‘Better, Not Bitter’ Event Draws More than 2,000 Women to Zambia

Congress speakers emphasize essential role of Adventist women for the church.

Maggie Chikhambi, for Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, and Adventist Review
‘Better, Not Bitter’ Event Draws More than 2,000 Women to Zambia
More than 2,000 Seventh-day Adventist women from three countries in southern Africa enjoyed worshipping and learning together in Monze, Zambia, in September. [Photo: Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division News]

The first week of September 2023 was not just an ordinary week for many Adventist women in the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (SID). More than two thousand women from six union territories of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe attended a regional congress at Rusangu University near Monze, Zambia. Two hundred and ninety were from the Malawi Union Conference. The theme for the regional congress was “Better, Not Bitter.” 

Margery Herinirina, SID women’s ministry director, was the keynote speaker for the devotional moments. She shared with the delegates the word of God from Ruth 1:20 and 2:11. “It is good for women to be better, not bitter, as bitterness is like poison in someone’s heart that consumes good thoughts,” she said. She further encouraged the women to stop being bitter and instead to have hope whenever they face challenges.

“You should have trust in God and will be transformed,” Herinirina said. She continued by encouraging women to be kind to each other so that some people can be transformed and start trusting in God through their kindness. In the Bible story, Naomi turned and trusted in God because of Ruth’s and Boaz’s kindness.

SID president Harrington Simui Akombwa attended. Akowbwa said it was high time for women to arise and shine in the name of the Lord. “We are in the world full of challenges, but let us rise, shine, and pray,” he said. “And the challenges will disappear.”

Other leaders presented on various topics. Zimbabwe East Union Conference stewardship director Trymore Mutimwii spoke on women and evangelism. Mutimwii encouraged women to evangelize and spread the gospel, noting that it should be the reason for their existence. “Women are also gifted just like men,” he said. “Share your beliefs with everyone through actions and preaching like Dorcas did.”

Dr. Gift Mweemba, a retired minister and leader in the Southern African Union Conference, also encouraged participants to be better, not bitter. “Women should have high self-esteem because they are individuals on their own,” Mweemba told attendees. “You should trust in yourself that you can do better.… Learn to enjoy yourself and work for the Lord and the church will grow, because there are more women than men in the world. Be proud of yourself, as Jesus Himself trusted in His mother while He was on earth.”

Precious Milingo, a member of Olive Seventh-day Adventist church in Kampala, Uganda, and a founder of Utano Health Solutions, took the guests through issues related to women’s health. She advised the women to follow the example of how an expensive car is serviced and managed by the owner. She said that women are also “expensive.” “You are a billion-dollar asset, so you have to take care of yourself by taking healthy meals … exercise, avoid stress by being connected to people with whom you can freely [share], and rest and sleep for seven hours,” Milingo said.

An executive director in the Reserve Bank of Malawi, Mercy Kumbatira, presented on the topic of women and finances. In her presentation, she said that everyone wants money and loves money to survive. “You should have savings to [then decide how to spend it] … and develop small businesses to achieve your short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals,” Kumbatira said.

On women and violence, Maimba Ziela, a managing partner at Lusitu Chamber and a personal ministry director in Northern Zambian Union Conference, reminded participants that abuse is any conduct or act that is likely to cause harm to the safety, health, and well-being of a person. “Do not to hide or to be silent when abused,” Ziela told them. “Please seek help.”

On busy women and work balance, Linda Sibanda, Northern Zambia Union Conference women’s ministry director, advised women to develop time-management skills. “Learn to value those around you and work with them as a team to avoid burnout,” she advised. “I encourage you, my fellow sisters, to plan in advance and prioritize your tasks, communicate your boundaries by sharing your working hours … and invest in your relationships. Learn to say ‘No!’ ”

Nokanyo Lulu Ndholvu, from South Africa, was the main speaker during the daily power hour and evening service. She encouraged women by saying that they are the light on the earth and that if they pray for their marriages and children, God will bless them. She also advised them to avoid keeping grudges and bitterness. “Let us choose hope, gratitude over bitterness whenever we have challenges,” Ndholvu said. “Let’s thank God in everything and write down good things the Lord has done to us. When we live in prayer, we will have gratitude and our children will imitate it.”

During the event, women went out for outreach activities. They visited Monze Mission Hospital, Monze Prison, and the Choongo school for children with disabilities. The headmaster of Choongo Primary School said that he was glad to see women from three countries visiting Choongo. “As a school, we are humbled,” he said. “These children you see today are from this surrounding area…. Most of these learners are on wheelchair and are escorted by their parents when the school is open. Every time you throw food in your bins, please think of these children who are facing a lot of challenges.” Women distributed assorted items such as slippers, soap, books, and cash.

The congress lasted four days and was closed by union parades with cultural presentations.

The original version of this story was posted by the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.

Maggie Chikhambi, for Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, and Adventist Review