Last week the Diocese of the Rift Valley in Tanzania held its first Rooted in Jesus discipleship conference. The diocesan vision is to increase the number of Christians by 2,200 every year, and to do this by becoming a self-sustaining community which grows through releasing the time, talents and gifts of its members. Bishop John Lupaa hopes that Rooted in Jesus will help to fulfil this vision.
The conference was led by a team of experienced Rooted in Jesus coordinators from the dioceses of Mara, Mount Kilimanjaro and Mpwapwa, all of whom testified to the growth they have seen through Rooted in Jesus in their own contexts. A sustained focus on intentional discipleship has brought increased commitment, church growth and financial resources to their dioceses, they said – and they told many stories to prove it.
Can we learn from that here? Perhaps Bishop John is right when he says “We are lucky, because we are poor. People depend on God, because they have nothing else.” But perhaps there is more to it than that? When people take active steps to grow in their relationship with Jesus, they become willing to surrender their own time and resources to help others. The key becomes not what they lack, but what they are prepared to give.
Church growth in Tanzania (and many other regions of Africa) outstrips anything we have seen here for a very long time. Can we learn from their experience? We’ve posted a full report on the Rooted in Jesus blog – you can read it HERE. Let us know what you think!
Coming soon – the remarkable story of how a whole diocese has been planted in one of the most troubled regions of the world through Rooted in Jesus…
Posted 5th March 2019
It’s a little while since we have updated you on the news from Rooted in Jesus, our practical discipleship programme for Africa – and there is much both to share and to ponder.
We have just posted a blog report on the recent conferences in the Diocese of Soroti, Uganda, where 245 people were trained to lead Rooted in Jesus groups in their parishes. It was our second visit, and this time brought some surprises – to find out more click HERE.
We’ve also had some encouraging news from the Diocese of Toliara, Madagascar, where CMS missionary Derek Waller has taken on the role of Coordinator of disciplemaking in this huge, poor, sandy, cyclone-prone diocese. Derek and his team are just back from a brand new parish where people walked all night to get to the conference. The parish has no priest, but the evangelist is already running a group for seven not-yet Christians.
And John Musaasizi has sent an inspiring report of his visit to Binikira in the Diocese of Mityana, where Rooted in Jesus is transforming the life of the parish. To catch up with these and other reports from the Rooted in Jesus family check out our news page HERE.
What can we learn from Rooted in Jesus for our ministry in the UK?
Steve Coneys is the Diocesan Mission and Growth Adviser for the Diocese of Canterbury, and was a member of the Rooted in Jesus team to Soroti. He reflects: “Being part of the RinJ team was demanding, thought-provoking, inspiring, and profoundly affecting. People’s commitment to learning, their gratitude to God and to us, and their sheer joy in the Lord will be abiding memories. So will the impression of an Anglican diocese growing in number and vitality. I’m interested in seeking deep rooted culture change towards missional church in the Diocese of Canterbury. Here is a church, recognisably Anglican, where the clergy and lay leaders we observed seemed to enjoy working together, the people seemed receptive to learning and to change, and the church is growing using a strategy of planting new congregations. It can happen!”
We are profoundly grateful to all who contribute to Rooted in Jesus through prayer, financial support and the willingness to serve on teams. We believe it is a God-given tool for all those who share it and all those who receive it. If you’d like to find out more do visit the Rooted in Jesus website.
Posted 15th January 2019
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.
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!
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.
Posted by Alison Morgan
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.
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!
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.
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
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/
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.”
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…