The Lake District Women’s Conference was held this week at the Mwanza Bible College; women began to arrive on Monday and the conference was on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was one of several speakers scheduled for the conference. This is one of the few times a Christian woman in Tanzania can leave her heavy responsibilities of keeping a home, working a garden and raising the children to do something special for themselves. Many of them come with heavy burdens; some are childless and their husbands can take another wife or even return them to their families if they don’t have children. Some of them have unsaved husbands who beat them and mistreat them and they have few options; by law, the children belong to the father if the mother wants to leave.
Many women here have a hard life; most have to haul water to the homes, work gardens, cook over charcoal fires and take care of children in often primitive conditions. They don’t always have access to medical care for themselves or their families.
So, they come to this yearly event to be encouraged, strengthened, and to get a short break from their many responsibilities. Things are getting better for women here but very slowly and often there is little change in the rural areas.
We had over 150 who registered with additional visitors and some visiting pastors; plus we had one witch. She came alone from Sengerema which is a two hour drive away. Her vocation was discovered when she came forward for prayer with a group of ladies and when hands were laid on her in prayer she fell, writhing and twisting, to the floor.
I learned her story later after she was taken away by a group of ladies for more prayer and counseling. She was sent here from Sengerema to place a spell on the women so that they would not be able to receive any of the teaching during the conference. She was also supposed to stay for the minister’s conference immediately following on Thursday and Friday and place the same spell on them.
She refused salvation even though women prayed and talked with her all day and treated her lovingly and compassionately. Finally, after she had tried to take another woman’s baby, she was escorted off the Bible School property and told if she tried to enter again they would have to call the police.
While she was on the premises the Principal’s adult son was attacked by a local drunk outside the Bible School gate with a knife. He escaped but with a deep knife gash across his upper arm and had to be taken to the hospital for stitches and treatment.
Witchcraft is on the rise on this side of the country; but God’s people here know how to pray and they are not afraid to confront the powers of darkness. They do so on a regular basis and treat it as a normal occurence.
The women’s conference was a success; women were strengthened in the Word of God and encouraged. About 20-25 women received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They were given Godly council by the women at the conference and returned to their homes to continue their daily lives; hopefully, equipped to continue in the faith and to persevere in difficult situations.