ROOTED IN JESUS
A Course in Christian Discipleship for Africa

map

Aweil group

Nyamlel MU

Yambio

Nzara

Nyamlel bp Garang

Nzara St John

Nyamlel workshop

Goshen

camp

Wanyjok team

Wanyjok worship

Aweil

Tonj

Tonj 2022

 

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. South Sudan is the most complex and challenging country in which we have been called to serve.

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 hosted its first Rooted in Jesus conference just under a year later, when, a team flew to Yambio and travelled on by road to Nzara. They 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.

The training team found that the people were united in their hunger for teaching, and there was a great sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit as they met together. One team member 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."

In 2014 the diocese hosted a followup conference for existing leaders and a further 4 day conference for new leaders. 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 established one or more groups.

Diocese of Wau (from 2013)

The Diocese of Wau is linked with the Deanery of Poole, in the Diocese of Salisbury, and the diocese hosted a Rooted in Jesus conference as part of a wider link visit in March 2013. The team ran a 4 day training conference for some 60 leaders, 45 men and 15 women. Nearly ten years later, after a long interval caused by the continued political instability which has affected the country since independence, a team was able to return to Wau to train a second generation of leaders. The leader's booklets are now available in Dinka and Arabic as well as English, and the conference was hosted by assistant bishop Peter Jonathan Beria and attended by over 80 leaders.

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 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 had been experiencing its own internal difficulties, which had prevented the programme from getting going. Caretaker bishop Justin Badi 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 appointment of a new bishop, Archbishop Samuel Peni, paved the way for a reintroduction of Rooted in Jesus, and a further conference in May 2022 was attended by over 120 delegates, lay and ordained.

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. 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 conferences were marked by testimonies of healing, and the engagement and enthusiasm of the participants was very high.

In January 2017 the political situation changed, and 95% of those living in the Diocese were forced by renewed conflict and famine to flee to refugee camps in Uganda. The diocese has set up a new office in Moyo, Uganda, and are visiting the refugee camps regularly to provide practical support. 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. Nelson Saya has been appointed to support and nourish the fledgling Rooted in Jesus groups in the refugee camps, and he reports that these are seeing slow but steady growth.

Diocese of Aweil (from 2021)

The Diocese of Aweil held its first Rooted in Jesus conference in November 2021. The leaders' booklets had been painstakingly translated into the local language of Dinka Rek, and 76 men and women were trained and commissioned to start Rooted in Jesus groups in their parishes. Bishop Abraham Nhial wrote afterwards that “The Rooted in Jesus conference in the Diocese of Aweil has educated our pastors and evangelists, who will contribute to the furtherance of the Kingdom of God in Aweil and beyond.” This is our hope and our prayer too.

60 groups were soon established, and a follow-up conference was held in November 2022, attended by 85 leaders.

Diocese of Wanyjok (from 2021)

The Diocese of Wanyjok was formed in 2017, and covers a vast rural area in the north of the country. In November 2021, 138 men and women came together to find out how to use Rooted in Jesus to lead small discipleship groups. Many had walked for two days to reach the conference - young men and women, students from the Bible College, pastors, evangelists and Mothers Union members. Afterwards Bishop Joseph Mamer wrote: “It is my prayer that Rooted in Jesus will have a significant impact not only in individuals’ lives, but that their communities and local parishes will be transformed and grow in maturity in faith and understanding of the Word of God.”

100 groups were established after the conference, many of them soon working through the second book. A follow-up conference was held in November 2022, attended by both existing and new leaders, and characterised by vibrant worship and long periods of meditative prayer.

Diocese of Maridi (from 2022)

In May 2022 the Diocese of Maridi hosted its first Rooted in Jesus conference. The conferences was hosted by Bishop Moses Zungo and attended by 120 clergy and lay leaders. The leaders' books had been translated into both Zande and Local Arabic, and the programme will be coordinated by Rev Eli Bangisa Paul, Director of the Chaima Christian Institute.

Diocese of Tonj (from 2022)

The Diocese of Tonj has been recently established as an independent diocese by its parent Diocese of Wau. Since its creation it has seen rapid growth, and it held its first Rooted in Jesus conference - the first conference of any kind with facilitators from Europe - in October 2022. Despite recent flooding, heightened food insecurity and ongoing conflict, over 120 people turned up to the conference, which was marked by exuberant worship. The conference was hosted by Bishop Peter Yuol Gur, and Diocesan Secretary Zechariah Dut will oversee the Rooted in Jesus programme.

Diocese of Nyamlel (from 2022)

Rooted in Jesus was introduced to the young Diocese of Nyamlel in November 2022 at the invitation of Bishop Peter Garang, who hosted the conference. The team was led by Mike Cotterell, and the conference was attended by 100 clergy, lay leaders, and members of the Mothers' Union.

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