As we move through the season of Advent we would like to share some of the feedback we have received recently from those who have given up their time to go on the road with Jesus.
Blessings at home
Ian in his mission kit!
Breaston parish church
Have you ever thought of joining a mission team? Often we fear that evangelism is for other people; and yet God has a habit of working through us if only we give him the chance. Ian Cripps pulls no punches in his account of what it felt like to follow Jesus on a daily basis on one of our recent parish missions:
“Stepping out of my regular life of marriage, employment, faith, family, golf and watching rugby, and going straight into mission was a shock of adrenalin and fright. To be surrounded by a combined ‘Home and Away team’ for 8 days, with complete freedom to think, speak and sing of the gospel is a privilege, exhilarating and joyfully exhausting all at the same time. I was paired with Pete from Coventry and Terry from Barnsley. Both had an irrepressible sense of humour; the three of us were consistently dissolving in laughter throughout the week. Both Terry and Pete have wonderful powerful family based testimonies, which clearly touched the people God intended to reach. Since the Mission I have a renewed hunger for the word, and my prayer lists have joyfully expanded. God is amazing.” For an insider’s view on the mission, read Ian’s full account here. And if you would be interested in joining a future team (we have three in the planning), please do let us know!
Conference participants, Mityana Diocese
Last month a team led by Revd Tim Carter led two followup Rooted in Jesus conferences in the Diocese of Mityana, Uganda. We’ve posted a full account on the Rooted in Jesus blog, but sometimes it’s good to take a more individual view too, focussing not on what the Lord does among our brothers and sisters in Uganda but what he does among us. Nick James writes:
“The visit was exhilarating in many ways. Such appreciative people, such vibrant worship and such a wholesome, challenging course (I felt personally challenged by some of the material…). I think it more than lived up to my expectations on account of the people we met who were on fire for the Lord, despite little material resource. The chief impact on my ministry is a refreshing of my own call to make disciples (very helpfully challenging), and a firm understanding that Ugandan Christians face exactly the same fundamental issues as I do: am I willing to trust God and follow him wholeheartedly? And the things I need to trust him for are exactly the same: material provision and spiritual strength. The main circumstantial difference is that I am anaesthetised to my need of God by all the provision I have made for myself in fear of not having enough while my Ugandan brothers and sisters are to some extent handicapped and diverted by fear or frustration of not seeing how God will provide for them tomorrow. And both of us are spiritually poorer for it.”
It sometimes seems odd for a small organisation to be working so widely. England and Africa are very different places; and yet, as Nick points out, many of the challenges we face are the same. How do we reach and disciple children? How do we cope with situations in which there are many small, rural churches and just one leader? How do we help clergy to keep the fire within them burning when the demands placed upon them are so great? And how, above all, do we ensure that we depend on God in all that we do, and that we trust in him and follow his guidance? We cannot do these things alone; but we can perhaps do them together. As we wait afresh for the coming of Christ in this season of Advent, let us commit ourselves to living in the knowledge that he is with us in all that we do.
Posted 14th December 2017 by Revd Dr Alison Morgan
As autumn slides into winter, for us at The Mathetes Trust there is much to be grateful for, with parish missions and Rooted in Jesus conferences bearing fruit. Roger is getting stuck into supporting multi-parish benefices, and we will write to you about that before too long.
We have a Rooted in Jesus team in Uganda at the moment, and have just had a report from the Diocese of Butere, Kenya where a team went in June: Diocesan Coordinator Benjamin Kibara says there are now 87 groups in 36 parishes across the diocese. He writes that “the impact has already been felt in many ways:
Many have grown in their faith and practice
Commitment and turn up in local church prayer meetings has increased
Stewardship and giving has improved as disciples get rooted in Christ
Marriages that were at the verge of breaking up have been restored
More people have volunteered to serve in church.”
Finally, Benjamin says that “The RinJ books were recommended as the confirmation books in the diocese.”
Soon Christmas will be upon us, and then Lent. So we would like to take this opportunity to remind you of some of our publications. Our poetry anthology Something Understood – Poems for Reflection and Meditation makes an excellent Christmas gift, and includes the magnificent Christmas poem ‘Wenceslas’ by Carol Ann Duffy. It’s been well received; poet RV Bailey wrote “Your lovely anthology came today, and it’s full of good things – it’s a handsome volume at an amazingly reasonable price. You range very generously over a wide field, and though there are old favourites there are some welcome introductions to new poets.” Fully illustrated, it costs just £8 and can be ordered directly from our publications page, or by email.
If you are even more forward thinking than that, you may be interested to know that our Lent course Season of Renewal, by Bill Goodman and Alison Morgan, is also available on our publications page, along with a flyer and a sample session. It’s proved an increasingly popular course since it was first written 10 years ago, and is now on its 4th printing. It comes in a Leader’s Manual and a group member’s coursebook which offers spiritual exercises to follow during the week between meetings. It’s a good way to introduce a small group ministry to your church, and makes a good followup to Alpha too, providing a gentle introduction to the work of the Holy Spirit, the agent of renewal both in our hearts and in our world.
“A group of about ten of us finished ‘Season of Renewal’ last night. It was unanimously agreed that it had been the most inspiring and helpful Lent course we had ever shared in” – Canon John Gunstone
Meanwhile we continue in our life of prayer, thanking those of you who pray with us. The psalm set for today is Psalm 34: My soul shall glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
It’s good to do that, as we watch the glory of autumn fade into the darkness of winter.
The Mathetes Trust offers various programmes to churches in the UK, and among these is an offer to take a team for a week of mission. We have just completed two of these, one in Purley near Reading and one in Breaston near Derby. The missions were both fruitful and immensely encouraging.
A highlight of both missions was the door-to-door visiting, with more people stopping to talk and inviting us in than I have ever known, and a surprising number making solid commitments of faith within minutes – we had the feeling almost that people were ready and waiting for us! All team members found a steady stream of people wanting to know more and to pray with them – one man found himself so unexpectedly interested that he abandoned his half-mixed quick drying cement to its own devices in order to hear more…
Each member of the local team held a meeting in their own home to which they invited friends and neighbours. We saw fruit from these meetings too; in particular team member Ian led four to the Lord at one meeting, where the host had been praying for her friends for a whole year.
Thirdly, in each place we had a mission to children which also bore fruit, with 40 children at an after school club, a Messy Church session on the theme of ‘power’ with most people responding to the invitation to receive the power of Jesus into their lives, a family Fun Fest and a Youth Chill-Out evening.
Finally we held open meetings every day. New for me were a Ceilidh where I was cast as the storyteller; we alternated short talks with dancing, and set up prayer stations for people to come to – the team were kept busy praying throughout the evening. Other events included a Gospel quiz with quiz rounds alternating with gospel presentations; a men’s evening where 23 men crowded into a local bistro to talk about God and Science; a ladies’ pub night; a Sunday service on stress (lots of people in tears!); a men’s breakfast where businessman Gary spoke on ‘how to make your first million’; and a choir evening with excerpts from Handel’s Messiah alternating with gospel explanations from me. All of these events ended with people praying prayers of commitment or wanting to know more.
In both places we found people coming to faith, Christians touched in new ways, people wanting to know more. Having a trained home team meant that all those who expressed interest or prayed prayers were immediately followed up, with more help to come over the next few weeks. The teams were large, the events were many; I have no accurate idea of the response in terms of numbers – but one measure is that we gave out about 500 copies of the Decision booklet to people who asked for one. The churches now have their work cut out!
Our experience in both places makes me feel that the tide may have changed in this country – many are ignorant of the gospel but open to it, and I suspect that door-to-door visiting (in which it was good to be working closely with Richard Scott from TFM) should become a key strategy for the future. The home meetings also bore fruit, but were not as successful as I have known before, which suggests that Christians may be less well connected than they used to be. In terms of response by age, we found that young adults were particularly open, perhaps because our culture has now become so secular that it’s all new to them. This is very encouraging as we look to the future – the opportunity to make a real difference is there, if we are willing to step outside our comfort zones!
I met Matthew in the street. He was very friendly, listened to the gospel carefully, and committed his life to Jesus there and then, reading a prayer of commitment aloud in front of his colleagues. The next day Chris and I went to visit Matthew, and met his wife – who also prayed a prayer of commitment.
Everyone on both the visiting and the home teams (many of whom had been apprehensive, particularly about the door to door visiting) ended the mission greatly encouraged, and strengthened in their own faith. So we plan to press on. We have already accepted invitations to run missions in June and October next year – but think we should aim to do many more. If you would like to talk to us about a possible mission in your own church, do take a look at our missions page and get in touch!
Finally, we are grateful to those who came on the teams, to those who offered them hospitality, and to those who prayed each day – as well as to all those in Purley and Breaston who put so much time and effort into the missions, especially church leaders David Archer and Chris Smedley who had the faith to invite us in the first place; and of course to those of you who provide the support and encouragement to make this ministry possible.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
We are immensely grateful to those of you who support our work through prayer, to those of you who roll up your sleeves and climb into your cars to help us share the gospel with others, and to those of you who give of your personal resources to help us fulfil our vision of making disciples in the local church. All these things have made a big difference in recent months.
Missions in the UK
This month we are helping with two parish missions in Purley on Thames and Breaston in Derbyshire – please continue to pray for Roger and the team as they strive to share the gospel with all they meet, and let us know if you would like to receive prayer updates.
Missions in Africa
A Rooted in Jesus team returned recently from the Dioceses of Fianarantsoa and Toliara in Madagascar, where they led conferences for Sunday School teachers training to use Rooted in Jesus Junior. The team was led by Canon Jacob Robert of the Diocese of Mara, Tanzania, and we have posted a report on the Rooted in Jesus blog, which you can read here. The report includes an interview with Revd Jean Flobert, Vicar General of the Diocese of Fianarantsoa, and a remarkable performance by the Fort Dauphin children’s choir in Toliara. It was humbling to be working with such dynamic and committed people in one of the poorest countries of the world, and to have the privilege of offering them the first training and the first resource material to help them in their work of discipling children.
Pray with us
Every three months we issue a prayer diary, covering these and many other things. The next one runs from October to December, and includes prayer requests for churches using our discipleship materials, for those planning missions, for those whose leaders meet in our EQUIP groups, and for dioceses planning Rooted in Jesus conferences. In October and November we will be sending teams to the dioceses of Mityana, Soroti and Karamoja in Uganda, and we covet your prayers! The new prayer diary can be downloaded HERE.
We are writing to let you know about some exciting events and a new publication – and to invite your prayers!
Very soon the Mathetes Trust will embark on two full scale parish missions, the first since the foundation of the Trust. Roger will be spending a week in Purley, near Reading, with a team of 9 people, and a week in Breaston, near Derby, with a team of 12. The vicar in Purley is David Archer, and the vicar in Breaston is Chris Smedley. Both are excellent guys in their 40s with a heart for mission. In Breaston the Methodist church will also be closely involved. At both missions Roger will be supported by Richard Scott, the Director of Through Faith Missions and one of our Associates.
So, to cut to the chase: we are looking for people who will provide prayer backup during the period September 22nd until October 17th. If would like to pray, we will send bulletins each Tuesday and Friday with details of the events we would like you to cover, as well as feedback on what has happened so far.
Roger has been involved in many parish missions, some of them very fruitful. This time, we have decided on an innovation: we will be working not just with a visiting team, but also in each church with a home team. During the summer we have been working closely with the home teams, providing encouragement and training in evangelism and going out onto the streets together. For every visitor, there will be two or three home team members. By doing it this way, we hope to leave behind a home team that is equipped both to follow up those who want to take things further, and to lead their churches into growth over the coming years.
“We all get one life to live and deep down we’re all asking the same question – what’s it all about?”
During the mission week, there will be three kinds of activity.
Men’s curry night…
Youth theatre workshop
Special healing service…
Ladies down the pub…
Singing for fun…
Every day we will use any spare time to do cold calling, using the well tested TFM questionnaire and relying on Richard’s expert leadership. We are finding that most people receive us warmly, and that we often get opportunities to share the gospel or to pray for the needs of the people we meet.
Secondly, each member of the home team will be hosting a meeting in their own home, to which they will invite friends, family and neighbours. We will share our testimonies with the guests, listen to them, try to answer their questions and then before we go home share the gospel with them. Roger has found from experience that it is in these meetings that the best work of the mission is often done.
Finally, we will have a lot of bigger meetings – on church premises, in restaurants, in village halls, usually with refreshments, always around a specific topic, and often aimed at a specific age group. For example Roger is preparing a talk on ‘Has Science made God unnecessary?’ to be given to men at a restaurant in Purley following a curry meal, and we are currently deciding who is to speak at a Youth chill-out evening on the Friday. For a complete list of events at Purley check out their mission website.
A new resource for evangelism
We are pleased to announce that we have just published Decision, a booklet written by Roger and designed for anyone who wishes to find out how to become a Christian, or who is just starting out on the adventure of faith. This is a brand new edition, and we will give a copy to everyone who makes a decision for Christ in Purley or in Breaston. We have given away thousands of these in the last 10 years, and many churches have used them to give to people after Alpha, or in the context of parish missions and outreach events. If you would like to get hold of a copy or order a pack, it’s on our publications page.
If you would like to find out more about evangelism training or mission teams please do get in touch – details of how you can do this are on our contact page. And if you are happy to pray for us, let us know and we will send you all the details. We know from experience what a difference prayer will make!
The Makonde people of Tanzania are famous for their woodcarvings, and like the great teachers of the church many centuries ago they believe that everything we achieve is built on a foundation of what others have achieved before us. And so many of their carvings represent groups of people supporting one another in the journey of life, clambering gradually upwards, together reaching heights which no individual could attain on his or her own. These trees of life are often created out of a single tree trunk, and can reach many metres high. They offer a powerful reminder of the way we depend on one another in every aspect of our lives – and not least in our journey of faith.
Rooted in Jesus was originally developed for use in Tanzania, 15 years ago now. Since 2013 it has been independently run in the Province, and each year the Diocesan Coordinators gather together to review their work and plan for the year ahead. This year the Conference was held in Arusha. Every diocese is different, and each person had their own story to tell – stories of children being discipled in Sunday Schools, of people coming to faith, of new churches being planted and coming to maturity; and of course stories too of great challenge and difficulty. But perhaps the most striking thing was the sense of unity and shared purpose, even where distances are great and resources are few. It was only one day – but it was a good one.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” – John 17.20-23
To find out more visit the Rooted in Jesus blog here. If you would like to help us support the ministry of Rooted in Jesus in Tanzania please visit our support page.
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A Rooted in Jesus team has recently returned from the Diocese of Butere, in Kenya, where they led two discipleship conferences at the invitation of Bishop Timothy Wumbunya. The team was led by Revd Richard Morgan (from Philadelphia, US), Revd Capt Joshua Opondo (from the Diocese of Maseno South, Kenya) and Revd John Eldridge (from Wickham Market, UK). The conferences were hosted by Revd Capt Benjamin Kibara, the Diocesan Executive Secretary for Mission, and attended by a huge turnout of 300 invited delegates – in fact the biggest conference in the history of Rooted in Jesus!
Bishop Tim says: “They seem to have embraced or understood this Rooted in Jesus training, and they seem more determined to go forward and share it with other people, which we haven’t seen before in any of the other courses that we have done – and we have done many other courses! This Rooted in Jesus seems to be the one that has finally helped us turn that corner.”
The team have put together a wonderful video report which you can view by clicking on the image below. To find out more do visit the Rooted in Jesus blog!
We are very grateful to the team who went, to the diocese for their careful planning and generous hospitality, to the church of Good Samaritan Philadelphia who helped with the funding, and to all those who prayed for the conferences.
Posted 21st July 2017
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