“Follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people”

Autumn is always a busy time for our African discipleship programme Rooted in Jesus. A multinational team has just returned from Mozambique, working in the Dioceses of Niassa and Nampula. Niassa was one of the first dioceses to adopt Rooted in Jesus, back in 2006, and it was hugely encouraging to be invited by Bishop Vicente Msosa to go back and to witness the growth both in numbers and in spiritual maturity which has taken place over the last decade or so. Bishop Vicente, who succeeded Bishop Mark Van Koevering two years ago, is determined to pursue this vision for growth, and convinced that a focus on discipleship is the key to the future development of the church in his huge, rural diocese.
It was a great privilege too to visit the brand new diocese of Nampula which has grown out of Niassa and was formally ratified just a few weeks ago, and to be trusted by  Bishop Manuel Ernesto to offer the first training conference for the new diocese.
To read a full report on the two conferences, visit our latest blog post HERE.

News from home

Changes are afoot at home too. After two years as our Administrator, John English has decided to retire; he plans to hit the road in his camper van. We are hugely grateful to John for his faithful and servant-hearted contribution to the first two years of the life of the Mathetes Trust. Thanks to your support we have been able to welcome Jessica Lewin to the team. Jessica will take up her post next week, and we look forward to introducing her to you.

Thank you!

Finally, we are grateful to all who have contributed to our Autumn Appeal for Rooted in Jesus. This has been hugely helpful in securing its future. If you would like to help but haven’t got round to it yet it’s not too late – just click on the purple button. Thank you!

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Rooted in Jesus conference participants at Messumba cathedral, Diocese of Niassa

Living Life to the Full

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Bedworth is a market town in Warwickshire, and Roger Morgan and a team from the Mathetes Trust have just returned home from a ten day local mission hosted by the Baptist Church there. Pastor Mark Turner had been working with Roger for months to prepare for the mission, and a team of ten visitors joined with members of the church to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the people of the town. Over 50 of the 80 strong congregation were actively involved, and great camaraderie between the teams and the church developed, with teenagers encouraged and adults seeing their inner fire fanned into flame.

What did we do?

The mission opened on the first Sunday, with Roger preaching on the Holy Spirit; people were able to come forward to receive the filling of the Spirit, and this was offered throughout the week. Every day team members set out to visit people door to door, and a questionnaire was used to open up faith-ful conversations. Church members opened up their homes to their friends, and there was a flow of invitation events of different kinds, with Roger tackling the topic of suffering and stress, Richard Scott focussing on hard times, Andrew Evans on miracles and Terry Street on change. Matt Sheffield joined us for a Messy Church event on the theme of David and Goliath, and it all involved tea, stories, curry, dance, a quiz and prayer for the local football club (which was answered!).

 

What did God do?

Do you believe in miracles? GP Richard Scott reports:
“Amongst the many healings were those in team and other church members. The most spectacular took place in Finlay. On benefits, he welcomed Andrew and Sheena at his door, prayed a prayer of commitment and after receiving the Holy Spirit told his story. A driver, he’d been crushed at work when a large steel ring held by a crane hit him, injuring his shoulders, knees and left femur. His main problem was that his 3 femoral fractures had resulted in his right leg shortening by 2 inches. Prayer led to his shoulders and knees moving normally, pain-free. Then his right leg fracture calluses disappeared as his leg telescopically lengthened by 1½ inches! The next day, gutted that I’d missed this sign, I returned with Andrew to pray for the last half inch. The leg grew in front of my eyes. Finlay then easily demonstrated symmetrical non-limping, walking without needing his specially raised shoe. Not bad! He remained on Cloud Nine, giving his testimony in church on Sunday and asking if anyone needed a shoe! Filled with the Spirit and well-encouraged, we began to pray for more miracles, with God answering daily.”
Well that was unusual; but what about miracles in people’s hearts? The team saw those too. During the week twenty seven people prayed a prayer of commitment to Jesus for the very first time, including seven residents of a single street, as well as friends and family of church members. Twenty seven new people for a church of 80 is quite a lot!
And what about blessings for the faithful? Those church members who had taken the risk of reaching out to others were themselves touched by God. Rachel Cleaton writes:
  • “The mission for me has been life changing. I felt a little anxious leading up to the mission week, but I also felt full of anticipation as I knew something very special was happening in Bedworth. I found the training sessions very interesting and supportive in developing my confidence in sharing the gospel in a simple way. The mission gave me my first experience of door to door evangelism. Daunting at first but surprising that we were well received by the majority, who quickly shared very deep personal information. This demonstrated to me the vast numbers who need Jesus in their lives. We met one lady who we invited to come to the ladies’ evening; she came and committed her life to Jesus that night. I felt overwhelmed at the thought that God had used me to speak to this lady!! This is the life changing part: God has shown me through the mission week that if I decide to ignore all my doubts and worries and just trust in him he can make the impossible happen.”
And Denise Morrison confesses:
  • “In January this year I was frantically wondering how to get out of being actively involved in this Mission! The Holy Spirit thought otherwise and led me to volunteer in almost every area. Filling me with excitement and anticipation, I was not disappointed – from the number of people who have prayed for Jesus to come into their life, to Finley who God has totally healed from a physical disability. I thank God that we have gone out in faith and for that he has rewarded us.”

 

What happens next?

Those who decided to commit their lives to Jesus have been invited to go deeper by joining a small group to tackle our Beyond Ourselves course, and church members have committed themselves to visiting and caring for them as they take their first steps in faith. People are expressing their determination to keep going, saying things like: “the door knocking has enabled me to talk to people in the town, where before I would just smile”; “I was blown away by the number of people who wanted to pray, and by the openness in the community”; “we were so complacent before the mission but are now stirred up into action”; “I felt an instant connection to the members of the team as soon as I  met them”; “the Holy Spirit felt ever present as many  people in the community accepted Jesus into their life for the first time”; “you are leaving a legacy not a memory in Bedworth.” And finally, “things will never be the same again.”


The big picture

Two reports have been published recently which taken together give an intriguing snapshot into the spiritual life of our country. In Bedworth we saw miracles in the spiritual, emotional and physical lives of ordinary people. Often we don’t expect our friends and neighbours to be open to this kind of thing; and yet just a few weeks ago the BBC reported not only that 62% of UK adults do believe that miracles can happen, but that 43% say they’ve actually prayed for one! At the same time the Church Times reveals that 62% of churches now have no children (and presumably therefore parents of children) attending their services. There’s an obvious mismatch here – are we perhaps missing something?
At the Mathetes Trust we are more and more convinced that real change is possible in the most ordinary of places, and we are committed to supporting local churches like Bedworth as they seek to reach out to others. We are already engaged in long term planning with the churches of Thanet in Kent for a mission there, to be led by Richard Scott, and we hope to work with others in the coming months.
If you would like to find out more about a Mathetes Trust mission please do get in touch.
Finally, we want to thank the team of people who volunteered to pray for the mission in Bedworth. We know that our calling as Christians is to join in with what God is doing, and that this is made possible only when we are in active communication with him. It meant a lot to know that people were praying even as we were working.

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Posted by Alison Morgan

Rooted in Jesus Autumn Appeal – Can you help?

Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by the Mathetes Trust, and is funded through the generosity of individuals and churches who support it prayerfully, financially and personally. On behalf of our brothers and sisters who rely on Rooted in Jesus as a primary tool of discipleship, we are launching an Autumn Appeal which will, we hope, enable us to continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ across the continent of Africa into 2019 and beyond.

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Rooted in Jesus
has been a great adventure. When we began in 2002 we never dreamed it would spread to 80 dioceses or networks, involve a hundred thousand people in groups, provide the first discipleship syllabus for children, be translated into 44 languages (and counting), overwhelm us with humbling testimonies of changed lives and growing churches, or be endorsed by the Anglican Communion – and yet all those things have happened.
In this work we rely on the support of individuals and churches in the developed world. Some pray, some go out on teams, some just show an interest. All of this is very important to us. But the immediate need we have is for finance. We realise that many of you will be hard pressed yourselves, but if not, please would you consider making a financial gift in order to open up real discipleship to some of the poorest people in the world?
We don’t go looking for work, but whenever a request comes from an African diocese, we send out a team to run a conference which trains clergy and lay leaders to establish small discipleship groups in their home communities. A typical conference trains up to 150 leaders and enables up to two thousand people to join a Rooted in Jesus group, thus bringing discipleship to many lives. For many of these leaders it’s the first formal training they have ever had.
It’s five years now since we had a major appeal for funding. Over those five years we have invested £90K directly into establishing Rooted in Jesus groups across sub-Saharan Africa. If we are to continue this work we will need to invest at a similar rate – probably more as the work expands. Our reserves are now very low, which is why we are launching this appeal – if we can’t support it, we can’t run it!

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Rooted in Jesus training, Zone 2 Refugee Camp, Uganda


What does it cost?

Rooted in Jesus is deliberately designed to be low cost. Team members from outside Africa raise their own travel costs. Conference delegates also cover their own travel. Wherever possible, host dioceses cover the cost of the conferences and arrange translation. But we provide the books free of charge, and we pay the travel costs of one or two experienced African team members from neighbouring countries. We also make grants to dioceses in particular need (eg following war, or famine). Each diocese is different, but none of them can get the programme off the ground without some investment from us.
Can you help? We have four conferences planned for the autumn and so far a further nine invitations for next year. Costs vary from diocese to diocese, but so far the average cost to us of running a conference has been about £3000. This is in addition to our fixed administrative costs of £10K per year. Typically £20 provides training and books for one participant. £100 enables translation into a new language. £600 pays for a conference print run of leaders’ booklets.

How you can help

If you would like to find out more about how to help, please take a look at our Support page. If you would like to invite your church to support Rooted in Jesus we’d be delighted to send flyers or provide a speaker. You can donate online using the purple button below, or by cheque, bank transfer or Standing Order, and we can claim additional Gift Aid if you are a taxpayer. If you’d like to read some testimonies you will find them on our website here.
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  • Gift Aid form – download here
  • Standing order or bank transfer – download form here
  • Other ways you can help – visit our support page
  • Contact us here
Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28.19-20.
Thank you so much for your prayers, support and involvement in this ministry – without you it would not be possible.
Canon Roger Morgan, Revd Mike Cotterell, Revd Andrew Evans
Trustees of The Mathetes Trust
September 2018
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Bishops prioritise discipleship training

Making the most of the Decade of Discipleship

Recent news from South Africa is exciting – Rooted in Jesus has been introduced to the Diocese of the Free State, and reinforced in the Diocese of Natal; in both cases alongside training for our companion discipleship programme The God Who is There. Revd Trevor Pearce and a team from Growing the Church led the training conferences, Bishop Dintoe of Free State is leading the way with a group of his own, and lives are already being changed – to find out how see the blog report https://rootedinjesus.blog/2018/08/08/bishops-prioritise-discipleship-training/
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Trevor Pearce introduces ‘The God Who is There’


New translations

As Rooted in Jesus is introduced to new people groups, new translations have to be made into local languages. Recent work by our partners means that it is now available in whole or in part in Lunda (for Zambia), Luhya (for Kenya) and Kumam (for Uganda). In recent months we have also adapted the Swahili translation for use in DR Congo. Rooted in Jesus has now been translated into 44 languages!
Meanwhile in the Diocese of Bunyoro Kitara, Diocesan Coordinator Joyce Asaba has written to request more copies of Book 4 in the local language of Runyoro. She writes: “Group Members say that they have really benefited from the course and some have become leaders and formed other groups. They also say that scripture memory has indeed helped them in ministry and in their daily lives. Others say that their lives have changed completely. So please we need more prayers because now some churches are picking up interest in RinJ and have started.”

 

Mark sees the lives of group members changing in Binikira, Diocese of  Mityana

Rooted in Jesus often gives new impetus to the ministry of a church leader, and this is the case for Mark. John Musaasizi reports: “Jethro and I visited Binikira Church. Towards the end of the service Mark the trainer of Rooted Jesus at Binikira and I peacefully walked out to address the newly born in Christ Jesus together with those who gave their lives to Jesus years earlier. Some of the members had old lifestyles they felt were not compatible with the New Life in Christ. We could not provide solutions to all questions. We left it to Mark to deal with issues as they surfaced during his Rooted in Jesus training. Mark is one of the best Rooted in Jesus trainers we have in the Diocese of Mityana. He has already indicated his readiness to train the entire church membership.”
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Whole congregations follow Rooted in Jesus in Mityana


Doing your bit –  the new Amazon Smile programme

Finally, back to home and your own buying of books. Amazon have a new scheme – when you buy a book (or indeed anything else) from them, they will ask you to let them donate to your favourite charity. The Mathetes Trust is registered with them as an approved charity – so if you choose us, you are helping whole communities find out what it means to follow Jesus! And it costs you nothing at all…

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Posted 9th August 2018

Making Disciples in North Wingfield

MATHETES TRUST MISSION AT ST LAWRENCE CHURCH NORTH WINGFIELD, 17 – 24 JUNE 2018

The Mathetes Trust exists to help promote a culture of discipleship and disciple-making within the local church, and one of the ways we do this is by helping with parish missions. Over the last few months we have been working closely with Colin Cooper and St Lawrence, North Wingfield (near Chesterfield), and in June Roger Morgan led a full ten day mission titled ‘Love North Wingfield’, staffed by a joint team of people from the local church and visitors from the Mathetes Trust. We were very encouraged by the way things went – not just because of the many people who responded to an invitation to enter into a relationship with Jesus, but also because we feel that we are learning a huge amount about how an ordinary church can grow today. Here’s a report from Colin, followed by some reflections on mission from Roger.

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Team Rector Colin Cooper writes:
“North Wingfield is an ex-mining village with a population of about 7,500 people. It is mainly working to lower middle class in its social make-up and is generally a friendly and pleasant place to live.
“This mission took place as part of a year of mission from St Lawrence Church with the title ‘Love North Wingfield’. The church prepared for the mission using the Beautiful Lives material and it followed the usual Mathetes Trust style of special events, home meetings and door-to-door visits with a ‘Home’ team of 14 and an ‘Away’ team of 12, forming a foundation of personnel enabling the wider church to engage in mission.  We were blessed with beautiful weather which enabled us to use to full advantage the light summer days and evenings.
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“The church at St Lawrence responded very well to the challenge and most took some kind of part with real generosity shown in providing hospitality of different kinds.  Perhaps the greatest blessing (among many) was the emergence of a committed and competent group of  people trained and excited about the future and evangelism.
“All special events were well organised and well-attended with around 600 people attending them in total (there was obviously some overlap as some people attended multiple events) with clear Gospel teaching from Roger Morgan, Richard Scott and Gary Ralls.  Personal contact was made with 115 people on the doors (although many more doors were knocked). By the end of the week, 16 people prayed a prayer of commitment to Christ following a ‘Bridge’ presentation and another 20 are being followed up as meaningful contacts. 2 small Alpha groups have begun, with another small group studying Mark’s gospel.  If there was a disappointment, it was the relatively small uptake on the Alpha course, leaving me to question whether this is the right approach for reaching completely unchurched people.

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“This mission was a pleasure to be part of and was made possible by the amazing commitment of Roger and his ‘Away’ team, and the hard work and commitment of St Lawrence ‘Home ‘ team and other church members who played a full part.  We are now looking forward to future outreach and mission in the Autumn and 2019 as the ‘Love North Wingfield’ project continues.”

So what are we learning about mission?

We all know that the typical local church has seen its membership decline over recent decades. A huge amount of energy has been poured into trying to do something about this, with initiatives of all kinds both local and national. Many of these are innovative and experimental, and many are bearing fruit. But the trouble is that many ordinary churches feel that these initiatives are beyond their reach; they require entrepreneurial skills, technological ability, financial resources, dynamic full time staff, and lots of time.
So what about the ordinary church whose ordinary members have ordinary skills and live in an ordinary place? Colin had been told by one national leader that he was simply too old to grow his church – only churches with young leaders grow! North Wingfield is short on innovation, resources, and youthfulness. And yet it is growing…
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How did they do it?

Colin is a member of one of our EQUIP support groups for church leaders, and has been meeting three times a year with Roger and a group of local colleagues to think and pray together about how to grow his church. Colin decided that a simple strategy was the best. He invited the entire church to start by exploring their own discipleship. “I want to provide a way for people to explore what it means to be a follower of Jesus which is thorough, interesting and which does not ‘soft sell’ the demands of discipleship,” Colin wrote. He ordered copies of our discipleship programme The God Who is There, and the church met in small groups over a period of two years. Those who complete the course emerge with a strong personal faith, a strong fellowship with one another, and a shared determination to share that faith with anyone who is attracted by it.
Colin followed this discipleship training with a focus on evangelism. How do we equip ourselves, as disciples of Jesus, to share our faith with others? He used Roger’s Beautiful Lives course. 1 Peter 3.2-4 speaks of the beauty and reverence which should characterise our lives as Christians, and the course is built on the assumption that it is beautiful lives, lived in the power of the Holy Spirit, which lead others to faith. Disciples of Jesus are people who are gradually being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. They have something to share, something which is found not in glitzy programmes but within our own, ordinary hearts.

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Beautiful Lives encourages people to reflect on their own story, to share it in gentle ways, to invite their friends and neighbours to attractive and appropriate events which help them to find out more. And that is what the mission was based on. Church members talked with their friends and invited them to things they thought they’d enjoy. The mission team knocked on doors and invited people to some of those things too. People came, people responded, and Jesus was made known.
So over the last two years St Lawrence has pursued a strategy focussed solely and simply on discipleship; the mission flowed out of that, and out of the mission has come not just new disciples, but a new conviction that the church has in some sense found a pathway to growth. If we are not excited about Jesus, no one else will be either – and the people of St Lawrence have a new determination to forge forwards in mission.

 

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How about you?

We think any church could do this! If you think we can help, please do get in touch.

Find out more about growing disciples with The God Who is There here

Find out more about evangelism with Beautiful Lives here

Find out more about parish missions with the Mathetes Trust here

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All those who responded to the invitation to find out more about Jesus were given a copy of Decision, a simple illustrated guide to becoming a Christian.

Mind the Gap!

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Making disciples in Africa

We have just published a blog post “Mind the gap!” with recent news from the Diocese of Toliara, Madagascar, where it seems that all the churches now have Rooted in Jesus Junior groups; children quote memory verses to their congregations, and such is the excitement about the programme that they have made T shirts with the RinJ logo on them to promote it! Read the post here, and enjoy some inspiring personal challenges from those working there.
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The newly built Tulear cathedral has become a hub of prayer
Meanwhile in Uganda John Musaasizi continues with his tireless visits to group leaders, this time moving rocks from the road with his bare hands in order to get through in his hired car; on every visit people give their lives to Christ. Why does John go to such lengths? “Rooted in Jesus training multiplies church membership,” he says simply.
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Canon John and Canon Edith do not give up easily…
And Nelson Saya has travelled again to the South Sudanese refugee camps in Uganda to provide further training for the fledgling Rooted in Jesus groups meeting there – 20 people have given their lives to Christ, and the groups are growing: “Many people are experiencing the power of God at work in their lives during the studies; they are growing strong in their faith, and it has enabled families to put their trust in God.”
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Rooted in Jesus training in the Zone 2 refugee camp


Making disciples at home

We will write soon with news from our latest parish mission, in Chesterfield. In the meantime we are pleased to announce that we have just reprinted our Beautiful Lives evangelism course, which was a key part of the preparation for the mission – find out more about that here.
Finally, can we commend a new book by Arani Sen, who has seen steady growth among both the English and the Iranian communities in his inner city parish of Upper Armley, Leeds. Arani writes compellingly about how people come to faith when churches pursue a gospel-centred policy of social engagement. It’s called Holy Spirit Radicals: Pentecost, Acts and Changed Society, it offers  a dynamic and contemporary reading of Luke and Acts, and it’s out in July!
We have just released our latest prayer diary, covering the months July to September. If you would like a copy just let us know.

 

North Wingfield Mission 16-24th June 2018

Thank you to all those who have offered to pray for us during this week of mission, when Roger will be taking a visiting team of eleven people to North Wingfield near Chesterfield.
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Roger was in North Wingfield last weekend meeting up with the forty people from the church, mostly very inexperienced, who have agreed to work with us during the mission week. The response was very positive. They learned how to share the gospel. They learned what is involved in doing follow up, and they each agreed times when they will invite friends to their homes to meet the visiting team. We identified 250 people with whom they already have close relationships; the priority of the mission week will be to reach these 250.
On Sunday the sermon was about the Holy Spirit. There was an invitation to come for prayer and the response was overwhelming. They were all in different places but all needing the Spirit to bring changes to their lives and ministry. Roger was particularly pleased about one person with a very painful knee who was much better half an hour after the prayer and walking well. God’s presence was manifest last weekend; let’s pray for more during the week when the team is there.
To find out more visit the St Lawrence North Wingfield website.

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Preparing for mission

As part of their preparation for the mission, church members have been following our discipleship course The God Who is There. Rector Colin Cooper writes:
“We are an active church. During 2016-2017 up to 60 people have engaged with the Beyond Ourselves and The New Community courses. We began Shining Like Stars in September. This means clear biblical teaching about being a disciple of Jesus is becoming established in the DNA of St Lawrence Church. 
This has represented a focus on building up the core congregation both spiritually and numerically (longer standing members are reporting spiritual growth and new people have joined). Our community connection is good with a growing ‘wider fringe’ through Messy Church, Messy Extra, Baptisms, Small Wonders and St Lawrence Pre-School. 
From this strong position 2018 should be a season of reaching out into our community in mission.”
The aim is that the mission should be followed by an ALPHA course, and that those completing ALPHA will then be invited to grow further in discipleship by joining a Beyond Ourselves group.
To find out more about Beyond Ourselves, The New Community and Shining Like Stars please visit our Discipleship page. To find out more about how we can support you through a parish mission visit our Missions page.

Did you know?

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North Wingfield is listed in the Domesday Book (1087)  – by which time it already had a priest and a church! The gospel has been passed down from generation to generation here for over a thousand years – and it’s still going on. Let’s pray for the church as they reach out to their friends and neighbours next month.
Posted 22 May 2018