The Diocese of Aru is located in the far north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, not far from the borders with Uganda and South Sudan. Rooted in Jesus was first introduced there ten years ago. At that time the Diocesan Christian Education Coordinator explained that whilst personal faith may be strong among the clergy, few people had a real understanding of their faith, and most had no access to materials in their own language. “Our vision,” he wrote, “is to see gospel saturation so that every man, woman and child has a daily encounter with Jesus through word or deed.”
Since then, the area has been through a time of great political and social instability, and then of course came the disruption of Covid. But just over a year ago CMS mission partner Peter Wyard got in touch with us. Peter is now overseeing Christian Education in the diocese, and he wanted to launch an ambitious programme of further training for Rooted in Jesus.
Peter assembled a local training team of 5 people, and together they planned an series of archdeaconry training conferences and followup visits. Translations into Lugbara, Kakwa and Alur are under way, and the new groups are making good progress. Peter writes:
“One of my main roles here in Aru Diocese is Coordinator of Christian Education. That covers the whole spectrum of lay Christian education and discipleship. We have decided to concentrate on discipleship, and we are using Rooted in Jesus as the basis of our programme. The plan is to roll out the course by means of a series of five archdeaconry training courses in each part of this large diocese, with the aim of establishing an RinJ group first in every parish, and eventually in every chapel.
“We are following the principle that it is best to run the conferences, and the RinJ groups themselves, in people’s mother tongue wherever possible. This a big challenge in our diocese where we have several different mother tongues and no effective common language. Our ultimate goal is to produce all 4 books in Lugbarati, Kakwa, Alur and Lingala. This is a slow and painstaking process, but the reward would be great, as the Diocese would then have a really solid base of material for Christian education in the mother tongue of most of our people.
“The conferences have been a spiritual high for the team and for the participants, but the really hard work has been in the follow up, which we are doing as diligently as possible.
“In Congo there are many things that hinder the regular meeting of RinJ groups: illness, death and funerals, rain and awful roads … But the biggest challenge is the low level of many pastors in terms of education and general capacity. So the pastoral follow-up of RinJ groups has been very hard, but also fascinating and rewarding. In Aru archdeaconry the 9 original groups have now become 17, and in Opinyani and Ekanga archdeaconries 8 of the 10 groups are going well.
“At the end of Book 1, we asked each group to share their testimonies. These have been extremely encouraging, giving evidence of a real difference being made in the lives of individuals, church and community. Here are a few:
- “Before RinJ we were in ignorance about Jesus Christ, what he asked his disciples to do, and how to know the will of God. This teaching is very important, and if we all put it into practice, our church will truly grow and change.” Maman Claudine
- “Thank you for this teaching. It has built a good relation between me and the other Christians (in my parish). We have seen a change in the practical life of our Christians.” Pastor Dudu
- “After many temptations, I had really gone backwards in my Christian life. With this teaching, and the memory verses, I have been comforted. I begin to find peace again in my life, which I will really teach and spread in my family.” Jean
- “This teaching has helped me a lot. It has taken away my shame. Now I have become a member of the church choir. I will continue to follow this teaching and will also be baptised on Christmas Day. Matt. 7.7 gives me hope: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Régine
Peter and his team ask us to continue praying for them as they work to support the group leaders; for those working on translations; and for the oversight of the programme when his time in Aru comes to an end.
Pastoral commitments are written up in Kakwa; the kitchen team; preparing to lead a practice group session
Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by The Mathetes Trust.
Posted 25th January 2021