I have just returned from the first National Rooted in Jesus Conference in Tanzania, attended by representatives from 8 of the dioceses currently using Rooted in Jesus. The Conference was hosted by Bishop Stanley Hotay, with Bishop James Newcome of the Diocese of Carlisle as the guest speaker, sharing his experience of what it means to place discipleship at the heart of a growing rural diocese. We also heard from Estelle Adams, the Administrator for Rooted in Jesus in South Africa, who travelled from Cape Town to join us. We had expected that many of the Tanzanian bishops would also be with us, but due to the untimely death and the funeral of Bishop John Simalenga they were sadly prevented from doing so. However, we had an excellent time with the Diocesan Coordinators, who were able to report fully on the progress of Rooted in Jesus in their dioceses and spend time sharing their experiences and getting to know one another. Some highlights:
- In Mara there are now 81 RinJ groups at all stages of the course across the diocese, and 71 Junior groups
- In Mount Kilimanjaro there are 1841 children involved in Rooted in Jesus Junior groups, in every parish
- In Kiteto children are coming to faith from a Muslim background, and discarding their traditional charm bracelets
- Rooted in Jesus is being introduced as part of the syllabus in three of the Diocesan Bible Colleges
In South Africa Rooted in Jesus has been locally directed and supported for over a year now. Estelle reported that in that time they have held 8 training conferences attended by 575 leaders, and that they have had much encouraging feedback. RinJ is simple but powerful, she said; it changes people’s hearts and lives because it addresses the whole person. She told us an inspiring story of how one particular group had responded to the violence of gang warfare, and seen peace return to their neighbourhood in a township of Cape Town.
The major purpose of the conference was to hand over responsibility for Rooted in Jesus within Tanzania to Bishop Stanley Hotay, who now becomes the National Director for Rooted in Jesus in Tanzania. He will be supported by Canon James Almasi and Canon Jacob Robert, appointed as Regional Coordinators with responsibility for the South and the North of the country respectively; and by Revd Dr Linnet Smith who will be working for a part of each year in Arusha to help with the administration and development of the programme. They have a busy year ahead, with follow-up conferences to be planned and invitations from three further dioceses to introduce Rooted in Jesus. They will still need financial support in order to print the books and subsidise the conferences, and we have covenanted with them to try and help with that.
One of the diocesan coordinators, Emmanuel Rubuye from the Diocese of Tabora where RinJ was introduced just a few months ago, shared these thoughts in his first report:
- “I have been receiving testimony from few ministers who are running RinJ group classes to their congregations, trainees has learn minister coming down to their level, something which was quite difficult before, the classes is full of friendship, relationship and collaboration. It is a great change, I really feel a great enthusiasm to visit their congregation and see by my own eye such great testimony.”
He offered the following response from Pastor Jonas Mkuyu, who has been leading a RinJ group in his parish:
- “The book and its teaching has been a big help to my mission of up bringing Christian through Christian teaching. The book is speaking to Christian level, it is very easy for the group to discuss the questions and give a good answer, every group member has a word to say and advice to others, and I’m very encouraged and see a good future of my first group. The RinJ group members are very comfortable with the teaching and enjoying the teachings. Surely I’m going to be free and do other necessarily activities and the rest be left to the trained group.”
If you’d like to read more about the conference and catch up with the state of play of RinJ in Tanzania you can download the report here.
Finally, we are as ever extremely grateful to all those who prayed for the conference and to those who helped make it possible financially.