Sunday, September 15, 2013

LDS in Nigeria: Faith Rewarded

The story of the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nigeria is one of remarkable faith. We heard of that faith before the Church was even allowed to send missionaries here as people who had never even heard of the church had visions of the temple and congregations sprang up across the south. My last post told of how some of the members gained their testimonies. In the year 2000, the Ensign and Liahona contained tales of miracles in our day, of faith rewarded.
Aba Nigeria Mormon Temple

The greatest of these blessings was Pres. Hinckley's announcement in the April 2000 General Conference that a temple would be built in Aba, Nigeria. The Church had grown to 9 stakes in Nigeria. At the time we had 76 temples in all the world, though another 50 would be completed within the next 5 years in a massive campaign of building. Even though I have not yet had the privilege of visiting it myself, knowing that there was a temple here has been a source of strength to our family. The temple will have its own post later on once my chronology gets closer to its dedication in 2005.

David Eka, who was I believe the second black African Area Authority, was sent to fight in the Nigerian civil war while a young man. He recounts:
While in a bunker, he heard a voice instruct him to quickly move out of it. He stood to leave and urged others to leave with him, but when they refused, he climbed out without them. Immediately a bomb fell on the bunker, and he was the only survivor. With this assurance that his life was being spared, he began kneeling in prayer daily. If you will take me back alive to my people, I will serve you, he recalls saying many times in prayer. He was never wounded and returned safely home.
While in England getting additional education, he met the missionaries and investigated the Church. On his return to Nigeria, he was invited to assist with translating the Book of Mormon into Efik. When he was done, he knew it was the word of God and was baptized. His wife was amazed at the changes that came into his life and followed his example one year later.

Imo Ben Eshiet of Calabar told of how he was using a machete one day to cut the grass and weeds around the duplex the Church rented for worship services. The branch president drove up and told him to get in the car because a member of the branch was in the hospital and needed a priesthood blessing. Once the doctor allowed them, they laid their hands on his head and blessed him with health and a full recovery. Later that day, he felt he needed to go back and check on his friend. When he arrived at the hospital, he learned that the patient had made such a rapid recovery, he had been moved out of ICU and was animatedly talking with friends and fellow patients about his recovery. "This time the doctor said I might bless this brother over and over if I wished, for they had seen the Lord pull him from the jaws of death."

Victoria Ekong tells about how her family had to sell everything they had to get their children the medical care they needed. When after everything else that had happened to them, her daughter began coughing up blood, she carried her limp form down the stairs and finally found a taxi that would carry them to her branch president even though they had no money. (The first driver said he wouldn't take them because he didn't want a dead body in his car.) Finally arriving, the branch president carried her up to his flat and gave her a priesthood blessing. He told her that her time on earth was not over and she should fight to live.
Immediately after the blessing, Pricilia opened her eyes. We took her to the hospital, where we learned she had cerebral malaria. We also learned this disease could kill her. For the next eight days she remained unconscious in the hospital. The doctors did not believe she would survive.
The day Pricilia was discharged—healthy and normal—the doctor told me that few people survived who were as sick as she had been. Those who lived were left disabled. “Pricilia is a lucky girl,” he said. But I knew luck had nothing to do with her recovery. She had been saved by priesthood power.
Helen Madumere has been Relief Society president for her ward, district, and stake. She goes out among the women of her stake, 2/3 of whom are peasant farmers or traders, to educate them and help them be more self-reliant. She testifies that "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."

More of the LDS in Nigeria series here.