BYU-Idaho student Chucks “Elvis” Ozah, a sophomore studying business, expresses what the effect of the priesthood ban (a previous time when African Americans were not allowed to hold the priesthood) has been in his life and how he views it personally.
Q: How does knowing that the priesthood ban took place make you feel?
A: Personally I think that the lifting of the priesthood ban on the blacks is such an incredible moment and a wonderful opportunity for all of Heavenly Father’s children to have that opportunity to receive all his privilege and the opportunity to serve. I think that it was a message from our Heavenly Father to find it upon themselves to allow blacks to get the priesthood.
Q: What’s your overall opinion on it?
A: Looking at the background of the scriptures, a lot of people misinterpret the scriptures as being that blacks are not supposed to have the priesthood as the causes laid upon the generation of Cain and, for some reason, they believe that the descendants of Cain are more about the blacks and specifically those in Africa. For that reason, they anchor that belief (to) that the blacks shouldn’t have the priesthood. So there’s a lot of misconceptions and I was grateful to learn that Heavenly Father revealed to Spencer W. Kimball, who was the prophet at that time in June 8, 1978, and later in September, when conference was held it was announced that the blacks can have the priesthood, it had been clarified. Revelation (provides) a lot of clarification about a lot of things that we are confused about as man and has been able to clarify God’s plan for us.
Q: Has the priesthood ever had an effect on anyone close to you like a family member or a friend?
A: Oh yes, definitely. When I became a member of the Church the priesthood has helped me minister to my family members, especially my aunt who was sick when I joined the Church. I was 18 years old and my Aunt’s illness had become so serious that she went to several doctors for the same illness, and I was able to lay my hands on my Auntie and give her a blessing. The problem has not been solved actually, but she expressed her gratitude because after the time she prayed and I laid my hands with a few missionaries, she found out that the problem she had been having was not excruciating, and she no longer walks around hospital to hospital. In other words, I find it very uplifting for me. I really enjoyed having the priesthood because it really helped me in my personal life. Its helped me in times of challenge when I’ve had some setback. I’ve gone to my priesthood leaders to give me some priesthood blessings, and I’ve benefited a lot from the priesthood. I feel that it’s something that we need to be grateful and it’s something that everyone who has the opportunity to have in their family they should be happy for and always work hard to be worthy to have it that is something I know to be true is that it is a privilege to have the priesthood.
Q: With the celebration being this last week, how does that make you feel?
A: Well it makes me feel that the Church is in the position of God and that we are all his children, and we should see ourselves as one. It promotes that unity amongst everyone to get on edge and is like hey there is no reason to discriminate. Let’s love and recognize to commemorate the events of the past, which makes it a wonderful world because it helps people that are coming yet before us to ensure that they don’t make mistakes of the past. In order for us to be nonjudgmental, we should strive to seek out revelations in things of God’s will before we carry out any judgment, like President Kimball. He was able to seek out revelation from God on this topic and was able to get that revelation and clarification on that topic. I so much believe that this day is to remind everyone to continue unification and also continue in prayer and clarification in any area of your life that you are confused about. They shouldn’t just restudy the scriptures they should put it in prayer and meditate on it. That’s the way that revelation can come. Overall, I think that it’s a wonderful day not just for the blacks, but for everyone to understand that life is not all about being smart or having all the knowledge to be a professor or for you to have a certain skin color. It’s all about understanding the principle which is to work out our parts and return to our Heavenly Father.
Q: How has having the priesthood blessed your family?
A: So my sister is currently serving a mission in the Ivory Coast, it’s a French-speaking country in Africa. I was able to join the Church before her and, after joining the Church, I was able to see how the priesthood was able to change me in terms of doing the things I used to do take substances such as alcohol. I learned that if you have the priesthood of God, especially the Aaronic Priesthood, in order to be worthy of those things, I have to abstain myself from things like alcohol. I have to abstain from alcohol and things that I had, according to The Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity. In doing those things, it makes me worthy of the priesthood and worthy of the priesthood with my family. I helped them to understand that the reason I’m doing this is because I have the priesthood and, in order for me to be worthy of those things or the priesthood, I have– I need to clear myself out of those things in my life, … some of the things that I was doing in the past. And, as a result of that, they were so happy. They feel I’m in the right place. When my sister eventually joined the church, they allowed her to go on a mission because of the steps that I’d taken in my life. So I would like to say that I was an instrument in obedience of the priesthood in my life. Most of the things I was explaining like, “Hey, I have the priesthood I can’t do this anymore; I’ve been endowed.” I explained that to my parents and been like, “Hey, I’ve been endowed. I can’t do this.” Just to answer that, they’ve seen a lot of blessings because when they get sick I pray for them, and they do get their blessings like they might not get better 100 percent because God’s will might be different than the will of men. But my family has been blessed through the priesthood, especially through us that have the privilege to receive the priesthood and will use that priesthood to pray for them and teach them about the rights and restored the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those are some of the ways that gospel has actually blessed their life.