Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to share with you on the subject of the culture of the gospel of
Jesus Christ in relation to our cultures of Africa. Personally, I come from a traditional African family, where many good morals were upheld.
It makes us proud to be special spirits of our Heavenly Father on this continent. It is a wonderful part of the earth to live in, even though some traditions are opposite to the culture of the gospel, which can make it difficult to find the truth (see D&C 123:12). Our African ancestors knew and prayed to God, as they understood that there is a Supreme Being who created all things and who rules over humankind. Our ancestors gave Him many different names: the Almighty; the Sun and the Moon, the tall rooster that crows for the day to bring its light to His children. The people of Africa call Him by different names, but to them all, He is God the Father and Creator of humankind.
The Restoration brought the Book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ. Our Heavenly Father so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son to be the Savior of the world (see John 3:16). Christ came to restore all things and organize the Church of which He is the only head or leader.
Jesus Christ established His Church. He organized it, and He conferred the priesthood on His Apostles (see Ephesians 2:19–20). He taught His gospel and worked many miracles. Nowadays, He has called and ordained Apostles by inspiration and revelation (see Acts 10; Revelation 1:1). He has given them His authority to teach and to baptize (see Matthew 28:19–20; Luke 9:1–2). This authority is called the priesthood. So The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by Christ, not by men. This work shall cover the entire world, including the African continent.
Christ’s gospel is contained in the Book of Mormon. This book corrects all false doctrines of the world and prepares men to meet with their Creator; it is the most complete of God’s scriptures on earth. The Book of Mormon came to Africa in a divine plan to bring this people closer to their ancestors in accordance with the spirit of Elijah (see Malachi 4:5–6; D&C 128:8–18), because it would not be good for His people of Africa to remain in apostasy, in ancestral traditions alone. The fruit of the Restoration came to save the biblically historic people of the African continent.
The coming forth of the Book of Mormon was a sign that God has started to gather His children. In this work, Africans participate in sacred temples for those on both sides of the veil. A temple is the greatest blessing that we could have. It helps to banish the traditions of men in favour of the culture of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church is universal, and blessings of our Heavenly Father are given to His obedient and converted children, without distinction of race, gender, or social class.
However, some customs in Africa are hindering our progress to exaltation. Most of these are challenges related to poverty and poor morals. Poverty has an impact on the whole of Africa in the sense that people don’t have access to quality jobs and good wages so that they may become self-reliant. Many of these people think that the Church will provide answers to their problems. However, those who are truly converted find spiritual, rather than temporal, joy from being worthy members of the Church.
those who are truly converted find spiritual, rather than temporal, joy from being worthy members of the Church.
The main challenge of the restored gospel in Africa is that of inviting people to be converted and to fully change their lives because of the teachings therein. Africans are strongly attached to their families. Most are proud to be members of the Church, although some are torn between Church and family. We love both of them at the same time. This is one of the conflicts that leads some Saints to inactivity in the Church. The other challenge is to maintain the pureness of the doctrine of the Church amongst the African people.
The restored gospel does not belong to any race or continent but to people of faith within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to those who are repentant and truly converted to their Savior and His Atonement. Many of our leaders are now from our own African countries, and the Church is more visibly established in many places. Therefore, it is clear that the Lord is hastening His work among the people of Africa. When you combine both positive African traditions and the teachings of the gospel with a person, you will obtain an individual strongly committed to living the doctrines, someone who is unified with those around them.
Generally, for members in Africa the restored gospel is considered one of the gifts that inspire them to great things: purity of the soul, spiritual self-reliance, encouragement for our social activities, and gaining education to take care of ourselves. This is the unique message that the Saints of Africa are proud to share. On the other hand, there are people who do not understand who we are because of untruths told by third parties. Nevertheless, we can succeed in defending our doctrine by living it daily.
Our mission is to find the opportunity to invite others to join with us in these words: “Come and participate with us in our church services. Come and see how the restored gospel may be a blessing in your life; come and discover the message that the Book of Mormon brings to humankind. Family is central to our religion; it can be eternal as we keep the covenants made with the Lord.” We as Africans have discovered this truth through heartfelt prayer (see Moroni 10:4; Moroni 10:20–23). I am proud to testify of these truths because the living prophet, seer, and revelator, Thomas S. Monson, leads us by revelation. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, amen.