News Release

Elder Rasband and Elder Nielson Minister to Latter-day Saints in Central Africa

“We love you, we thank you, and oh how much we need you.”

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Elder Brent H. Nielson, of the Presidency of the Seventy, ministered to Latter-day Saints in Kenya, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo during August 11-20, 2023. They were accompanied by their wives Sister Melanie Rasband and Sister Marcia Nielson.

Elder Ian S. Ardern, president of the Africa Central Area, Elder Thierry K. Mutombo, first counselor, and Elder Paul B. Pieper, second counselor, also participated in Elder Rasband’s ministry.

In Nairobi Kenya Elder Rasband visited the construction site of the Nairobi Kenya Temple and testified of the eternal importance of temples. He said, “And now to have a Temple coming in Nairobi, and others coming throughout Africa is the way Heavenly Father, I believe, is going to prepare his saints, his children, with all the blessings they need for the eternities.” 

Elder Rasband added, “I know that Heavenly Father loves the people of Africa, and that Jesus Christ loves them. Heavenly Father is the Father of all of mankind, and Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son and is spreading His message. We have many missionaries in Kenya and in all of Africa Central who are answering questions of people who want to know more of what we believe.”

“Friends,” he continued, “I bear my Apostolic witness to all of you that God loves you, that Jesus Christ loves you. This is Jesus Christ’s church, and we are happy to be a part of the fabric of the religious community in Kenya and we want to be friends and neighbors and good citizens and make a contribution to Kenya and every country of the world we are part of.”

In Kenya Elders Rasband and Nielson led an area leadership review of the Church and trained priesthood leaders in the eastern part of the Africa Central Area.

They also met with approximately 90 full-time missionaries serving in Kenya and with another 100 joining online. Elder Nielson said the full-time missionary force of the Church now stands at 65,000 missionaries strong and this number is growing. These missionaries, including the 190 presently in Kenya, are collectively playing a role in 20,000 convert baptisms a month.

Elder Rasband told the missionaries that the prior Thursday he was with President Russell M. Nelson. President Nelson asked Elder Rasband to convey three things to the missionaries in Central Africa.

  • “First, he loves you.”
  • “Second, thank you for serving missions and thank you for being valiant youth.”
  • “Third, we (the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve) need you Elders and Sisters.”

“We need you to build up the Church of Jesus Christ and bring souls to Jesus Christ. And we are going to need you when you go home. This is just the beginning of your training. We need you to absorb, learn, internalize the gospel here on your mission so that wherever you go you can build up Zion. That will start with your own family. With the families you came from or the family you are going to create. That’s where you start building Zion is at home.”

Elder Rasband closed by exhorting and blessing the missionaries, “From today, go forward more determined, more committed, more like Jesus Christ. I am His servant. I bear you my witness that I know He lives. President Russell Nelson is His living mouthpiece here on the earth. I pray Heavenly Father now will bless your mission with continued success in every measurement. I pray that He will bless you individually.”

In Kampala Uganda Elder Rasband and Elder Nielson led meetings with Church leaders, members, and missionaries in the Kampala Kololo Stake Center.

Elder Rasband taught the Latter-day Saints that leaders of the Church are not strangers to the voice of the Lord: “When you are invited to listen to the prophet or to the apostles, pay attention!”

He concluded his remarks by giving an apostolic blessing to the Saints: “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that He will bless you, I promise you the most important blessing, the same often mentioned in the Book of Mormon, if you keep the commandments, you will prosper in the land, I reaffirm and echo that tonight.”

In Kinshasa, DR Congo, Elder Rasband held meetings with Church leaders in Kinshasa and virtually with leaders in DR Congo, Republic of Congo, and Cameroon, with members in the 11 stakes (similar to a diocese) in Kinshasa, and with more than 450 full-time missionaries.

On August 20, Elder and Sister Rasband and other Church leaders spoke to approximately 11,840 Latter-day Saints throughout Kinshasa. Members of the Kinshasa and Ngaliema stakes attended in person in the Kinshasa Stake Center, both inside and outside seated outside under tents. Entire families filled the chapel to overflowing three hours before the start of the meeting and waited reverently for the Apostle Elder Rasband to arrive. The other nine stakes attended virtually from their own stake centers.

Sister Melanie Rasband shared a story about her mother, who rejoiced to see all her children gathered in the House of the Lord. “This is all I’ve wanted all of my life, to see all my children safely tucked in the covenants of the temple,” she said within the temple’s celestial room. Sister Rasband quoted 3 John 1:4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

Elder Rasband expressed his deep love and appreciation and that of President Nelson for the saints of DR Congo. He said, “if Jesus Christ were here today—and I believe He is here in spirit—I think He would say ‘I love you so much that I gave my life for you.’”

Elder Rasband testified that “the Spirit of the Lord is brooding over Africa. We need you to prepare your children to serve full-time missions.” He taught families how to do this. First, “teach your teenage children from the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, and the updated Church missionary manual Preach my Gospel.” Second, “encourage your children to get passports so they can serve missions in other countries if called.”

Elder Rasband then quoted the Apostle Paul, who wrote “In the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1), and Nephi a Book of Mormon prophet who taught the devil “shall rage in the hearts of the children of men,” (2 Nephi 28:20). Prophet Joseph Smith, the first prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints revealed: “Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth…” (D&C 1:17).

Speaking of the Lord’s solution for overcoming our difficult times, Elder Rasband said: “Stand ye in holy places.” (D&C 87:8) He identified these holy places as the home, meetinghouses of the Church, and, most holy of all, the temples of God. The home is where we pray and study the gospel as families. Church buildings are where we participate in essential ordinances such as baptism and the sacrament and teach each other gospel doctrines, and the Temple where we worship Jesus Christ and feel the presence of His Spirit.

Finally, Elder Rasband shared the promise of the Book of Mormon: “I promise you if you keep God’s commandments you will prosper in this land.” This promise extends beyond material blessings and encompasses peace, happiness, well-being, and family harmony. Elder Rasband also promised the saints that generations of their prosperity will be blessed from their righteousness today.

“We love you, we thank you, and oh how much we need you,” he said.

That afternoon, Elder and Sister Rasband met with 450 missionaries serving in the two missions in Kinshasa.

Elder Rasband testified that Africa is a great harvest for the Lord. “We are just getting started,” he said. He told the missionaries that the Church needs them now, but it also needs them in the future as they return home to start families and continue a lifetime of service as future leaders of the Church.

He bore a powerful testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ that left many in the audience emotional. “You are engrained in my mind,” he said. As Elder and Sister Rasband reluctantly left the meeting for their long flight home, the missionaries spontaneously sang the well-known hymn, in French, “God be with you till we meet again” which brought tears to the eyes of Elder Rasband.

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