Since 2008 Dignity Worldwide have been using Rooted in Jesus in their work with communities across rural Zambia, combining Christian discipleship with agricultural training to help people develop a sustainable lifestyle within their communities. Jo Kimball reports that from a tiny beginning nine years ago there are now over 350 Life! Groups meeting in 8 regions in Zambia and Namibia, supported by 18 experienced local trainers. The Life! Groups use Rooted in Jesus as part of their programme.
On their website Dignity explain:
Life! Groups are community based groups and work with churches of all denominations. We are seeing great things happen as a result of Life! Groups meeting: unity between churches, people becoming Christians, lives being turned around for the better, families being reunited, orphans being cared for, elderly people being looked after and many other local grass root projects. People who thought they could do nothing are transforming their communities as they discover freedom and hope in Jesus and start to work together in community. Some of the different things we’ve witnessed are:
- Unity growing between churches previously divided
- People becoming Christians and lives being turned around for the better
- Villagers planting fields to pay for a school and teacher
- Families adopting orphan children
- Elderly people being cared for; some being provided with blankets, some prayed with or even some having their roof mended
- Life! Groups in neighbouring villages working together to repair a bridge
- Life! Groups from different areas working together to help a recovered alcholic man return to his family
Dignity works through local Impact Teams
It is encouraging to hear news of Ven Cornelius Chalwe, formerly the Rooted in Jesus coordinator in the Diocese of Luapula, now working closely with Dignity as an Impact Team member and trainer. Cornelius has recently moved to a new area, where he has already established 18 Life Groups, with some members finding faith for the first time.
At the other end of the country, in Mwinilunga, team member Dorothy has seen so much change in people’s lives that she and the team have begun to work over the border in DR Congo. Meanwhile team member Bernard writes from Mulashi: “This is one of the times in my life that gives me peace, joy and happiness; when I see people from different church denominations come together and learning.” And team members Moses and Boysen have returned to Makanga, Namibia, where they planted a number of Life Groups, to see how they are getting on and give them Rooted in Jesus Book 2.
Rooted in Jesus in the UK
In a new development, Dignity have begun to use Rooted in Jesus with refugees at Ivy Church in Manchester – people who come from a troubled country where it is illegal to be a Christian. Jo Kimball writes: ‘They are amongst us for a while and then many have to move on, some are able to settle and many hope to return home one day. We have a unique window of opportunity to equip these people with some skills and tools that they will be able to use to introduce Jesus to others in their communities and even back in their home country.’
Learning and growing
What do we learn from Dignity’s experience? That where Rooted in Jesus is adopted in rural communities, and properly supported by appropriately trained local coordinators, it brings enormous change and growth to people’s lives. It takes time for a tree to grow roots, but as the psalmist reminds us, strong roots produce a healthy and resilient tree. Everywhere Rooted in Jesus is used, this is the challenge: how best to support and empower local leaders to bring change to their communities. Dignity are doing a great job, and it is a privilege to be in partnership with them.
To read more stories and watch video interviews visit Dignity’s website here.
Alison Morgan, October 2016