Stephen Mosheni of Kenya recently led a facilitator team in a Vision Conference in Rorya, Tanzania. Rorya, situated near Lake Victoria in the northern part of the country, is home to the Luo tribe and also includes people of Kuria and some smaller tribes as well.
Some 64 people attended from 23 parishes in the Rorya District. Stephen was joined by Paul Kibona from Tanzania, Karobia Njogu from Kenya, and Felix Ringo, also from Tanzania, who is training to be a facilitator. The conference was hosted by Bishop John Adiema, who also gave the official opening.
At the beginning the team was not sure what to expect, given the strong traditional belief among the Luo people, as well as the customary oppression of women. Typically, women have no voice in the family or community, and are often taken as slaves. Their traditions also include wife inheritance, practiced even by some pastors. One pastor told his mother, immediately after his father’s funeral, that she should be inherited or else she would bring a curse on the family.
The matter of the dignity of women was a hot issue; the men became visibly unsettled at any mention that men and women are equal and have the same value before God. Early in the week, during the small-group discussion following the teaching on the ABCs of Culture, one pastor stood up and angrily asked, “Why do you defend women? You have been speaking a lot about oppression of women!”
Yet, even as the week progressed, the group experienced powerful changes. Stephen noted that when the men were challenged to identify one thing they would do for their wives, the initial resistance gave way to accepting the biblical teaching.
“When the message reached the hearts of people,” Stephen said, “we had to bow and ask God to forgive us as men for oppressing women in our community. This time of repentance was so deep, you could read this on the faces of men.”
The women followed in repentance and forgiveness toward the men.
One pastor shared,
I am very grateful for this Vision Conference, it came for me in the right time. I personally have discovered that God is involved in His all creation, He works with His people. I have discovered weaknesses … in my daily life. The way I was enslaved with our traditions and customs, especially the way I treated my wife. Through this teachings I have realized that my salvation was not perfect. I lived a life which is not godly in my marriage, I treated my wife very badly. May the Lord have mercy on me!
Following the conference, this pastor led many other church leaders in a seminar sharing a biblical perspective on the treatment of their wives. A short time later, he unexpectedly passed away.
“The burial was on Saturday,” Stephen said. “The good news is that this man is with Lord having made peace with God and his wife and neighbours!”
The conference included several other encouraging highlights:
- A visiting bishop from Kenya, who came to teach at the bible school, decided to postpone the class and join the vision conference together with students from the college! He said “I don’t want to miss even a single session, I need this!”
- The Bible school students were challenged to read the Bible differently. Not only reading through their worldviews, but as a word of God which speaks to all areas of His creation.
- The oldest man in the class danced with excitement one day before the session began!
- Felix joyfully received a challenge to disciple his new friend, the bishop’s driver.
Follow up plans include seed ministries and/or acts of love in all 23 parishes. The group elected six leaders to organize these activities and communicate with Stephen when he visits their parishes in June.
“We are seeing the Lord do great things through these vision conferences,” Steven shared, “more than many crusades done around Africa.”
– This story was developed from a report filed by Stephen Mosheni.