The Makonde people of Tanzania are famous for their woodcarvings, and like the great teachers of the church many centuries ago they believe that everything we achieve is built on a foundation of what others have achieved before us. And so many of their carvings represent groups of people supporting one another in the journey of life, clambering gradually upwards, together reaching heights which no individual could attain on his or her own. These trees of life are often created out of a single tree trunk, and can reach many metres high. They offer a powerful reminder of the way we depend on one another in every aspect of our lives – and not least in our journey of faith.
Rooted in Jesus was originally developed for use in Tanzania, 15 years ago now. Since 2013 it has been independently run in the Province, and each year the Diocesan Coordinators gather together to review their work and plan for the year ahead. This year the Conference was held in Arusha. Every diocese is different, and each person had their own story to tell – stories of children being discipled in Sunday Schools, of people coming to faith, of new churches being planted and coming to maturity; and of course stories too of great challenge and difficulty. But perhaps the most striking thing was the sense of unity and shared purpose, even where distances are great and resources are few. It was only one day – but it was a good one.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” – John 17.20-23