Many of our partners in the Rooted in Jesus family have been writing with updates on their work. There is much to tell, not least from the Diocese of Kajo Keji in South Sudan where Rooted in Jesus groups have now been established in the Ugandan refugee camps, and we will bring you an update on that soon.
In the meantime we have just posted a report from the Diocese of Upper Shire in Malawi. This is a diocese with just 62 clergy, serving 286 churches. Bishop Brighton Malasa introduced Rooted in Jesus in 2015, and invited us to return to facilitate a follow-up conference earlier this year. RinJ is used for evangelism, especially among Muslims, and for church groups and confirmation classes.
Bishop Brighton writes:
I am happy to report that Rooted in Jesus has seen its roots indeed going deeper. The Reverend Father Edward Kawinga and the Reverend Father Elliot Litereko are doing a great job. We are happy and glad that the laity of this Diocese can be given such a chance to undertake theological studies in their local parishes which was perceived as for the ordained ministers. When I visit the parishes I have seen people gathering and undergoing these training on Saturdays and Sundays after Mass. I am delighted to see such progress. I am convinced that if people (the laity) are rooted in Jesus having undergone these trainings, we shall have both the laity and clergy rich spiritually which will lessen the tasks of our priests as we shall have knowledgeable faithfuls. Please continue praying for us.
The Diocese of Upper Shire has a vision for discipleship and proclamation of the Gospel. It struggles with the usual challenges of finance, distance, illiteracy and the vagaries of the rains and the harvests. And yet its people are growing in faith, served by the commitment of the clergy of the diocese, not least the coordinators Fr Elliot Litereko and Fr Edward Kawinga. It is a privilege to serve them.
To catch up on the news – and find out what the headlines are! – please check out the Rooted in Jesus blog here.
Much of the work of the Mathetes Trust happens in Africa through our Rooted in Jesus ministry, which is headed up by Alison. We are working in many places; one of them is the Diocese of Kajo-Keji in South Sudan, where we sent a team last October led by Mike Cotterell, oneof our trustees. But since we were there the political and humanitarian crisis has deepened, and almost everyone in Kajo-Keji has fled to Uganda, where they are living in refugee camps.
Bishop Emmanuel and his clergy colleagues have set up an office in Mojo, Uganda, so that they can continue to care for their people; from this base they are travelling between the refugee camps. So the church is now mostly in exile, as the people of Israel once were. They have some upsetting stories to tell, but an ambitious vision to share as well – and they still need Rooted in Jesus. Bishop Emmanuel writes: “The believers need Rooted in Jesus at this time of distress and spiritual need. Rooted in Jesus is the only tool and way forward to nourish the Christians and make the newly born Christians grow.”
They ask for our prayers, and also for financial support to enable all this travelling. To find out more, look at our blog https://rootedinjesus.wordpress.com/, where you will also find information about how you can help us to support them. At some stage we will want to send out another team, but they are not ready for this yet.
Psalm 139 is helpful. It’s a prayer of anguish, and yet it’s a prayer of trust too – trust in God who knows us and is always with us. It seems a good prayer to pray for the people of South Sudan at the moment:
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”
With best wishes in Christ Jesus
Director, The Mathetes Trust
To find out more about Rooted in Jesus visit www.rootedinjesus.net
As part of our aim to help make disciples in the local church, here at The Mathetes Trust we support and lead parish missions. Roger has been doing this on and off for many years, and the best of these missions have been very fruitful, leading to significant church growth. So far we have two missions planned for 2017, in Purley near Reading starting on September 23rd and in Breaston near Derby starting on October 7th. Beginning with these two missions, we have decided on two innovations in the way that we do things:
So far the missions Roger has led have focussed on reaching the families and friends of the local Christians, aiming to reap what those Christians have been sowing, perhaps over many years. While this will still be the principal aim of our missions, starting in Purley we plan to add cold calling to our usual mission week activities, thereby hoping to reach out to some who have never had much contact with Christians. Richard Scott of Through Faith Missions is gifted and experienced in this kind of evangelism and he will lead this aspect of both the planned missions.
The team of people leading a mission week has normally consisted entirely of visitors from outside the parish. This year we plan to draw team members from both inside and outside the parish, thus adding a home team to the usual visiting team. We hope to use the mission to provide significant training input for the home team members, expecting that this experience will lead to fruitfulness long after the mission week is over.
This is where we are up to in planning for both Purley and Breaston. If you have time and inclination we would value your continuing prayers as we move these plans forward – please just let us know and we will keep you updated.
In each place we have recruited a home team of 25 people or more.
Richard and Roger will meet with the home team members for the first of three training mornings on April 29th in Purley, and May 6th in Breaston.
Each home team member has agreed to host a party during the mission week to which they will invite family and friends to meet members of the visiting team. Preparation for these parties will be an important part of the training programme.
Each church has appointed a mission planning group to organise mission week events of many kinds. The planning group will also be responsible for organising prayer support, for publicity, and for taking care of the hospitality to the visiting team. Roger and Richard will soon begin a series of meeting with this group.
We will need a visiting team of up to a dozen people for each place and recruitment for this team is soon to begin.
We are beginning to plan missions for 2018, starting with one in Bedworth near Coventry. If you would like us to send a team to your home church then let us know. More information on our Mission page!
A major part of the work of The Mathetes Trust is to support the Rooted in Jesus discipleship programme for Africa, which Roger and Alison Morgan first founded back in 2002 along with Stanley Hotay, and which is now in use in 80 dioceses or denominations in 16 countries. Rooted in Jesus is a discipleship course written for use in rural Africa, where nothing else of its kind is available. We estimate that between 70,000 and 100,000 people have done this course so far, and we know that the impact on the lives of ordinary Christians has been enormous. Every year we send out teams from the UK both to new dioceses and to places we have been before.
This is the time of year when we compile an Annual Report based on feedback from the previous year, and it is available for download here; it includes many testimonies from those whose lives have been changed. We have also posted a new blog entry with news from South Africa, where they use both Rooted in Jesus and our companion discipleship programme The God Who is There – both now endorsed for use across the Anglican Communion. If you would like to receive regular updates you can sign up to receive an email notification on the blog itself.
We have been particularly moved by recent messages from two places : Uganda, where they are experiencing great growth, and South Sudan, where they are experiencing great hardship.
Canon John Musaasizi writes from the Diocese of Mityana: “We give glory to the Lord our God for providing the Rooted in Jesus program as a means of fulfilling the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus. We are excited to see the involvement of Rooted in Jesus members in growing their fellow members into Christ likeness and at the same time preparing themselves to start new groups in their local settings. With the availability of this program, the church ceases to be an auditorium in which the audiences passively watch what is done by a few people on the stage for years. The program makes it clear that the church in which we are members is on the move where growth and multiplication of believers moves on like fire, catching every area of human location without discrimination. Members discover not only who they are in Christ, but also the Spirit given gifts that they can employ in building up one another and the Church at large. The Spirit is teaching us a lot.”
Bishop Emmanuel Modi writes from the more challenging situation of the Diocese of Kajo-Keji: “Three quarters of the population are in the refugee camps and others are internally displaced. We are going to make new strategies among the refugees. I am going to establish the churches and find out those Christians who were trained in Rooted in Jesus so that they will start their groups. The believers need Rooted in Jesus at this time of distress and spiritual need. Rooted in Jesus is the only tool and way forward to nourish the Christians and make the newly born Christians grow.”
Both of them ask for our prayers as they pour their energies into the task that the Lord has given them.
This year so far we have invitations to send teams to seven dioceses, and requests to support the work as it expands in many more. If you would like to support Rooted in Jesus financially you can do so here, and if you would be interested in joining a team please do let us know!
Click on the images to download the Annual Report, the Prayer Diary or to read the blog.
As we move into the season of Lent we are delighted to announce the Mathetes Trust’s first publication : Something Understood – Poems for Reflection and Meditation.
‘Most people need poetry, but not much of it: it is a vitamin of which small familiar doses are enough. The poems most people know and enjoy and turn over and over again through their lives are like prayers addressed to the mystery of themselves’ – Geoffrey Grigson
A sequel to the earlier collection Distilling Life, this new anthology is designed to provide a starting point for reflection on some of the big questions of life – things we often avoid talking about, or for which we can’t quite find the words. It is arranged in five thematic sections: Seeing, Living, Loving, Trusting and Dying. Each section contains about twenty poems or pieces of prose, and each includes contributions from a wide range of authors, both historical and contemporary. Some of the poems are well known; others are published here for the first time.
Designed to be used for personal reflection, in poetry groups, or read aloud in larger gatherings, the book is beautifully illustrated throughout with high quality black and white photographs and drawings.
What people said about Distilling Life:
“Our poetry group meets monthly. It is surprising how often this short anthology seems to contain a poem that just fits the bill, inspires new insight, provokes us to further discussion – and sometimes makes us laugh” – Anna Farago
“I have just conducted a quiet morning with lay leaders. As well as Scripture readings I used a number of poems from Distilling Life. A very powerful and moving resource” – Bishop Stuart Robinson
The collection is edited by Alison Morgan. Alison has a lifelong love of poetry, and is known both for her academic and spiritual writing. Her books include Dante and the Medieval Other World, The Wild Gospel, and Following Jesus: The Plural of Disciple is Church
Copies can be ordered from our publications page or by post from The Mathetes Trust, 10 Dairy Close, Wells BA52ND, price £8. If you would like to order by post please include a cheque for £9.58, which includes p&p. Or you can order it on Amazon.
The core vision of The Mathetes Trust is to help make disciples in the local church, and one way of doing this is to produce innovative materials for use in small groups. Last year the Anglican Communion decided to put discipleship at the top of its agenda, and its report Intentional Discipleship recommended three discipleship courses for use worldwide. One of these in Rooted in Jesus, a course which we wrote for rural Africa, and another is The God Who Is There which we wrote for the UK but is now also widely used in South Africa.
Most group discipleship materials adopt the method which put Bible study back on the map a generation or so ago: group members were invited to look up Bible verses at home and then answer some questions. The answers were then explored fully when the group met.
The originality of The God Who Is There lies in the interactive lesson plan format, a familiar concept for any school teacher. The course consists of 30 topical lesson plans beginning with Creation, continuing with Sin and Suffering, and going forward from there; group members are given a copy of a booklet with spiritual and practical exercises to complete at home after each session. It’s probably true to say that The God Who Is There offers a lesson plan for almost any major Christian topic! The other original feature of this course is that it places a much greater emphasis on the corporate nature of discipleship, following Alison Morgan’s observation that the plural of disciple is Church. We cannot be disciples of Jesus alone; we can only be disciples together.
It has been particularly encouraging to work with Colin Cooper, an Anglican minister in Chesterfield. Colin has invited the entire church to join a group to follow the first part of the course, Beyond Ourselves. Colin feels that people have grown in both understanding and commitment, and the church is soon to start on the next book, The New Community. Every Sunday the sermon takes the next week’s topic from the course; Roger has been delighted to be invited to visit the church and preach some of these sermons.
If you would like to find out more about The God Who Is There have a look at our page on Small Groups, where you will find some commendations from those who have used it, and be able to see the outcomes that can be expected for churches who follow the course.
It’s that time of year!
If you still haven’t sorted yourselves for Lent, you may like to take a look at our tried and tested Lent Course Season of Renewal. Written by Alison Morgan and Bill Goodman, it follows the same interactive format, with lots of exercises to do during and after each session. It can be previewed and ordered from our Publications page.
“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