Graduations! Sept. 2017

Above: Great to see our students graduating at AIU in Nairobi!

News from AIU in Nairobi

I (Steve) am excited for my students who graduated from our Intercultural Studies PhD! Two are now home ministering in Nigeria. Moses (above, on the left) completed the World Christianity track. Michael (on the right) became was my T.A. He graduated from the Islamics track. I continue to supervise Abram (in the middle). He has been teaching in a Bible school Tanzania for many years. Adding a wife and 3 children slowed progress, but he recently sent me a draft of his research findings. 

Below: Hannah represented at AIU gradutation, celebrating here with Michael, who became our family’s friend while doing his MDiv in Missions and PhD.

Home assignment:

Itinerating: We have visited all of TEAM’s regular church supporters and nearly all of the individuals. In March through May, we traveled from coast to coast. While some have shifted all or part of their giving to other missions, the majority have continued to support TEAM. Many expressed excitement about continuing to participate in all that God is accomplishing through TEAM.

Writing: I completed a draft of the major section on “What the Bible says about witchcraft” as well as some other sections of the “What about witches?” book. I am working with the co-author in Nigeria and editors in UK and Kenya. Writing is hard work! Writing together is even harder, but will make this much better. Jan is nearly done writing up her 4th of 5 dissertation chapters.

News from LVCC in Tanzania

Above: LVCC graduates and spouses celebrate!

LVCC’s 3 residential sites have continued at the doubled rate for the past 3 sessions! (Including spouses, a record 197 studied in the spring.) In fact, they  need to split the Mwanza site into 2 sessions.

Below, 23 LVCC students graduated Sept. 3rd in Mwanza (18 men and 5 women). It was a celebration, praising God for his faithfulness, with lots of dancing, worship, and food!  See our website for a video:


Below: Benester is teaching the class in “Christian Family” to students and spouses. (We started giving scholarships for spouses to attend this when Jan taught it years ago.) They taught in the Mwanza PEFA church building, since they could not fit into our one classroom. 

Please pray for upcoming travels:

UN Witchcraft and Humans Rights Experts’ Workshop

Sept 17 – 25, Geneva:

Although this is a secular conference, I have been invited to speak on what the church is doing in Africa to address it. I also was able to convince them to invite Samuel Kunhiyop to speak. Jan is attending as an expert participant, related to her work on the village education programs we developed.

Pray that we build relationships with others addressing this issue.

Travel to Tanzania and Kenya:

Nov 27 – Dec 31 trip with ten others

Ministry at BCF
We have really enjoyed the multicultural community of BCF, St. Paul. It is amazing to every Sunday talk to people I have been in this church with for 35 years and talk to others in Swahili. God has answered my prayer to speak to his people as I have been preaching through Genesis.

Above: Rachel began and taught a literacy program in a Nairobi slum

Family Update

This summer all four of our kids lived somewhere in Africa. Rachel went to start a program teaching English and Swahili literacy in a slum where a missionary friend lives and ministers. She and Hannah enjoyed living together again. Isaac did community development in a small Ghanaian town. Justin continues assisting public health research in Mbarara, Uganda.



TEAM Pix April 2017: TEAM Continues Strong

The trustworthy LVCC deans with whom I have worked for the past 22 years continue to run LVCC with your support (L to R: Raphael, Benester, John, Nestory)

550 and more reasons to increase your support for TEAM

For 22 years, God has grown TEAM’s work in wisdom, relationships, reach and impact! Your generous investment has been rewarded! Thank you! And yet more opportunity awaits…

My (Steve’s) ¾ time ministry as Lead Pastor at Bethel Christian Fellowship (BCF) will replace my Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST) teaching. I continue as only as an adjunct. In my ¼ time with TEAM, two other important roles will continue at the same pace: My writing and other communication to give wise, Christian responses to witchcraft accusations. My work in advising and communicating for Lake Victoria Christian College (LVCC), including annual visits to Tanzania.
But TEAM is about a BIG team that goes far beyond Janice and me …

Tanzania needs MANY MORE trained ministers!

Why? The number of Tanzanian Christians grew from 5 million in 1970 to 27.5 million in 2010.  It is projected 93.5 million  by 2050! What kind of Christians will they be?  Currently 60% of Tanzanians believe that sacrifices to ancestors or spirits can protect them from harm. But imagine how 93 million well-disciplined followers could transform their 43 million Muslim neighbors, Tanzania, and the world!  What an opportunity!

Thank you SO MUCH for your financial and prayer support to TEAM over these 22 years!  Praise God for what he has done!








Mwanza students in front of LVCC’s only classroom and dormitory in 2016

Record 550 minister-students at LVCC in 2016 (growth from 35 in 1995)! 

provides the tuition and a book per class for 550 students who continue to be active in their ministries. 170 ministers, instead of the usual 85, were trained last year in the three short-term residential sites. Almost all of these new students already pastor churches, but have not had opportunity to attend any Bible school before.

Yet TEAM financial support has not been adequate

Over the last decade, inflation doubled the cost of everything in Tanzania. LVCC leaders have continued to tighten their belts, but the budget never had any fat. Regular giving from TEAM to LVCC has remained the same. We did that much by not taking all of our salary for the past 8 years (even though our expenses were higher than the salary). We hope that reducing the salary we take from TEAM further will finally enable us to adequately support LVCC operations.

Opportunity awaits!

We would love to do more. We have enjoyed giving personally and sometimes found special grants/donors for some key, extra opportunities. For example, would you like to join us in any of these?[
·       Seminars for a Christian response to witchcraft accusations
·       Building campuses on land already purchased for LVCC
·       Scholarships for missions students at NEGST
·       Roofing materials for churches
·       Assisting local churches in supporting their neediest 100+ orphans and 100+widows

We want to build higher on the great foundation built by this great TEAM which includes African leaders and you as supporters! Let me encourage you to increase your ongoing or one time investment in East Africa and its ministers.

Feel free to designate your gift and 100% will be given to that opportunity.








TEAM Pix March 2017: Continuity and Change

Family at LVCC some years ago















Dear TEAM partners,
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:3-6)

This is definitely how I feel about YOU and our African partners! Thank you! Together, God has led us through many different phases and assignments, but we have remained faithful to our calling and core business: Training ministers. We have taught those who would be faithful to teach others (2 Tim 2:2). Then we have released and sometimes relocated so they can develop while we continue to support them. The apostle Paul had a similar pattern of training and moving, but continuing to write, advise, visit, and teach.

In Tanzania, Lake Victoria Christian College (LVCC) grew from 35 when we arrived to now having 550 students. We moved to Nairobi to teach missions students while releasing and supporting LVCC. After 8 years of teaching missions at Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST), we sense that we have completed our major assignments there. My former students do missions, teach, pastor, doctor and lead around the globe. Others have completed or are completing PhDs.

After much prayer and discernment together with others, God has lead us to shift the focus of our training ministers. I will shift to adjunct at NEGST. As Lead Pastor at Bethel Christian Fellowship, I will focus on training members to minister interculturally. Instead of living in Nairobi and visiting MN every other year for some months, we will be ministering from St. Paul and visiting Africa for about one month each year. I will also focus on TEAM work one day each week while in the USA. Our “ligament ministry” connecting and growing up the body of Christ will continue (Eph. 4:16).

Communication with LVCC and about witchcraft and witch accusations will continue at the same pace. I will advise, visit once a year, and raise funds for LVCC. In 2017, Sam Kunhiyop and I plan to write our book for African pastors, What about Witches? A Christian Response for Sufferers and Suspects. BCF has allowed me to step away from pastoring from March 6 – June 5 to focus on TEAM assignments – especially writing the book and visiting supporting churches.

God surprised us by leading us back to BCF where I began ministering as a member 35 years ago and as full-time assistant pastor 25 years ago. Only such a House of Prayer for All Nations would encourage their Lead Pastor to spend ¼ of his time on TEAM. This allows me to train BCF’s leaders, but also not get in their way.

Please do keep praying during this transition for all the members of TEAM including us, BCF, and African partners. We trust God to carry on and complete the work He has begun. We pray He continues to lead and enable each of us in our part.

With gratitude and joy,


Rev. Steve Rasmussen, PhD
Senior Lecturer, Africa International University (AIU)
Director, Training East African Ministers (TEAM)

Family at LVCC recently


Kids finding their way… back to Africa

We praise God that Hannah continues to thrive in Nairobi.  In fact, the Africa Study Bible launches today in Kenya!  Justin is learning lots about public health research in Mbarara, Uganda. God has answered prayers for community and Christian fellowship for him. Isaac returned from Kenya today, where he did a water project with Northwestern’s Engineers without Borders. He plans to study abroad in Ghana this summer. Rachel is busy writing a grant to do a community development internship in a Nairobi slum this summer.

Letter from the head lay elder of our church, BCF:

Dear friends of TEAM,
It is my great privilege to write you today and share an important update about the ministry of Steve and Janice Rasmussen and their work with Training East African Ministers (TEAM). Our church body at Bethel Christian Fellowship (BCF) in St. Paul has had the joy of sending and supporting them in their ministry in East Africa since 1995, when they first went to Mwanza, Tanzania, to serve at Lake Victoria Christian College (LVCC). We are very grateful for your faithful participation with us in the ministry of TEAM, as shown by your generous support through prayer, finances, and relationship the past twenty-two years.

Many things have changed for Steve and Jan since they first went to Tanzania with their very young children Hannah and Justin. Their family grew to include a stillborn daughter named Esther Hope and their twins Isaac and Rachel. Over the years Steve’s ministry grew from his work as LVCC teacher and principal to the expanded role of training ministers in multiple sites and developing Tanzanian leaders who now run LVCC with advice, communication, and fund-raising assistance from him. In a visit to LVCC in 2002, I was both humbled and challenged by the authenticity of devotion to Christ and commitment to ministry that I saw in the Tanzanian leaders and the ministers who were training there.

Steve’s work to complete his PhD in missiology in 2008 deepened his understanding of ministry in Africa and led to its broadening. That same year, he began training missionaries from thirty-five countries at Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (NEGST) in Kenya. After serving there for eight years, he and Jan returned to the United States for a yearlong sabbatical from AIU, beginning this past summer.

Shortly after Steve and Jan arrived in St. Paul, Steve graciously agreed to serve our church body at BCF as half-time Interim Lead Pastor while he continued to minister half-time with TEAM. As Steve ministered to us, prayed with our Elder Board, and worked with our staff, we began to see that he might be the person God was calling to be our next permanent Lead Pastor. With our calling to be a House of Prayer for All Nations, we recognized that he is uniquely qualified to minister across the various cultural differences in our congregation and to help train us as leaders in intercultural ministry.

Thus, when Steve and Jan expressed openness to serve as BCF’s new Lead Pastor, we began the  process of discovering if God would confirm that this was His plan. Our Elder Board agreed to submit the possibility to our staff and ministry coordinators in December and January. Both leadership groups prayerfully considered it and unanimously affirmed our belief that this was of God. We presented Steve as our pastoral candidate to the entire congregation in early February, and our membership unanimously affirmed him as our new Lead Pastor on Saturday, March 4.

So what does this mean for Steve and Jan? What does this mean for the ministry of TEAM?

Steve will begin his ministry as BCF’s Lead Pastor on June 5. He and Jan will also continue their ministry with TEAM. Like you, we at BCF place high value on TEAM. Therefore, we are releasing Steve as our Lead Pastor, to give a quarter of his ministry hours to provide ongoing leadership support to TEAM through writing projects, communications, advising, fund-raising, and occasional travel.

Because Steve will be giving a quarter of his ministry hours to TEAM ministry, one-fourth of his salary will come from TEAM funds. We see this as an opportunity for expanded ministry, especially in Tanzania. With a smaller portion of TEAM funds required for Steve’s compensation, there is now an opportunity for TEAM to utilize more funds in strategic investment for the building of God’s kingdom in East Africa.

What does this mean for you as a TEAM supporter? As Steve and Jan’s sending church the past twenty-two years, we are very grateful for your partnership with TEAM. We appreciate the support you have shown for the work of TEAM, Steve and Jan, and the Tanzanian leaders of LVCC. Here at BCF, we are maintaining our current level of support for TEAM in this new season of Steve and Jan’s ministry. We encourage you to also continue or perhaps increase your current level of giving for the training of East African ministers.

Please be praying for God’s continued guidance and grace for Steve and Jan, their family, and the exciting developments of their ministry. We thank God that we can share together with you in the ministry of TEAM.

Sincerely in Christ,
Ken Holmgren
Lead Lay Elder at Bethel Christian Fellowship, St. Paul, MN   USA

Addendum from Dr. Jim Olson
One of the greatest blessings of being the Lead Pastor of BCF for twenty-six years was the opportunity to partner with Steve and Jan Rasmussen and the ministry of TEAM. As I have now transitioned into my new role as the President of the Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation, it gives me great joy to know that Steve is stepping into the role of Lead Pastor of BCF AND continuing to lead the efforts of TEAM. I wholeheartedly agree with Ken and BCF in encouraging your continued support for Steve and Jan and TEAM in this new season of expanded ministry.

TEAM Pix: August 2016: 3 Rs

Thanks for your prayers for our intensive courses. Jan just finished her grading. I am still grading and supervising PhD students (like those from my intensive class above).









Leading, ‘Riting and Relationships

We are now in St. Paul, Minnesota for a year of ministry focused on the 3 Rs: leading, ‘riting, and relationships.

Writing: After 8 years of teaching, AIU has given me a year sabbatical. I will move the “What about witches?” book to the front burner. God enabled Jan to interview over 60 international students and professors around Nairobi. Now she needs to type up and analyze them and then write her dissertation.

Relationships:  Home assignment as a missionary means focusing on relationships with the USA members of the TEAM, this time especially with our sending church (Bethel Christian Fellowship TEAM is a ministry of BCF. For 22 years, BCF has graciously contributed significant administrative and financial support every month and passed on every dollar from other donors.

Leading: BCF’s elders have asked me to serve as interim senior pastor from Sept 15. They want me to split my ministry between pastoring and TEAM for some months while they call the next pastor. During those months, BCF will pay half of my salary and continue fully supporting TEAM. TEAM will pay the other half of my salary. Please pray for effective ministry in all of our roles.

Rasmussen Family Reunion at Sand Hill Lake Bible Camp











The Rasmussens (above) met at camp in August.  The Horsagers (below) gathered at the family farm in July. What a privilege to be with family!

Horsager Family Reunion at Clar-Mar Farm











Pastor-students at LVCC more than double!

TEAM will also continue to support Lake Victoria Christian College (LVCC) with three quarters of its expenses. Those expenses have increased for a great reason: 170 instead of the usual 85 or so ministers were trained last session in the three short-term residential sites. Most of these new students are pastors of churches who have not had opportunity to attend any Bible school before.

Musoma school last session. Please pray for the current sessions.


Right now, Musa, our former student and current missionary to the unreached is teaching missions in Mwanza while Nestory is teaching Books of Moses in Musoma. The Ngara school starts the end of August.

TEAM Pix March 2016: Witchcraft Accusations and the Church Conference a Success!

Witchcraft Accusations and the Church Conference







Thanks for your prayers. The Witchcraft Accusations and the Church Conference in early March in Nairobi went great!  Over 200 scholars, students, and church leaders participated for two days – double the number and time we have had at any previous Africa Society of Evangelical Theology (ASET) meeting. We also plan to produce two books. (ASET is finishing its first book from last year’s conference.)

Steve speaking in the general session of the conference








What does the Bible say on witchcraft?

The first day, various experts, mostly African elders, shared their expertise on the topic. Steve connected the research, the practical situation in the villages, and the Biblical teachings. He really challenged us to trust in God’s power (not fear deceivers and accusers), and to care for the accused (usually widows, orphans, and the vulnerable). Steve’s hard drive crashing that morning made him trust God – and the Holy Spirit REALLY enabled him!

Before the meetings, Bishop Sam Kunhiyop and Steve, with writing expertise from Hannah, discussed the book they are writing on witchcraft accusations for pastors, funded by Tyndale Foundation.  Pray for this book to come together. This will be a priority in our sabbatical this next school year.

Church leaders’ working group






Church leaders and researchers go deeper

Then, as a follow-up from our 2013 conference,  20 of us committed to working on this issue met for two days to share in depth what we are learning and doing about witchcraft accusations around Africa, and to make plans to collaborate more. Steve’s mentor Dr. Priest led us.

We discussed some of the things we had been posting on the blog at http://henrycenter.tiu/section/witch-accusations/. For example, how Nigerian movies (from “Nollywood”) are spreading witchcraft beliefs in new forms around Africa (The most recent post by Kunhiyop’s on this had over 10,000 hits.)

From the DR Congo, we heard Rev. Abel Ngolo report how families and some pastors identify children as witches and even torture then to exorcise the witchcraft. However, he is ministering to these children and teaching pastors how to better handle the situation. (In Kinshasa, 70% of 20,000 street kids were chased from their homes for such accusations).

Members of this group conducted and conference and then a survey of 700+ pastors. One result of the survey was that pastors with less theological education were more likely to be accusing children. Because Pentecostal pastors have less training, they are also more likely to be involved. (Training saves lives!)

Jan and the deans leading session on Tanzania village workshops








Reporting on village seminars in TZ

Many were impressed with the training being done by the Pentecostal pastors we work with in Tanzania. The Lake Victoria Christian College (LVCC) deans presented with Janice their approach to this hot issue in 19 seminars to over 1000 villagers. Jan contributed her expertise in adult education to the whole four days. She submitted a post for the blog so you can read more soon..









We enjoyed this conference because we got to introduce our friends to each other: 10 church leaders from Tanzania we have worked with for decades, colleagues and students from AIU and other theological schools, as well as Steve’s mentors from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, who sponsored it with ASET. Above, Steve is with the former Dean Tienou of Trinity International University, Chicago and the LVCC Deans from Tanzania:  Revs. Benesta Misana, Raphael Okeyo, and Nestory Lunyilija.

Coalition formed

Out of the desire to make a difference we formed a coalition: Light: Christians Addressing Witchcraft and Witch Accusations. Steve was encouraged to lead this group into vision, a mission statement, etc. We formed a board of ten top scholars and church leaders, which includes the heads of three churches based in Nigeria, Ghana, and Malawi totaling more than 14 million Christians. Other members are from Kenya, DR Congo, Burkina Faso, USA, and UK. Please pray for this community of Light to move ahead in bringing light to local communities.
Prayer update:

  • Thanks, too, for your prayers for Chinyere Priest.  She is recovering.
  • Jan got ethical review board approval.  Pray for the Kenyan government research permit to come quickly and for her interviews.
  • Jan and Steve have 3 intensive courses to teach in April as well as Steve finishing his regular semester courses.
  • LVCC in Tanzania: Record numbers of students in the one-month intensive terms (53 now studying in Musoma and 59 in Mwanza) have brought great opportunity and challenge.
  • Thank you!  We appreciate your  concern and prayers.  God is faithful!







TEAM Pix June 2015: Tanzania Travels

Short version: Our whole family of six drove to Mwanza and later Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. We praise God for his good work in ministries and friends we have worked with for 20 years. We thank God for healing John Mwanzalima after a terrible accident and helping us through multiple car failures on the journeys.

Story with pictures and detail: We had a great trip to Mwanza, Tanzania in June. We went to see our friend, John Mwanzalima, principal of LVCC. He had a very bad accident on public transportation. He spent 6 weeks flat in bed in so much pain that he couldn’t roll himself over, with a couple cracked ribs and damaged hip. He was finally walking with a cane when we saw him. He rejoiced greatly to be alive and able to recover since a number of others died. Please continue to pray for his full recovery.

John Mwanzalima and Steve

We were invited to visit so many old friend’s homes. Great to see God blessing and using these Tanzanians and missionaries! We experienced many familiar places though there is much change – paved roads, towering hotels and a four story mall nearing completion. I (Steve) also spoke to a missionary team, two churches, and at the chapel of another Christian college (see below).

Steve preaching in PAG Bible School chapel


On Father’s Day, I preached in the village outside Musoma where I went to language school in 1986 and again with our young family in 1995. Then there was no PEFA (Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa – the church under which we serve many churches in Tanzania) church there. Now you can see (below) that there is a thriving church pastored by Bishop Benester, LVCC dean and our co-worker all of these years. This is the biggest church and church roof that I have seen built by a local congregation in PEFA. 20 years ago, PEFA in Northwestern Tanzania had only three permanent buildings with metal roofs in all of NW Tanzania – all built with funds from outside. For awhile, we found donors to help with roofing materials for congregations that built concrete or brick buildings. Slowly this encouragement got congregations building. Now about 40 (of 200) PEFA churches in NW TZ have permanent buildings. Rejoice!  

Praise and worship in Musoma PEFA church, where Benester pastors


Later on Father’s Day we watched the sun set on a rocky peninsula where we had a picnic celebration of Father’s Day 20 years earlier. This trip was a perfect way to celebrate 20 years for our family in East Africa! Thank you for supporting our family, LVCC, and these Tanzanian churches for all of these years!

Father’s Day in Musoma, 1995


Family back in Mwanza, June 2015

Hannah led a youth group in Mwanza and enjoyed being “home” after 5 years. The twins led a VBS for missionary kids (photo below), did Swahili lessons and then went to the village alone for 5 days. Justin spent two months in Tanzania researching how people care for the mentally ill in hospitals, churches and traditional healing.

Rachel and Isaac helped lead a missionary kids’ VBS


Hannah, Jan and I left the others after two weeks. God protected us on the way home despite driving with a broken wheel bearing that got increasingly bad. In July, we drove to Dar Es Salaam on the Indian ocean coast to meet my brother, Nathan, his wife Karen, their daughter Kari and son-in-law Brian. On this trip, the engine died and would not restart on three different days. I spent each of the 10 days on the trip and another 10 afterward dealing with fixing the van. But God provided a tow, housing with missionary friends, or barely got us to our next destination. Jan summarized it well with “Yes, we are not in control, but it is okay because God is in control!”

On facebook, a friend said, “Sorry … The lesson is GET A BETTER CAR!!!! …It is hindering your ministry…I will put my money where my mouth is. Because of duty a decent van in Kenya runs $20,000. You bucket of bolts is worth maybe $3000. You raise $16,700 from your supporters and as a fellow missionary I will kick in the last $300. Deal?”

So I agreed. Please pray with us about getting get a better vehicle. Contributions are welcome also!

Car troubles …again!


Pray also for:

·       Next Tuesday to Friday we will be driving 6 hours to Tenwek Christian hospital to preach to all of their staff for three nights of their first missions conference. Pray that God would speak through me and people would obey.

·       The Mwanza and Musoma LVCC Bible school sessions running now.

·       The NEGST-AIU semester which starts August 31.





Sharing about TEAM at Duluth VBS

Sharing at Duluth VBS

Fun to share with every grade yesterday about Training East African Ministers! These kids are giving offerings to train Tanzanian ministers. The amazing VBS and children’s ministry at Duluth Gospel Tabernacle is run by a great team led by missionary kid (Rebecca Haapanen). It shows. How many VBS have a missions session every day where the kids pray for missionaries.? Kathy Bloomdahl led our session and had files of all of our old emails and pictures that she has used to stimulate prayer. We have been so blessed this summer to meet people who pray for us every day and know what is happening. How encouraging!! who knew that people read our emails?

Christmas gift opportunities – Dec. 2013

Looking for a unique Christmas gift for someone who has everything AND someone who doesn’t?

LVCC grads in Tanzania

Let us share with you a few of the fun giving/investments that our family has been doing for several years….
You are welcome to join us:

  1. Scholarships: $15 x 10 givers = $150 for a Tanzanian minister to study for an intensive term [$1200 for a whole diploma course - like those pictured above]

  2. Necessities for the most needy orphans and widows. Local Tanzanian churches give the most needy what is most needed whether that is food, job skills, school fees, etc. The churches have already carefully selected and sacrificed to help 106 widows and 114 orphans regularly. We get to add something to encourage them in this great work done sacrificially with close-up wisdom. [any amount]

  3. We have enjoyed contributing to the tuition of 9 of the regular LVCC teachers’ children for several year [any amount]

  4. Defending widows and others from persecution as suspected widows: $80 X 10 givers = $800 for each 3 day seminar for village government officials, health officers and church leaders

If you want to give a unique gift like this or an end of year contribution to Training East African Ministers, hit the donate button at or send a check to TEAM, 1466 Portland Ave. St. Paul, MN 55104.

Witchcraft accusation seminars in Mwanza, TZ

President Obama joins us in Tanzania!

The US President arrived yesterday in Dar es Salaam to an exuberant welcome of official bands playing the Star Spangled Banner, followed by traditional drums and dancing. We watched some on the Swahili media, since we are in Mwanza, near Lake Victoria, not on the coast where he spent his 24 hours. Maybe the US will begin to build mutually beneficial partnership opportunities in one of the 10 fastest economies in the world? China has 5 times the trade with Tanzania as the US.   Hopefully Obama’s visit to Tanzania will be as fruitful as ours has been.

Seminar on “How can the church help those victimized through witch accusations?”


Seminar participants discuss “What makes a good village?”


Ten of us gathered to plan the seminar together for 2 days.  Then about 40 from 6 church denominations (see above) participated in the 4-day seminar with the aim of helping the church help those accused of witchcraft in their churches, villages, and families.  This seminar came out of Steve’s PhD research which revealed that most deaths in this area of Tanzania are blamed on someone causing the death, using witchcraft.  How exciting to bring his ongoing research back home so that Christians here can grapple with local issues and try to come up with solutions.

His student at AIU from this area, Joshua Lusato, also researched on the prevalence of belief in witchcraft and resulting cases of people killed as suspected witches. Great to see how he has been transformed in understanding and passion on this issue! According to his research on police records, at least 67 suspected witches were killed each year in just the Mwanza region [and 500 in Tanzania]. Only 10% of those cases have suspects and only 1% have gotten to court. 80% are women and the great majority older. Joshua’s wife Pendo is a legal advocate and explained the laws against witchcraft and accusing people of being witches. At the beginning of the conference some students were saying that we should be Biblical and kill the witches. By the end most had seen that God loves everyone and He commands that the church love the widows, poor, orphans, and outsider, even those who some label as witches.


Eight people at the conference shared their stories of being accused of being witches…

Some of the seminar attendees, including 5 pastors, who have been accused of witchcraft!

One of the widows above had her house burned down and was attacked by her nephew, now no one will sit by her in church. Another widow had to pay a cow as fine for bewitching a grand nephew.


Prisca has been a pastor’s wife for nearly 50 years.

We know Prisca’s husband and son well in ministry. She sat next to Steve in the service where he preached on defending those accused as witches. Afterward she shared why she was visiting: One night this April, she found herself surrounded by a crowd of young armed men who intended to kill her.  She managed to get help from the police who kept her in jail to keep her safe until her son came to bring her to the village until things cool down. The root is conflict with her daughter-in-law who accuses her of bewitching her son. The spark was a neighbor accusing her of making her sick.


Digging into scripture to see what the Bible says about caring for the widow, orphan, poor, alien, needy as well as about sorcerers, witches, and magicians.


Jan leading small group discussion

The seminar laid solid first steps to helping churches see how many helpless people are accused of being witches, because of envy, greed (wanting their land or house), and broken relationships in an extended family or clan.  Afterward at the LVCC board meetings Steve and the leaders made plans to teach interdenominational seminars to encourage churches to defend the victims – usually widows, the poor, outsiders, orphans, and the powerless. Please pray for funding and wisdom for this. Steve also plans to write a book in English and Swahili to help pastors confront these issues. He has asked some of these teachers to contribute to the book.

Thanks for your prayers… and please continue to pray!

It has been fun to be back in Mwanza these two weeks and to see friends, including former students and church leaders.  We will be back in Nairobi in time to grade papers and for Rachel and Isaac to be junior counselors at Camp Blue Sky for a week. Then we go to our missionary retreat on the coast for a week.