Back on the road!

As we move into the new academic year we rejoice at the new opportunities opening up to us all as we re-engage in face to face interaction with one another. Here in the UK we have a series of training and planning events in the diary for the next few months. New EQUIP groups are starting up, and face-to-face ministry is once again possible. We have a growing team of people who travel with us, and an Easter mission is being planned – it’s a good time to be giving thanks for what we have, and building new foundations for the future. If you would like to find out more about what we can offer, please do drop us a line or give us a call – our contact details are here.

Back on the road in DR Congo

As Covid restrictions begin to ease dioceses are now beginning to hold Rooted in Jesus discipleship conferences. We were particularly pleased to be invited by Bishop Elisha Tendwa to send a team to help him prepare the new missionary Diocese of Lake Tanganyika in DR Congo. Having used Rooted in Jesus to prepare a new missionary diocese in DR Congo a few years ago, Bishop Elisha Tendwa has now been asked to do it again, this time working within the Diocese of Bukavu. The conference was planned in partnership between RinJ UK and RinJ Tanzania, with team members travelling from Tanzania and Burundi. The conference was opened by the Archbishop and attended by 110 pastors, Mothers Union leaders, Youth leaders, representatives from neighbouring denominations, and the Diocesan Secretary and other central staff members from the parent Diocese of Bukavu. We have posted a full report on our blog here.

Putting down new roots in Tanzania

Two Rooted in Jesus conferences have also been held in recent weeks in Tanzania, one in the Diocese of Biharamulo, the youngest in the country at just 4 years old, and one in the Diocese of Victoria Nyanza, which is rejoicing in the appointment of a new bishop after a long period without one. The report can be found here, where you will also find a short devotional message shared by Revd Leonard Giligwa, the Rooted in Jesus coordinator in the Diocese of Victoria Nyanza, Tanzania. Leonard knows from first hand experience that life can be tough – and he offers us God’s love and encouragement as he meditates on a tree in his village.
As travel restrictions begin to ease, we are looking forward to further mission trips – starting with two conferences in South Sudan in November.

Posted 29th September 2021

Now is the time

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven, wrote the sage of Ecclesiastes – and on with the famous passage, a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to gather what is planted, a time to tear down and a time to build up…. For us, August is perhaps a time to draw breath, to take stock, to renew our energy and our courage, and to prepare for the new season of ministry which lies ahead. We give thanks in particular for some recent developments:
  • Our EQUIP ministry has come through the pandemic with increased numbers: 9 groups will start up in the autumn, mostly face to face but with some on Zoom. One local mission is planned, and three others are under discussion.

  • We have just published the first Swahili translation of the Rooted in Jesus Team Manual, which was first created twelve years ago to enable teams of Rooted in Jesus facilitators to provide enjoyable and effective training sessions for new group leaders. It’s been revised and updated over the years, but until now was available only in English. We are delighted to announce that it is now also available in Swahili. It takes its place alongside the Rooted in Jesus Junior Team Manual which was translated into Swahili last year.
Otherwise, the ups and downs we have all experienced over the last 18 months continue to encourage and challenge us:
  • We have been inspired by testimonies from group members in South Africa, where the Diocese of Natal has just hosted an online training course for Rooted in Jesus. One group member said:  “RinJ has taught me from the Bible how to forgive, how to move on, to be a different person.” Another shared: “I have got so much closer to God through Rooted in Jesus, and I have found a family. It has transformed my life.” Both came from a group which began by meeting in person, but changed to meeting by whatsapp during the period of restrictions.

  • And we continue to be challenged by the seemingly ever increasing difficulties of ministry in rural England. One of our new EQUIP groups aims to support clergy leading multi-parish benefices, with all the challenges of scattered rural congregations, high parish shares and the burden of maintaining ancient buildings. Ministry is never easy…
But in all this we remember Jesus’ words to his disciples: ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you.’ That is our desire and our determination.
If you would like to catch up with the news on Rooted in Jesus in more detail, visit our latest blog. And if now is the time and you would like to join our EQUIP programme, please do get in touch!

Posted 11th August 2021

Out and about – and a new publication

As the country begins to awaken from its enforced hibernation, we have begun to travel again. Our EQUIP groups are still meeting by Zoom, but we are increasingly able to plan real, live events with and for those we support. Roger Morgan has just spent a weekend in Kent helping a tiny but growing village church prepare for its first ever parish mission, working with a determined clergy couple and a dynamic group of young church members. ‘We have not had a prayer opportunity until now, and people’s response was amazing!’, they wrote afterwards; ‘a lady who didn’t attend on Sunday said her friend (who did) wouldn’t stop talking about it!’ And that, of course, is what we want – a world in which people talk about what’s going on in the local church…

A new book for Rooted in Jesus

We have continued to work hard on Rooted in Jesus, with 7 conferences ready to go as soon as circumstances permit. We have printed additional books for the growing number of groups in Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania, and have published translations in several new languages as well as updating editions for some of the older translations. But the main news to share is that we have written a brand new book. It’s called Tools for the Job, and its aim is to provide an ongoing template for groups which have completed the 4 books of the Rooted in Jesus programme and are now engaged in various forms of ministry, but wish to continue meeting together periodically to support and pray for one another and continue to grow in their faith. To find out more please visit our blog.

The new world of Zoom

Zoom is one of the new tools we will probably all want to keep on using into the future. It’s early days, but we have been experimenting with virtual small groups and training events. Bishop Martin and Colleen Breytenbach have been running a Zoom Rooted in Jesus group in Cape Town, which is going very well – if anything, they say, people are able to respond more deeply from the familiar environment of their own homes. They are now designing the first Rooted in Jesus virtual leadership training, adapting the usual conference material into a Zoom-friendly format.
Here in England, Ian and Sue Cripps have had some very positive feedback from the Beyond Ourselves course which they ran over Zoom for those who signed up after a virtual enquiry event at which Roger spoke. ‘Each week, every topic and associated exercise has spoken to me and I have found my faith strengthened and enhanced’, wrote one participant afterwards; ‘Having experienced this course, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to explore their faith, whether coming from none or little faith, or having been brought up in a Christian family.’
So here we are in a new season. We’d like to close by sharing some news we received recently from Ven Hectorina Tsotetsi of the Diocese of the Free State in South Africa:
“Let me share the most exciting and shocking news that happened on the day of Pentecost, where [a member of our] RinJ small teams donated 50K [rand, ie £2.5K] as a testimony of life changing and thanksgiving to God. Her reason for donating such a huge amount of money is that she nearly died without accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour. She thanks God for the transformation of becoming a new creation. God is good all the time.”
Indeed he is.
Members of Hectorina’s Rooted in Jesus group
Posted 1st June 2021

Sharing the gospel in Tanzania

We have been immensely encouraged by continued good news from our Rooted in Jesus friends, and we’d like to share some recent highlights with you.

The Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro

In the Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, where Rooted in Jesus first began, Bishop Stanley Hotay tells us that 420 new churches have been planted over he last decade, many of them among Maasai communities. Hundreds of people have been baptised in these communities in recent months, most of them after hearing about Jesus for the first time. We have been working with Mission Director Clement Manyatta to revise and reprint the Masai translations of the RinJ booklets, training has been provided for a new generation of leaders, and the pastors are preparing to start 50 new Rooted in Jesus groups. ‘Life must go on,’ Bishop Hotay said to us recently – and events are proving him right. You can watch his video report and find out more on our blog.

The Diocese of Toliara

Meanwhile in the Diocese of Toliara, Madagascar, the huge response to the gospel following the distribution of famine relief has continued. An astonishing 1900 people have been baptised, Rooted in Jesus is to be translated into a new local language, Antandroy, and 35 new leaders are being trained to establish groups in the new areas.

Looking ahead

Meanwhile, as the Covid restrictions are gradually lifted, we are beginning once again to plan Rooted in Jesus conferences. Some of these will be led by the national team in Tanzania, some from the UK and some from South Africa. We continue to work with our partners on new translations, and to pray for the Lord’s blessing on our shared ministry as we move into a new phase of our lives together.
To find out more about Rooted in Jesus do visit the website, sign up to follow our blog, or follow us on Facebook.

Posted 4th May 2021

Making new disciples in the midst of armed conflict

We are delighted to be able to share some inspiring news we have just received from South Kordofan in Sudan – a people for whom Covid is simply the latest in a long, and far more devastating, series of challenges and hardships. We hope that you too will be encouraged to know that the Lord is at work in this most painful context; and that you will draw strength from it as we face our own, more modest, difficulties.

People requesting prayer in Salara

The Diocese of Kadugli held a Rooted in Jesus training conference 18 months ago, led by Andrew Evans and a team from the Diocese of Salisbury. Since then the challenges and difficulties of Covid have been added to the far more severe challenges and difficulties they have been facing for many years now. But the Diocesan Secretary and Rooted in Jesus coordinator Babuj Simon has just written to share the news of how Rooted in Jesus is making a difference in the town of El-Dalang – to such an extent that they decided to embark on an ambitious outreach to Salara, a town in one of the rebel-controlled areas. The church there was closed fifty years ago, the building converted into a college, and people were forced to convert to Islam.
Pastor Hassan Sudan, the Rooted in Jesus team leader in Salara, recently obtained access permission for a team of 20 people from El-Dalang and El-Obied to go to Salara, to pray for the sick and to share the gospel. Twenty two people gave their lives to Christ, including some key leaders from the community, and all were baptised. The team was led by Babuj, and most of the members were drawn from existing Rooted in Jesus groups in El-Dalang. To read the report and see for yourself please read our blog post here.
“Surely God is my salvation;
 I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself,
is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
Isaiah chapter 12
Posted 8th April 2021 by the Mathetes Trust

Taste and see that the Lord is good

How can we remain faithful to our calling to share the good news of Jesus with others? How can we best draw them into the radical community which we call church? Ian Cripps is convinced that it is through building relationships. He outlines some simple steps he has taken in his own town:

If we are loving God and loving our neighbour as ourselves we will form warm relationships. A warm relationship is when you and your friend know about each other’s circumstances, and so your friend knows you are a committed Christian. If you invite your friend to an interesting event, they will seriously think about attending. You have absolutely nothing to lose.
Working backwards from the outcome we desire gives us something which looks like this:
6. God invites everyone to enter into relationship with him.
5. One way of sharing God’s invitation is to provide an attractive Christian foundation course, followed by an invitation to  an accessible church service.
4. One way of sharing God’s invitation is to provide an attractive Christian foundation course, followed by an invitation to  an accessible church service.
3. The taster event is advertised through personal ‘warm’ invitations, through an announcement from your minister at your weekly online service and church website, and through neighbourhood media.
2. In preparation for this, ask for your minister’s support and email your church council or leadership team and church members outlining the planned outreach and its purpose. Invite some to serve as facilitators in the Zoom event and subsequent Zoom foundation course.
1. Find an experienced guest speaker and agree a topic.
I am a member of  the Mathetes Trust’s Equip programme. So I shared my thoughts with Roger Morgan, and then took my proposal to our minister. She suggested I work with our curate as co-leader. Just five weeks later we held our taster event!
We ran the event twice, once during the early afternoon and once in the evening, and received 34 feedback forms. We had invited participants to rate the event on a scale from 0 (a waste of time) to 6 (excellent). We were encouraged to find the average score was 5.2. Thirty of those responding said they would welcome further similar events.
We then invited those who had attended the taster events to sign up for a foundation course. We decided to use the Mathetes Trust’s friendly and accessible Beyond Ourselves course, and again we held it on Zoom. 15 participants (congregational members and their friends) and 5 facilitators accepted our invitation to attend. We used breakout rooms to keep the discussion groups small, matching each facilitator with three participants who were at similar points on their journey and asking them to keep in touch by phone. We plan to follow the Beyond Ourselves course with the rest of the series in The God Who is There programme.
Beyond Ourselves offers an interactive, jargon-free introduction to the Christian faith
If you would like to know more about running taster events and enquiry courses and feel we may be able to help, please do get in touch. Information about The God Who is There can be found on our discipleship page.
Posted 25th March 2021 by the Mathetes Trust.

Rooted in Jesus Annual Report

We have just published the Rooted in Jesus Annual Report for the year 2020. It’s been a peculiar year, to say the least, but three significant RinJ conferences took place (unusually early in the year!) before the national lockdowns came into force, and we have made good use of the time by working on new translations and editions of the leader’s booklets and team manuals. We have kept in regular touch with those we serve, and have received some hugely encouraging reports of the difference Rooted in Jesus has made as people have struggled with the challenges raised by the pandemic. The availability of vaccines both here in the UK and in Africa is a positive step forward, and we look forward to fulfilling the outstanding invitations for conferences as soon as circumstances permit.
The report can be downloaded from the Rooted in Jesus website here – or read a summary on the Rooted in Jesus blog, where you will find feedback from across the continent of Africa, details of new translations, personal testimonies and more.
Posted March 2nd 2021 by The Mathetes Trust.

I was hungry and you fed me

The beginning of Lent seems like a good time to focus our minds and prayers on our brothers and sisters in other lands, and we have some news to share from the Diocese in Toliara, Madagascar. We have posted a full report on our blog, but here is a summary:
Southern Madagascar has been hit by a prolonged period of drought. This has seen many people lose their lives, and many more have been forced to leave their homes in search of food. With support from Christians in far off places, the diocese has now made a second famine relief distribution, providing enough sacks of rice and beans to feed 900 families in the affected areas for a month.
The packed church in Ambovombe
The good news is that many people have responded to this by starting to attend church – not least because the food was given away to everybody, irrespective of religious affiliation. There has been, Revd Gaston, reports, an “explosion of people, with no more room to fit in people. People are being baptized because they are being touched by the love of God and asking, ‘What religion is this that cares? We want to join you’”. Gaston’s wife Olivia is running three Rooted in Jesus groups to teach those who have decided to place their faith in Jesus, and the new church of Ambovombe is packed out on Sundays.
Meanwhile, not far away in Mahabo parish, the Rooted in Jesus group in the Chapel of St Andrew has now completed the programme and received certificates.
The Rooted in Jesus group receive their certificates
We first went to Madagascar ten years ago. In a country where 80% of people are yet to hear the gospel, it’s hugely encouraging to see the huge strides being made despite the very real difficulties of living in a place subject to an increasing scourge of famines and cyclones. We feel privileged to be able to continue to support them in these small ways. As we begin the season of Lent, it would be good to respond to their prayer request: “Please pray for rain to fall so that rivers will be filled, the underground water table will rise, and crops will grow, but not so much rain at any one time that it causes damage.”
To find out more do take a look at the blog.
Posted by the Mathetes Trust 17 February 2021

What Happens When We Die?

We are delighted to announce that we have just published our first e-book. Alison Morgan’s What Happens When We Die? has been out of print for some time. It has helped thousands of people to find a new and life-changing confidence as they face up to the reality of death, and has sold many copies both here in the UK and in China, where it was published in 2007. There has been renewed interest in the book due to the anxiety caused by the pandemic, and we have responded to this by publishing an updated edition as our first e-book.
Starting with ancient ideas on death and the afterlife, the book explores the teaching of the major world religions, considers near-death, psychic and paranormal experiences, and examines the case for reincarnation. The strengths of the various religious claims are then tested by reference to the character of the prophets of each tradition, and this is followed by an objective summary of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Alison, who had begun her journey as an atheist, brings everything together by sharing her decision to place her faith in the Christian hope – it is, she concludes, the only one which seems to stand up to rigorous examination.
It’s available from our publications page for just £5, and can be read with any standard e-book reader. For a Church of England newspaper review click here.
Posted 27th January 2021

Light in the darkness

Have you ever, by any chance, received a startling and unexpected announcement, perhaps one which changed your plans for Christmas??? Here in England we are all thinking again about the next few days – for, they tell us, something bigger than family, more far-reaching than mid-winter feasts, is happening among us: the coronavirus is once again expanding its reach, our hopsitals are full, and we must stay at home.
From the 15th century Book of Hours illustrated by the Limbourg brothers
It may occur to us that this is not the first time ordinary people have sat down and listened to news they didn’t expect to hear. What would it be like, to be looking after your animals in the hills, to be welcoming people to your inn, to be gazing at the night sky – and suddenly to discover that something so momentous was going on that it would change everything? That was the experience of the shepherds in the biblical story, the publicans in the towns, the wise men observing a new star. Perhaps it’s not so hard for us to imagine after all, as we too are forced to change our plans. Perhaps this is a time to pray that we will be able to enter more deeply into the story which we remember at this time of year, to trust more profoundly in whatever future awaits us, and to give thanks for the coming of Jesus into our lives.
But however tough things may be, we are not alone. Bad news paves the way for good news – and that is, after all, what Christmas is all about. Perhaps we will be able to see the ‘Christmas star’ due to brighten our skies for the first time in hundreds of years as Jupiter and Saturn line up this week, and perhaps we will remember that once, a star just like it led the wise to Jesus.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
All of us at the Mathetes Trust wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas.

Posted 23rd December 2020