Elder Joseph W. Sitati, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke during the lunch session of the “Black, White and Mormon” conference at the University of Utah.
Elder Sitati is from Kenya and talked about the growth of Church in Africa.
“The rate of growth has been close to exponential,” Elder Sitati said. “This underlines the fact that pre-1978 temple and priesthood restrictions on black people have not impacted church growth in Africa to any extent that requires church leaders to address them specifically.”
Elder Sitati said it is easy for missionaries to find converts almost anywhere. He said that all who want to serve are given the opportunity to do so.
“The Church started in Cape Verde in 1989 with the arrival of the first missionaries, and in December 1990, was formally recognized by the Cape Verdean authorities as a religious entity,” said Ademiro do Rosário, a church member in Cape Verde. “Currently, Cape Verde has over 10,700 members and is present in nine islands.”
Rosário said there are 39 countries in the Europe area of the Church. He said that Cape Verde is one of the countries that is experiencing a lot of growth.
“If Europe is growing, it is mostly because of Cape Verde,” Rosário said. “A country with few resources, with many problems in relation to extreme poverty and other illness that an island nation may suffer, yet in the Europe area, we are the country where the Church grows more.”
Elder Z. Dominique Dekaye, an Area Seventy in the Area Africa West, from Cote d’Ivore, said there are 54 stakes, 42 districts, 14 missions and two temples in the 16 countries of that area.
“We are so grateful for all the blessings that the Lord is pouring upon us,” Elder Dekaye said. “He is gathering Israel in this area and blessing families. Considering the efforts the members are making to live the gospel at home, attend church every Sunday and travel long distances to go to the temple in order to live the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, they express their faith in the Lord and their testimony to our Heavenly Father and his glorious plan of salvation.”
BYU-Idaho students who are from Africa shared their feelings about the Church’s growth in their countries.
“We are getting a temple in Durban, my city, so we must be doing something right,” said Kirsty Collette, a senior from South Africa studying biology. “The members are pretty dedicated to the gospel. In my ward, we would often do service projects in the more poorer areas such as helping them plant and grow farms, paint/ renovate orphanages, donating items to them.”
Collette said her home ward was very small, so it did not grow too fast; however, she said there are parts where the Church has flourished and grown.
“I think we pretty much do the same thing as wards and stakes in other countries do; that is, we try and live the gospel as best we can, recognizing that we are all imperfect, and as such are in need of the Atonement of our Savior,” Collette said.
Sophia Akinbo, a student from Nigeria and a sophomore studying biology, said that in the area she lives, there are eight stakes, and in the entire country, they have 33 stakes.
“I would say that the membership in Nigeria is growing fast, and I know that people are trying their best to see that the work of the Lord moves forward everywhere,” Akinbo said.
Akinbo said people are putting an effort to make this happen. She said they are doing everything they can, including missionary work. She said that is the reason why the Church is growing this fast.
“The way shown us is clear, and the promises are clear; therefore, the future of Africa, following this path, is bright,” Elder Dekaye said.