Any Church member with an ear to the ground knows that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is blossoming in Africa. As I follow the news of the Church in Africa, and as I learn about my Latter-day Saints brothers and sisters in those away lands, my heart just swells with joy. When I read and listen to our dear apostles as they visit the missions, stakes, wards, and branches there, I feel so excited about the how the Church is blessing the lives of Heavenly Father’s children on that continent. I wonder amazement when I consider what the coming decades will bring for the Church in Africa. I look forward to witnessing it.
Here are some quotes from apostles who have visited Africa, and from other Church leaders who live and serve there. I hope you feel the love and joy our leaders have for all the Latter-day Saints in Africa.
“Africa has been held in reserve by the Lord.” —Jeffrey R. Holland, during an October 2010 visit to Burundi
Temples in Africa
As of this posting in 2016, Africa has 3 operating Temples, and 3 that have been announced.
The 3 operating temples are the Aba Nigeria Temple, the Accra Ghana Temple, and the Johannesburg South Africa Temple. All were dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley.
President Gordon B. Hinckley
“…In the spread of Thy work over the earth, we have in this good land and in other nations of Africa, strong stakes of Zion with disciples of great faith, obedient to Thee, and with a desire to carry eternal truth to many more. Bless this nation that it may rise in strength and freedom among the nations of Africa…” —Gordon B. Hinckley, (Aba Nigeria Temple Dedicatory Prayer)
“…May Thy work spread in this land and in adjoining nations. May the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands be touched in such a way that there shall come into Thy kingdom a veritable flood of faithful and devoted Latter-day Saints. We pray for this nation of Ghana and for all who constitute its government. May it become a model among the nations of this vast continent. May it grow in strength and influence for good. Incline the hearts of its rulers that they may befriend Thy people, even Thy faithful Saints…” —Gordon B. Hinckley, (Accra Ghana Temple Dedicatory Prayer)
“…May guardian angels stand watch over this holy house we humbly ask Thee. May it be preserved from destruction or defilement. May it be a place of holiness, a haven of peace, a sanctuary from the storms of life…” —Gordon B. Hinckley, (Johannesburg Temple Dedicatory Prayer)
President Thomas S. Monson
Some of the most joyous quotes on Africa come from President Monson as he announced 3 new temples in Africa.
“May I mention that no Church-built facility is more important than a temple. Temples are places where relationships are sealed together to last through the eternities. We are grateful for all the many temples across the world and for the blessing they are in the lives of our members. … I am also pleased to announce new temples in the following locations: … Durban, South Africa; Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo … ” —Thomas S. Monson
“I am very pleased to announce three new temples which will be built in the following locations: Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Bangkok, Thailand. What marvelous blessings are in store for our faithful members in these areas and, indeed, wherever temples are located throughout the world.” —Thomas S. Monson
Apostles Visit Africa
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Elder Holland was in Accra, Ghana when President Gordon B. Hinckley announced that a temple would be build there. He remembers, “[The people] stood and cheered, wept and danced, held each other, and cried. And in a way, that spirit still continues. That is my love for the Africans—it is their uncompromised joy in the gospel. Most have had so little in their lives of material goods, but when they got the gospel, they just embraced it … And they still do. They are doing it to this day.” —Jeffrey R. Holland
Elder Holland used this example of faithfulness of African Church members: “While there was a raging civil war in Cote d’Ivoire [Ivory Coast] the Latter-day Saints … just kept coming to the temple. It’s a great tribute to them. I stand in awe.” —Jeffrey R. Holland
Speaking of Sierra Leone and Liberia, Elder Holland said, “Because they’ve had such a bloody, war-torn, brutal recent past, that’s one of the reasons the gospel is taking hold so dramatically. They’ve seen what life ought not to be, and now with the missionaries and the members testifying, they’ve seen what it can be. Heaven has been able to turn it into a blessing, and they’re lifting themselves out of political disarray and civil strife.” —Jeffrey R. Holland
“It is part of the latter-day miracle, evidence of our ‘marvelous work and a wonder’ that the Church has grown to the point where its 3,000th stake is in far-off Sierra Leone. … As with everything in the gospel, there are blessings layered on top of blessings in such a day as this. It is wonderful for the institutional Church that we are spreading to ever-more distant frontiers. But it is also wonderful for individual people in those individual countries where the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is being so cherished and so revered. In this latter-day light everything is seen more clearly, more hopefully and more beautifully”—Jeffrey R. Holland
Elder Holland talked of Church growth in Zimbabwe, which has known many difficult times, “and yet in the middle of that, the Church has blossomed. We have growth, we have stakes, we have missions. That’s what’s happening all over Africa.”
After meeting with the Bangui Branch in the Central Republic of Africa in 2012, Elder Holland shared, “I was so moved by their faith. These are believing people. They accept the gospel when they hear it — it is in their bones. They have genuine faith. They will walk scores of miles to attend meetings and perform their duties. It isn’t superficial. It isn’t a fleeting thing with them. They just believe. The thing I come back with from Africa is the spirituality and faith of the people who have so little materially.”
Bangui Branch President Langue, a lawyer who lived in France and the US before returning to Central African Republic, was incredibly touched and grateful for the apostolic visit. Elder Holland remembers meeting with President Langue: “He kept saying, with tears in his eyes, that he couldn’t quite fathom that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve had come all that way and sought them out in their interior African world, in the jungle, in the isolated communities that they are. He couldn’t get over the fact that we would come and find them, that their little handful of members mattered. That was touching to me. I said, ‘Of course you matter. Of course we will find you.’ It was a great day.”
“In some ways, the gospel is late in coming to Africa, at least as we could do it on the Lord’s timetable—and it was the Lord’s timetable, I’m quick to affirm. It is only comparatively recently that the Africans have begun to get missions and missionaries, the blessings of the priesthood, and so forth. It’s a big continent, and we still have a long way to go. But I believe the growth we are now seeing in Africa is part of the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise. African Latter-day Saints are emerging with faith. They are on the move. They are meeting the challenge of receiving the gospel and making it obvious in their lives.” —Jeffrey R. Holland
“We don’t get involved in conspicuous, socio-political issues. We preach the gospel. We are concerned about justice, and we are concerned about social opportunity and equity. But we think the answer to that is the gospel, so we just preach the gospel. And it has been true elsewhere and it is true in Africa, that people get that insight, blessing, and light in their lives, and suddenly things start to change and their lives are blessed.” —Jeffrey R. Holland
Watch the Mormon Channel’s video featuring Elder Holland speaking about West Africa:
Memes from the Video
“Africa’s one of those special places where you get to see the glory of the Lord, the wonder and the miracle of the Restoration just, quite literally, unfold before your eyes.” —Jeffrey R. Holland
“I bow my head in their presence. They’ve had so little, and they do so much with the gospel, raising their children in the Church, sending their sons and daughters on missions.” —Jeffrey R. Holland
President Russell M. Nelson
Speaking to the interviewer in the video below, Elder Nelson says, “We have a stake here. Nairobi. We had a stake conference today. It was a thrill to meet with the people. More than a thousand people gathered—so reverent, beautiful choir, excellent stake presidency, patriarch on the stand—how can I express my joy when I see such progress?” —President Russell M. Nelson
Watch President Nelson talk about his visit to a stake conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
Elder Nelson said during his visit to Tanzania in 2003: “The Lord honors the blessings of His servants. . . . When a prayer of dedication comes, blessings will follow.”
“A dedicatory prayer sets the direction, but the power comes from you who are here. The power to make that dedicatory prayer become a reality rests with members and leaders of the Church here in Tanzania. . . . The Lord will establish a Church here by your efforts
“… you will be strong in your faith and strong in your conviction of the truth and be willing to share it with your friends and neighbors, loved ones and families.” —Russell M. Nelson
To the interviewer in video below, Elder Nelson expresses: “I’m very optimistic about the future of the Church in Madagascar and for the people of Madagascar. As you go up and down the streets you see the people in the rice patties planting their rice underwater and washing their clothes at the side of the river. And yet, from that came these people to Church all dressed in their white shirts for the men and lovely dress for the ladies. So, a people that can rise above their environmental challenges, whose faith is stronger than their physical limitations, those are just some of the things that make me feel so optimistic for them.” To the congregation of Church members in Madagascar, Elder Nelson says: “We love you. We trust you.”
Watch President Russell M. Nelson talk about Madagascar:
Elder Richard G. Scott
“The African people are a kind and patient people. They don’t have a lot of income or resources that allow them financially to do things, so they just do them out of sheer effort. They will walk miles and miles and miles to accomplish something that they are prompted to do by the Holy Ghost to further the work.” —Elder Richard G. Scott, after a visit to Mozambique and Nigeria.
Elder David A. Bednar
“Truly the Lord is hastening His work throughout the world. We saw evidence of that hastening in every country and city we visited in Africa. The devoted and faithful members of the Church on that continent are anxiously engaged in following the example of the Savior and establishing His gospel and Church. I am especially impressed by their diligent preparation to enter the house of the Lord worthily and receive the blessings to be had therein.” —David A. Bednar, after spending 10 days in West Africa
“The Lord is mindful of His children in West Africa. It is marvelous to witness the blessings of the Lord in their lives as they embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ and honor sacred covenants. We anticipate continued spiritual growth and maturity as they press forward with steadfastness in Christ.” —Elder David A. Bednar
“This is a land, a people, and a place of great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Africa is one of the most rapidly growing areas in the Church. There are places in Africa where you have entire stakes that have grown and developed from a few members to branches to stakes with no assistance from missionaries.” —David A. Bednar
“This is a place where many people live challenging, difficult lives. They don’t have many of the temporal comforts and blessings that people in the Western world have. So you have a different view of the world when you come to Africa and see the growth of the Church in this place. The future is bright, brighter than I think we even have any idea. They have great light, great hope because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I witness that He lives and He directs the affairs of His Church. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” —David A. Bednar
“The faith of these people strengthens my faith, and the devotion of these Liberian Saints makes me want to be more devoted.” —David A. Bednar
“We are not here to teach you Western culture. We are here to teach you about the gospel culture. Gospel culture takes precedence over any other influence.” —David A. Bednar, while in Uganda
“This is the next stage of pioneers. There were pioneers in the 1800’s in Salt Lake City. Africa can be the next phase of pioneers in the Church.” —David A. Bednar
“The dedication of a country is a remarkable and historic event. In the authority of the holy Apostleship, the keys are exercised, the door is opened, and a country is dedicated for the preaching of the gospel.
“The dawning of a new day in the country of Gabon occurred at the base of a tree that probably first sprouted around the time the Prophet Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son. Something very old witnessed the beginning of a new day in Gabon. This is a season of tremendous opportunity and great growth in Gabon and in Africa.” —David A. Bednar
“Africa is one of the most rapidly growing areas of the Church. Referring to that growth, Elder Bednar mentioned that a stake president in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has an unusual weekly challenge in sacrament meeting—finding enough time for confirmations. During a recent meeting, 18 new members were confirmed. ‘That is a wonderful problem to have’, said Elder Bednar.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
“I was impressed with the vigor and faith of our members and with the sophistication of the leaders,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks said of his visit to Nigeria in 2011. “They were concentrating on the most important things, and they were going forward with faith.” —Dallin H. Oaks
“Many African traditions are consistent with the gospel culture and help our members keep the commandments of God. The strong African family culture is superior to that of many Western countries, where family values are disintegrating. We hope the examples of love and loyalty among members of African families will help us teach others these essential traditions in the gospel culture. Modesty is another African strength. We plead with youth elsewhere to be as modest as most of the young people we see in Africa.” —Dallin H. Oaks
“All men and women on this earth are the offspring of God, spirit brothers and sisters, whatever their color or citizenship. No wonder God’s Only Begotten Son commanded us to love one another. What a different world it would be if brotherly and sisterly love and unselfish assistance could cross over all boundaries of tribe, nation, creed, and color. Such love would not erase all differences of opinion and action, but it would guide each of us to focus our efforts on cooperative actions with our neighbors rather than on hatred or oppression of them.”—Dallin H. Oaks, during regional stake and district conference broadcast to Africa on November 21, 2010.
Elder Quentin L. Cook
“We were impressed with the strength of the priesthood leadership and the unity of the members. They come from many countries with different languages and racial backgrounds, but they are united in living the culture of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” —Quentin L. Cook
Elder Dale G. Renland
Before his call the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Renland was the President of the Africa Southeast Area, and a general authority seventy.
“Most in the Africa Southeast Area have experienced and are dealing with life’s ongoing tragedies. Very few have escaped the loss of loved ones. Very few have escaped economic challenges. Very few have escaped societal conflict. None have escaped all. The Book of Mormon prophet, Mormon, illustrates how Christ and His Atonement can bring the proper perspective to life’s difficulties. In writing to his son Moroni, after detailing the destruction of their civilization and atrocities done by both sides of the conflict. Mormon said, ‘…may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever’.”—Dale G. Renland
General Authority Seventies from Africa
Elder Edward Dube
Read more about Elder Dube at the Church’s main website.
“May we all unite in a common objective ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’.” —Edward Dube
Elder Christoffel Golden
Read more about Elder Golden at the official website of the Church.
“Brothers and sisters, may we discover anew the divine power of daily prayer and the convincing influence of the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures. On Sundays, when partaking of the sacrament, may we do so in the spirit of true devotion to Him who is the giver of all things.” —Elder Christoffel Golden
Elder Joseph W. Sitati
Read more about Elder Sitati at the Church’s website.
“Now is a time of great transition across Africa. Cultural traditions are breaking down; people are migrating to the cities. In a new and unfamiliar environment with very little to hold on to, they become more responsive to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are, overall, a religious people, very receptive to the Spirit, and they find a sure hope in the teachings of the Church. They join the gospel culture.” —Elder Joseph W. Sitati
Africa Southeast Area Leadership
“Rather than merely reciting the usual phrases in our prayers, we must communicate with our Heavenly Father. It is through prayer that we will be victorious.” —Elder Alfred K. Kyungu of the Seventy, Africa Southeast Area
“Just as the dominoes I loved to play with as a boy all fell down when I pushed over the first one, so do all the truths of the gospel fall into place as we come to know that the keystone of our testimony—the Book of Mormon—is true.” —Elder Kevin S. Hamilton of the Seventy, Africa Southeast Area
“May we reflect upon the words of the Primary song, “I Love to See the Temple,” and share our love and commitment to the Saviour and His gospel by making temple worship our priority. Let us take our children there in our conversations and in our prayers so that we may attend with them when their special “someday” comes.” —Elder Tasara Makasi of the Seventy
Africa West Area Leadership
“As we learn of who Christ is, the truth about this distills upon us, our testimony becomes stronger and we become faithful sons and daughters of God. No matter what our circumstances might be in the kingdom, if we have a testimony it becomes difficult to be offended and then fall less active. We individually need strong testimonies to seek out our personal salvation.
“I testify of the divinity of our relationship with the Almighty God and His only Begotten, even Jesus Christ. Our testimony increases as we live the gospel and we gain the assurance of His favor and mercy upon us.” —Elder Frederick O. Akinbo of the Seventy
“If our minds are focused on the essence of the Sabbath, we will know the activities that are appropriate and those that are not. Without attempting to make a list or set rules, the appropriate activities for that day could include, praying, fasting, doing genealogical work, giving priesthood blessing to members of our family, listening to General Conference talks as a family, reading scriptures and having other wholesome family activities in our homes. We, of course, also rest from our labors and devote ourselves to doing God’s work in any way we can. The parameter by which to judge if any activity we are engaged in is Sabbath compliant may well be a question we ask ourselves, is this activity in remembrance of the Atonement?” —Elder Declan O. Madu of the Seventy
“Our journey through mortality is more of a long distance race than a sprint. We sometimes see the admonition of the Saviour to be perfect as something that must be accomplished in a rush or short time, requiring much exertion of energy. Though it is a very important race, and germane accomplishment that we must aim for, we should prepare carefully and learn the endurance strategies to run the race towards perfection, so as to win an incorruptible crown as admonished by the apostle Paul.” —Elder Adeyinka A. Ojediran of the Seventy
“I have seen members go to great lengths to keep the Lord’s commandment … to partake of the sacrament each week. Some travel great distances. Some come to sacrament meeting despite severe physical restrictions. Some come alone as the only members of their families. But all who come with broken hearts and contrite spirits, hungering to devotedly make these sacred covenants with the Lord, are richly blessed.” —Elder LeGrand Curtis, Jr. of the Seventy
Northern Africa and the Middle East
The area of Northern Africa and the Middle East is not an area where the Church has missionaries or in which the Church proselytizes. Church leaders are respectful of the wishes of these countries and their governments. Our 12th Article of Faith very clearly states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” Part of this belief includes not doing missionary work in a country when a government has asked us not to.
There are members of the Church living in this area; they are mostly from North America and the Philippines. In 2013, the United Arab Emirates allowed the Church to build a Stake Center there for the Church Members who are visiting or living in this area. The land for the building was generously donated by the Crown Prince of the Abu Dhabi Emirate.
At the time of the dedication of the stake center, Elder Larry S. Kacher, Area Seventy, said: “We are so grateful to those in the Abu Dhabi government who have been so accepting of other faiths that they are willing to donate land to allow those not of the Muslim faith to worship as they desire. Those government officials in Abu Dhabi have been an example of tolerance and kindness to all who come here and, in return for such consideration, are willing to respect the local laws and traditions. We are grateful to them.”
Africa North and the Middle East Area is administrated from Church Headquarters.
Latter-day Saint Women Leaders in Africa
Women lead and serve in many capacities in the Church. Some callings are only held by women, such as in the Primary presidencies, Young Women’s presidencies and teachers, and Relief Society presidencies and teachers. These leadership presidencies exist on the general level, stake level, and ward or branch level. This equates to be well over 10,000 Latter-day Saint women in Church leadership across Africa. Here are some great quotes from Church articles from our women leaders in Africa.
Sister Florence Chukwurah is from Nigeria. She served faithfully in numerous Church callings, including serving with her husband as he presided over the Accra Ghana Mission, a temple ordinance worker in the Salt Lake City Temple, and was called to be a member of the General Relief Society Board in 2003. (africawest.lds.org)(deseretnews.com)
“The Lord heard my prayers. He understood my struggles and my search for a bright and happy future. He crowned my efforts with blessings too many for me to express. Since I have joined the Church, I wake up with peace in my heart. I sing in my heart all the time.”—Florence Chukwurah
Sister Mkhabela is from South Africa, but is currently serving with her husband in Harare, Zimbabwe, where his is the mission president. Sister Mkhabela will look familiar to many Latter-day Saints from when she gave the opening prayer at general conference in October, 2014.
“The feeling of sisterhood is the same whether you’re in Salt Lake or South Africa. I feel that we are the same before our Heavenly Father. We can teach one another. [She is also] grateful for the love that I feel whenever I am with my sisters. It touches me. I met a sister in Kenya, and we had a chat, and I said to her, ‘Thank you very much. It’s good to meet good people and just talk.’ That’s what sisterhood is about.”—Dorah Mkhabela
Thanks to Sister Diane Robison for this lovely photo. Sister Robison and her husband have served for the past 3 years at the Ghana MTC, where Brother Robison has been the MTC President. They are talented and prolific on social media; you can read about their mission experience on the Ghana MTC blog and Instagram.
Some Quotes from Local Women Leaders
“So much good has come to the women of Africa with the gospel. The simplicity of worship, the ordinances, the new understanding it brings to our marriage relationships—these are giving us new life.” —Helen Madumere of the Osisioma Ward, Aba Nigeria Stake. Sister Madumere has served as the Relief Society President of a ward, district, and stake.
“The Church is very much interested in strengthening families. Our Relief Society sisters have been trained to help with this initiative and will continue to follow our mandate, ‘Charity Never Faileth.’ Family is very important for the success of any community or country. Strong morals and values are a must if the family is to succeed.” —Concelia Ntshalintshali, Swaziland, Manzini Branch Relief Society president in 2012
An excerpt from Sister Julia Mavimbela’s speech at the 1975 regional conference of the National Council of African Women, now called National Women of South Africa: “I give thanks to God that He has made me a woman. I give thanks to my Creator that He has made me Black, that he has fashioned me as I am, with hands, heart, head to serve my people. It can, it should be a glorious thing to be a woman. It is important for women to be aware of their common lot. It is important for women to stand together and rise together to meet our common enemies—illiteracy, poverty, crime, disease, and stupid, unjust laws that have made women feel so helpless as to be hopeless.” —Julia Mavimbela, has served as Relief Society president in the Soweto Branch, South Africa
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