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

The Rooted in Jesus team was led by Canon Jacob Robert, with Katy Morgan, Lucy Hefford and Revd Dr Alison Morgan.

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 by Lucy Hefford 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.

Arusha 0817 (1b)
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