We have just published a blog report on the recent Rooted in Jesus conferences held in the Dioceses of Rutana and Buhiga, Burundi.
Small group practice in the Diocese of Rutana
The conferences had been organised by the national Rooted in Jesus coordinator Elisha Nkeza at the request of Bishops Pontien Ribakare and Evariste Njiimbere, and were facilitated by a team of five – two from the missionary diocese of Lake Tanganyika in DR Congo, and three from England. We laboured in the heat (UK: 31 degrees, Bujumbura: 31 degrees), communicated with each other in French, and were fed like kings on an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. The conferences were attended by about 250 people (clergy, catechists, Mothers Union and Youth leaders) all of whom were exemplary in their enthusiasm, openness and commitment. A team of intercessors supported us remotely, and their prayers were abundantly answered.
Burundi is, economically speaking, the poorest country in the world; but we couldn’t help feeling that it has a lot going for it. We look forward to praying for the new group leaders.
You will find the report on the Rooted in Jesus blog here.
We have just taken a team to help with a week-long mission to Slough, where Tim Wambunya, formerly the bishop of Butere in Kenya, is now the vicar. The team of ten was led by Roger Morgan and Andrew Evans, and the gospel was shared through a variety of events in the church alongside a programme of visiting people in their homes. Many church members went out with the team, often feeling a bit nervous, but always returning rejoicing. At the meetings in church we preached the gospel and prayed for the sick. About 60 people made commitments and many were healed. Tim and his colleagues are now following up those whose lives were touched in one way or another.
Making new friends in Slough
Strengthening discipleship in Uganda
Ben Beecroft has recently led a multi-national team to Uganda to support the Dioceses of East Ruwenzori and South Rwenzori, with a conference for adult groups in East Ruwenzori and one for both adult and Sunday School leaders in South Rwenzori. Uganda was particularly badly affected by the Covid restrictions, which remained in force for many months and prevented churches from meeting together – so it was good to be invited by Bishop George Turyasingura and Bishop Nason Baluka to hold refresher conferences in these two dioceses. 250 or so leaders were trained during the conferences, which were marked by many testimonies of healing and deliverance. We have posted a full report from Ben and the team on our blog here.
Rooted in Jesus workshop in the Diocese of East Ruwenzori
We were grateful during these missions not only to those who went but also to those who prayed – many of those prayers were answered. We continue to pray for Tim and his team in Slough; and for coordinators James, Philip and William as they encourage those leading groups in Uganda.
If you are interested in running a parish mission and would like to talk to us, please do take a look at our mission page and get in touch if you would value a conversation.
A Rooted in Jesus team has just returned from two weeks in South Sudan – our second visit to this country in recent months. In November we travelled to the Dioceses of Aweil and Wanyjok; this time we were delighted to accept invitations to minister in the Diocese of Maridi and the Diocese of Yambio.
Practising using Rooted in Jesus in Maridi
South Sudan is the youngest and one of the poorest countries in the world, and it was a particular privilege to be invited to share in the ministry of these two dioceses by Bishop Moses Zungo and Archbishop Samuel Peni. Over 240 leaders were trained, including pastors, Mothers Union leaders, youth and evangelism leaders. We have posted a full report by team leader David Archer on our blog site.
Other conferences have recently taken place in the Diocese of Kibondo, Tanzania (led by Bishop Stanley Hotay), and the Diocese of Kericho, Kenya (led by Tim Grew and a team from Trinity Cheltenham). You can catch up with these on our Facebook page.
Here at home we remain busy too. We are delighted to welcome Sue Whitehead who is joining the team as our Office Manager, and we are looking forward to taking a team to help run a parish mission for St Paul’s, Slough later this month. The muted world of Covid is giving way to the technicolour reality of living relationships!
We are pleased to announce the publication of a brand new gospel booklet for children. Born Again offers an engaging retelling of the story of Nicodemus, helping children to understand what it means to become a Christian, be filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to live differently. Fun fonts and specially commissioned colour illustrations help to bring the story alive, and the conversational style draws the reader into the story and opens up questions for reflection and discussion. Children will enjoy reading the story alone, with a parent or teacher, or in a small group.
We hope the booklet will become a standard resource for Sunday Schools, children’s clubs, outreach events and missions – it’s designed to stand alongside our Decision booklet which explains the gospel to adults. Born Again comes as an A6 booklet specially shaped for smaller hands, and is available from our publications page for a modest £1.50, with a discount for bulk purchases.
If you minister to children and families you may also be interested in Roger Morgan’s short book Growing Younger, which identifies a number of simple steps that can be taken by any church wishing to grow its ministry to families. It’s been used fruitfully in many places now, and it’s worth a look if you are among the growing number of churches concerned about the increasing loss of children and their families from our local churches. Also available from our publications page.
To find out more about how we can help you develop and strengthen a ministry to families click here.
We have published a blog post on the recent Rooted in Jesus conference to the Diocese of Kitale in Kenya. The team from the US, UK and Kenya were well received and well cared for, and the 195 conference participants and 40 local facilitators participated with enthusiasm. Team leader Richard Morgan has produced a short video which you can view by clicking on the image to the right. The blog includes some encouraging highlights shared by team members, as well as a request for ongoing prayer from Bishop Emmanuel Chemengich:
“We praise the Lord Jesus for the successful RinJ leaders conference. Pray with us that Christ’s grace will abide with the newly trained leaders so they move with urgency and passion to establish RinJ groups across the Diocese, and for the existing leaders to be re-energized and keep pressing on with this vital discipleship program for growing our members to be more and more like Jesus.”
We are grateful to the team members who gave their time and resources to the people of Kitale, and to the group of faithful intercessors who prayed daily for them whilst they were away.
Watch Richard Morgan’s video report on the conference here.
Life has changed a lot during the last two years. We are still aiming to bring the gospel to many African countries through our Rooted in Jesus programme, and still supporting church leaders in the UK and helping them to grow their churches. We are thankful that despite the challenge of a global pandemic we have been able to adopt new ways of working, to strengthen and even expand both Rooted in Jesus and EQUIP. But nonetheless the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have been very frustrating.
But the situation is now changing. As the last remaining Covid restrictions come to an end in the UK, arrangements are being made for visits from our teams, all on a scale that would have been unthinkable a year ago. In the UK, a team will go to Slough for a week of mission at the end of June; teams will lead weekends on prayer in Whitfield and Sutton Bonington; teaching on worship and evangelism will happen in Oxford – and new plans are coming on stream all the time. In Africa, we have accepted invitations to send Rooted in Jesus teams to run conferences in 14 dioceses this year, with more to follow in 2023.
Meanwhile we have just published the Rooted in Jesus Annual Report for 2021. 2021 was a significant milestone for us : Rooted in Jesus completed its twentieth year of ministry! During that time it has been introduced to 100 Anglican dioceses or denominational networks, trained 17,558 leaders in 142 conferences in 18 African countries, and provided materials in 48 languages. Often it’s been the first discipleship programme people have ever had, and almost always the first in their own language. It’s been a humbling journey, and one which we look forward to continuing in the years to come.
The full report can be downloaded from the Rooted in Jesus website here.
We have just published our first Rooted in Jesus blog post for 2022! It comes from the Diocese of Aru in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where CMS mission partner Peter Wyard is working with a team of local facilitators to renew and deepen the Rooted in Jesus programme.
Delegates in Kumuru make pastoral commitments to care for their groups
The Diocese of Aru is located in the far north-east of the country, not far from the borders with Uganda and South Sudan. DRC is not an easy place in which to minister, and this area has suffered from prolonged political and social instability.
Rooted in Jesus was first introduced to the diocese ten years ago, and over the last year Peter and his team have been working tirelessly to translate the leaders’ booklets into a new series of local languages. They have also formed an ambitious plan to train a new generation of leaders through a series of archdeaconry conferences.
The new groups are going well – and Peter shares some encouraging testimonies. You can read his report on the blog here.
Even as the Covid skies cloud over again, we would like to share some good news! Following the easing of international travel restrictions in October, two long-planned Rooted in Jesus conferences have just taken place in the Dioceses of Aweil and Wanyjok in South Sudan.
The difficulties of travel were more than compensated for by the huge welcome and hospitality which greeted the little team of four intrepid travellers as they finally reached their destination. Over the next fortnight more than 200 men and women, lay and ordained, were trained to lead Rooted in Jesus discipleship groups, and a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit left many saying their lives had been changed for good. The books had been painstakingly translated into Dinka Rek, coordinators were appointed and groups have already started.
It was an immense privilege to serve again in a place where trouble has been great but faith is strong, and we have committed ourselves to continue in prayer as Rooted in Jesus becomes established in these two dioceses. To read the full report do check out our blog post here.
In the meantime we prepare again to celebrate the coming of Jesus, remembering the words of the apostle Jude: “Build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; and look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”
As we move into the new academic year we rejoice at the new opportunities opening up to us all as we re-engage in face to face interaction with one another. Here in the UK we have a series of training and planning events in the diary for the next few months. New EQUIP groups are starting up, and face-to-face ministry is once again possible. We have a growing team of people who travel with us, and an Easter mission is being planned – it’s a good time to be giving thanks for what we have, and building new foundations for the future. If you would like to find out more about what we can offer, please do drop us a line or give us a call – our contact details are here.
Back on the road in DR Congo
As Covid restrictions begin to ease dioceses are now beginning to hold Rooted in Jesus discipleship conferences. We were particularly pleased to be invited by Bishop Elisha Tendwa to send a team to help him prepare the new missionary Diocese of Lake Tanganyika in DR Congo. Having used Rooted in Jesus to prepare a new missionary diocese in DR Congo a few years ago, Bishop Elisha Tendwa has now been asked to do it again, this time working within the Diocese of Bukavu. The conference was planned in partnership between RinJ UK and RinJ Tanzania, with team members travelling from Tanzania and Burundi. The conference was opened by the Archbishop and attended by 110 pastors, Mothers Union leaders, Youth leaders, representatives from neighbouring denominations, and the Diocesan Secretary and other central staff members from the parent Diocese of Bukavu. We have posted a full report on our blog here.
Putting down new roots in Tanzania
Two Rooted in Jesus conferences have also been held in recent weeks in Tanzania, one in the Diocese of Biharamulo, the youngest in the country at just 4 years old, and one in the Diocese of Victoria Nyanza, which is rejoicing in the appointment of a new bishop after a long period without one. The report can be found here, where you will also find a short devotional message shared by Revd Leonard Giligwa, the Rooted in Jesus coordinator in the Diocese of Victoria Nyanza, Tanzania. Leonard knows from first hand experience that life can be tough – and he offers us God’s love and encouragement as he meditates on a tree in his village.
As travel restrictions begin to ease, we are looking forward to further mission trips – starting with two conferences in South Sudan in November.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven, wrote the sage of Ecclesiastes – and on with the famous passage, a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to gather what is planted, a time to tear down and a time to build up…. For us, August is perhaps a time to draw breath, to take stock, to renew our energy and our courage, and to prepare for the new season of ministry which lies ahead. We give thanks in particular for some recent developments:
Our EQUIP ministry has come through the pandemic with increased numbers: 9 groups will start up in the autumn, mostly face to face but with some on Zoom. One local mission is planned, and three others are under discussion.
We have just published the first Swahili translation of the Rooted in Jesus Team Manual, which was first created twelve years ago to enable teams of Rooted in Jesus facilitators to provide enjoyable and effective training sessions for new group leaders. It’s been revised and updated over the years, but until now was available only in English. We are delighted to announce that it is now also available in Swahili. It takes its place alongside the Rooted in Jesus Junior Team Manual which was translated into Swahili last year.
Otherwise, the ups and downs we have all experienced over the last 18 months continue to encourage and challenge us:
We have been inspired by testimonies from group members in South Africa, where the Diocese of Natal has just hosted an online training course for Rooted in Jesus. One group member said: “RinJ has taught me from the Bible how to forgive, how to move on, to be a different person.” Another shared: “I have got so much closer to God through Rooted in Jesus, and I have found a family. It has transformed my life.” Both came from a group which began by meeting in person, but changed to meeting by whatsapp during the period of restrictions.
And we continue to be challenged by the seemingly ever increasing difficulties of ministry in rural England. One of our new EQUIP groups aims to support clergy leading multi-parish benefices, with all the challenges of scattered rural congregations, high parish shares and the burden of maintaining ancient buildings. Ministry is never easy…
But in all this we remember Jesus’ words to his disciples: ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you.’ That is our desire and our determination.
If you would like to catch up with the news on Rooted in Jesus in more detail, visit our latest blog. And if now is the time and you would like to join our EQUIP programme, please do get in touch!