“I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11-12)
This is the biblical passage which inspired and has continued to undergird the work of the Romans One Eleven Trust since its start in 1992.
The initial vision arose after Rev. Dr. John Hall (a now-retired URC minister) met various African participants at the Brighton International Charismatic Consultation on World Evangelisation in 1991. It was confirmed by others and the Trust was set up in 1992, with John as its Director, Gwen his wife as Administrator and four trustees. Its main aim then, as now, was the provision of mutual encouragement for churches in the UK and in African countries.
The first visitors to the UK under the Trust’s auspices (May/June 1992) were Rev. Peterson Sozi and his wife Sarah. John had met Peterson at the Brighton conference and then visited him in Uganda later in the year while visiting his son who happened to be in Uganda during a gap-year. Peterson had been a Pentecostal pastor leading an underground church during the reign of Amin. He had fled to the USA where he was looked after by Presbyterians and, when he returned to Uganda, helped lead the first Presbyterian Church there. His main ministry was that of an evangelist and he directs the Back to God Evangelistic Association. It was through this church planting ministry and the work of the Reformed Theological College, which the Trust helped Peterson to set up, that a denomination called the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Uganda (RPCU), was established in the 1990s. It is with this denomination that the Trust has many links.
The first official Trust trip, undertaken by John and Rev. Ian Meredith, was to Ghana in August 1992 and this led to several years of work there, as well as to shared ministry between Ghanaians and Britons in Malawi.
Another very significant link forged at the Brighton conference was with Stephen Lungu, a Zimbabwean living in Malawi and (at that time) working as an evangelist with African Enterprise, of which he later became director. Through Stephen’s good offices John and others were invited to Malawi to teach pastors and church leaders in the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP).
This all shows that in the early days some of the strongest links were with Ghana, Malawi and Uganda. The work with the CCAP developed from Malawi into their Zambian Synod. Today most of the work is in Uganda and Zambia.
Initially the main focus of the work was small teams of UK Christians visiting Africa, in order to minister in local churches, while in the opposite direction African pastors visited the UK to provide encouragement here. That work has now developed, with additional foci being added (see “Our Work” tab).