A team led by Matthew Grayshon has just returned from the Diocese of Katanga, in the SE part of the DR Congo – a diocese the size of England, mostly remote and rural, and not far from areas of great instability and suffering. The team, whose members came from the UK, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia, offered two conferences, one in Lubumbashi and one in the new missionary area of Kalemie. Commitment was high: in Lubumbashi the team walked into the prayer room to be greeted by four women whose undertaking was to pray for the conference: “We will be here all night.” And in Kalemie one priest arrived by bicycle, having taken 6 days to cover the 512 km from his home.
The first conference was hosted by Bishop Kasima Corneille, and the second by assistant Bishop Elisha Tendwa. 176 people were trained to lead RinJ groups, and the programme was launched with immediate effect. In Lubumbashi the time was well organised and the participants responsive; Stephane Makata was appointed coordinator – to read his report on the conference click here. In Kalemie, a remote area close to the Tanzanian border, the gathering was the first event held by Bishop Elisha in his future diocese, and an important time for him and his clergy and lay leaders as they set out markers for their future ministry together. The team were uplifted and inspired by the depth of the worship and the warmth of the welcome – due in part because they were the first foreign visitors since the wars. In both places the times of prayer and ministry were significant, with many touched in various ways. James Mayundo-Mulongo was appointed as the local coordinator.
Bishop Elisha wrote afterwards: “We would like to present our thanks to the management of Rooted in Jesus who released and sent you to come in Congo, and you were faithful and accepted; your faith and thirst to serve others brought you without fear. Prophet Ezekiel saw the valley of dry bones, so we were a valley of dry bones but now through RinJ team God breathed new life into a valley of dry bones, created waves of revival, waves of growth and spiritual life to His people in Congo.”
As for the team, they returned full of thanks and praise: “I felt we hardly needed an aeroplane, we should have been able to fly with our own wings we were so wonderfully supported in prayer”, Jean Hicks wrote. “I guess all in all I feel I’ve really grown spiritually through this and had a wonderful adventure along the way,” Dr Jenny Tait said. The final word goes to team leader Matthew Grayshon: “I am so grateful to the Lord for the privilege of bringing Rooted in Jesus to two church communities, not least the riches they have given me of resilient faith shining through after years of terrible events.”
To read Matthew’s full report click here.
The Diocese of Tabora
“I want to bring you a great news from Tabora Diocese,” Rooted in Jesus coordinator Emmanuel Ruboye wrote to us in March. “When a first born is born it is a great pleasure – sometimes you won’t believe is that true the first has come? As we the diocesan leaders saw such great class get finished their first book, it was an unbelievable moment.” RinJ was introduced to the Diocese of Tabora last June (click here to find out more). Over the last few months, groups in Isevya, Kaliua and Goweko parishes have completed Book 1 and been presented with their certificates in Sunday services. Local coordinators have now been appointed, and the groups will move on to Book 2. The diocese was hoping to hold a follow-up conference this year, but resources are scarce so this has now been postponed to 2015. For Emmanuel’s full report click here.
The Diocese of Masasi
Meanwhile Revd Dr Linnet Smith, working as RinJ Link Officer in Arusha, visited the Diocese of Masasi, where RinJ and RinJ Junior have been in use since 2009 and 2010 respectively. Hosted by Canon James Almasi, Linnet visited a number of churches to see how things were going; she found joyful children’s groups and a new church plant which has come directly from Rooted in Jesus. She writes:
- Mkuti: a wonderful presentation by the children which uses Rooted in Jesus material. It included prayers led by the children (‘They learn to pray in their RinJ group’ said James!) a drama of the offering of Isaac, making a cross from a sheet of paper (as in Rooted in Jesus), the reciting of numerous memory verses and much singing.
- We visited Wapiwapi Church. The choir sang, an English hymn tune, unaccompanied, in the most beautiful four part harmony I have ever heard. Another wonderful presentation, more children leading us in prayer, another very moving drama by the children – the illustration from RinJ of crossing the river full of crocodiles and needing something to carry you over – I nearly wept with joy when the boy who was trying to cross found the boy taking the part of Jesus, knelt at his feet and then was carried safely over the river. What a powerful illustration! Singing and refreshments followed and another opportunity to speak some words of encouragement.
- Two Eucharists on Tuesday, both in village churches. The first, Nangose Church, is a direct result of Rooted in Jesus. An adult group was meeting there and they planted the Church in that community. What an encouragement. I preached there and, in the afternoon, at Lisekese, with James as my interpreter. There was a great sense of devotion and deep spirituality in both Eucharists.
- We were late arriving in Lindi but a Rooted in Jesus group had gathered in the church to greet us. Lindi is 95% Muslim so the Christians are a rather vulnerable minority. I asked them to share how RinJ had helped them – amazing answers were given: the Pastor said he need no longer worry about sending them to Bible School – Bible School had come to them in their group; one lady said that she was now reading her Bible every day and it was really helping her; another said that the memory verse and the studies were changing her so that even her neighbours had noticed she was different; another said that it was much easier to invite friends to a RinJ group than to church.
Linnet concludes: “How good to meet so many wonderful Christians and to see God at work!” To read her full report click here.
The Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro – Rooted in Jesus Junior
Finally, Linnet spent a day at Holy Trinity, Moshi, where she met about 60 children who have completed RinJ Book 1 and presented them with their certificates during the service. Coordinator Charles Unjiro reports that there are over 100 more children who who have also finished Book 1. Linnet writes: “I was able to give a short word of encouragement to them and to the whole congregation, and was so thrilled to see them stand up and recite the memory verses, complete with the most expressive actions – one verse refers to Jesus’ sheep going in and out and finding pasture – I wish you could have seen the action representing hungrily eating the food – I nearly cried for joy!!” To read more about Linnet’s visit to Moshi click here.