A Course in Christian Discipleship for Africa






Nzara St John





South Sudan


South Sudan is the youngest country in the world. After 22 years of civil war in which an estimated 2 million people died and a further 4 million were displaced from their homes, Sudan (then the largest country in Africa) divided in July 2011 into two states, Sudan and South Sudan. South Sudan faces many challenges; "no new state has started off with so many problems in front of it as South Sudan" said Lise Grande of the UN. Half of the 9 million inhabitants have no access to clean water, and hunger is commonplace even in years of good harvest. The country has the world's worst maternal mortality rates, illiteracy is high and only 1 in 10 children completes primary education. And yet South Sudan has oil, minerals and fertile land. It also has a predominantly Christian people, mostly of the Dinka tribe, who are keen to take hold of a different kind of future.

According to Operation World, the most pressing need of the Church in Sudan and South Sudan, after unity, is 'discipling, teaching and strengthening the millions of believers who have come into the Church. Most new believers have an animist background and do not fully understand the gospel beyond the most basic elements. Pray for churches to raise new believers to a maturity that enables them to stand in the face of persecution and not be overwhelmed by Islam or seduced by worldliness or idols.' It is our prayer that Rooted in Jesus will help to meet this need.

"The problem of South Sudan is that many of us are Christians by name and by going to church on Sundays but we have not been taught to understand and obey Jesus' teachings as he stated in the great commission in Matthew 28:16-end." - Archbishop Moses Deng Bol

Diocese of Nzara (from 2012)

The Diocese of Nzara was formed in May 2011 and Bishop Samuel Enosa Peni immediately invited us to send a Rooted in Jesus team to the Diocese. Just under a year later, in March 2012, a team led by Revd Mike Cotterell, with Jeff Neagle, Mike Langworth, Tim Carter and Joanne Ing'aa flew to Yambio and travelled on by road to Nzara. The team ran two conferences, attended by 121 Pastors, Lay readers, Mothers Union, and Youth Leaders, including some from the neighbouring dioceses of Yambio and Ezo. Rooted in Jesus was translated into Zande, and Revd Jospehate Minaye Datiro was appointed as the Diocesan Coordinator.

Team leader Mike Cotterell reports that the atmosphere in the diocese is excellent, with people united in their hunger for teaching, and a great sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit as they met together. Joanne remarked 'The people of Nzara were like the sponge illustrated in the Holy Spirit teaching - all dry and soaking it all up, and my humble prayer is that it will catch on like a bush fire. It was in their faces and their manner. I am yet to find anywhere else in the world where a session ends early and instead of dispersing the people want you to continue until the time alloated is finished!'

Bishop Samuel writes: "I want to tell you that the Team you sent did an excellent work.They taught the people in the language they could understand, using dramas and illustrations that bring the message home. I spoke to both different participants of both workshops.They understood what Rooted in Jesus is all about and how they can lead small groups themselves in their own churches.There are reports of many groups already within the parishes, others have more than 20 persons in one group. I have asked them to follow the same pattern they learned.I know that Rooted in Jesus workshop is coming at the right time for us."

Mike led a follow-up team to the diocese in March 2013. The team ran a 3 day conference for existing leaders and a 4 day conference for new leaders, and then moved on to the Diocese of Yambio (see below). The traumatic history of the diocese, with memories of atrocities committed by the LRA still fresh in people's minds, and the low educational level of the clergy means that Rooted in Jesus is slower to become established than in more fortunate countries; but most parishes now (June) have one or more groups. The team leader was Mike Cotterell, with Hilary Buckingham, Peter Gibbs, Mike Langworth and Nadeem Azam.

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Diocese of Yambio (from 2013)

The 2011 conference in the Diocese of Nzara was attended by a number of delegates from the Diocese of Yambio, and following their positive reports, Yambio hosted its own Rooted in Jesus conference in February 2013. South Sudan has a traumatic history, and in addition to this the Diocese of Yambio is experiencing its own internal difficulties at the moment, which had prevented the programme from getting going. However, the conference was ably hosted by the Vicar General of the Diocese, Samuel Borete. Episcopal oversight is currently being provided by Bishop Justin Badi of Maridi Diocese, and he wrote after the conference 'I was overjoyed to hear of the great work you did and how it has deepened the understanding of many people in their Christian faith.' The team leader was Mike Cotterell, with Hilary Buckingham, Peter Gibbs, Mike Langworth and Nadeem Azam.

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Diocese of Wau (from 2013)

The Diocese of Wau is linked with the Deanery of Poole, in the Diocese of Salisbury. Bishop Moses Deng invited a team to introduce Rooted in Jesus as part of a wider link visit which took place in March 2013. The Rooted in Jesus team was led by Revd Simon Brignall, with Jeff Neagle, Chris Strain and Jean de Garis.

The team ran a 4 day training conference for some 60 leaders, 45 men and 15 women. Revd Deng Ayok was appointed as diocesan coordinator. Because of the low level of experience and education, Deng, who is an able and educated man, will run a RinJ group himself to give participants first hand experience of the course; they will then lead goups of their own.

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Diocese of Kajo-Keji (from 2016)

After several years in the planning, Bishop Anthony Poggo welcomed a Rooted in Jesus team to Kajo-Keji in October 2016. Led by Revd Mike Cotterell, the team included members from the UK, from the Diocese of Canberra & Goulburn in Australia, and the Diocese of Victoria Nyanza in Tanzania. Two conferences were held, and 216 clergy and lay leaders trained. Rooted in Jesus had been translated into Bari, and the groups will be supported by Very Revd Pianilee Samuel and the 8 archdeacons. The conferences were marked by testimonies of healing, and the engagement and enthusiasm of the participants was very high.

n January 2017 the political situation changed, and 90% of those living in the Diocese were forced by renewed conflict and famine to flee to refugee camps in Uganda. Bishop Emmanuel and his colleagues are doing all they can to alleviate the suffering of the people of Kajo-Keji. They have set up a new office in Moyo, in Uganda, and are visiting the refugee camps and appealing for help with food, water, shelter and medical care. Aware of the crippling mental and emotional burdens borne by many of those in the camps, they also want to provide emotional and spiritual support. 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 Christian grow. To find out how you can help read the blog and Bishop Emmanuel's appeal letter.

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