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?”
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.
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!”
We are immensely grateful to all those who helped in so many ways to make this mission possible.
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To find out more, or to get in touch with us, visit the Rooted in Jesus website.
Posted 20th November 2018 by Alison Morgan