News Release

Elder Rasband Leads Historic Leadership Meeting in Southern Africa

The first-ever Area-Wide Annual Instruction Meeting was held in Africa South over the weekend

Leaders from Malawi to Madagascar congregated in a historic meeting over the weekend to receive instruction from Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This four-hour long Annual Instruction Meeting was the first of its kind to be held in the Area, and is expected to take place every year going forward.

“We bring district presidents, stake presidents, mission presidents and Temple presidents together along with the leadership of the Area, and we come from Salt Lake City to meet with them,” explained Elder Rasband, who was joined by Elder S. Mark Palmer of the Presidency of the Quorum of the Seventy.

Elder Rasband, the supervisory Apostle for Africa, has travelled to the continent six times in the past few years, but was thrilled to meet in person rather than virtually with members as Covid-19 restrictions begin to ease. “Technology is wonderful, but nothing can replace looking into someone’s eyes,” Elder Ronald A. Rasband said following the meeting on Saturday. “It just feels wonderful.”

‘We felt a new brotherhood’
Leaders from around the continent shared their feelings about the session. “The experience was exceptional,” said Elder Chadambuka, an Area Seventy from Zimbabwe. “I don’t know who came up with this idea, but I definitely know it was inspired of the Lord.” The opportunity to commune with leaders from around the Area helped motivate them in their service, he said. “We felt a new brotherhood; a new love for one another, and a desire to go and do better and do more. This has really lifted the brethren up.”

President Milton Manjate from Mbombela South Africa District shared: “Elder Rasband testified about the calls that we will never be released from, like being a father, being a husband, and trying to provide for our family. “I don’t remember all of the words – but the spirit that I felt, I will never forget.”

Elder Feijo, an Area Seventy from Angola, said it was a “very enlightening” session “We’ve been taught things that we already know, but it was so spiritual in a very simple way.”

President Mosia of the Phuthaditjhaba District said, “there were moments when I felt like the Lord was literally speaking.” When Elder Rasband expressed the love of President Russell M. Nelson for each of the leaders present, “it felt so real,” said President Mosia. “It felt like the Saviour was saying he loves me.”

‘He is the great Healer'
Gabriel Chinomwe, District President from Blantyre, Malawi, said that many of the questions that they as leaders often struggled with were addressed by the brethren. “At the same time, I noted that the challenges that were shared by brethren from other units are common in our units,” he said. “It helped me to see that this work is one. We all have common challenges.”

Speaking after the Saturday meeting, Elder Rasband said that Covid-19 was a central theme in the challenges that were raised.

“Covid has taken a great toll,” said Elder Rasband. “Unemployment is high, and people have been sick; friends have died; family members have died. It has hit some of the leaders’ families and their wards and their branches very hard.

“Leaders come to a meeting like this and they’re looking for hope. Just meeting is hopeful, and being able to be with each other and ask these questions – it’s hopeful,” said Elder Rasband.

“We’re not through with Covid yet: but what is wonderful is that we all serve the Prince of Peace, which is Jesus Christ. He is the great Healer, and He’s going to help families and He’s going to help people. And His under-servants – the leaders of the Church – are going to do that too.”

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