Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gospel Pioneers in Africa, 1960-1980

Dale LeBaron, a professor at BYU, was the mission president of the only LDS mission in Africa when the 1978 revelation was received, allowing all worthy male members of the church to hold the priesthood. He got funding to go back ten years later to record some of the oral histories of people who had since joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this article, he confirms the efforts of Pres. McKay to send missionaries to Nigeria as early as 1960, but the Church was unable to obtain visas at that time.

He records a number of remarkable experiences that I haven't shared here yet, in addition to that of Brother Obinna that I already recorded here in detail.

In Ghana:
Joseph W. B. Johnson ... was converted after prayerfully reading the Book of Mormon in 1964. He relates that following his conversion “one early morning, while about to prepare for my daily work, I saw the heavens open and angels with trumpets singing songs of praise unto God. I heard my name mentioned thrice: ‘Johnson, Johnson, Johnson. If you will take up my work as I will command you, I will bless you and bless your land.’ Trembling and in tears, I replied, ‘Lord, with thy help, I will do whatever you will command me.’ From that day onward, I was constrained by the Spirit to go from street to street to deliver the message that we had read from the Book of Mormon. ...
One Sunday after sacrament meeting, Sister [Priscilla] Sampson-Davis saw a vision. It was as if she were at sacrament meeting again, and a person in white apparel stood in front of the stand, beckoning to her. “I came and stood by him. He asked me to turn around and look at the faces of the people to see if they were all enjoying the service. I saw that some of them had bowed their heads. He asked me why some of those people were not joining in the singing. I said, ‘Because they didn’t go to school and they can’t read English. They can’t sing, and that is the reason they bow their heads.’
“Then he said, ‘Wouldn’t you like to help your sisters and brothers who can’t read and who can’t join you in singing praises to Heavenly Father?’”
Even though she couldn’t write the language well, she replied, “I will try.”
She proceeded to translate not only hymns, but the Book of Mormon and several key manuals into the local tongue.

In Zimbabwe:
[Adjei Kwame] said, “I kept having dreams about a church building. When I went through Kwe Kwe, Zimbabwe, I saw it and wanted to go in to find out what kept coming into my dreams all the time.” When he went into the church building one Sunday, he felt that it was the true church and that he should join. “I felt that I was actually with some people that I knew a long time ago who had been good friends.”
When he first came to church, members of the Kwe Kwe Branch were bearing their testimonies. Brother Kwame went to the pulpit. He told the congregation that he believed in God and wanted to be a member of the Church.
More posts on the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nigeria are here