Sunday, June 12, 2011

LDS in Nigeria 2: Anthony Uzodimma Obinna

In a series of letters to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Anthony Obinna introduced himself and told of the miraculous things that had happened to him because of the Church. Excerpts of some of these letters were later reprinted in the Ensign in Dec 1980. Brother Obinna was the first black western African baptized and called as branch president, as I mentioned in last week's post about the growth of the Church in Nigeria. Some of his story has also been captured as a Church video about the growth of the Church in Korea, Nigeria, and East Germany. The video starts at the 9:25 mark on this segment and continues in this segment. The second segment is also included below the fold.

After telling some of his and his wife's history, including his education and his wife's strong faith in God, he recounts the following remarkable events:
In November 1965, I was visited in a dream by a tall person carrying a walking stick in his right hand. He asked whether I had read about Christian and Christiana from A Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. I told him that I had forgotten it and he told me to read it again. After a few months the same personage appeared to me again and took me to a most beautiful building and showed me everything in it. That personage appeared to me three times.
During the Nigerian civil war, when we were confined to the house, I picked up an old copy of the Reader’s Digest for September 1958. I opened it at page 34 and saw a picture of the same beautiful building I had been shown around in my dream, and immediately I recognized it. The heading was “The March of the Mormons.” I had never before heard the word Mormons. I started to read the story because of the picture of the building I had seen in my dream. I discovered that it was all about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
From the time I finished reading the story, I had no rest of mind any longer. My whole attention was focused on my new discovery. I rushed out immediately to tell my brothers, who were all amazed and astonished to hear the story.
Because of the civil war, he was not able to write to the Church to request more information until 1971. The Church sent him some materials but were unable to establish the Church there yet though they wanted to. He was disappointed, but continued studying and praying. "Many a time in dreams I saw some of the missionaries of the Church discussing matters about the Church."

In November 1978, the first missionaries arrived to establish the Church in Ghana and Nigeria. They baptized 19 members, organized the Aboh branch, and called Bro. Obinna as branch president. Wiki adds that "after his ordination to the priesthood, Obinna baptized his wife Fidelia. She served as the first black Relief Society president in Africa. Obinna and his wife were sealed in the Logan Utah Temple in 1989." He happily wrote to the Church:
“The entire members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in this part of Nigeria have the pleasure to thank you and the Latter Day Saints throughout the world for opening the door for the Gospel to come to our people in its fullness. ...

“There is no doubt that the Church here will grow and become a mighty centre for the Saints and bring progress enough to the people of Nigeria as it is doing all over the world.”
He concludes in the article:
The most important talk and love in my house is about “our church.” As Christ is guarding his true church, membership is increasing daily, and I testify that in the future, the membership of the Church will be as great as the sand on the seashore. God is great and performs wonders. No human power can withhold God’s work in this world.
Bro. Obinna passed away in 1995. He has a Facebook page.
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