ROOTED IN JESUS
A Course in Christian Discipleship for Africa

Nord Kivu

Nord Kivu

Nord Kivu

ARu

Aru

ARu

Boga

Boga

Aru 2012

katanga

katanga

Kalemie

Lubumbashi

kalemie

Mamba DRC

katanga

 

Democratic Republic of Congo

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo is emerging from 40 years of civil war, during which most of its infrastructure has been destroyed. In the Diocese of Nord Kivu alone, which is 4 times the size of the UK (but has only 2 km of tarmac road!), 4 million people are estimated to have died during the war years. The church is the only functional institution in much of the country, and people are turning to it in large numbers. Many of the senior church leaders have never had the opportunity to study beyond primary school level, and not all church leaders own Bibles. The Church has identified the need to train leaders and plant churches throughout this remote region as its top priority, and Rooted in Jesus is seen as a key part of this strategy - although this is taking place in the context of continued rebel activity and instability.

 

Diocese of Nord-Kivu (from 2007)

Bishop Enoch Kayeeye first invited Rooted in Jesus to this Diocese in 2007, and the initial team was led by Simon Brignall, with Geoff Stokes, Joshua Opondo and Jacob Lihhima, in November 07. The team was sponsored by by SOMA UK and CMS Ireland. A return visit was made in September 2009 as part of a wider SOMA conference led by Don Brewin, with Amanda Johnson overseeing the Rooted in Jesus workshops, with Geoff Stokes, Joshua Opondo, and James Tumesgwe and William Musisi from the neighbouring diocese of South Rwenzori in Uganda. Amanda led a third team to the Diocese at the invitation of the new Bishop, Muhindo Isesomo, in July 2011; again, this was sponsored and supported by SOMA UK.

During the first visit in November 2007, 180 leaders were trained and some got off to a good start. The diocese was however soon embroiled in internal conflict, and the momentum was lost. Rooted in Jesus was relaunched in September 2009 as part of a conference which majored on reconciliation; 40 people attended the afternoon workshops, 27 of whom committed to starting new groups – the majority clergy but with some lay leaders including 5 women. Mupagazi Bwanamuzuri was appointed Diocesan Coordinator.

In July 2011 Amanda Johnson (with James Tumesgwe, William Musisi, and Ken & Yvonne Wiebe) ran further conferences for 26 existing and 99 new leaders in Beni and Butembo, working this time under the leadership of the new bishop, Muhindo Isesomo, and finding that there was a new readiness to leave the difficulties of the past behind and move forward in repentance and faith. Amanda writes: 'At both Beni and Butembo we saw deep enthusiasm and order set in place for these courses to run.The archdeacons were very excited about the potential for RinJ, and the bishop’s presence in Butembo was significant.' One participant said 'These people have brought us medicine.God has brought them to revive our Churches. He has vision for His people and the Church in Congo'; another simply said, 'We are catching the fire, we are catching the fire.' The persistence of SOMA in returning repeatedly to support this diocese as it emerges from deep trauma is beginning to bear fruit.

Rooted in Jesus is used in Swahili and French.

In September 2013 Mupagazi Bwanamuzuri wrote: "After the conferences at Beni and Butembo, there were groups that started at Kainama, Lume, Kayna, Lubero, Matolu, Saba, Kitatumba, Eringeti. Some groups leaders sent me their reports but others didn’t. Last year, I was invited by a Baptist chuch to explain RinJ program to the pastors. RinJ program is good to help the church to grow and Christians to  witness."

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Diocese of Aru (from 2011)

Bishop Titre Ande. Rooted in Jesus coordinators are Revd John Bosco and Revd Samuel Agupio, who also oversee Christian Education and TEE programmes in the Diocese.

The Diocese of Aru is linked with the Diocese of Chester, UK, and Rooted in Jesus was introduced in April 2011 by a team led by Bishop John Hayden of Chester diocese, with David Hughes, Martin Daly, James Gandon and Geoff Stokes. Aru is a large diocese, and 140 participants gathered for a 4 day training conference.

Gill Brown, visiting from Chester, wrote home: "The afternoon session was inspiring. The Holy Spirit was powerfully present, the message was received with great expectancy, praying for each other in pairs or in threes was intense and Spirit filled. Many many came for personal prayer at the end and the accompanying singing, quiet and reflective, gave a taste of heaven."

In April 2012 Gill was able to report that most of those who attended the conference were involved in 16 active groups in the three archdeaconries, as either leaders or members, with up to 12 people in each group; and that groups are now moving on to book 2. The coordinators provide regular support and training for group leaders, and report that 'those who find the course a blessing and who are seeking a closer relationship with Jesus outweigh those who are merely trying to please their Pastors!'

Followup conferences were held in August 2012 in Mahagi and Aru, by a team led by Martin Daly, with James Gandon, John and Thia Hughes and John and Margaret Owens. Each parish had been asked to send 7 delegates, and 160 people attended in all, 50 of whom had been at the 2011 conferences. 78 of these were commissioned as group leaders. Coordinators Jean Bosco and Samuel Agupio are running local training events in those areas not currently affected by rebel activity, and a Chester team hopes to return in 2014. Our prayer is that RinJ becomes strongly established in these rural dioceses with their complex history.

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Diocese of Boga (from 2011)

Bishop William Mugenyi.

The Diocese of Boga is the oldest Anglican diocese in the DRC, and is also linked with the Diocese of Chester, UK. The team led by Bishop John Hayden of Chester diocese introduced Rooted in Jesus to Boga following the visit to Aru in April 2011. The conference took place in Bunia, where the diocese has its administrative base, and 83 leaders were trained to lead Rooted in Jesus groups. The response was overwhelmingly positive - and the team learned that this had been the first time in 32 years that lay men and women had received training at a central conference alongside clergy.

In April 2012 Gill Brown, visiting from Chester, was able to report that most of those who attended the conference were involved in 32 active groups as either leaders or members, and that demand from people wanting to join groups is high. The situation is however highly unstable both within the diocese and more widely, with a high level of rebel activity. We hope a return team will be able to visit to provide support and encouragement when circumstances permit.

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Diocese of Katanga (from 2014)

Bishop Corneille Kasima (Lumbumbashi), missionary Bishop Elisha Tendwa (Kalemie). The Diocese is shortly to divide into two, Katanga (covering Lumbumbashi and the surrounding region) and Kalemie (the eastern area towards the Tanzanian border). A team led by Matthew Grayshon offered two conferences in March 2014, the first in Lumbumbashi, the second in Kalemie. 176 people were trained to lead RinJ groups, and the programme was launched with immediate effect. In Kalemie, a remote rural area the gathering was ecumenical, involving leaders from not only the Anglican but also the Methodist, Baptist and Pentecostal churches; it was the first event held by Bishop Elisha in his future diocese, and an important time for him and his clergy and lay leaders as they set out markers for their future ministry together. Commitment was high: in Lumbumbashi the team walked into the prayer room to be greeted by four ladies whose undertaking was to pray for the conference: "We will be here all night." In Kalemie one priest arrived by bicycle, having taken 6 days to cover the 512 km from his home. The team included members from the UK (Revd Matthew Grayshon, Revd Tim Carter and Jean Hicks), from Zambia (Fr Alfred Sichone), South Africa (Dr Jenny Tait) and Tanzania (Revd Meschak Manyaga, diocesan RinJ coordinator for W Tanganyika, and Revd Eliezer Kimuga). Stephane Makata and James Mayundo were appointed as the diocesan coordinators for the two areas.

Bishop Elisha wrote afterwards to Matthew: “We would like to present our thanks to management of Rooted in Jesus who released and sent you to come in Congo, and you were faithful in accepting, without to hesitate lack of enough security in Congo, but your faith and thirst to serve others brought you without fear. On behalf of the conference participants we thank you so much, and we will continue the work of God as Rooted in Jesus taught us. Prophet Ezekiel saw the valley of dry bones, so we were valley of dry bones but now through RinJ team God breathed new life into a valley of dry bones, created waves of revival, waves of growth and spiritual life to His people in Congo."

By July 2014 Stephane had visited 22 groups in Lubumbashi, of which 8 had completed book 1. Groups include non church members (one is composed entirely of non church members), and some are held on church premises, some in the city. The group leaders and pastors pray for the group members, and members are enjoying reading the Bible and praying together.In August 2014 James Mayundo wrote to say that groups in four parishes in Kalemie are completing book 1, and that reports from the other denominations represented at the March conference are also encouraging. James reports people growing in faith, congregations increasing with new members joining the groups, and greater love among the people. He asks for our prayers for peace, citing fear, rebellion, polygamy and poverty as key issues. "Surely, GOD will be willing to grant our prayers so that we can serve Him," he concludes.

Further conferences were held in July 2015, facilitated by an international team again led by Matthew Grayshon. A followup conference was held in Lubumbashi, attended by 44 participants; an introductory conference to train new leaders held in Kapolowe, attended by 54 participants, and a followup conference in Kalemie, attended by 110 participants.

In December 2015 James Mayundo reported that in Kalemie there were 610 people in 61 Anglican groups, and a further 180 people in 18 groups hosted by leaders from 8 other denominations ranging from Methodist to Orthodox to Pentecostal. In Katanga there were 639 members meeting in 77 groups.

The following year, 2016, the number of groups in Kalémie doubled: there are now 143 groups with some 1500 members, including 34 groups among other denominations. In Katanga, Stéphane reports that there are now 110 groups with 761 members. A group from St Pierre in Lubumbashi has become the first to complete all 4 books; another from St Joseph Kipushi has sent in many testimonies of the ways their lives have changed.

In 2017 Bishop Kasima Corneille was succeeded by Bertin Subi, who laid down a vision for a ‘strong, vibrant Diocese which is rooted in Jesus'. Stephane Makata wrote: "Je vous informe que le 28 Février 2017, l'actuel Bishop Bertin Subi va se rencontrer avec tous les leaders de Rinj pour les encourager et les présenter la vision du Diocèse qui est: Un Diocèse vibrant et fort enraciné en Jésus." The coursebooks are being adapted from Tanzanian Swahili into Congolese Swahili for ease of use, and further supplies of the first two books have been printed and sent out to Lubumbashi.This is a diocese with a consistent strategic emphasis on discipleship; and it is growing.

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