Elder Gary E. Stevenson recently returned from a trip to Sierra Leone, where he met members who have survived a civil war and the Ebola outbreak. In an article about this trip by the Deseret News, Sarah Jane Weaver focuses on the challenges the Saints in this region have faced in the past and reveals how the direction from prophets can save lives:
Two years after the first convert baptisms in Sierra Leone in June 1988, new converts began meeting in their homes. In May 1989, Elder Richard G. Scott became the first member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to visit the country; he met with Church members and dedicated the land for the preaching of the gospel.
The first district was organized in Freetown in December 1990 and a second district was organized seven months later in the city of Bo. Church meetings moved to rented meetinghouses.
Soon, however, Church President Ezra Taft Benson asked members to abandon their newly rented meetinghouses and gather in their homes to worship. The news was very discouraging for the local Latter-day Saint leaders and members, who felt that the rented buildings were an important milestone for the Church in Sierra Leone. But they were obedient.
Just months later civil war erupted in Sierra Leone.
In the midst of war, churches were frequently targeted by rebels; thousands lost their lives while worshipping God. But Latter-day Saints in the country were safe from harm, obediently worshipping in their homes.