“Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”

 

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Fishermen with the morning catch on the shores of Lake Niassa

Rooted in Jesus was first introduced to the Diocese of Niassa in Mozambique back in 2006, just as the last landmines were being cleared from the country following many years of civil war. Over the next ten years the diocese experienced remarkable growth under the leadership of Bishop Mark and Helen Van Koevering, with numbers more than doubling, new clergy being trained, and numerous churches being planted. Key to the growth was a sustained and intentional focus on discipleship, helped by the early adoption of Rooted in Jesus: “Rooted in Jesus supports our diocesan vision to become a communion of communities in Jesus, ie small groups studying, discipling one another, church planting and rooting, growing in faith and changed lives together,” Helen wrote; “we are reading the Bible differently.”

This vision for growth continues under the leadership of Bishop Vicente Msosa, appointed two years ago to succeed Bishop Mark, and at just 37 the youngest bishop in the Anglican Communion. And just a few weeks ago the long-term plan to create a new missionary Diocese of Nampula out of the existing area of Niassa received formal approval, and Manuel Ernesto was appointed as its first bishop. We were delighted to be invited by Bishops Vicente and Manuel to return to Mozambique at this pivotal time to offer Rooted in Jesus training not only to a new generation of leaders but also to a new diocese; and so in November a multinational team from South Africa, the UK and Zambia led two four day training conferences, one in the dusty inland town of Nampula and the other on the shores of Lake Niassa at Messumba.

 

Building a strong foundation in Nampula

“We want to place the emphasis not on buildings or on structures but on people,” Bishop Manuel explained as he opened the first training conference for the world’s newest Anglican diocese. He had invited all the clergy to the conference, and each had brought with them one lay leader, either catechists or Mothers Union members. In addition to participating in the teaching and ministry sessions and engaging in lively discussion during the practical workshops, the 31 delegates committed themselves enthusiastically to the demonstration lessons (see below), and there was much singing and laughter. At the end all agreed that Rooted in Jesus was ideal for building a foundation of discipleship in the new diocese, and Fr Francisco Bulaque was appointed to oversee the programme, assisted by Fr Domingo Daglasse.

 

Strengthening diocesan links

After the Nampula conference was over, Bishop Vicente decided to take the team to visit the parish of Chingoma, many miles up a rough road towards the Tanzanian border on the shore of the lake. Mozambique is linked with the Diocese of London, and Chingoma with the parish of St Barnabas Northolt, represented by team member Fr Mund Cargill-Thompson. Gifts were exchanged, speeches made, and a new partnership cemented – long distance links are hugely helpful and important, and the opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the two churches and their priests seemed too good to miss.

 

Growing disciples in Niassa

The second Rooted in Jesus conference was held in the cathedral in the village of Messumba, where no fewer than 220 people converged from all over the diocese. Some had travelled for several days to get there; all slept on the concrete floor; a rota of mothers produced a stream of tasty meals from a popup outdoor kitchen; and everybody went down to the lake once a day to wash. Team member Fr Kapomba Sekeleti encouraged everybody with stories from his home diocese of Eastern Zambia, leading his sessions in the local language of Nyanja; the rest of the team were double translated into not only Nyanja but also Yao, for the benefit of those attending from this mostly Muslim tribe. Rooted in Jesus is used both in Nyanja and Yao and in the national language of Portuguese, and the programme will be overseen by Fr Anold Gezani.

The numbers attending represented a huge investment in the future in this very poor diocese, for Bishop Vicente is not only young but also far-sighted. Although it was clear to the team that the people of the diocese had grown hugely in both numbers and spiritual maturity over the previous decade, he’s taking nothing for granted. “Secularism is coming,” he explained; “we need to make sure that everybody has an active relationship with Jesus.” And so as he handed out certificates and books to the 220 participants, he urged them to get going with their groups straight away. “You have come to this training,” he said. “Is it you who are going to do this work, or should we send someone else?”

 

Giving thanks

It’s always good to take a long view. Rooted in Jesus has been running now for 16 years, and this was a return visit to one of the first dioceses to adopt it. It was hugely encouraging to see how people had grown in confidence and understanding in the meantime. It was good to see the Lord at work, bringing healing and deliverance to people as the Holy Spirit came – people struggling with illness and affliction, discouragement and oppression but able to praise God together. It was a great opportunity for Bishop Martin and Colleen Breytenbach of the Diocese of St Mark in South Africa to visit this remote diocese in their own Province, to offer their support and encouragement in this place of new beginnings, and to share their own experience of Rooted in Jesus. And it was a wonderful experience for the team, who worked unstintingly for a fortnight but were showered with such generous and welcoming hospitality that we too felt uplifted and spiritually refreshed by our experiences.

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A testimony from Francisco

“The day before yesterday we were put into that room for teaching. At the end of that teaching I was feeling nervous to tell them I would like them to pray for me, I thought I should let them rest. The problem was feeling headache and also dizziness and breathing. I could not walk in the sunshine. I was bold enough to ask for prayer. They prayed  for me. They said to ask Jesus for what you want him to give you. Then they prayed for me. I felt there was a difference in me. That mama told me I have to tell people, I have to testify. I am so thankful for what the Lord has done to me. I think the Lord has done a good thing for me. I was able to sing and lead choruses!”

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We are immensely grateful to all those who helped in so many ways to make this mission possible.
If you would like to help people in rural Africa become rooted in Jesus please click here.
To find out more, or to get in touch with us, visit the Rooted in Jesus website.

Posted 20th November 2018 by Alison Morgan

“Much energy has been pumped into my spiritual life” – news from the Diocese of Butere

It’s just over a year now since Rooted in Jesus was introduced to the Diocese of Butere, Kenya, and we were delighted to be invited to return to help facilitate a further two training conferences this year. Once again the conferences were packed out, with 225 leaders attending the first and 216 attending the second.

Butere 2018

Getting to grips with the material

 

Team leader Revd Ben Beecroft reports:

“The Diocese has for 2 years prior to introducing RinJ already taught on the importance of small groups and has up to 1,000 already attending small groups with leaders. Since RinJ was introduced the plan has been to transition these groups to become RinJ groups subject to training at a conference or through a 6 month group attendance.

“There were many testimonies of people coming to faith in Christ through the RinJ groups, returning to faith, deepening of prayer life, increased commitment to church, increased giving and behavioural change, which is all very encouraging. Clear commitment to the conferences was evident, full engagement with the sessions and a spiritual hunger to grow.

“Many were experienced in prayer & responded very well to opportunities to participate in many styles of prayer- individually sitting or standing, kneeling at the front, praying in 3’s, praying together and in silence, coming forwards for team members to pray for them. Healing ministry was modelled and healings were witnessed during the workshops in both weeks. I counted it a great privilege to lead the RinJ team and to minister to this Diocese. I felt we all gave of our best and were able to respond to the promptings of the Spirit as well as to deliver the course material. It was a precious time.”

Butere 2018

The team enjoy a day off

An insider’s view

Rooted in Jesus is overseen within the diocese by Revd Capt Benjamin Kibara, the Diocesan Executive Secretary for Mission & Ministry Training. There are now 271 established groups across the diocese, and a further 154 will start as a result of the recent conferences. Benjamin writes:

“The impact has already been felt in many ways. We have seen the Lord using the Rooted in Jesus groups to bring hope and transformation. This resource is indeed a gift from God. In the course of the year, many people came to know the Lord through the RinJ groups. Broken relationships in families were restored. There was increased commitment and engagement from RinJ members in church activities. Giving in churches has gone up tremendously in parishes that have engaged actively in the groups. Many gave testimonies of healing that occurred, especially during the conference prayer ministry time. I was encouraged by the way 110 high school boys have demonstrated maturity in schools due to their learning from RinJ groups.”
Benjamin Kibara (3b)

The two Bens

The proof of the pudding – Jesus changes lives

Many of those who have led Rooted in Jesus groups over the last year gave their testimonies to Benjamin at the conferences. Here’s what some of them said about their own lives:

I learned to lead and share God’s Word with my small group, something I had not done before.
I have known Christ deeper as I lead the group, especially through the memory verses
My life has changed by knowing who Jesus is and by being rooted in him
After the prayer lesson, I have seen God answering my prayers
I have been able to repent and experience God’s forgiveness
Much energy has been pumped into my spiritual life
My life has completely changed due to breakthrough in my prayer life
The group has made me strong spiritually and has empowered me to pass many temptations through prayer
I am now involved in the preaching program of my church
My husband has turned to Christ and is now a committed Christian

This what they said about their groups:

The fellowship, sharing and love among the group members has grown deeply
Group member’s lives have changed. They are humble, kind and loving to each other
My group members have been filled with the Holy Spirit
Some members were drunkards but now their lives have changed completely
The members have become more prayerful, not only in the group but also privately.
Members have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal saviour
I have witnessed transformation especially with two men who were drug addicts and now they have surrendered their lives to Christ
Members are now committed to regularly coming to church

And about their churches:

The church has become very active with members who have a desire to pray, fellowship and study the Bible
There is peace and love in church due to the Rooted in Jesus groups
The number of people in church has increased
The giving in church has increased
There is demonstration of gifts of the Holy Spirit in the church
Lay readers that were lapsed have come back to church and are now actively engaged in service.

 

Not lost in translation

Rooted in Jesus is translated into the major local languages in each place, so that group members may develop their faith in their own mother tongue. In Butere Rooted in Jesus is used in Swahili, Luhya and English.

 

Looking ahead

The long term aims of Rooted in Jesus are:

1. Changed lives, changed churches, changed communities
2. Ordinary lay Christians equipped for ministry as disciples of Jesus
3. Key people raised and trained for future leadership within the Church
4. Political and social stability through the growth of informed and committed Christian
discipleship

Last year Bishop Timothy Wambunya observed that those attending the conferences “seem to have embraced or understood this Rooted in Jesus training, and they seem more determined to go forward and share it with other people, which we haven’t seen before in any of the other courses that we have done – and we have done many other courses! This Rooted in Jesus seems to be the one that has finally helped us turn that corner.” A year on, his assessment has proved correct. Due to the growth of the groups, the six archdeacons have been asked to act as coordinators for the programme in their areas, and Bishop Timothy and Benjamin hope to introduce Rooted in Jesus Junior to the diocese next year. They ask for our prayers.

 

How you can help

We are currently running a major appeal to help us continue to support Rooted in Jesus in places like Butere where it is already in use, and to enable us to introduce it to places where we have been invited to go for the first time. If you would like to help us do this please visit our Appeal page, or make a donation here:

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Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by The Mathetes Trust. To find out more visit our websites www.rootedinjesus.net and www.mathetestrust.org.

Posted by Alison Morgan 14th September 2018

 

 

 

Rooted in Jesus Autumn Appeal – Can you help?

Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by the Mathetes Trust, and is funded through the generosity of individuals and churches who support it prayerfully, financially and personally. On behalf of our brothers and sisters who rely on Rooted in Jesus as a primary tool of discipleship, we are launching an Autumn Appeal which will, we hope, enable us to continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ across the continent of Africa into 2019 and beyond.

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A Rooted in Jesus group in Zambia

Rooted in Jesus has been a great adventure. When we began in 2002 we never dreamed it would spread to 80 dioceses or networks, involve a hundred thousand people in groups, provide the first discipleship syllabus for children, be translated into 44 languages (and counting), overwhelm us with humbling testimonies of changed lives and growing churches, or be endorsed by the Anglican Communion – and yet all those things have happened.

In this work we rely on the support of individuals and churches in the developed world. Some pray, some go out on teams, some just show an interest. All of this is very important to us. But the immediate need we have is for finance. We realise that many of you will be hard pressed yourselves, but if not, please would you consider making a financial gift in order to open up real discipleship to some of the poorest people in the world?

We don’t go looking for work, but whenever a request comes from an African diocese, we send out a team to run a conference which trains clergy and lay leaders to establish small discipleship groups in their home communities. A typical conference trains up to 150 leaders and enables up to two thousand people to join a Rooted in Jesus group, thus bringing discipleship to many lives. For many of these leaders it’s the first formal training they have ever had.

It’s five years now since we had a major appeal for funding. Over those five years we have invested £90K directly into establishing Rooted in Jesus groups across sub-Saharan Africa. If we are to continue this work we will need to invest at a similar rate – probably more as the work expands. Our reserves are now very low, which is why we are launching this appeal – if we can’t support it, we can’t run it!

 

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Rooted in Jesus training, Zone 2 Refugee Camp, Uganda

What does it cost?

Rooted in Jesus is deliberately designed to be low cost. Team members from outside Africa raise their own travel costs. Conference delegates also cover their own travel. Wherever possible, host dioceses cover the cost of the conferences and arrange translation. But we provide the books free of charge, and we pay the travel costs of one or two experienced African team members from neighbouring countries. We also make grants to dioceses in particular need (eg following war, or famine). Each diocese is different, but none of them can get the programme off the ground without some investment from us.

Can you help? We have four conferences planned for the autumn and so far a further nine invitations for next year. Costs vary from diocese to diocese, but so far the average cost to us of running a conference has been about £3000. This is in addition to our fixed administrative costs of £10K per year. Typically £20 provides training and books for one participant. £100 enables translation into a new language. £600 pays for a conference print run of leaders’ booklets.

How you can help

If you would like to find out more about how to help, please take a look at our Support page. If you would like to invite your church to support Rooted in Jesus we’d be delighted to send flyers or provide a speaker. You can donate online using the purple button below, or by cheque, bank transfer or Standing Order, and we can claim additional Gift Aid if you are a taxpayer. If you’d like to read some testimonies you will find them on our website here.

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  • Gift Aid form – download here
  • Standing order or bank transfer – download form here
  • Other ways you can help – visit our support page
  • Contact us here


Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28.19-20.

Thank you so much for your prayers, support and involvement in this ministry – without you it would not be possible.

Canon Roger Morgan, Revd Mike Cotterell,  Revd Andrew Evans
Trustees of The Mathetes Trust
September 2018

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Bishops Prioritise Discipleship Training

Growing the Church, which oversees Rooted in Jesus in South Africa, has just published its July newsletter.  Amongst other exciting developments there is a report on the Rooted in Jesus training held in the Diocese of Natal and Diocese of Free State. Natal introduced RinJ back in 2013, and the current Bishop Dino Gabriel had prioritised the programme in his former diocese of Zululand.  It is being introduced to Free State for the first time, and early feedback is very encouraging. Here are some extracts from the newsletter:

GtC July 2018

SECOND QUARTER – JULY 2018
Bishops prioritise Discipleship Training

DIOCESE OF NATAL

“In May GtC ran a Discipleship Training Course in the Diocese of Natal. The first part of the training conference was mainly for clergy and it focused on the first module of the J-Life material which is a discipleship framework, viz. Strategy for Discipleship. This training was given by Dr Johann and Louise van der Bijl, both missionaries from SAMS.

The second part of the discipleship training conference was to train clergy and laity in the “Rooted in Jesus” and “The God who is There” discipleship courses. The implementation of these courses is done through formation of small discipleship groups.

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Above: These trainees were trained to make disciples who make disciples.
Above left: Clergy and some laity who were trained in the J-Life Strategy Module on discipleship in the Diocese of Natal.
Above right: + Dino Gabriel hands a Certificate of Completion to Anele Langa. On the left is Canon Dumisani Shezi, the Discipleship Coordinator for the diocese

Delegates commented:

“I can’t thank you enough for the spiritual armaments that you have imparted into my spirituality as well as ministry through this training. The material is so divine to extent that I have waited for such since 2008, but I really would  not put my head around to formulate anything that, even though I knew that something is missing in the way I teach the children of God. But now with this material everything will be so easy.” –  Phiwa Mahaye
“Thank you for equipping us with the tools to utilise in teaching and discipling many as Christ’s followers. The Rooted in Jesus training was a phenomenal experience. In between sessions we received testimonies that were heart-warming and encouraging.
“We thoroughly enjoyed all the sessions and noticed God activating gifts of teaching His Word, evangelism, healing and counselling.
“I am confident that we have deepened our faith in God. There is hope for many who will follow us, as we invite them back to Jesus. We will hold feedback  sessions with Revd Canon Shezi, to carve the way forward. I would certainly love to sharpen my facilitation skills and contribute to the body of Christ. God willing, we shall come to the Anglican Ablaze conference to be further equiped and empowered. – Dr Zama Mtshali-Dlamini
“On behalf of our Diocesan Bishop, Dino, I wish to pass a word of gratitude to the GtC Team for coming in our Diocese to lead J-Life for the clergy and Rooted in Jesus for the laity.”


DIOCESE
OF THE FREE STATE

The Diocese of Free State ran a Discipleship Course using the Rooted in Jesus and Rooted in Jesus Junior and The God Who is There resources. Canon Itumeleng Pooe reports:

“The conference was a miracle from its very inception. Organized within a very short period of time, with no budget and no visible support. The Lord really showed His faithfulness and reliability as we depended entirely on Him. The GtC team, Estelle Adams, Amanda Ohlsson and Fr Trevor Pearce who led the intense, challenging and interesting programme were assisted by ten coordinators of the diocese.

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Trevor Pearce introduces The God Who is There

In total 45 people attended the conference,  including Bishop +Dintoe and his wife, Zanele. The group included ten clergy from various parishes. Though most of the attendees were members of the AWF, there was a sizeable number of Youth, lay ministers and Sunday school teachers. We were also joined by two clergy from the Diocese of Lesotho; Revd Dr Joseph Morenammele and Revd Dr Ntsiuoa Rathabaneng.

“What can one say! I left that place very encouraged and inspired. For many years since I came to Christ in 1985, I have been longing to see my Anglican Church in Lesotho sold fully to the preaching of the saving Gospel through Christ. The training in Bloemfontein gave me a great hope that things are now at the doorstep in our own diocese. For me it was a strategic training on discipleship and fulfilment of the Great Commission. Rooted in Jesus is an excellent programme helping us to deepen our faith in Christ and equipping us for life-long discipleship leading to the growth of the church. I am truly excited with what took place in Bloemfontein and I cannot wait to see the seminar take place in our Diocese.” Dr Joseph Morenammele

“In between the sessions delegates expressed sincere appreciation and thankfulness for the programme. I was impressed by the discipline of the delegates, who were in time for the sessions and participated excitedly in all the sessions and activities. The sessions also brought to the surface some deep underlying emotions and pain in some, and therefore granted healing, blessing and deliverance to many. At the end of the conference, all delegates felt inspired to go back to their respective parishes and organisations, and to implement the Rooted in Jesus Programme. In addition, three delegates, Zanele Letloenyane, the Revd Hectorina Tsotetsi (Priest in Charge, St Bernard the Martyr, Namahadi) and myself were designated as trainers.

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+Dintoe and Mrs Zanele Letloenyane gave their full support throughout the discipleship conference.

 

TWO MONTHS LATER…

Canon Itumeleng Pooe writes:

“Despite the apathy amongst some of the clergy, the Lord has assured us that He has chosen those whom he wants to touch and transform. My own ministry has changed remarkably. I’m am so much more at rest in His presence, as I learn to rely more and more on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I am experiencing such peace I am, a peace as I’ve never known before. Amongst the highlights of my week are the Saturday evening Rooted in Jesus Junior sessions with my wife and three kids (to the accompaniment obligatory Pizza, of course!!!). I’m also so grateful that the Lord is mightily using  our Bishop. Firstly, his support from the beginning has been unequivocal; even though the programme was not in the Diocesan plans or budget for the year. Secondly, he fully attended the conference, sitting and participating in each session; he even received the certificate! Following the conference he issued a fiery charge, asking all to participate in the programme.”

Bloemfontein

“In Bloemfontein there are several RinJ groups that meet each week, all at different stages of progressing in course study. The most advanced of these is the Bishop’s group, which sits every Tuesday morning at the Bishop’s office. It consists of Bishop Dintoe Letloenyane, and 5 Diocesan workers, including the Administrator (Fr Itumeleng), who is the RinJ Diocesan Coordinator. Another group meets on Wednesday at the Diocesan Chapter House;  it is co-headed by the Fr Itumeleng and Mrs Zanele Letloenyane (yes, you guessed right, this is the Diocese’s first lady!!!). There is also a group that consists of FOV members; it meets on Friday evenings at the Diocesan Offices.

There are 3 other groups under the leadership of Fr Kgosi Hendriks, who is the Rector of St Margaret in Bloemfontein; one for adults on Wednesdays, one on Fridays for youth and one on Sunday for Sunday School.

As of Thursday 26 July 2018, Fr Itumeleng will be starting a weekly training course for 2 school chaplains to train them to also become RinJ facilitators. The training will take place over a period of 3-4 weeks.

Far Eastern Free State

“The parish of Bernard the Martyr under the leadership of the Rev’d Hectorina Tsotetsi has five different small groups of the Rooted in Jesus program.  Three groups are those who do the Rooted in Jesus program,  one group for the Rooted in Jesus Junior program and one group is for The God Who is There program.”

 

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Faith in action in Bloemfontein

Testimonies 

  • “Since the program started some people have reported that they have peace, joy and happiness in their lives.  They confessed that now they are new Beings, New Creations and New Humanity. They didn’t know what it means to have eternal life but since they started on this program they understand fully.  Some of them were ill because of holding grudges and not letting go. Many since they started this program they are able to forget and forgive. Some they thought they have misfortune because they were told that by sangomas (traditional healers). But now they realized that they were suffering because of sin. Sin separates them from God.
  • Some of them they realized their callings for various ministries in the body of Christ.
  • They didn’t see the importance of giving generously in the church and ploughing back into the communities where they come from but now they completely understand what it means to have faith in action.”

 

A Decade of Discipleship

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All these developments are inspired by the Anglican Communion’s Season of Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making. Bishop Martin Breytenbach writes:

“Perhaps the biggest need in the church today is for members who see themselves as disciples of Jesus, to help others to become disciples as well. Jesus’ disciples were apprentices who followed him, watched how he lived, healed the  sick, confronted evil  and imitated him. They listened to his teaching, sought to live by it,  and passed it on to others. In the process they were willing to set everything else aside in favour of the reign of God, which Jesus proclaimed. They wrestled with what it meant to love God, their neighbours, one another and even their enemies. They turned the world upside down!

God is calling the church today, and Anglicans in particular, to accept the challenge to become disciples who make disciples (2 Timothy 2:2). With this in mind the Anglican Consultative Council adopted a Season of Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-Making in the Anglican Communion in 2016. Our Provincial Synod accepted the call in that same year and ACSA launched the Season at the Anglicans Ablaze Conference in October 2016. Since then the challenge has been accepted in many Provinces of the Communion,  and a Task Team has been established to encourage and guide the process globally.

I am privileged to serve on that team under the chairmanship of Archbishop Ng Moon Hing of Southeast Asia and members from South and North America, the United Kingdom, several parts of Africa, Asia and Australasia.

Our goal is for disciple-making to become central to the life, ministry and mission of Anglican Churches everywhere. In order to do this we are working with appropriate groups and ministries throughout the Communion. We are also developing and encouraging the development of disciple-making resources for all ages, which will help   our people address the challenges of life in the 21st Century as disciples of Jesus. It is all about becoming more like Jesus in our different contexts. Hence the phrase: living and sharing a Jesus-Shaped life – in a Jesus-Shaped church.”

†Martin Breytenbach

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Bishop Martin & Mrs Colleen Breytenbach

To find out more

  • visit the Growing the Church website here
  • check out the Rooted in Jesus website here
  • for The God Who is There it’s here

Rooted in Jesus, Rooted in Jesus Junior and The God Who is There are published by The Mathetes Trust.

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Posted by Alison Morgan 8th August 2018.

 

 

 

Mind the gap!

Making disciples in south west Madagascar

Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, with a population of 26 million people. About half are Christian, and most of the rest follow traditional religious practices, which are strong and distinctive. Ten million people have yet to hear the gospel, and millions more have yet to be discipled into a living faith.

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The newly built cathedral of Tulear has become a hub of prayer

According to Operation World, ”Discipleship and biblical training are the greatest needs of churches in Madagascar. There is little by way of structured training or teaching for ordinary believers. Pray for new grassroots movements that are accessible and relevant to all Christians, and that can be multiplied and reproduced throughout the country.” This is exactly what Rooted in Jesus is designed to do, and over the last few years training conferences have been provided in two dioceses, for both the adult and the junior programmes.

News from the Diocese of Toliara

CMS missionaries Derek and Jane Waller have been invited to minister in the Diocese of Toliara, in the far south west of the island. Derek writes:

“The Diocese is young – only formally established in 2007 – and its growth under the dynamic leadership of our American bishop, the Right Reverend Todd McGregor, is remarkable. When he arrived in 2007 as a missionary bishop, together with his wife, Rev Patsy, there were only two Anglican churches, both in the city of Toliara. Now there are more than 80 Anglican churches scattered across the south of Madagascar and each year the number of new Christians and churches is increasing. Apart from the bishop and his wife, there are only six Malagasy clergy in the Diocese. A big boost this year has been the appointment of an assistant bishop to share the load with Bishop Todd. We were delighted to share in the joyful consecration of Bishop Samitiana in the capital, Antananarivo, in February.”
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Derek and Jane Waller

Mind the gap!

Derek has been asked by Bishop Todd to focus on disciplemaking in this diocese of young Christians, and to develop and support the Rooted in Jesus adult programme within the diocese – with only four parish clergy and such a huge area it has proved hard to provide all the support to group leaders that is needed. As he and Jane contemplate this task, the phrase which springs to Derek’s mind is ‘Mind the gap!’. He continues:

“What is the gap? It’s between the confession of faith of these new Christians, expressed through baptism and confirmation, and their understanding of that faith; also between what they say in Sunday worship and the lives they lead. Many of these Christians are young in their faith and have had little Christian teaching, and they can easily fall back into traditional practices and lifestyle. Our task is to help them to grow so that this gap is reduced and they can play their full part in serving the church and transforming their communities.”

Derek is taking a hands on approach with Rooted in Jesus:

“I decided to lead two pilot groups locally, one in the Cathedral and one in the city of Toliara. I wanted to know how RinJ works from the inside.  We’ve now covered the first three sessions.  These have been very positive. The groups are enthusiastic and especially enjoy the small groups where they can express their views. In particular, the city group has been chosen with potential leaders in mind and so promises well for the future.”

Meanwhile Derek and Jane are getting to grips with the complex and challenging Malagasy language. They have asked for a reprint of the Malagasy books as new leaders are trained.

Growing younger!

The fastest growing segment of the population in Madagascar is children: over 40% of the population are aged under 14, and until now there has been no resource material for them available in Malagasy. So last year Bishop Todd decided to introduce Rooted in Jesus Junior to the diocese. Sunday School coordinator Nolavy Arisoa translated the course, and Sunday School teachers came from every parish to a four day training conference. Recent news from Bishop Todd is encouraging:

“Just a quick note regarding RinJ Junior. I went to Rev. Donne’s district (Fort Dauphin) this past couple of weeks for my annual pastor visits, baptism, confirmations, laying of cornerstones and etc. One thing which came up at every church (11) was that they ALL have started RinJ Junior groups, which began back in January. Some of the children were quoting scriptural passages they had memorized to the congregation. They are really excited about using this discipleship making program. They have even made T-shirts with the RinJ logos promoting the program. Every one of the teachers has one. I don’t have any idea how children are participating in this but if I was a guessing man, I would say between 300-500 children. Thanks for training our Sunday School teachers last year.”

 

Discipleship made real

Learning to follow Jesus is not, of course, just for other people. This is Revd Patsy:

“Today, Todd and I drove into town for errands. Errands always require patience as Plan A almost never works out and one could go long into the alphabet before reaching plan G, which I call plan God. As we turn into the office building, I notice a large trash dumpster half full with tons of rubbish surrounding it. A young boy and girl are happily chatting as they pick through trash knee deep in search of treasures. The girl stops to play. A swing has been constructed out of rubbish twine and hung on the metal poles of the overhanging billboard. As she freely swings just inches over the trash, she smiles and sings as if life is wonderful. Never mind that she is in the dumpster. Never mind that she is searching for food scraps for her malnourished body. Instead, she swings contently as though she is in a beautiful green meadow with chirping song birds and red roses. What a positive attitude! Can I also find joy in the moment and happiness despite my circumstances? I have periods of greed and discontentment even though I have everything I could ever need, and more. May I learn to be content in all situations, just like this young girl swinging on twine in the trash dump.”
Toliara Fuji 2013 (137)

Children playing in the debris of a cyclone, Tulear

Derek offers this reminder:

“We don’t embark on this exciting work of discipling Christians from a position of superiority. On the contrary, we are all too aware of the gap between the life Christ beckons us to live and the reality of our own lives. We often fall short. This gap is not only in the life of individual Christians but in our lives together. Our churches also struggle to live up to their calling as the body of Christ. More than 20 years of parish experience have shown us this. One way of summing up the Christian life (individual and corporate) is our attempt, with the grace of God, to narrow the gap between our present lives and the life of Christ. Please pray for us in our language learning and desire to grow in Christ alongside our brothers and sisters. May we, in the power of the Spirit, mind the gap! And here is a question to ponder:  How can you mind the gap (i.e. recognise it and do something about it) between the way you live and the life Christ is calling you to follow?”

Can you help?

The diocese needs more copies of both the adult and junior leaders’ books so that the work of training new leaders to serve the growing Christian community of Toliara can continue. If you would be willing to help us print more books for Toliara and other dioceses who need them we would be immensely grateful – please visit our support page here or simply click the purple button at the foot of this page.

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Find out more

  • Read the McGregors’ latest newsletter here.
  • Read the Wallers’ newsletter here.
  • Visit the Madagascar page on the Rooted in Jesus website here.
  • Sign up to receive automatic notification of Rooted in Jesus blog posts in the right hand panel.

Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by The Mathetes Trust. To find out more visit our websites www.rootedinjesus.net and www.mathetestrust.org.

Posted by Alison Morgan 25th June 2018

 

 

Not letting the grass grow…

The role of the Rooted in Jesus diocesan coordinator is key to making strong and fruitful disciples. John Musaasizi supports the group leaders in the Diocese of Mityana, alongside his colleague Jethro. John sends regular accounts of their visits round the diocese, sharing his evident joy as he watches the Lord at work. He has written to tell us about his recent trips to Myanzi and Ssaala:

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A Rooted in Jesus group at Ssaala

Rooted in Jesus allows no space for grass to grow under one’s feet

“Rooted in Jesus allows no space for grass to grow under one’s feet. You have got to keep on moving, monitoring the growth of the Lord’s disciples stationed in various churches. It is a ministry that generates joy in one’s life as one watches and participates in the growth of disciple making. As the Lord promised to be with us in this glorious activity of disciple making, His presence is indeed conspicuous. He continually speaks through His ancient Words to bring forth meaning applicable to our daily life experiences, in ways we have not heard before. So no one leaves Rooted in Jesus assemblies without taking home something new for his/her people. We are enjoying what we are doing and it is a life time ministry.

I visited Myanzi Church twice and I have the confidence that Eric the trained leader of Myanzi church can continue without me for some time.

I suggested to him that teaching Rooted in Jesus to the whole church has several advantages over teaching a group of 12 while each member has attendance gaps.  Alternatively, it can be simultaneous activity, dealing with a small group of 12 to 15 people on different days of the week; but leaving part of Sunday morning service for the entire church membership. We will handle what works best within our context.

Today I went to Luteete church. I wanted to follow up Jenifer who replaced Annette. Annette was transferred to Nabiti church. Before her departure, she prepared Jenifer to take over from her. Annette has bloomed where she was planted. She has a group of 15 members fully engaged in Rooted Jesus training. But Jethro and I prepared her to handle the entire worship assembly discipleship training.

Prior to going to Luteete church, I visited Ssekanyonyi parish to find out how Rev. John Moses was faring with Rooted in Jesus training. I learnt from him that he had done great work at Namukomago church. He suggested to take me there and see for myself and I said yes. In the near future, Moses and I will move together to Namukomago.

I would like to thank you for your prayers. Our success has primarily depended upon prayers both in training and leading big numbers of people to Jesus. Glory be to His Name forever.”

 

In Ssaala the church was packed…

“The church was packed. Children made it almost impossible for me to get away from the pulpit. I had to welcome Robinah who rushed from the place where she had sat to come forward and receive Christ. I put my hand upon her and it was obvious the Lord had already claimed her life. After she had confessed Christ publicly, church members raised their hands to pray for her. These were glorious moments. All church worshippers shared them.

I had to leave church before anybody else. I had to meet Esther the 90 year old lady and her granddaughter Alice. I wanted to know how they were faring in the Lord Jesus, especially Alice who was one week old in Christ. All was well with them. When we leave after ministry, the Holy Spirit continues with it.

Prior to my going to Esther’s home, Robinah the newly born in Christ brought Stephen, a young man in his late twenties. She introduced him as her young brother who also wanted to recommit his life to the Lordship of Jesus. I made no hesitation to pray for Stephen and he ended up recommitting his life to the Lord Jesus. Rooted in Jesus training is the only way new and old Christians can be kept focused on our Lord Jesus and ministering to His people.

Robinah is married and has 6 children namely: Christine, Jane, Elisha, Sarah, George and Milly. Her brother Stephen has Gift, Daniella and Daniel as his children. He is not properly married in church yet but he is ready to go by the direction of the Lord in that matter. Because Robinah, Stephen, Esther and Alice live in the same village, they can constitute a Rooted in Jesus group in their village. Some other church members can join them to form a group of 12 members. I will visit Ssaala a number of times to make sure that Rooted in Jesus group not only takes root in one of the villages of Ssala, but also that the group is prepared to take on villages across Ssaala Church for Christ and Rooted in Jesus training.”

 

Why focus on discipleship?

Discipleship is a ten year priority for the Anglican Church internationally, supported by the 2016 report Intentional Discipleship and Disciple-making. John Kafwanka, Director for Mission for the Anglican Communion, explains:

“The broad theme is a desire that we get to the point as a Communion where the culture and language of discipleship gets embedded in the culture and life of the church – so that faith in Jesus has a transformative impact in our workplaces, social, professional and family life. Also that our faith becomes central to who we are – not something we pick up as and when it is convenient.”

That is what we believe is happening in the Diocese of Mityana. To find out more, visit the Rooted in Jesus website.

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Can you help?

Diocesan coordinators are chosen for their commitment to the task of making and growing disciples. John’s commitment is such that he is willing to sacrifice not just his time but also his own resources as he travels round the diocese guiding and supporting the group leaders, who also give their own time and energy to help others follow Jesus. John writes frequently, sharing his joy as people come to faith and are released into ministry.

All this is possible only if we can provide the training and books that are needed to help people become truly rooted in Jesus. If you would be willing to help us support the ministry of people like John as they seek to make disciples across rural Africa, we would be immensely grateful – please visit our support page or simply click the purple button.

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Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by The Mathetes Trust. To find out more visit our websites www.rootedinjesus.net and www.mathetestrust.org.

Posted 6th May 2018

Easter 2018: Looking back, looking ahead

“For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.


“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 
 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

1 Corinthians 5.14-21

The Crucifixion, by Emilia Maggio.

Posted by Rev Alison Morgan Good Friday 2018