News Release

Africa Central Area President Ian Ardern Instructs Youth at Youth Conference

Elder Ian Ardern, Africa Central Area President, and Sister Paula Ardern, Attend Nairobi West Stake Conference and Instruct and Inspire Youth

In December 2023 the Nairobi West Stake held its all day Youth Conference at the Upper Hill Building of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  300 youth, parents and leaders attended the Youth Conference.  The highlight of the day was the participation in the conference by Africa Central Area President, Ian Ardern, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Paula Ardern.

As the conference began the youth were reminded of the 2023 worldwide youth theme, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.”  (Philippians 4:13).  The 2024 worldwide theme was then introduced.  The focus of youth activities and teaching in 2024 throughout the world is from the  Prophet Mormon, who wrote, “I am a Disciple of Jesus Christ”(3 Nephi 5:13).  In 2024 young men and young women of the church will be encouraged to be disciples of Jesus Christ and will come to understand the roles and blessings of discipleship.  While introducing the 2024 Youth Theme, the song, “Disciple of Christ,” was played.  The theme song can be seen here,

Following the introduction of the theme, the balance of the morning session was turned over to Elder and Sister Ardern.  Their instruction was framed by pre-submitted questions from the youth.  The first question asked was, “what was your high school experience like?”   Elder and Sister Ardern are from New Zealand.  They both attended the same high school which was operated by The Church.  His favorite subject was history and least favorite was math.  As a teenager he was smitten with a young Paula Ann Judd.  He was banned from the high school library because he would not stop talking to Paula.  Ian and Paula were married in 1976.  After sharing their High School experience they talked about what their lives were like before Elder Ardern’s call to be a General Authority Seventy.  In 1973 he was called to serve in the France and Belgium Mission.  It was a wonderful and challenging experience.  The biggest challenge was learning French, which he mastered, and now uses regularly as he ministers in the French speaking countries of the Africa Central Area.  After college, Elder Ardern became an English teacher in the same high school which they attended as teenagers.  He became the Principal of that high school and ultimately was asked to supervise the 17 schools operated by the Church in New Zealand, Tonga, and Samoa.  The Arderns shared that they have 4 children, 11 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. 

In respond to the question, “what does a day in your life look like?” Elder Ardern shared that hearises at 6:30 a.m. and exercises for 30 minutes.  Exercise is followed by scripture study.  He then engages in the activities of supervising and ministering to the leaders, members and congregations of the Africa Central Area.  His responsibilities include frequent travel into and around the 12 countries in the Africa Central Area in which The Church is present.  Kenya time is ten hours ahead of the time at Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, so, his nights frequently find him meeting with and working with people at Church Headquarters including a regular Thursday night meeting with all of the General Authority Seventies in the world. 

Elder and Sister Ardern encouraged the youth to know that each of them is part of a much bigger thing - they are part of gathering Israel.  President Nelson has taught that nothing more important than the gathering of Israel is going on anywhere in the world.  Echoing the Area Priorities, Elder Ardern told the youth that they should have 3 priorities – to Make and Keep Sacred Covenants, to Be Self Reliant, and to Love, Share and Invite others to come unto Christ.

Elder and Sister Ardern then instructed the youth about the attributes of a disciple of Jesus Christ and exhorted them to develop these attributes.  A disciple is thankful.  A disciple is smart and goes to school and to seminary.  A disciple is clean – clean in thoughts, clean in language, clean in use of the body.  A disciple is true which means to be truthful.  A disciple is humble, which means in part to be teachable.  A disciple is Prayerful.  By developing and living these six attributes, the youth will be disciples of Jesus Christ. 

A youth asked the special guests “How can Jesus Christ help me to change so that I can go back to Him?”  Both answered that the atonement of Jesus Christ will be active and effective in their lives as they  remember the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and repent, and as they use the enabling power of Jesus Christ.  They counseled that we all have a lingering memory of things we have done wrong and to take heart knowing that Jesus Christ promises that when we repent He will remember our sins no more (D&C 58:42)

Elder and Sister Ardern were asked, “Do I really need to serve a full time mission?”  Elder Ardern asked Stake President Prince Omondi to reply.  President Omondi noted that there are currently 52 full time missionaries serving from the Nairobi West Stake.  President Omondi affirmed to the young men that they have a priesthood duty to serve a full time mission, and he encouraged the young women to remember that they are invited to serve.  Sister Ardern amplified the invitation to young women by saying, “we love sister missionaries.”  Elder Ardern outlined the elements of preparing to serve a mission.  The elements are:

               Attend Seminary

               Go to Sunday meetings every week

               Obtain and hold a current Temple Recommend.  Do it now.

               Earn and save money to contribute what each can to cover the costs of serving a mission.

               Stay physically healthy

               Get a copy of and study Preach My Gospel.

               Develop a desire to serve (D&C 4)

Elder and Sister Ardern closed two hours of marvelous instruction by responding to a final question – “Why do I experience fear, and how do I overcome it?”  They began their response by quoting the Apostle Paul’s counsel to Timothy,  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”  (2 Timothy 1:7).   And they then reminded the youth of many of the things they had already taught on a beautiful December morning:  Your divine identity is power.  Power comes from regular church attendance and partaking of the Sacrament, from seeking for and listening to the influence of the Holy Ghost, from daily repentance, from obedience, from getting and regularly reading your Patriarchal Blessing, and from gaining and sharing your testimony.  When armed with spiritual power, there is no need to fear.

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