Rooted in Jesus in Tanzania
The last few months have been the busiest ever for Rooted in Jesus, our discipleship programme for Africa. We sent teams to no fewer than eight dioceses in Tanzania. Teams were either UK or Tanzanian led, with members from both countries. There are too many stories to tell, but we saw humble and inspiring leadership from the host bishops:
- Bishop Sospeter Ndenza said, “I was born again 35 years ago and I have been a bishop for 7 years, but the Rooted in Jesus Conference has done something in my ministry, not only as a bishop, but as a Christian and believer.”
- After a conference training Sunday School teachers to use Rooted in Jesus Junior, Bishop Hilkiah Omindo said, “The Gospel must be properly preached, properly led and properly resourced to support the engine of the church, and it is children who are the engine, the strength of the church. We are just tyres; nearly worn out. Our children need knowledge; if we have children who have the Word of God the Anglican church will go far.”
UK team members have also returned challenged and renewed for ministry at home. One wrote, “It is almost beyond my ability to explain what a difference it makes to visit an African country as opposed to viewing programmes about it”. Another said “The trip will impact my own ministry in a number of ways, but chiefly my re-learning that I need to rely completely on God”. Another commented, “For my own ministry, I am hoping that the African concept of ‘fully living in the moment’ will help me to be more effective engaging with people and giving them time, without conveying that I am too busy, or needing to rush off to someone or some other place. Letting go and letting God will also, I hope, be a change in the way I operate.” And one hoped “I am praying that things will never be the same again for me and that God indeed will bring new fruit in my life and ministry as a result of all the seed planting that was taking place in me during our time away.” Many team members talk about the impact on their ministry here at home – and we thank God for that.
Looking ahead, in November we will be holding the first national African Rooted in Jesus conference in Tanzania. 13 of Tanzania’s 26 dioceses now use RinJ, and we have invited all the bishops and coordinators to come together for 3 days in Arusha. These are the leaders and future leaders of the Anglican Church of Tanzania, and the conference will be a key factor for future growth. It will launch RinJ as a nationally owned and supported initiative, under the leadership of Bishop Stanley Hotay, Canon James Almasi and Canon Jacob Oyange. The guest speaker is Bishop James Newcome from the Diocese of Carlisle, who will share their experience of putting ‘Growing Disciples’ at the heart of the vision of a rural diocese. Please pray for us as we take this step of faith.
Rooted in Jesus in Burundi, Rwanda and South Africa
Meanwhile another team, led by Kevin Roberts, the archdeacon of Carlisle, headed out to offer conferences in the Diocese of Kigali, Rwanda, and Bujumbura, Burundi. We all know the context; church historian Timothy Yates sums it up: “It has been profoundly disturbing to many that areas such as Ruanda and Burundi, with a 90 per cent nominally Christian population, could be the context of ethnic violence of frightening savagery… The issue is whether such great numbers can be rooted, taught and nurtured, so that their Christianity is not superficial adherence but a deeply implanted moral and spiritual formation.” Archbishop Bernard Ntahouri needs no convincing, and he is currently looking to see how RinJ can be coordinated and supported right across the province.
In Kigali the conference, superbly organised by Diocesan Youth coordinator Manasseh Tuyizere, was attended by 75 youth leaders and 25 catechists. All of the Rooted in Jesus coursebooks were translated into Kinyarwanda before the conference began, and the delegates returned to their parishes eager to start Rwanda’s first Rooted in Jesus groups. Kevin writes that ‘it was clear from all we spoke to that this is a Diocese with a clear sense of strategic purpose, underpinned by a deep passion for God and the gospel.’ There were many testimonies of healing, repentance and forgiveness in both places – these, and the team leaders’ reports, can all be read on www.rootedinjesus.net.
In South Africa Rooted in Jesus is now run by Bishop Martin Breytenbach and Revd Trevor Pearce, and RinJ is spreading across the province. Reports from the Diocese of George say that “feet are being made brave and hearts are being opened to reach out into the community beyond the congregation” – and a lot of other things besides! Next stop, the Diocese of Natal.
Posted 6th September 2013 by Revd Dr Alison Morgan