Author Archives: rootedinjesus

About rootedinjesus

Rooted in Jesus is a discipleship programme for Africa now in use in 16 countries. It is edited and directed by Revd Dr Alison Morgan.

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

 

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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 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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Plight and flight in South Sudan

Last year we were privileged to be able to send a Rooted in Jesus team to the Diocese of Kajo-Keji in South Sudan. Long in the planning, the conferences had been delayed due to the political instabilities which had made travel dangerous for team and participants alike. But by 2016 things were more settled, and in October two hundred and sixteen clergy and lay leaders were trained to run Rooted in Jesus groups.

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The conference last October (read the blog entry)

HOWEVER since then the security situation has grown much worse, and 90% of those living in the Diocese have now been forced by renewed conflict and famine to flee to refugee camps in Uganda. We are watching yet another human tragedy unfold before our eyes.

Bishop Emmanuel released a report in March:

The political situation in many parts of South Sudan has drastically deteriorated since the 2016 Juba conflict. Although the greater Kajo-keji region experienced relative political stability and calm for the rest of 2016, the situation suddenly took a turn for the worst following clashes between the government soldiers and the SPLM/IO in the Mondikolok and Mere Bomas of Kajo-keji County … The entire Kajo-Keji region now faces severe humanitarian crisis with at least 97% of the population fleeing their homes and villages. At the beginning of the crisis, the church provided shelter for at least 50% of the population, most of whom eventually fled to refugee camps in the Moyo and Adjumani districts of Uganda as the conflict escalated. Only about 3% have now remained in the villages or fled to Internally Displaced People’s camps such as Ajiyo, Kerwa and Logo, where they face severe hunger, water shortage, disease, post conflict trauma, and many more. In the refugee camps of Moyo district where most of our people have settled, the humanitarian crisis is even worse. Severe hunger, water shortage, lack of shelter, poor or no health care, poor or no educational facilities have been cited; as well as high levels of tribal animosity and psychosocial stress. Recent reports state that over 200,000 refugees mostly from Kajo-keji County have settled in the refugee camps of Moyo district, and an even bigger number have settled in refugee camps of Arua, Adjumani and Yumbe districts. With the continued conflict in South Sudan, refugees continue to flock into Uganda. Travels to and from Kajo-Keji remain very unsafe.

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“We left our home in Lainya at the height of the fighting there, we witnessed many civilians killed, women raped, homes burnt and property looted. My husband is not with us and we do not know where he is. I just hope he is alive.”

 

Despite the obvious dangers, Bishop Emmanuel and his colleagues are doing all they can to alleviate the suffering of the people of Kajo-Keji. They have set up a new office in Moyo, in Uganda, and are visiting the refugee camps and appealing for help with food, water, shelter and medical care. Aware of the crippling mental and emotional burdens borne by many of those in the camps, they also want to provide emotional and spiritual support through the following peace building and reconciliation activities:

Peace building workshops involving the entire refugee community
Evangelism and discipleship
Music Dance and Drama (MDD)
Peace-building crusades
Games and Sports Activities

A request for help

Bishop Emmanuel has asked us to help with the second of these, evangelism and discipleship. He writes:

“The believers need Rooted in Jesus at this time of distress and spiritual need. Rooted in Jesus is the only tool and way forward to nourish the Christians and make the newly born Christian grow… We went and met the people in one of the camps in Palorinya. The meeting was attended by 37 council members and heads of department.  Among the council members, 10 were trained Rooted in Jesus group leaders. They reported that they had been busy erecting their tent but now as they are almost settling they will be ready to start the groups. The other challenges they raised was that, the group members they have started in Kajo-Keji got scattered into different refugee camps, can they start new groups? I encouraged them that they can start new groups and this is the time where people need the word of God seriously and deeply rooted in Jesus Christ. The mission and evangelism coordinator is ready to move in the camps to supervise those who are going to start new groups.”

He has appointed a coordinator, Nelson Saya, to work with Pianilee Samuel, the Diocesan Mission Coordinator, in providing support and encouragement for the Rooted in Jesus group leaders within the camps. But he points out that the group leaders are stationed in different camps, and the distances between the camps are great.

We would like to be able to help the Diocese in its desire to minister to the people of Kajo-Keji. When we first went there, South Sudan was the youngest country in the world, full of joy and optimism. Now its refugee crisis has been described by the UN as the most worrying in the world. We cannot influence the political situation or do much to alleviate the physical needs of those in the camps. But we can pray, and we can do something to help with the emotional and spiritual needs of these suffering people – both those who know Christ, and those who have yet to meet him.

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“We met a family during the bishop’s official visit to Morobi refugee camps  that was mourning the loss of a relative who burnt herself to death as a result of psychosocial stress, and is survived by five orphans and a husband who is an alcoholic.”

One of the most powerful memory verses in Rooted in Jesus is James 4.1:  My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance;  and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. It’s a verse I was embarrassed to share with group leaders in Tanzania during a time of famine there, aware that it was so easy for me to say, so hard perhaps for them to hear. And yet one of them said that learning this verse had changed her life – as she struggled to feed her children, she had found complete peace.

What can we do?

We have no magic wands for the situation in South Sudan; but we want to provide whatever support we can. Nobel prize winner Alexis Carrell once said that ‘prayer is the most powerful form of energy we can generate.’ Please pray, particularly for Bishop Emmanuel, for Samuel Pianilee and for Nelson Saya as they risk their lives to help their people. And if you would like to help us to help them in tangible ways – they ask particularly for assistance with travel costs as they move between the camps – you can make a donation either by sending a cheque payable to The Mathetes Trust to the address below, or online via the Support page of our website. We hope to make a bank transfer to the Diocese’s Ugandan account soon.

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And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. 1 John 5.15.

Posted by Revd Dr Alison Morgan, 9th May 2017

To read the diocesan report in full click here.
To read more about Rooted in Jesus visit www.rootedinjesus.net.
Rooted in Jesus is supported by The Mathetes Trust, a UK registered charity.
Postal address: The Mathetes Trust, 10 Dairy Close, Wells, Somerset BA5 2ND.