In July 2015 we sent our second Rooted in Jesus team to the Diocese of Katanga in the DR Congo. The Diocese, in the south east of the country, is the size of England. The population of some 10 million lives in a scattering of towns and villages, with 1.5 million in the mining industries centred on Lubumbashi. The team held conferences in Lubumbashi and Kapolowe before travelling to Kalemie, the eastern missionary area of the diocese. This is an area of the country much affected by civil war and characterised by extreme poverty.
The team began in Lubumbashi by asking for feedback on the existing groups. They learned that there had been much preparatory prayer before announcing groups to congregations or inviting outsiders; some groups comprised all church members, some all non-members, some a mix; all were mixed age and gender. There were many testimonies of relationships deepened, marriages changed and of healings.
They moved on to Kapolowe, three hours away by road and in a deeply rural area. The conference was held in a classroom wing of the local school. 28 men and 26 women attended, representing each parish in the area. Some had travelled 105 km by bicycle and then taxi along rough dirt roads. The team found that people were poor, mainly farmers, but so beautiful, attentive, with wonderful worship, and so hungry for more of God. The invitation to receive the Holy Spirit saw many blessed – local culture is such that physical response to the Spirit was freely made, with dancing, laughing and sighing.
The third conference was held in Kalemie. 110 people attended from all the local denominations, with some cycling 250 miles over six days, sleeping at the roadside. The team were told there are 61 Anglican RinJ groups meeting in this area, all established since the first conference a year ago. Coordinator James Muyundo explained:
“Our RinJ Co-ordination is very new and it is in the post conflict area of DR Congo in Tanganyika Province. During the conflict period people have lost many things: lives and properties. The people who could support us have lost even their lives. This new coordination in a new Diocese needs new supports, new resources, new plans, and new strategies to make the dream of having a Diocese come true!”
It is clear that in this place where so many have so little, where suffering has been great and the future remains uncertain, people are committing their lives to Jesus and finding real joy as they learn to trust and to follow him. A year ago Bishop Elisha Tendwa wrote to us: “Prophet Ezekiel saw the valley of dry bones, so we were a valley of dry bones – but now through the RinJ team God breathed new life into a valley of dry bones, created waves of revival, waves of growth and spiritual life to His people in Congo.” This year the evidence for that was clear. The team invited those who had been using RinJ to share their stories, and the following testimonies were shared with those team members who speak swahili – bearing witness both to personal transformation and church growth:
St John’s Church, Makata Parish
Pastor Mwembo says: “We give thanks to RinJ, we were 70 members and we now are 130, including children. We have eight groups each with 6 members. They evangelise 4 families who have now become Christians.”
“Gabrielle Kaputo fled 600 km from the north, leaving behind everything she owned. She said she became encouraged by the teachings of RinJ both physically and spiritually. She had a problem of bearing children. But after RinJ Conference last year, she got prayers for healing and now her problem had overcome and she had a baby.”
“Susanna Umba gives thanks for the teachings. She benefited through reading Jeremiah 17:7–8. She began working with children; there are now 28 children in Sunday School. She evangelised one family and as a result the whole family became Christians. Although she faced hardships she didn’t give up. She continued to serve God. She started women’s groups. She started with 3 or 4 women but up to now there are 15 new members. Some women are good in leading worship and read the readings during morning service.”
“Pastor Kabange gives thanks for the RinJ conference. They started with 2 groups with 5 members each. Up to now they have 4 groups – almost 20 members each. A whole church – 120 including adults and children” -–above, complete with tarpaulin extension!
After attending the RinJ Seminar last year Ven Ngoi Lwakabila Vincent started 5 groups with 4 members each. The number increased. He started another 5 groups in sub-parishes. The total number in the whole Parish is now 70 members. He and his colleague Banze Mukangala cycled 250 miles to attend the conference.
Revd Kabeye Katengu Bertin – “RinJ teachings helped a family from Pygmy society. This family were totally pagans; they used to play a part in witchdoctor activities. A man who was a head of family had been possessed by demons during his activities. When ‘Rooted in Jesus’ teachings reached in their village, a woman from that family was attracted by them and she joined the RinJ group. As the days went on, she started to influence her husband, as a result, her husband also joined the group. He handed over all the things which were being used in witch activities to the church to burn so that he will remain free. Up to now, that family including father, mother and three children are Christians and they are all RinJ group members. The total number of Church members at Lukwangulo Parish is 43 including adults and children.”
The team was led by Revd Matthew Grayshon, with members from the UK, Canada, South Africa, and Tanzania, working with diocesan coordinators Stephane Makata and James Mayundo, and their colleague Revd Bertin Subi. The bishops are Kasima Corneille and Elisha Tendwa.
To read a report from James Mayundo click here.
For other recent reports on Rooted in Jesus visit the website and look for ‘what’s new’.
To catch up on feedback from the dioceses visit the news page here.
Posted 26th October 2016 by Revd Dr Alison Morgan