Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Q&A with Nigerian LDS youth

I was amazed at just how many comments the Church’s magazine for youth, the New Era, has published from Nigerian youth and young adults. They show up primarily in the "Q&A" section, where the magazine asks a question of its readers and several months later posts their answers. Here is a sampling from 1993-1997. These are examples to me of the kind of faith and spiritual growth that had occurred in Nigeria in the relatively short time since the Church was organized here.

Gbenga Onalaja (Sep 1995) of Ibadan described how when he was 9 and attending a private Catholic school, the archbishop visited. At a gathering of 1000 students, the archbishop began by asking them who Saint Martha was. Not one student answered. Finally Gbenga raised his hand, walked in front of the thousand people, explained that Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus, and recited Christ’s visits to them.
The archbishop seemed very impressed with my answer and asked for a round of applause for me. He then shook my hand, hugged me, and asked which Catholic church I attended. I explained that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that I learned these things in my church Primary class. He smiled and said, “Gbenga, you have made me very happy today. I am very proud of you, your church, and whoever taught you. Without you, nobody would have answered that question, and I would have been greatly disappointed.” He then rewarded me with a scholarship for my last year at the school. This made me feel very thankful for the Church, my Primary teacher, my family, and the Spirit of God, which directed me. 

Okoro Onyebuchi (Feb 1993) of Lagos testified about how reading the Book of Mormon as a teenager gave her the courage to start speaking to people and sharing the gospel. Amuzie Nwachukwu (Dec 1993) of Ibadan gave a Bible, a Book of Mormon, several church pamphlets, and a card showing where the church was locally to a kind man at the post office because “I felt he deserved to come to  a knowledge of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The family expressed gratitude for it.

Maxwell O. Etete (Aug 1995) of Port Harcourt encouraged us to compare ourselves to Jesus and His apostles so we could learn how to better follow his footsteps. Kennedy Ediworo (Dec 1995) of Warri explained that the purpose of scripture study is to learn God’s plan, how to keep His commandments to live a happy life, and to get to know our Savior, Jesus. Kennedy (Apr 1997) managed to get a second comment published, advising teens to confess and ask forgiveness when they share someone’s secret, then to pray for strength to avoid spreading rumors.

Agnes Teigbanyo (Nov 1996) of Port Harcourt was the first Laurel to receive a Young Womanhood medallion ever in Nigeria. Her project involved bringing other young women to help at the Motherless Baby Home.  Jennifer Nweke Onwudnjo (Aug 1997) of Port Harcourt wrote that God will not force us to suffer beyond what we can bear and that we are on earth to be tested.  Douglas Atebata of Bwari Abija won an honorable mention in a Church-wide writing contest. Anita Joshua (Jan 1998) of Lagos encouraged us to pray to find things we share in common with our family members so we can love them more.

Nigerian missionaries also get mentioned frequently: Elder Okon (Oct 1993) said that “just as faith without works is dead, fasting without a positive attitude … is dead and brings us no rewards.” Elder Arungwa (Apr 1994) testified that feeling a greater love for the Savior comes from obedience to the commandments and service. Elder Boima (Apr 1995) wrote that repentance involves changing our minds and hearts, otherwise we will repeat wrong actions again. Elder Aboagye (June 1995) compared the scriptures to missionary companionships. Just as a missionary should never be alone without his or her companion, we should read the Book of Mormon and Bible together. Sister Erubani (Nov 1997) from the Enugu Mission (That’s my area!) reminded teens that cheating is sinful, but that if they study hard and pray with faith God will help them so they do not have to cheat.

There is also a comment from some Church Education System missionaries in Port Harcourt (Nov 1996) who teach a literacy program that is so popular there is a waiting list to join it.

More on LDS in Nigeria here.