Expecting the Unexpected in the Diocese of Soroti

“Being part of the RinJ team in Soroti Diocese was demanding, thought-provoking, inspiring, and profoundly affecting. People’s commitment to learning, their gratitude to God and to us, and their sheer joy in the Lord will be abiding memories. So will the impression of an Anglican diocese growing in number and vitality. The learning with RinJ is two-way!”  Steve Coneys

Rooted in Jesus was first introduced to the Diocese of Soroti, Uganda, in 2017, and in November 2018 a team led by Revd Mike Cotterell returned to provide further training and encouragement. Coordinator Emmanuel Elianu had arranged two conferences, the first a followup gathering in Soroti, the second a conference for new leaders in Kaberamaido. Rooted in Jesus is used in the Ateso language in Soroti, but had been newly translated into Kumam for those in Kaberamaido.

The conferences were well attended, with 175 participants in Soroti; some of them were already using Rooted in Jesus, but many were coming for the first time. In Kaberamaido the conference was attended by 70 mostly lay people who had never been to anything like this, and were soon enthusiastically worshipping and sitting on the edge of benches listening and very engaged. In both places about a third of the participants were women.

God at work through prayer

As so often in Africa, joy is matched by pain. In Soroti Mike reported that “we are very pleased and thankful for all God has done. Everyone at the conference was united, excited and very clearly blessed by the teaching. The times of personal response were deep and powerful.  Engagement and ability to grasp and to apply were enormous. Everyone had fun and loved it.” And yet he also wrote of a young woman called Eunice, who said that both her parents were shot on the same day and then her daughter disappeared from nursery and has not been found. Eunice found some comfort during the ministry talk, and was able to pray with the team. In Kaberamaido, a very poor, rural area, they learned that some girls marry at the age of twelve, and inevitably have a high number of children themselves. Life is far from easy even when nothing goes wrong.

Prayer was also a feature of the conference in Kaberamaido, with most of the participants saying that their prayers had been answered. Three quarters of them said they had been healed either emotionally or spiritually and that they were sleeping better; sixteen had been released from fear and six had experienced physical healing. Given the intensity with which people had responded to the invitation to confess their sins and receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit, the team were not surprised. Worship, Mike says, was loud and wonderful. “The final day ended with beautiful wild, loud dance and worship. No one wanted to go home.  ‘We have learned a lot’, they said.”The team often discussed highlights from the day or the conference, but they were hard to identify because there were so many! Perhaps one that is telling, was when some people received their RinJ booklet on the last morning, they recieved it with joy and immediately sat down and prayed over it. They had received something precious.

So what was the unexpected?

The children. They were everywhere. Some teams rest in between sessions, but this team didn’t feel the need for that. In Soroti they filled some spare moments by teaching a group of curious children the game ‘What’s the Time, Mr Lion?’, and ended up giving an impromptu telling of a Bible story to local onlookers on the dirt track. The children took the game back to their primary school, and the next day another gang of unknown children turned up out of nowhere asking to play the same game. From then on the conference was overrun with primary school children, many taking to the fringes of the workshops and ministry times, and some asking for prayer.

It was the same in Kaberamaido, where the Church was located very near the Church Primary School; flocks of children came and went from early afternoon into the conference. They were welcomed and encouraged to sit in on sessions and workshops, which they did in large numbers – often outnumbering the adults – and were always very well behaved. Mike reported, “Dozens of these children are our friends now (in and out of the church and listening to many things) and we want to do something special for them. So by arrangement with the Archdeacon and the Primary School Headteacher, the team offered to run a two hour programme for the school in Church immediately after the conference. About 200 children were kept spell-bound for 2 1/2 hours of story-telling, drama and song. The enthusiasm and engagement was exceptional, and the session ended in everyone kneeling for a prayer of commitment led by a local leader.

A transition moment

Coordinator Emmanuel Elianu is leaving his post in order to undertake further study. He has handed over to Pascal Odele. Pascal demonstrated great keenness for Rooted in Jesus, which Mike feels will be a good jump-start to his new role as Mission Coordinator. And the Diocese as a whole is preparing for the election of a successor to Bishop George Erwau, who retired last year. So it is our hope that Rooted in Jesus will continue to provide a catalyst for growth during the interregnum – it’s all too easy for a diocese to lose momentum while focussing on the election of a new bishop.

Blessing in two directions

We always find that blessing travels in two directions during a Rooted in Jesus conference. We asked the team members to tell us about their experiences. Diana High, a lay leader in her local church (below, left), replied: “My most memorable moment was during the prayer workshops when I got the delegates to be quiet and listen to the Holy Spirit.  One man got up afterwards and said ‘I thought you were joking and then God said to me …’.  Each time someone had received something from the Lord.  It was such a delight to see their faces and for them to realise that God does speak to them.”

Steve Coneys, Mission & Growth Adviser in the Diocese of Canterbury (below, right), wrote: “The quality of relationships, level of mutual support, sense of humour, times of prayer and sharing combined to make this a valuable part of the experience. Since returning I’ve realised that, while it is true that what team members have to offer is our ‘education’, the experience of being a team member is probably as much one of being a pilgrim as an educator. In this short time, we were welcomed to stand on the holy ground of African Christians’ experience and their knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. Their gentleness, gratitude, joy in the Lord, commitment and eagerness to learn spoke powerfully to us of our life in Christ as Jesus’ disciples. I’m interested in seeking deep rooted culture change towards missional church in the Diocese of Canterbury. Here is a church, recognisably Anglican, where the clergy and lay leaders we observed seemed to enjoy working together, the people seemed receptive to learning and to change, and the church is growing using a strategy of planting new congregations. It can happen!”

Let it be our prayer that it will!

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

Posted 4th January 2019

by Alison Morgan

“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.

Messumba Fuji (90)

 

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.

Natal 2018 copy

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

Decade banner

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.”

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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

Rooted in Jesus Annual Report 2017

OVERVIEW

Rooted in Jesus is a practical discipleship programme in which trained leaders facilitate small groups of people who wish to deepen their discipleship. It is not a Bible study programme – it is an applied, interactive programme which aims to change people’s lives, churches and communities. Designed specifically for Africa, Rooted in Jesus covers the basics of Christian faith and ministry from an African cultural perspective, using only resources that are commonly and freely available.

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Rooted in Jesus has now been running for 16 years, and Rooted in Jesus Junior, the companion programme for use with children aged 8-14, for 6 years. During that time it has been translated into 42 languages and introduced to over 80 dioceses, denominations and theological colleges in 16 African countries. It’s always hard to measure the impact of a programme, but during those 16 years we have trained over 12,000 people to lead groups, and we estimate that over 100,000 people (adults and children) have joined groups. We continue to receive remarkable testimonies from group leaders and local coordinators, and many of these are posted on our website. Rooted in Jesus has become a key resource for the African church, and it has been a privilege to watch its growth and to support those using it.

CREATING A CULTURE OF DISCIPLESHIP

Rooted in Jesus is inspired by the Great Commission, the command to go and make disciples (Matt 28.18-20). We understand a disciple of Jesus to be a person not just who knows Jesus or has made a commitment to Jesus, but a person who is learning to become like Jesus, both in life and in ministry. Disciples of Jesus live as Jesus taught them to live, they minister as Jesus taught them to minister, and they help others to become disciples and do these things too (2 Tim 2.2). And they do this not as private individuals but together – ‘the plural of disciple is church.’ [1]

None of this happens by accident; it happens when we take steps to make it happen. If there is an intentional culture of discipleship and disciple-making within a diocese or network, then the lives of individuals, churches and communities within that network will be transformed. Discipleship is not just one of many things that we do: it is the core from which everything else flows.

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ROOTED IN JESUS TRAINING IN 2017

This is the vision which we have continued to pursue over the last year. In 2017 we sent teams to facilitate Rooted in Jesus and Rooted in Jesus Junior training conferences in Malawi, Kenya, Madagascar and Uganda. We provided further financial support to the Diocese of Kajo-Keji in exile and to the Province of Tanzania, where Rooted in Jesus is directed by Bishop Stanley Hotay. We provided fresh supplies of books to Uganda, Tanzania and DR Congo as groups there progressed and new groups were established. We printed five new translations, and published a Rooted in Jesus Junior Training Manual for use by conference facilitators and diocesan coordinators. The challenges of long distance communication remain real, but we have sought to maintain active links with dioceses and coordinators, many of whom have sent us regular updates during the year.

Malawi : Diocese of Upper Shire

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The first conference of 2017 took place in February in Blantyre, where a team led by Revd John Lee returned to offer a second RinJ conference for the Diocese of Upper Shire. Coordinator Elliott Litereko reports that the mission statement of the Diocese, a Christ-centred Church that is commissioned for discipleship and the proclamation of the gospel, fits closely with the objectives of Rooted in Jesus. He adds:

“This is why there is a tremendous growth of Rooted in Jesus groups in various parishes. We have received good reports from group leaders that they have formulated means of supporting themselves if one member of their group is sick or admitted to hospital. It is one way of preaching about love in action. Priests and laity are working together in the proclamation of the Gospel to unbelievers. In our context we target Muslims; we regard them as a mission field, hence intensifying evangelism. The Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire warmly welcomed Rooted in Jesus, and we have already started reaping the fruits of the seed that was planted two years ago.”

31 clergy and 49 lay leaders attended the conference; the Diocese has appointed regional coordinators and plans to run further regional training conferences.

Kenya : Diocese of Butere

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In June a team led by Revd Richard Morgan travelled to the Diocese of Butere in Kenya to launch Rooted in Jesus for the first time. Butere is a well organised diocese with a focus on mission and discipleship – hundreds of people had made a profession of faith in a recent mission. The two conferences were organised by Benjamin Kibara, the Diocesan Secretary for Mission and Ministry Training, who explained:

“As a diocese we are very keen to start the Rooted in Jesus discipleship program. We have 48 parishes, 50 ordained clergy, 13 associate ministers, 176 evangelists, and 378 lay readers. We have already laid a structure where all the Christians in the diocese will be part of a small group of 10-12 people for discipleship.”

Not surprisingly given this background, these two 4 day conferences turned out to be the best attended we had ever held, with a huge turnout of over 300 invited delegates. Afterwards Bishop Timothy Wambunya remarked:

“We are using Rooted in Jesus as a foundational course to train our pastorate leaders, and we are hoping that they will establish groups, and then we can use those groups to disciple the ten thousand or so Christians in the diocese. We are now beginning to engage in serious discipleship.”

By November groups were meeting in most of the parishes, and encouraging reports were received from the clergy at the annual diocesan review and planning retreat. Benjamin reported “The impact has already been felt in many ways:

  • Many have grown in their faith and practice
  • Commitment and turn up in local church prayer meetings has increased
  • Stewardship and giving has improved as disciples get rooted in Christ.
  • Marriages that were at the verge of breaking up have been restored.
  • More people have volunteered to serve in church
  • The RinJ books were recommended as the confirmation books in the diocese.”

The diocese has invited us to facilitate a follow-up conference in 2018.

Madagascar : Dioceses of Fianarantsoa and Toliara

In August a team led by Canon Jacob Robert travelled to the Dioceses of Fianarantsoa and Toliara in Madagascar to introduce Rooted in Jesus Junior. Both dioceses had been using Rooted in Jesus to to disciple adults since 2011. Both are young dioceses with parishes scattered over an enormous geographical area, and both are subject to debilitating cyclones and short on staff and resources – but both are experiencing steady growth. In Fianarantsoa coordinator Ven Jean Flobert explained that RinJ is in use in every parish, that many groups have completed all four books, and that “we no longer give out certificates, because everybody would have one.” Over the next four days the team worked with 87 keen Sunday School teachers from across the diocese, offering the first training and the first resource material for use with children, painstakingly translated into Malagasy by Nolavy Arisoa. By the end of the year Ven Flobert reported that all Sunday Schools are now using RinJ Junior, with over 1200 children in groups.

The Diocese of Toliara, inaugurated just 4 years ago, is led by Bishop Todd and Revd Patsy McGregor. In that short time 70 churches have been planted, a cathedral has been built, and many local ministers ordained. 40 Sunday School teachers had been invited to learn how to disciple children using RinJ Junior – and, a first for us, to bring the children with them. This meant that the teachers were able to try out the new material in situ with the children, which gave them much greater confidence. The diocese have just recruited a CMS partner, Derek Waller, to oversee discipleship in the diocese; he will work closely with Revd Donné Ratsimavo, the RinJ coordinator and one of the pioneers of the diocese.

Uganda: Diocese of Mityana

October and November are often the busiest times of year for Rooted in Jesus, and 2017 saw us facilitating conferences in 4 dioceses, all in Uganda. The first was Mityana, where RinJ has been running for 2 years, overseen by Canon John Musaasizi and Revd Jethro Ssebulime, and supported by the link deanery of Overton in the Diocese of Salisbury. Over that time John has sent many inspiring reports from his numerous visits to group leaders around the diocese. The team was led by Revd Tim Carter, and the two conferences were attended by 150 existing and new leaders, theological college students, lay readers and ordinands. Bishop Stephen Kaziimba gave a new Bible to every participant, and the conferences were marked by testimony and prophecy. Mityana is an example of a diocese where sustained and determined followup by a local coordinator has proved to be the key to growth. It was also one of the places where the visiting team members experienced as great a blessing as the participants – and this too is one of the things we pray for, that the visiting team would experience a fresh anointing for ministry at home. Nick James spoke for many when he wrote afterwards:

“The visit was exhilarating in many ways. Such appreciative people, such vibrant worship and such a wholesome, challenging course (I felt personally challenged by some of the material…). I think it more than lived up to my expectations on account of the people we met who were on fire for the Lord, despite little material resource. The chief impact on my ministry is a refreshing of my own call to make disciples, and a firm understanding that Ugandan Christians face exactly the same fundamental issues as I do: am I willing to trust God and follow him wholeheartedly? ”

Uganda: Dioceses of Karamoja and Soroti

In November a team led by Revd Mike Cotterell travelled to the Diocese of Soroti to introduced Rooted in Jesus for the first time, and to the Diocese of Karamoja for a followup conference. Karamoja is emerging from a time of hardship and conflict, and Bishop Joseph Abura and the diocese have played a key part in helping bring peace to the region. With just 11 parishes, it has few resources, but a growing determination to foster a culture of discipleship. Coordinator John Onyao wrote that

“Like a lot of churches, Karamoja Diocese has a number of people who have been Christians for a long time, are faithful servants of Christ and his Church, are members of congregations, but are in danger of always being ‘empty’ spiritually. We decided that we needed to do something which would rekindle our first love of Christ.”

A small introductory conference was held in 2016, and 23 groups had been established; most of the leaders, John says, had reported growing numbers of people giving their lives to Christ, and that the prayer lives and lifestyles of group members had changed. But he also reported that hunger had interrupted the progress of the groups as people had dispersed to seek food; just one of the many difficulties faced by the African church. The conference was attended by 84 people, and was marked by testimony, with pastor James Chegem reporting:

Rooted in Jesus has done a lot in the church I am leading; I used to struggle a lot but when I introduced RinJ it has helped me to grow the church numerically and spiritually. A woman called Lucia had never gone to school but kept on coming to attend RinJ meetings, and learnt how to memorize verses; now she is a good evangelist and quotes scriptures in the Bible which she has memorized. Many of the members who attended RinJ meetings in the church are now committed to church programmes. The church now has 300 members in attendance. Rooted in Jesus should not stop.”

From Karamoja the team travelled to Soroti, where they were welcomed by Bishop George Erwau and Diocesan Mission Coordinator Emmanuel Elianu. This conference had been long in the planning; all the Rooted in Jesus books had been translated into the local language of Ateso, and an astonishing 233 people turned up, all of whom committed themselves to running a group on their return home. It was the largest single conference we had ever held, and the responses revealed a high degree of blessing, with many answers to prayer for physical or inner healing, and increased commitment to ministry. The Karamoja coordinator John Onyao joined the team in Soroti, and commented afterwards:

“We live in unpredictable times and face challenges. RinJ’s vocation is located at the crossroads where renewal and mission meet. Renewal without mission quickly becomes self indulgence. Mission without renewal often results in disillusion. Renewal for mission lies at the heart of the Spirit’s activity in the church. Unpredictable times and discontinuous change make discernment the Church’s most critical capacity for our day. Discernment takes place where Word and Spirit meet, not this time at a crossroads but at a junction, the junction between past and the future.”

 

REPORTS FROM ELSEWHERE

We try to keep in touch with all those using Rooted in Jesus; feedback enables us to pray in a focussed way for those using the course – we have a dedicated group of intercessors. It also enables us to provide ongoing advice and support, and to ensure that those using the course have access to the books they need, whether printed locally or shipped from the UK.

Rooted in Jesus is run independently in both TANZANIA and SOUTH AFRICA. The annual Tanzanian Rooted in Jesus Coordinator Conference was hosted by Bishop Stanley Hotay in Arusha. RinJ has now been introduced to 18 of the 27 dioceses in the Province, and between them they provide a snapshot of the joys and challenges associated with the ministry of discipleship. In some dioceses RinJ has had a transformative effect, with group members going on to train as evangelists and pastors, children in every parish learning what it means to follow Jesus, groups multiplying and churches growing. In others, conflicts within the diocese, poorly resourced coordinators, lack of finances and difficulties in distributing books have limited growth. A two year grant from the Anglican Communion Mission Fund enabled great expansion; the challenge now is to make Rooted in Jesus self-sustaining within the Province.

In South Africa Rooted in Jesus is overseen by Revd Trevor Pearce of Growing the Church. Rooted in Jesus has remained particularly strong in the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist, which this year ran its own training for both the adult and the Junior programmes. RinJ has now been introduced to 13 of the 25 dioceses in the Province. A new project, ‘Leadership for Evangelism and Discipleship’, was launched this year, and RinJ and its companion course The God Who is There are recommended for use by graduates of that programme.

RinJ Junior leaders St Mark's

RinJ Junior leaders, Diocese of St Mark

In ZAMBIA Rooted in Jesus has been adopted by 3 of the 5 Anglican dioceses, of which the strongest is Eastern Zambia, where Bishop William Mchomboh has prioritised both Rooted in Jesus and Rooted in Jesus Junior as primary tools for discipleship. There are adult groups in every parish, and RinJ Junior is in use in the Sunday Schools. The diocesan coordinators Fr Kapomba Sekeleti, Susan Chulu and Abraham Phiri now run their own training, books are printed locally, and RinJ has become fully self-sustaining within the diocese.

We are keen to make Rooted in Jesus available to other denominations, and in Zambia Rooted in Jesus is also used by UK charity Dignity as one of the key resources for its inter-denomional work amongst marginalised rural communities. Dignity now support 574 groups with a membership approaching 10,000 people; their 10 year report makes inspiring reading, with many testimonies to the way changing lives have brought change to the communities in which the groups are set.  And in KENYA Brian Keel has been working with various Pentecostal networks, where he has provided training for both RinJ and RinJ Junior. Growth has been rapid, with increasing requests for more books.

RinJ groups 2017

Dignity’s Ten Year Report

Inevitably, the most troubled regions are the hardest to support. This year we have sent financial help and books to the Diocese of Kajo-Keji, SOUTH SUDAN, now living almost entirely in the refugee camps in Uganda. Nelson Saya has set up 9 groups in the camps and the Christian College, and plans to run further training for leaders, enouraged by Bishop Emmanuel Modi, who says “the believers need Rooted in Jesus at this time of distress and spiritual need.”

We have also sent books to the Diocese of Katanga in DR CONGO, where Bishop Bertin Subi has adopted the strapline ‘a strong diocese which is rooted in Jesus’. There are now over 300 groups meeting across the diocese, of which 200 in the missionary area of Kalémie, where group members have been helping to restore peace after a period of severe tribal conflict. There are still many displaced people, and group members are working in the refugee camps where they hope to plant new churches. This is a diocese with a consistent strategic emphasis on discipleship; and it is growing despite the challenges.

LOOKING AHEAD

Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by The Mathetes Trust, a registered UK charity. It has offices in the UK, in Tanzania and in South Africa. Both Rooted in Jesus and Rooted in Jesus Junior are endorsed by the Anglican Communion.

The major task for us is to enable the sustained and effective growth of Rooted in Jesus across Africa. We are facilitators not drivers, and local ownership is key to the success of the programme; but we want to provide as much support, encouragement and resources as we can. We rely on people to partner with us by going on teams, praying, providing financial and administrative help. We are enormously grateful to all those who have done so this year. If you or your church would like to partner with us we would be glad to hear from you.

If you would like to support the work of Rooted in Jesus we would be very grateful.

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To download a pdf copy of this report please click HERE.
To keep up with news from individual dioceses please visit our news page.

Rev Dr Alison Morgan, February 2018

 

[1] Alison Morgan, Following Jesus: The Plural of Disciple is Church, ReSource 2015

Church planting with Rooted in Jesus in the Diocese of Fianarantsoa, Madagascar

Last summer a Rooted in Jesus Junior team led by Canon Jacob Robert travelled to Madagascar, where we met Revd Justin Randriambelotsoa. Justin’s advancing years have done nothing to diminish his enthusiasm for the gospel, and he has just written to report on the results of his ministry with Rooted in Jesus following the RinJ Junior training conference we held in August.

The new Anglican congregation of Farafangana

Justin is a priest in the Diocese of Fianarantsoa. Fianarantsoa is a young diocese, founded by the existing Bishop, Gilbert Rateloson, and it has a policy of church planting in new areas. Justin moved to Farafangana in 2015, having previously built up the church in the coastal town of Mananjary – now with an expanding congregation, an increasing impact on the community (we visited the local king and his family, who have joined the church), and ambitious plans to build a second church building in the parish.

Fianarantsoa is a young diocese, founded by the existing Bishop, Gilbert Rateloson, and it has a policy of church planting in new areas. In the town of Ambositra, Revd Pez Raobison has been using Rooted in Jesus for some time as a church planting tool, holding his first baptisms just over a year ago. Revd Justin is following suit in Farafangana, where he leads the first Anglican church to be planted in the town.

Making new disciples with Rooted in Jesus in Ambositra

Every Sunday morning, Justin meets with a group of parents, whom he is discipling with Rooted in Jesus. At the same time his two Sunday School teachers, Miss Joella and Mrs Alicia, teach their children with Rooted in Jesus Junior. The Rooted in Jesus meetings take place at 7.30 am, before the church service at 9am. At Mananjary Justin saw the congregation increase from none to over 500, and believes he will see the same thing happen in Farafangana. ‘When we will have a church,’ he writes , ‘I believe we will have 400 more Anglican faithful in this town.’ For the moment this litte congregation meets in the Roman Catholic chapel.

The Rooted in Jesus Junior group in Farafangana

Find out more about Rooted in Jesus in Madagascar

  • Read the 2017 conference blog report here.
  • Watch an interview with Canon Jean Flobert, the Rooted in Jesus Coordinator here
  • Watch a video report from the initial RinJ conferences by Revd Richard Morgan here

To watch a video presentation about the team’s visit to the Diocese click on the image:

Rooted in Jesus is directed by Revd Dr Alison Morgan and published and supported by The Mathetes Trust. To find out more visit our website.

Posted 11th January 2018

The Dioceses of Karamoja and Soroti, Uganda

As the English rain settled in for the winter, Mike Cotterell and a team from Rooted in Jesus set off for two dioceses in Uganda, one already using Rooted in Jesus, one introducing it for the first time. Revd Capt James Tumwesigye joined the team from the Diocese of East Rwenzori, and Pastor John Onyao from Karamoja helped with the training in Soroti.

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John Onyao, Ben Brady and Mike Cotterell

Diocese of Karamoja

Rooted in Jesus was introduced to the Diocese of Karamoja at the invitation of Bishop Joseph Abura in 2016, and since then Coordinator John Onyao has been working hard to support and encourage the group leaders. The conference was held in Moroto, and 84 leaders attended. The region is emerging from a period of insecurity characterised by cattle raiding and other issues; the diocese has worked hard to resolve this, and there is a growing sense of optimism. The conference was marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit, with 50% of those attending testifying to physical and 30% to inner healing.

John Onyao reflected afterwards:

“Like a lot of churches, Karamoja Diocese has a number of people who have been Christians for a long time, are faithful servants of Christ and his Church, are members of congregations, and so on, but are in danger of always ‘being empty’ spiritually. As we were planning the RinJ programme and what to do next in different Parishes, we decided that we needed to do something which would rekindle our first love of Christ. Out of this was RinJ follow up programme, launched over the week led by Rev. Michael and the team.
“The team both led and spoke with a great sensitivity and openness and listened and heard people’s questions. Mike, Ben, Captain James and Lucy in the conference in Karamoja were loving, gentle in presentation, encouraging in message and clear in teaching. They allowed the Holy Spirit to use them in a powerful way.  During this time of the teaching some of the participants testified, understanding of how RinJ groups are led, both in vocabulary and in its overall direction.  The assumption was that daily discipleship, and church ministry, requires participation in the church, rather than simply seeking the Spirit’s blessing on our ministry.”

John was encouraged by the testimonies of those who had started Rooted in Jesus groups in 2016:

Alfred Lokiru testified:

“RinJ was so amazing to life and the lives of the group members I used to meet. As we kept on meeting, one of the participants in my group who comes from the mountain asked me to visit him on the top of the mountain. I accepted to go up on the mountain, the first day I held the meeting 45 people gave their lives to Christ. As time went and I kept on meeting these people 112 got baptized in the church. His appeal was RinJ is a very good programme as result it should continue.”

Rev’d James Chegem testified:

“RinJ has done a lot in the church I am leading, I used to struggle a lot from the time the church started but when introduced RinJ it has helped me to grow the church numerically and spiritually. He testified of a woman called Lucia who had never gone to school in her time but as she kept on coming to attend RinJ meeting, Lucia learnt how to memorize verses and now she is good evangelist and quotes scriptures in the bible which she used to memorize. Three of the members of his group had come to attend the training led by Rev’d Mike. James testified that many of the members who attended RinJ meetings in his church are now committed to church programmes. The church now has 300 members in attendance of which due to the usual challenges of Karamoja 100 of them born again attend church regularly. He appealed that RinJ should not stop.”

To read John’s full report click here.

 

Diocese of Soroti

From Karamoja the team travelled, accompanied by John, to Soroti, where they were welcomed by Bishop George Erwau and Coordinator Emmanuel Elianu. The diocese had been preparing for the conference for many months, translating the course books into Ateso and choosing whom to invite. In the event it was the largest conference we have ever held, with 222 people attending, and translation into both Ateso and Kumam. Team leader Mike Cotterell writes:

“For this initial conference, the Diocese had planned well, had good resources and facilities. Those invited to attend were limited to those who would be willing, able and available to run small R in J Groups. The conference was loud, enthusiastic and very ready – by lunch time on the first day it felt like an average third day when people have relaxed and have understood what the conference was about! As with Karamoja, people quickly understood the concepts and engaged well in the practice small groups and the workshops. Coordinator Emmanuel did an excellent job, especially considering the numbers involved and by the second day was relaxed and carrying a big smile. We felt sure the future coordination of R in J in the Diocese would be carefully and enthusiastically pursued.

“Feedback was again very positive and again we felt that the Holy Spirit had been at work in powerful ways, to which many gave testimony. The responses revealed: 100% felt blessed by the Conference; 100% felt energized; 100% committed to start up a R in J Small Group; 12% heard God speaking in a new way; 25% were physically healed and 95% received inner healing – that was how they indicated! We felt that God had done a significant work.”

To read Mike’s full report click here.


As ever, it was not only the conference participants but also the team who experienced great blessing. Lucy Henderson, on her first Rooted in Jesus team, wrote:

“I found our time in Uganda a wonderful and valuable experience.  The outward looking faith of many of the people we met was a great example as well as the trust in and thanks given to God for everything each day.  The people we met I felt really embraced us as brothers and sisters, members of the same Church family.  There were lots of memorable things;  so many adorable children everywhere, big smiles from so many people and very many handshakes, the pouring out of stories as well as honesty about fears and the life changing work of the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of and freedom from some terrible things of the past, new friendships… I feel strengthened by God and have grown in confidence.”

It is not easy to travel thousands of miles at your own expense to share your faith with complete strangers; it is not easy to provide training to lay leaders from all over a large rural diocese; it is not easy for those leaders to establish and maintain challenging discipleship groups; it is not easy for a Coordinator to support them adequately, or for a diocese to spend precious resources on discipleship training. Why do it, when other projects offer easier and tangible results? Because, we think, it is in that place where Word and Spirit meet that life is to be found; it is in the quality of our discipleship that we find the key to our future. John Onyao sums it up well:

“We live in unpredictable times and face challenges. RinJ’s vocation is located at the crossroads where renewal and mission meet. Renewal without mission quickly becomes self indulgence. Mission without renewal often results in disillusion. Renewal for mission lies at the heart of the Spirit’s activity in the church. Unpredictable times and discontinuous change make discernment the Church’s most critical capacity for our day. Discernment takes place where word and Spirit meet, not this time at a crossroads but at a junction, the junction between past and the future.”

Team members: Revd Mike Cotterell, Revd Capt James Tumwesigye,
Revd Ben Brady, Lucy Henderson, Revd John Onyao.

To find out more about these and other dioceses visit the Uganda page of the Rooted in Jesus website.

Posted by Revd Dr Alison Morgan, 2nd January 2018

 

A young man named Fred

Canon John Musaasizi and Revd Jethro Ssebulime are the Rooted in Jesus Coordinators in the Diocese of Mityana, Uganda, where two followup Rooted in Jesus conferences were held in October 2017.

John is on fire with passion for Jesus, and he is unusual in that he not only dedicates himself to ministry but also takes joy in writing the stories of those he meets. This is John’s account of a recent visit to a young man named Fred.


“Jethro and I have had a thrilling experience of following up Fred Kiberu, the current leader of Kitotolo Rooted in Jesus group. Fred has an exciting church experience, young as he is. He started serving the Lord as in the church context during his early childhood. The Lord has in turn sustained him and blessed him in various ways including giving him wisdom to be able to do His work wisely.

“In the most recent Rooted in Jesus Conference, Fred emerged as one of the best translators. His translation carried all the meaning the speakers intended to communicate.

“During the conference period, Fred was supposed to be revising intensely since he had to sit for his final “A” Level Examinations. But he did what he was supposed to do at the conference without examination anxiety. Later after the Conference he sat for National “A” Level Examinations and he looks forward to joining university next year.

John (R) and Jethro (L) travel round the diocese meeting with group leaders

“As we were leaving Kitotolo Church, Fred asked us for a lift and we gladly offered it. After reaching his home, we realized that he walks a very long distance to get to Kitotolo Church. But he had no choice because the teacher who taught him at his early childhood, freely offered him room where he could stay after having known the ups and downs of Fred’s life and his biological family experience.

“Before his mother divorced, she had to distribute her eight children including Fred among relatives who were also helpless almost in every way.

“In spite of that, Fred is really a committed young man not only to the Lordship of Jesus, but also to the ministry the Lord has entrusted to him. He started serving in church when he was ten years old. It was in church that he found people with whom he would hold hands with after his father abandoned his mother, brothers and sisters.

“Later in his life, but still at an early age, Fred resolved to rent a one roomed house where he would give his maximized attention to his studies, as well as to his church responsibilities. During this time some members of his church at Kitotolo pledged to give Fred a helping hand.

“Jethro and I have been enormously blessed by the Lord as we took upon ourselves the responsibility of combining the church service with Discipleship training. It was worked! Everybody contributed in various ways.  Jethro raised questions related to what had transpired and the results were encouraging. There was also time and space to accommodate group participation both inside and outside the church building. We loved it. The openness of the congregation as they answered and raised relevant matters was encouraging. We regretted the years where congregations had been less than football spectators. Football spectators can be moved by uncontrollable bodily reflex actions to kick their neighbors as they watch the ball being kicked in the play ground.

Encouraging young leaders in Kitolo

“With Rooted in Jesus, the Lord is calling us to be in the very center of discipleship making process, giving and receiving, as the Holy Spirit perfectly guides our way of growth into Christ likeness.

“All church members  hold hands with one another regardless of age and status focusing on our Lord Jesus Christ the author of our faith and  transformation of our lives and ministry.”

A blessed Christmas

John and Jethro

John and Jethro are the Rooted in Jesus Coordinators in the Diocese of Mityana, Uganda, where two followup Rooted in Jesus conferences were held in October 2017.

Rooted in Jesus is directed by Revd Dr Alison Morgan, and published and supported by the Mathetes Trust. To find out more visit our website.

Posted 23 December 2017

 

 

 

 

 

Blessing and prophecy in Mityana

Rooted in Jesus has been in use across the Diocese of Mityana in Uganda since 2015, and over the months coordinators John Musaasizi and Jethro Ssebulime have sent an inspiring series of reports as they have visited groups and talked with group members. We were therefore delighted to accept an invitation from Bishop Stephen Kaziimba to go back to the diocese, and in October a UK-Ugandan team led by Revd Tim Carter returned to provide further support and training.

Ruth Williams (87b)

The team facilitated two conferences, attended by a total of 150 people – existing leaders, new leaders in training, theological college students, lay readers and ordinands. Tim reports: “The coordinator John (and his assistant Jethro) are very encouraging and obviously deeply loved by the people that they work with.  They have a good understanding of the spiritual principles that are foundational in Rooted in Jesus. The Bishop visited the conference and with some energy encouraged the delegates to engage fully with Rooted in Jesus. Following his visit it was announced by the Diocesan Secretary that new Bibles would be given to all delegates. This news was received with much rejoicing! At the end of both conferences parish and archdeaconary coordinators were appointed by their peers to lead the organisation of RinJ in their areas. These will provide a good local backup for John and Jethro.”

Testimonies

Every Rooted in Jesus conference includes time for prayer for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of participants. The ministry sessions in the evenings were powerful, and many people were prayed for; two people made professions of faith for the first time. These are some of the testimonies that were given:

  • A gentleman described being disturbed by feeling lonely and unloved. Nick and Ian laid hands on him and prayed – he reported afterwards that he felt restored.
  • Rev E sought out Ian to tell him that Ian had prayed for healing for him and his family at the last conference in 2015. He was eager to report that he and his children were healed and continue to enjoy good health.
  • A lady described how she came to the conference with a heart full of sadness. However after the teaching sessions and being prayed for her heart is happy. When she prayed she cried as she remembered everything that she had gone through, but now she gives thanks to God that she is happy.
  • A lady explained how when she came on the conference she was feeling sick with malaria and oppressed in her spirit. But the teaching and prayer had started to make her feel better. Then she went on to relate how the previous night she had regained her strength and woke normally giving thanks to God (previously she had woken unrested).
  • A lady told us that although she was saved she had never prayed for the Holy Spirit to come, but the previous night she did so and he came.
  • E, who had been at the last conference in 2015, shared how the advice to pray short prayers had transformed the way he prayed, making it more effective.

New Bibles!

As so often, the conferences were as rewarding for the team as for the delegates. Team member Nick James writes:

“The visit was exhilarating in many ways. Such appreciative people, such vibrant worship and such a wholesome, challenging course (I felt personally challenged by some of the material…). I think it more than lived up to my expectations on account of the people we met who were on fire for the Lord, despite little material resource. The chief impact on my ministry is a refreshing of my own call to make disciples (very helpfully challenging), and a firm understanding that Ugandan Christians face exactly the same fundamental issues as I do: am I willing to trust God and follow him wholeheartedly? And the things I need to trust him for are exactly the same: material provision and spiritual strength. The main circumstantial difference is that I am anaesthetised to my need of God by all the provision I have made for myself in fear of not having enough while my Ugandan brothers and sisters are to some extent handicapped and diverted by fear or frustration of not seeing how God will provide for them tomorrow. And both of us are spiritually poorer for it.”

Words from the Lord

Often it seems that God will speak directly to a Diocese through a Rooted in Jesus conference. At each of the two conferences a prophecy was received and embraced, similar in content though different in wording:

“I know you feel week and despised in the eyes of the world
Many of you feel poor
However, I assure you that what I have sown into you and am sowing into you will yield a great harvest
It will be more than can be achieved by big money, big machines or big schemes!
The seed I have sown into your hearts is precious
Nurture it, tend it, guard your hearts!
I promise, you will see a great harvest, beyond your wildest expectations, more than the world could ever give you
Indeed, the world will come to you, wanting desperately to receive some of your joy!”

These words bear a striking similarity to a prophecy received many years ago in Engusero, a town in the Diocese of Kiteto, Tanzania, where it was fully embraced, and great spiritual and numerical growth occurred across the diocese in the years which followed. We are confident that the Lord will fulfil his promises here as he did there.

Coordinator John Musaasizi concludes: “Jethro and I have started post conference follow up ministry. We are indeed thrilled to be part of this great event which is the very core of the Church which our Lord Jesus left on Earth.”


The team: Revd Tim Carter, Dawn and Nick James, Revd Capt William Musisi, Ruth Williams.

We are grateful to Bishop Stephen Kaziimba, Canon John Musaasizi and their colleagues for the warm welcome and generous hospitality which they gave to the team.

To find out more visit the Rooted in Jesus Uganda page, where you can also download Tim’s report.

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Posted 4th December by Revd Dr Alison Morgan

 

New Manual for Rooted in Jesus Junior

Rooted in Jesus has continued to expand this year, and has now been introduced to over 85 Anglican dioceses and training colleges, and a growing number of other denominational networks. Rooted in Jesus Junior, the companion course for children aged 8-14, has now been introduced to 17 dioceses. In most of these it provides the first ever syllabus for Sunday  Schools, and the first formal training for Sunday School teachers.

This year we have focussed on the development of a new training manual for Rooted in Jesus Junior, and we are pleased to announce that this has just been published by The Mathetes Trust.

RinJ Junior Team Manual cover 2017

The new manual has been written with two audiences in mind. Firstly, it contains the information and resources to help a team run a Rooted in Jesus Junior training conference – how to prepare a diocese for the introduction of the programme, how to plan a conference, guidelines for the team leader and diocesan coordinator, and session plans for each of the different elements of the conference. It also contains testimonies from those using the course.

Secondly, the new manual is designed to provide resources for the Diocesan Coordinator, with suggestions for how best to implement and oversee Rooted in Jesus Junior once it has been introduced. It includes evaluation and report forms as well as the training material which can be used to support existing leaders or train new ones.

Rooted in Jesus Junior continues to surprise and delight us as we watch the impact it is having on the lives of children across Africa. It was a particular privilege this year to be hosted by the Dioceses of Fianarantsoa and Toliara in Madagascar; in Toliara the Sunday School teachers were able to try out what they were learning with about a hundred enthusiastic children. With what we are learning from the conferences, from the teachers and pastors who share their expertise by joining the training teams and from the feedback we receive from those using the course, we are confident that Rooted in Jesus Junior is making its own contribution to a new generation of Christians across Africa.

What do people say about Rooted in Jesus Junior?

TANZANIA: “Today at our church, Lamech led Sunday School and for the first time I heard wonderful joy and laughter coming from outside. I was so impressed. It was different. I made an announcement to explain why Sunday School were so happy this week” – Sam Daniel,  Diocese of Mara
UGANDA : “From the time we adopted those materials, we experienced vibrant exciting Sunday school meetings with the children. The five Sunday school teachers that I trained using Rooted in Jesus materials have become very good teachers. This has improved much of the children’s zeal and love for Christ. A lot of spiritual gifts were realised like evangelism, worship, preaching, prayer, storytelling, drama, scripture memory verses etc. among the children. The number of the children which was about 25 at our church, it has now has grown to 150+”‘ – Pastor Ali Mukembo, Jinja
KENYA : “In November 2016, we conducted Rooted in Jesus Junior training to a group of Sunday School leaders in Ruiru, north Nairobi. Unbeknown to us this large church of several hundred members had been unable to keep Sunday School teachers for more than a few months before they resigned. From the training in early November, to our being there again in late April, not one Sunday School teacher had resigned, and some who had declared they felt they would not be able to offer anything in that line, had come forward to become part of the children’s ministry team!  We thought this was great news!” Brian Keel, Kenya
SOUTH AFRICA : “Personally, I am enjoying teaching Rooted in Jesus Junior. I find that some of the topics/questions really encourage the children to ask questions, which I like. Ever since my Grade 5 started using Junior, they’ve always been 10-12 eager-beavers who are so committed to being in Sunday School every week and come at least half an hour before Sunday School starts. We go over what we learnt the previous week and then move on to our current lesson. I give the children rewards for learning their memory verses, and this seems to work quite well. It’s all about Jesus, and I can honestly say that the Holy Spirit is indeed with us.” Lucy Burgess, All Saints Belhar, Cape Town
MADAGASCAR : “There was one thing which completely took me aback. It was this: that there are lots of stories about children in the Bible! I hadn’t really taken that on board before. But here, in the Rooted in Jesus Junior conference, we looked at lots of stories about children from the Bible. That touched me profoundly. From here I will take home so many new things. When I get back to my parish I will do everything in my power with my team to improve the way in which we teach our children in the Province.” Canon Jean Flobert, Diocese of Fianarantsoa

In 2016 Rooted in Jesus Junior was, like the adult programme, recommended by the Anglican Communion report Intentional Discipleship. We hope that the new manual will make it ever easier to adopt and use.

The Rooted in Jesus Junior Manual was written by Revd Dr Alison Morgan, following the format of the existing manual for the adult programme. We are grateful to those team members who have lent their skills and experience to the development of the sessions.

To find out more about Rooted in Jesus Junior, or to contact us, please visit our website.
Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by The Mathetes Trust.

Posted 17th November 2017

 

Discipling children in Madagascar

In August a team travelled from the UK and Tanzania to Madagascar, to introduce Rooted in Jesus Junior to the Dioceses of Fianarantsoa and Toliara, both of which adopted the adult programme back in 2011. The team was led by Canon Jacob Robert of the Diocese of Mara in Tanzania, which has been using Rooted in Jesus Junior to great effect for the last four years. Jacob is passionate about the potential for growth through discipling children, having seen its effects in his own diocese, where Sunday Schools have expanded and children are now active in memorising scripture and sharing their faith with their friends.

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Sunday School teachers get to grips with Rooted in Jesus Junior

Jacob writes:

“I give thanks to our heavenly father, the Almighty God who by His grace enabled us to travel to Madagascar, an island country in the Indian Ocean with a population of 25 million, 18 tribes, speaking the Malagasy language.  4 million of the people are Christians.”

The Diocese of Fianarantsoa

“We landed in Madagascar at Antananarivo Airport. Revd Jean Flobert who is the Diocesan Rooted in Jesus Coordinator in Fianarantsoa came to pick us up from the airport. We travelled by night from Antananarivo up to Fianarantsoa Diocese, approximately 600 km. The road was mountainous, narrow with many corners, and plagued by bandits, but the bus driver brought us safely to our destination. The following day was Sunday, and we started enjoying life in Madagascar by attending a Sunday service. We were introduced by the Diocesan Bishop Rt Revd Ratelson Rakotondravelo Gilbert.”

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Practising Rooted in Jesus Junior

Rooted in Jesus made a strong start in Fianarantsoa four years ago, and it was good to learn how it has become an established part of the life of the diocese, with one or more groups in every parish; “we no longer give out certificates,” Jean Flobert explained, “because everybody would have one.” Over the next four days the team worked with 87 keen Sunday School teachers drawn from across the diocese, offering the first training and the first resource material for use with children, painstakingly translated into the local language by Nolavy Arisoa, the Sunday School coordinator in the Diocese of Toliara. The teachers responded enthusiastically, throwing themselves into the workshops by day, and singing together late into the evenings. The conference ended with a magnificent evening of song, sketch and dance, which had everyone roaring with laughter and gasping with breathlessnessas in a vibrant community celebration of all that had been shared together. Flobert, who is also the Vicar General of the Diocese, summed up his reaction to the conference:

“The conference held here in Fianarantsoa over the last four days was fantastic! The team played their parts well, and we also saw the Sunday School teachers fully involved. They loved the practical exercises, and even for me as a priest there was one thing which completely took me aback. It was this: that there are lots of stories about children in the Bible! I hadn’t really taken that on board before. But here, in the Rooted in Jesus Junior conference, we looked at lots of stories about children from the Bible. That touched me profoundly. From here I will take home so many new things. When I get back to my parish I will do everything in my power with my team to improve the way in which we teach our children in the Province. Thank you very much!”

If you would like to listen to Flobert (speaking in French), you can watch the interview by team member Lucy Hefford here.

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Team leader Jacob Robert with Jean Flobert and Bishop Gilbert Rateloson

Team leader Jacob Robert concludes: “We gave 87 certificates to the participants who attended the conference. Bishop Gilbert led the Holy communion service, a fitting conclusion to the RinJ Junior introductory conference in the Diocese of Fianarantsoa.  The next day we travelled by taxi-bus from Fianarantsoa to Mananjary, about 400 km away on the coast of the Indian Ocean. Revd Paulin hosted us, and gave us time to meet with children in the church. In Mananjary we went to the palace of the King of the area. His people narrated the history of how the tribe settled in the land. They are also church members. We also used our time over there to dedicate a church land for building a church.”

The Diocese of Toliara

On our return from Mananjary we set off on the long journey down to Toliara, on the southwest coast of the island, where we were welcomed by Bishop Todd and Revd Patsy McGregor. This is a very young diocese, inaugurated in 2013 and growing fast, with over 70 churches and ambitious plans for expansion in what is one of the poorest regions of Madagascar; just the kind of place, we feel, where Jesus himself would have been found.

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Children enjoying their first Rooted in Jesus Junior lesson

Team member Katy Morgan, who at home is an assistant chaplain at Dean Close School in Cheltenham, writes:

“Around forty Sunday school teachers from across the diocese gathered with us at the cathedral for three days of training. We spent time talking about how to teach children to know Jesus, not only to know about him; worshipping and asking for the help and presence of the Holy Spirit; and practising the Rooted in Jesus Junior lessons in the course booklets we brought with us. The start of the conference felt a little faltering but as it went on the participants embraced the chance to receive from God and from the team, and in the end it was a very moving and joyful time. A highlight was the laughter which filled the room when the teachers were practising lessons with the kids they’d brought to the children’s Bible competition running at the same time. Our prayer is that they will continue to use these materials at home, being able to communicate to their priests and lay leaders what they have learned, and then to effectively pass on how it is going to Rev Donné, the diocesan coordinator; all with the aim of growing godly and genuine disciples among the children of churches across Toliara diocese.”

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The children’s choir of Fort Dauphin. To watch click on the image.

On the last day deanery representatives were appointed, and classes will begin in September. The conference concluded with presentations from the children’s choirs, and an inspiring performance of Miaraka, a modern day musical of Mary Magdalene written by Revd Patsy McGregor and Collette Maurel and presented with astonishing professionalism by local young people.

Jacob concludes: “The Bishop and his wife both showed us that we were not mistaken to come to their Diocese. The whole Diocese were prepared to adopt the Rooted in Jesus Junior program as a means of training laity and clergy  to go out to make disciples of Jesus Christ in the Diocese. We met new friends (particularly our young translators Johary, Marc and Andrew), new people and a new atmosphere that enabled us to plant a new seed in the soil of the Diocese of Toliara. I want to thank God for what He has done; Rooted in Jesus Junior is now well known in the province of Madagascar.”

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To read more about these two dioceses visit the Madagascar page of the Rooted in Jesus website.

Posted on 25th September 2017 by Revd Dr Alison Morgan

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In the beginning…

Rooted in Jesus was originally developed for use in Tanzania, where it was first introduced in 2002. Since 2013 it has been independently run in the Province, and on 22nd August representatives from 10 dioceses gathered in Arusha for the annual Coordinators Conference hosted by National Director Rt Revd Dr Stanley Hotay.

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Tanzania’s famous Baobab trees with roots deep in the sands of the Rift Valley

The conference opened with reports from Canon Jacob Robert (Mara) and Bishop James Almasi (Masasi), Zonal Coordinators for the North and South of the country respectively, who reported on the programme in each diocese and offered some thoughts for future strategic development. Diocesan coordinators spoke on articular aspects of Rooted in Jesus, and Revd Alison Morgan, attending as a guest, gave an overview of the work of the Holy Spirit through Rooted in Jesus internationally. Rooted in Jesus has come an unexpectedly long way since its beginnings here in Arusha 15 years ago!

There are 27 dioceses in the Province of Tanzania, of which 18 so far have introduced Rooted in Jesus, along with a number of theological colleges. Every diocese is different, with some experiencing great difficulties, others enjoying periods of growth and stability. The longest perspective is provided by the founding dioceses of Mount Kilimanjaro and Kiteto, both of which saw significant growth through RinJ in the early years, but then for different reasons found themselves facing a period of internal conflict which seriously impacted morale and growth. We were all deeply encouraged to learn that both dioceses are now growing again under the leadership of their bishops Stanley Hotay and Isaiah Chambala, and that for both the turning point was the reconciliation conferences we were invited to facilitate in 2012. In DMK over 180 new churches have now been planted, and clergy numbers have doubled; the diocese is growing spiritually, numerically and financially. Rooted in Jesus is used for confirmation preparation, and Rooted in Jesus Junior has been adopted for Sunday School in every church across the diocese. Meanwhile the Kiteto coordinator Revd Anderson Lesijila reports that Kiteto is at peace – “we dare not fight again,” he said, “we burned all our conflicts when you came!” Rooted in Jesus is back in use in 61 of the 74 parishes, and they plan to introduce it to the remaining 13 parishes soon. Given that when RinJ was first introduced to Kiteto there were only 16 parishes this is remarkable growth – much of which is said to be the fruit of the groups, from which a new generation of leaders has arisen.

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RinJ has been in use in the Diocese of Mara since 2011. There are groups in every parish, many of which have completed all four books of the course; and RinJ Junior is strong in the Sunday Schools too. It is diocesan policy to use RinJ whenever they start a new church, and Jacob Robert observes that the result is rapid maturity – in a very short space of time it no longer seems like a new church, he says. Jacob also explained that many of the churches in Mara are now led by graduates of RinJ groups.

Canon Dunstan Mtoro reported that in Mpwapwa Rooted in Jesus is going very well, with 2802 people now in 206 groups, adult and junior – and he went home with a stock of Book 3 for groups which have completed the first two books. He has heard many testimonies from group members, he said; and the thing he particularly likes about the groups is the way in which they bring together people from across the social spectrum, with professionals, graduates and illiterate people learning together. This is a well organised and forward thinking diocese: there is a deanery coordinator for RinJ in each of the 13 deaneries, and it has been decided that every church service will be led once a month by the children. “RinJ can change the other issues and challenges we face,” Dunstan observes. Here the diocesan bishop is Jacob Chimeledya, who also serves as Archbishop of the Province.

Many groups have been started in Lweru, where Rooted in Jesus was introduced in 2015, and they are going well; retiring bishop Jackton Lugumira is emphasizing the importance of RinJ to his successor. The most recent diocese to adopt RinJ is SW Tanganyika, which got off to a slow start due to the bishop being unavoidably away for 4 months following the conference. On his return he appointed Revd Mattiya Mtweve as coordinator, and Mattiya has managed to fan groups into existence in all of the 40 parishes, with a male and a female evangelist leading in each one; it has also been incorporated into the curriculum of the Bible College. He is very encouraged by the response he sees, and hopes for a followup conference soon.

Of the other dioceses, Kibondo (Revd Amon Masabile) has groups now moving onto book 3. In Morogoro Josephine Semwenda has just taken over as coordinator for both the adult and junior programmes. Josephine is the President of the Mothers Union, a responsibility she has held since 1989, and is looking forward to meeting with group leaders and finding out more about the programme. In Masasi, the first diocese in Tanzania to introduce it, Rooted in Jesus Junior is particularly strong, and Bishop James has just appointed a new coordinator, Catherine Ligunda. Finally, Revd Leonard Giligwa asked for our continued prayers for the diocese of Victoria Nyanza, which is going through a time of stress and difficulty. Groups are still meeting; but they are inevitably distracted.

Rooted in Jesus Coordinators Bishop James Almasi, Canon Dunstan Mtoro,
Revd Leonard Giligwa, Canon Meshack Manyaga, Revd Amon Masabile


A Strategy for Growth

Much time was given to discussion of how best to ensure continued growth of Rooted in Jesus across the Province. It was recognised that the role of the Coordinator is key and that it is helpful for coordinators from this pioneering province to join teams to other dioceses and other countries, both in order to gain experience and to share what they have learned with others – Leonard Giligwa (Victoria Nyanza) who joined the team to Kajo-Keji in South Sudan, and Meshack Manyaga (Western Tanganyika), who went to Katanga in DR Congo, both spoke movingly of their experiences there. Jacob Robert had just returned from leading a Rooted in Jesus Junior team to Madagascar, and four Tanzanian bishops (John Hayden, Stanley Hotay, Isaiah Chambala, James Almasi) have now represented RinJ in other dioceses nationally and internationally.

Closer to home, the advisability of appointing deanery coordinators was discussed, as was the need for a reporting system so that proper support and accountability can be provided. Finally, the knotty problem of finance was tackled. In the long run Rooted in Jesus will be sustainable only if a diocese invests in it – not on any grand scale, as it is designed to be a low cost programme, but with a minimal ongoing budget to enable the coordinator to visit groups and keep in touch with leaders. It is always tempting, Bishop James observed, to hope that “someone else, somewhere else” will pay for what you want to do – but the reality is that this is our programme, and we must take responsibility for it. Rooted in Jesus Tanzania has been greatly helped both by the UK office and by a two year startup grant from the Anglican Communion Fund; but in the long run it needs to become self sustaining. Significant progress towards that goal has already been made in the provision of books, which are now locally printed to a very high standard in Arusha at very reasonable cost – it would not be difficult, given that only one book is needed at a time, for group members to club together to buy it, thus ensuring a continuous supply. In the meantime it was noted that coordinators need to be creative, innovative, and able to mobilise others.

Gratitude was expressed for the willingness of the bishops to sponsor their coordinators to attend the conference and for the readiness of the coordinators themselves to travel long distances to do so; and to Catherine Mwega, the RinJ administrator, who had organised the day. Cate’s role at the hub of the programme, everyone agreed, is crucial. The conference was closed after a long and fulfilling day by Bishop Stanley.

Dioceses represented at the conference:

Kibondo
Kiteto
Mara
Masasi
Morogoro
Mpwapwa
Mount Kilimanjaro
South West Tanganyika
Victoria Nyanza
Western Tanganyika

Bishop Stanley Hotay, National Director of Rooted in Jesus Tanzania,
and Catherine Mwega, Rooted in Jesus Administrator.

If you would like to help us support the ministry of Rooted in Jesus in Tanzania please visit our support page.

Posted on 29th August 2017 by Revd Dr Alison Morgan
Website www.rootedinjesus.net

 

Making disciples in Kenya

A Rooted in Jesus team has just returned from the Diocese of Butere, SW Kenya, where Bishop Timothy Wambunya had invited us to introduce the programme to the diocese.

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The team was led by Revd Richard Morgan (from Philadelphia, US), Revd Capt Joshua Opondo (from the Diocese of Maseno South, Kenya) and Revd John Eldridge (from Wickham Market, UK); all of them are experienced RinJ trainers.  The diocese held two 4 day conferences, hosted by Revd Capt Bejamin Kibara, the Diocesan Executive Secretary for Mission, and attended by a huge turnout of 300 invited delegates.

Butere is a well organised diocese with a focus on mission and discipleship – hundreds of people had made a profession of faith in a recent mission. The diocese has worked hard to equip people to lead small groups, but implementation has been slow – and Bishop Tim feels that Rooted in Jesus is the material they have been looking for. For the diocese this was the end of a long period of searching – and they are optimistic that the conferences have provided the breakthrough they were praying for.

Richard Morgan writes:

“There was a mission just before we came. Benjamin says that some hundreds of people made a profession of faith. John was speaking to one lady, Grace, who has 30 new Christians in her parish. She is just about to walk 10 kilometers back home from the conference. Some of her new Christians that she is hoping to follow up with are 8 kilometers from her – so it seems very hard for her to be able to meet with them all. There’s certainly a need for a method of distributing the task of disciple-making and equipping disciples to make disciples. If the principles of Rooted in Jesus take hold here, it will be powerful in helping the church to grow as a body.”

Watch the video

The team have put together a wonderful video report (below). If you’d like to read more about the conferences you can download a summary of their daily Facebook posts here.

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Before the conference Benjamin Kibara wrote:

“As a diocese we are very keen to start Rooted in Jesus discipleship program. We have 48 parishes, 50 ordained clergy, 13 associate ministers, 176 evangelists, and 378 lay readers. We have already laid a structure where all the Christians in the diocese will be part of a small group of 10 – 12 people for discipleship.”

Afterwards Bishop Tim remarked:

“We are using Rooted in Jesus as a foundational course to train our pastorate leaders, and we are hoping that at the end of this training they will then go to establish various groups, and then we can use those groups to disciple the ten thousand or so Christians in the diocese. They seem to have embraced or understood this Rooted in Jesus training better than others, and they seem more determined from this training to then 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, and we are now beginning to engage in serious discipleship.”

Team leader Richard Morgan invites us to continue to pray for the Diocese as they move forward:

“Good tools are only useful when you use them! Rooted in Jesus is one of those tools. When used, it is capable of being useful… if left on the shelf it will have little or no lasting impact. I’m confident that with the leadership of Bishop Tim, and the leadership of the coordinator, Benjamin Kibara, that they will make use of this tool in this Diocese. But, at the end of the day, it relies on the Holy Spirit moving and working in the hearts and lives of many leaders in this Diocese. Do pray that the lives and ministries of many in this Diocese would be empowered and strengthened.”

We are grateful to the diocese for their careful planning, meticulous organisation and generous hospitality.

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Posted 21st July 2017 by Revd Dr Alison Morgan

Hitting the headlines in Malawi

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The 2017 Rooted in Jesus conference hosted in Chilema by Bishop Brighton Malasa

Rooted in Jesus was first introduced to the Diocese of Upper Shire in 2015, at the request of Bishop Brighton Malasa. The Rooted in Jesus team was led by Revd John Lee in partnership with Fr Kapomba Sekeleti and Canon Susan Chulu of the Diocese of Eastern Zambia, and 31 priests and 49 lay leaders attended the conference.

Groups began immediately, and Fr Edward Kawinga wrote a few weeks later: “Rooted in Jesus is a real eye opener! There is a lot l didn’t know about my parishioners! Group introductions alone reveal that our parishioners are dying in silence and I am very convinced that RinJ is the real Cure!”

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A confirmation group completes Book 1 of Rooted in Jesus

The diocese hosts a follow-up conference

Since the initial conference Coordinators Fr Edward Kawinga and Fr Elliot Litereko have worked hard to support the group leaders. Bishop Brighton wrote:

I am happy to report that Rooted in Jesus has seen its roots indeed going deeper. The Reverend Father Edward Kawinga and the Reverend Father Elliot Litereko are doing a great job. We are happy and glad that the laity of this Diocese can be given such a chance to undertake theological studies in their local parishes which was perceived as for the ordained ministers. When I visit the parishes I have seen people gathering and undergoing these training on Saturdays and Sundays after Mass. I am delighted to see such progress. I am convinced that if people (the laity) are rooted in Jesus having undergone these trainings, we shall have both the laity and clergy rich spiritually which will lessen the tasks of our priests as we shall have knowledgeable faithfuls. Please continue praying for us.

Following reports from Fr Edward and Fr Elliot Bishop Brighton invited us to send a team to run a follow-up conference in February of this year. John Lee again led the team, and was delighted to find consistent and widespread support for RinJ within the diocese, reflecting the regularly expressed support of Bishop Brighton. Participants were punctual in their attendance; the team found that they responded particularly warmly to the teaching about the Holy Spirit, which felt fresh and new for a significant number. John also paid tribute to the hospitality of the diocese: “For the team this was an encouraging and stimulating visit. We felt welcomed and cared for, and particularly enjoyed a visit to St George’s Zomba on the Sunday after the conference, where we shared in contributing to the service.”

After the conference Fr Elliot reported:

Rooted in Jesus was introduced in this Diocese two years ago. It was like a seed which was planted on fertile soil whereby a farmer is needed to care for the growth and development of the seed. This is in conjunction with the mission statement of the Diocese, a “Christ-centred Church that is commissioned for discipleship and the proclamation of the gospel.” This mission statement and the objectives of Rooted in Jesus are almost the same. This is why there is a tremendous growth of Rooted in Jesus groups in various parishes. We have received good reports from group leaders that they have formulated means of supporting themselves if one member of their group is sick or admitted to Hospital. It is one way of preaching about love in action. Priests and laity are working together in the proclamation of the Gospel to unbelievers. In our context we target Muslims; we regard them as a mission field, hence intensifying evangelism. In short the entire family of the Anglican Diocese of Upper Shire warmly welcomed Rooted in Jesus, and we have already started reaping the fruits of the seed that was planted two years ago.

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Fr Elliot Litereko

 

Looking ahead

In a large, rural diocese it is not easy for the coordinator to travel to meet with the group leaders. Fr Edward tries to time his visits in conjunction with others, but also plans to appoint Archdeaconry Coordinators to make supporting the group leaders easier. He also plans to hold further regional training conferences. One of our aims here at The Mathetes Trust is to be able to raise enough money to provide proper support for coordinators in dioceses where budgets are stretched – Fr Elliot’s comment that RinJ is like a seed planted where a farmer is needed to care for its growth is very apt. To read Fr Elliot’s full report click here.

Finally, the headlines! It turned out that not all of those who hoped to lead a Rooted in Jesus group own a Bible, so the team donated a number of Bibles in the local language of Chichewa. Fr Elliot distributed these last month. He wrote: “We had time to distribute the bibles we received. By God’s grace by the time I was doing the exercise we had people from the media, and someone surprised me with pictures in the Malawi Newspaper The Sunday Times!”

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It was a privilege to share in the life of the diocese, and we continue to pray for the priests and people of Upper Shire.

To find out more about Rooted in Jesus visit www.rootedinjesus.net.
Rooted in Jesus is supported by The Mathetes Trust, a UK registered charity.

This blog was posted on 8th June 2017 by Revd Dr Alison Morgan

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