EQUIPPING THE CHURCH IN NORTH WALES

architecture-1298285_1280.png

We support church leaders across the country through our EQUIP programme. EQUIP groups meet three times a year, with up to ten church leaders in each group. Each group has a leader, who commits to visiting each of the members in their own locality between the meetings.
The main purpose of both the meetings and the follow-up visits is to provide teaching, training and encouragement in a number of major areas of church life. EQUIP groups also function as support groups, where people listen to one another, learn from one another and pray for one another.
We currently have EQUIP groups meeting in Hampshire, Kent, Leicestershire, and North Wales, with a group soon to start in Somerset. In North Wales the group is led by Canon John Benson, and John has sent the following update:

 

EQUIP IN NORTH WALES

JohnBenson

“Making bricks without straw” was the starting point for a recent meeting of the EQUIP group in North Wales. The people of Israel in Egypt faced a seemingly impossible task. Many church leaders in North Wales (and other places) also feel that they face an impossible task. They are given responsibility for an increasing number of small and declining churches. One member of the EQUIP group has ten churches.
These church leaders are committed to doing their best to serve God in their ministry, but it is easy to become discouraged or to feel overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible task.
We pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.” And then we look at the continued decline of many of the churches. Has the Lord given up on the advance of His kingdom in Wales? Is it possible for Welsh churches to grow and flourish again? What is the Lord saying to the church today? Do we just continue the present track of managed decline? Are there new approaches the Lord intends to bless?
I believe that there is a future and a hope for the church in North Wales and that there will be a harvest of people turning to Jesus as their Lord and Saviour before He returns in power and glory. In the EQUIP group, I have the privilege of working with a group of church leaders who begin to believe that this can be done. They are ready to take some radical decisions to make it happen. We pray, “Lord, what are you doing and what do you want us to do?”
My friend with ten churches has asked me to bring a team of intercessors from my church in Chester to spend a day praying in his area. We plan to do this after Easter. We will pray for the advance of the Kingdom of God. We will pray for the Lord’s blessing on his people. We will listen to what the Lord is saying.
Will you join us in praying for the Lord’s blessing on His church in North Wales?
John Benson

church in Wales logo wide_0

Praying without ceasing

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess 5.16-18)
muchelney daffodils AJM
As we move through the season of Lent it’s good to remind ourselves of the basics – that life can be tough, that there are always things to rejoice and be thankful for, and that one of the best ways to do this is to pray.
One of the challenges you will be aware of is the post-cyclone situation in Mozambique and Malawi. We have many friends and colleagues in the affected areas through Rooted in Jesus, and we need to continue to support them in prayer over the coming weeks and months. We have our own, rather different, challenges here in the UK too, of course. And against the backdrop of these wider movements we are aware of the hopes and struggles of many individuals, all known to the Lord, all loved by him.
Our focus in prayer is for new growth and new disciples in the ordinary contexts where our friends live and minister – particularly amongst children, in new areas of housing, in multi-parish benefices. We are encouraged by the growth in our EQUIP ministry, which seeks to support church leaders across the country, and by those who write to us from Africa to say what a difference Rooted in Jesus is making to their work there.
We all have our own favourite approaches to prayer, but for some a regular prayer diary is helpful. If you would like to join our contact list and pray with us, just let us know.
But however you like to pray, we hope you will join us in rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep, and giving thanks as together we bring our needs to the Lord.

Planting a diocese with Rooted in Jesus

One of the major foci of the Mathetes Trust is the Rooted in Jesus discipleship programme for Africa. We publish and support it, and send teams to train local leaders to use it – for many, the first ministry training they have ever had.

+Tendwa

In 2012 Elisha Tendwa, then a pastor in Dar es Salaam, was appointed missionary bishop within the Diocese of Katanga in DR Congo. The diocese covers an area more than twice as big as the entire UK, and Elisha’s task was to grow the church in the eastern region of Kalémie in order to form a new diocese. He got in touch with us to say he would like to use Rooted in Jesus – could we help? We were delighted to accept the invitation. To cut a long story short, the course books were duly adapted into congolese swahili, a team leader was appointed, a series of conferences held, local coordinators trained and Rooted in Jesus groups planted across the diocese.
Six years on, Bishop Elisha has completed his mission and returned home. A couple of weeks ago Alison was able to spend a whole day with him; he was happy both to tell herhis story and to make a short video about it. It’s a remarkable and humbling tale.
You can listen to Bishop Elisha telling the story of Kalémie on Youtube here – https://youtu.be/PD0yzql8YKk
And you can read the full interview on the Rooted in Jesus blog here – https://rootedinjesus.blog/
Posted 11th March 2019

Raising the bar: Growing the church through discipleship

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.

Manyoni 2019 (141)

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

What can we learn from Rooted in Jesus for our ministry in the UK?

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.
Rooted in Jesus training in Kaberamaido
Rooted in Jesus training in Kaberamaido
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!”
steve coneys
Steve Coneys
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

“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!

button-5 (2)

Messumba Fuji (90).JPG
Rooted in Jesus conference participants at Messumba cathedral, Diocese of Niassa

Living Life to the Full

BBC

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.

327885_156836297769319_2011171762_o

Posted by Alison Morgan