A Course in Christian Discipleship for Africa











Diocese of Niassa (from 2006)

The Diocese of Niassa covers the whole of the northern half of Mozambique, and over the last ten years has experienced rapid and challenging church growth. It covers a remote area 3x the size of UK and has fewer than 50 clergy.

Rooted in Jesus is used in Portuguese, Chichewa, and other local languages, and was introduced in two clergy conferences in May 2006. In 2007 we returned to offer further training for the catechists and evangelists of Lago archdeaconry; these conferences were repeated in the other archdeaconries by Amorim Rocha. Amorim was succeeded as diocesan coordinator by Oscar Hamsine, and following Oscar's untimely death by Revd Helen Van Koevering, Director for Mission and Training in the diocese.

Rooted in Jesus is seen as a key part of the diocesan strategy, and is used for:

Growth in 2007

Bishop Mark wrote: 'I have just returned from Mecanhles where we have grown from 6 churches in 2006 to 23. This year at least one Rooted course will be held in each of the communities. I was told that the literacy groups we had started like the course so much they wanted to meet daily rather than each week.''

Growth in 2008

Helen Van Koevering wrote: 'The diocese has increased 25% in numbers in the past 4 years to about 51,000 now. The MU has increased by about 30% in past 18 months, with lots of activity in all sorts of projects. On all levels and in all church organizations, we are encouraging participation in Rooted in Jesus for discipling, and the priests are much more actively involved now too.The excitement of being church is palpable, quite different to when we came back in 2003. Last weekend,15 were confirmed in my (new, almost finished) church having completed two books - the first lot of confirmations following the introduction of Rooted in Jesus. One whole family was baptised, a single mother with 3 children, all raised Muslims.'

Growth in 2010

Helen Van Koevering wrote: 'The Diocese of Niassa is experiencing a newness of growth and worship. In 5 years, our churches have almost doubled to around 500, as have our priests to 45, and there are now around 65,000 members of our church in northern Mozambique! We are looking for clues to this grace of God. Perhaps it’s through our desire to be the church in new places, a new approach to training leaders as ‘training the trainers’ to reach and empower more people, offering new life through healing and development, new rootedness for believers and new belonging for communities. Rooted in Jesus is the basis for all our ministry and mission training, supporting as it does our diocesan vision to ‘become a communion of communities in Jesus’, ie small groups studying, discipling one another, church planting and rooting, growing in faith and changed lives together.'

Growth in 2012

Helen writes: 'RinJ is used as the primary study in our PCCs (Small Christian Communities – midweek family groups of 20 or so people who pray, study and support each other – and groups where we are currently seeing great growth in terms of both participants, healing prayer, new leadership). We estimate that there could be at least 600 of these groups around the diocese now. RinJ Book 1 is used for confirmation candidates, alongside the Catechism, and I have used all four books with training catechists, our community workers and community priests.'  

The effects of all this growth are felt in the local community. Rooted in Jesus forms part of the diocese's integrated mission approach to development, and as part of their discipleship, group members are asked to look after 10  families in their community, providing orphan support, water provision, health, HIV awareness and support of the long term sick. All this is remarkable in a country which only recently emerged from 30 years of civil war, during much of which time the church was a proscribed organisation - the last landmines were being cleared as we were there in 2006.

Annual reports from the priests for 2012 show that there were 5135 baptisms and 1898 confirmations around the diocese; 5604 people were involved in 250 Rooted in Jesus groups. In addition the 7212 members of the 331 PCC groups (Small Christian Communities formed in churches) follow RinJ as part of their programme. Helen thinks there may be some overlap!

In summer 2013 Helen wrote a brief history of the diocese for New Wine magazine. "Our church is reading the Bible differently", she said. "With high levels of illiteracy and insufficient Bibles, a study method similar to the lectio divina was implemented early on - a method which required only one Bible and one reader in each group. This led to us using the Rooted in Jesus resource, which has led to confidence in the movement of the Spirit leading to some significant growth in the Church." To read Helen's article click here.

New beginnings in 2018

In 2017 Mark Van Koevering was succeeded as bishop by Vicente Msosa, and in 2018 the diocese was divided to form two dioceses, Niassa and Nampula. A further Rooted in Jesus conference was held in Messumba cathedral in November 2018, attended by 220 people, some of whom were already using the course but many of whom were being trained for the first time. Discipleship remains a priority in the diocese, which has seen huge growth not just numerically but very obviously spiritually over the last 15 years.


Diocese of Nampula (from 2018)

The Diocese of Nampula was formally created in October 2018, and Manuel Ernesto appointed its first bishop. Just a few weeks later the diocese held its first Rooted in Jesus conference, attended by all the clergy and a catechist from each of the 15 parishes. Some of them were already familiar with Rooted in Jesus, others being introduced to it for the first time. Bishop Manuel wishes to focus not on structures or buildings but on people, and Rooted in Jesus is seen as a foundational programme for the new diocese.


"Bishop, what shall we do with this church growth problem?" A priest, Niassa


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