those not yet using it? What are the factors which make for success, and what are the pitfalls to avoid? Should Rooted in Jesus be introduced to the theological colleges? How can they ensure it becomes truly self-sustaining within the Province?
Rooted in Jesus has a long history in Tanzania, and although the task of evangelism and discipleship is of course never ending, Tanzania can be proud of its own track record, and of the gift it has offered to other countries in Africa:
RinJ was commissioned and pioneered here
Over the last 18 years 20 dioceses have hosted 59 conferences, in addition to conducting their own internal training
4,863 people have been trained to lead groups
There have been 4 National Coordinator Conferences
23 people have served on teams to other dioceses
There have been many reports of people coming to faith and experiencing life-changing healing, of churches growing in strength and numbers, of increasing confidence in ministry among members, and increased financial growth.
There have of course also been many challenges, and the call to make disciples and teach them so that they too can make disciples is never complete. So far there have been 8 requests from within the Province for further training in 2020, either to introduce Rooted in Jesus or Rooted in Jesus Junior for the first time, or to strengthen the programme and train another generation of leaders. There is a need for more books, and the latest edition of the Team Manual is currently being translated into Swhaili.
So the journey continues, and like the first disciples of Jesus we continue to learn as we go. But the task remains the same:
“Go, and make disciples of all peoples, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28.18-20
Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by theMathetes Trust.
Posted 23rd November 2019 by Alison Morgan
A Rooted in Jesus conference was held in Kadugli from 8th to 11th October 2019, at the invitation of Bishop Hassan, the suffragan bishop of the diocese. The team was led by Canon Andrew Evans, with Revd Barry Blackford, Christopher Fielden, Ben Jarvis, John Joy and Pete Waterman, all from the linked deanery of Bradford in the Diocese of Salisbury.
“In recent months Sudan has undergone regime change. There is a new Prime Minister and a government shared between civilians and the military which is intended to lead to elections in three years’ time. The people of Sudan have great hopes that this will bring greater freedom, a relaxing of sanctions which are currently crippling their economy, and peace between warring parties.
A challenging context
“Kadugli is situated in South Kordofan province where the government have been fighting the rebels in the Nuba Mountains, which lie to the south of Kadugli city and towards the boundary with South Sudan. The rebels are the Nubians, a people who have been Christian for centuries. A large part of Kadugli Diocese lies in the Nuba Mountains and is currently inaccessible from the north. There has been a ceasefire for the past two years, which has resulted in a stand-off between the two sides. If you don’t arrive at Kadugli city by 5pm on any day, access will be denied! Kadugli is still very much considered to be a war zone, although we did not feel at danger at any point.
We arrived in Khartoum in the early hours of 6th October, saw some sights in the city on that day and departed for Kadugli early on 7th. The journey took just over ten hours by road, covering a little over 400 miles, with one puncture and a section off-road where the road had been washed away in the rains.
Bishop Hassan had managed to secure for us an invitation from the governor of South Kordofan province, who had arranged for us to be accommodated in a government hostel and to receive food provided by them. This was very generous. This positive attitude to Western visitors would have been unheard of even a few months ago, so this is evidence that things are changing for the better.
“The Churches in Kadugli city have undergone a very difficult time in the war and they described all Christians as being the targets for the military under the previous regime. As such all the denominations have almost blended into one, as the churches clung together in the face of persecution. The Christians in Kadugli were amazed that six white people from England had been allowed to travel there, and they shared that it was an encouragement more than they could put into words that we had come to express our solidarity with them as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Six denominations were represented at the conference, with 75 people attending in all. The local Roman Catholic priest told us that the wars had drawn Christians of all denominations closer to each other – they had all been perceived as the target by the Islamic government. He also said the people were traumatised by war and were much strengthened that Christians had come from England to encourage them.
The RinJ teaching was enthusiastically received. The delegates readily accepted the need for discipling in the churches and were keen to start the programme. Group working was largely unfamiliar to them as a style of learning. As the conference progressed, they became more relaxed and the groups started to work well.
The picture below shows Andrew making the point, with the aid of a bicycle, that we need more than just teaching; we need training! One of the most exciting aspects of the conference was the work of the Holy Spirit, and the training was evident here. The Holy Spirit’s work over the four days of the conference was gentle, but deep and profound. They were not used to asking the Holy Spirit to come and then waiting in God’s presence, while he began to move. On the first day, some arms were folded, as if they weren’t sure this was OK but as the Holy Spirit came upon them, some people were healed without anybody asking for healing. By the end of the conference people were praying for each other with the laying on of hands and in the power of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit speaks
“There were some wonderful words of knowledge sent to us from Nicky King in the congregation of St Katharine’s Holt – one of a lady dressed in bright yellow and green with similar head covering who had a snake bite. We read this out in the conference and the lady did not seem to be there. Then Barry noticed a lady of that description come in – she had been working preparing food for the delegates. Barry asked her whether she had a snake bite. She did. She had received a bite on the ankle in the past few days. The lady was prayed for and not only received healing for the snake bite but for two other conditions as well.
There was another word – ‘I saw two men fighting. I think it represents 2 areas, 2 districts which have been opposing each other for some time like a long feud that had shown no signs of hope of ending but I saw an angel come with a sword. He separates the 2 men and then puts his sword in the ground. A river appears between them. They each go away from the edge still looking angry but the angel goes to each in turn and tears come. They now come back to the edge of the river and lean across and shake hands. Some kind of important reconciliation going on.’ Nicky had no idea of the situation in Kadugli when she gave that, but the word had a profound effect on Bishop Hassan who was sure it was from God, and there are talks about to happen between the new government and the rebels in the Nuba mountains!
Healing the traumas of the past
“There were many healings and these are just a taste of them. There was a young boy who was so full of fear that he was permanently attached to his mother’s skirt. He was healed and was gradually building up confidence before our eyes and who went home on his own with his friends for the first time ever.
Every time we invited the Holy Spirit to come, more and more people were released. This was of particular significance for a man who responded to a word about giving ‘locked up hurts (from long ago) to God’ and that God was ready to take them and replace them with joy. As he was wailing and crying out in response it revealed the release of some very deep and unspeakable pain. The next morning the same man was singing his heart out, dancing for joy up and down the aisles – face beaming with smiles. Most surely God had released him and given him some new peace.
There was also a lot of release of pain among the women at the conference, much dating from the war years. Pete prayed for a lady having her 11th baby, who was in pain. God showed him that the baby was on its side and pressing on her internal organs. He prayed, the baby moved and the pain went completely.
“The aim of the conference was for participants to go home with the confidence to form a group of 12 people to be discipled, just as Jesus did, and to start to deliver the programme which is about making disciples who in turn go and make more disciples. We had a very joyful commissioning of the delegates with lots of proud certificate holders. Each leader was given a Leader’s Introduction and Book 1 of Rooted in Jesus in Arabic, and the programme will be coordinated by Babuj Kanidi, the Diocesan Secretary.
“We started our journey back on the Saturday, making a visit to the church in Dilling on the way. We arrived back in Khartoum as it was getting dark. We had supper with Bishop Hassan’s family and caught our return flight in the early hours of Sunday morning arriving back at Heathrow at 1.30pm.”
To find out more read the report on the Salisbury diocesan website here, or at St Katharine’s Holt, here.