The beginning of Lent seems like a good time to focus our minds and prayers on our brothers and sisters in other lands, and we have some news to share from the Diocese in Toliara, Madagascar. We have posted a full report on our blog, but here is a summary:
Southern Madagascar has been hit by a prolonged period of drought. This has seen many people lose their lives, and many more have been forced to leave their homes in search of food. With support from Christians in far off places, the diocese has now made a second famine relief distribution, providing enough sacks of rice and beans to feed 900 families in the affected areas for a month.
The good news is that many people have responded to this by starting to attend church – not least because the food was given away to everybody, irrespective of religious affiliation. There has been, Revd Gaston, reports, an “explosion of people, with no more room to fit in people. People are being baptized because they are being touched by the love of God and asking, ‘What religion is this that cares? We want to join you’”. Gaston’s wife Olivia is running three Rooted in Jesus groups to teach those who have decided to place their faith in Jesus, and the new church of Ambovombe is packed out on Sundays.
Meanwhile, not far away in Mahabo parish, the Rooted in Jesus group in the Chapel of St Andrew has now completed the programme and received certificates.
We first went to Madagascar ten years ago. In a country where 80% of people are yet to hear the gospel, it’s hugely encouraging to see the huge strides being made despite the very real difficulties of living in a place subject to an increasing scourge of famines and cyclones. We feel privileged to be able to continue to support them in these small ways. As we begin the season of Lent, it would be good to respond to their prayer request: “Please pray for rain to fall so that rivers will be filled, the underground water table will rise, and crops will grow, but not so much rain at any one time that it causes damage.”
Posted by the Mathetes Trust 17 February 2021
Rooted in Jesus in the Diocese of Natal
We were delighted to receive a report from the Rooted in Jesus ministry in South Africa, this time from the Diocese of Natal, where Revd Bruce Woolley has written a very encouraging account of how the Rooted in Jesus group at his church continues to meet via Whatsapp. There are some inspiring testimonies from group members, some of whom are finding a much deeper faith than they had before. The world may be locked down – but God is not:
“The enemy has succeeded in keeping places of worship closed temporarily but he has not succeeded in preventing the St Luke’s RinJ from their weekly fellowship via social media. Every Thursday I look forward to spending time and discussing the word of God with my fellow RinJ members. Learning the memory verses has helped me to overcome trying and negative situations during Lockdown.”
We have posted Bruce’s report on our blog here – https://rootedinjesus.blog/.
EQUIP – supporting church leaders
EQUIP is continuing to meet via Zoom, with regular phone calls to each of the 50+ members. God has given us four words: faithfulness, endurance, hope, and promise. We are encouraging our EQUIP members to be faithful to the Lord, and to each of the people and tasks to which they are called. Faithfulness implies endurance, because no one is finding things easy and everybody needs encouragement to keep going. To endure we need hope; it is also true that as we endure then we find that our hope increases. EQUIP members have been asked to write a short hope statement which will then become the basis for our prayers about the future. Hope for a Christian is not wishful thinking because with God our hope is underpinned by promise. God has given several promises about our ministry which is why we know that our hope will not disappoint us.
We have continued to produce a series of spiritual exercises. The first series is for personal use, and the second for group use. The group topics so far are:
Praying for each others’ needs
Praying with scripture
Praying with the Holy Spirit
John Benson has produced a booklet called Prepare to help churches think through their plans. John covers the following issues:
What is the Lord saying to us?
What are the lessons we have learned?
What are we preparing for?
Where do we begin?
John reminds us of something C.S. Lewis said: “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Again, do let us know if you’d like a copy.
Posted 11th August 2020
We have just received a report from Revd Dr Joseph Morenammele of the Diocese of Lesotho in Southern Africa, where a refresher workshop for Rooted in Jesus was held in June. Joseph says: “The training went very well with 39 attending from 5 parishes. The guide provided by Growing the Church was very helpful in running the day’s programme. Parishes were given opportunity to report on what they have been doing since the training they had in 2019. A lot was shared, being both positive and negative. It was very encouraging to hear from people who had divided into small groups about the ministry that they had been exercising in their parishes in the meanwhile.”
To find out more about this event and about the ambitious digital ministry being developed by Growing the Church do visit our blog site.
Posted 14th July 2020
News from Madagascar
The Church of Good Samaritan in Paoli (US) were able to include a video interview with Bishop Todd McGregor of The Diocese of Toliara in a recent live-stream service. Good Sam’s Rector Richard Morgan is one of our Rooted in Jesus team leaders, and travelled with Rooted in Jesus to Toliara back in 2013. Bishop Todd says that the diocese has now grown from 11 churches to 110, and that there are perhaps 200 Rooted in Jesus groups meeting across the diocese. He also shares some of the hardship caused by the coronavirus measures, and asks for our continued prayers. To find out more click HERE.
New editions and translations of Rooted in Jesus
We have been using the time afforded to us by the coronavirus restrictions to press on with new translations and editions of Rooted in Jesus. Thanks to the hard work of our partners, we have been able to format the translations into our house style, and the following books are now available:
Rooted in Jesus Book 1 in Thok Naath, the local language of the new Diocese of Gambella in Ethiopia, where groups are already meeting following the conferences held earlier in the year
Rooted in Jesus Book 1 in Masai – this is an updated edition for Tanzania and Kenya, incorporating the changes made since the original translation back in 2005
Rooted in Jesus Junior Team Manual, Swahili edition, now going to press for the first time in Arusha, for team members and diocesan coordinators in Tanzania
Rooted in Jesus Junior Books 1 and 2 in French, with books 2-6 to follow – for use in DR Congo and in Burundi
Rooted in Jesus Junior books 5 and 6 in Swahili – these have now been printed in Arusha, and are available from the RinJ office there to dioceses already implementing the programme