From the Church

23 members so far: Elder Christofferson dedicates new African country for missionary work

Elder D. Todd Christofferson and his wife, Kathy, make their way to the beach where they will dedicate The Gambia for missionary work.
Photo from Facebook.

The West African country of The Gambia has seen some exciting developments in the past few months. The Gambia is a small country of about 2.5 million people, only 23 of whom are Church members (11 of which were baptized last week). But Elder D. Todd Christofferson offered a powerful reminder of God’s love while visiting the country this week: “This is an oft-times unremembered place, but it's God’s creation. These are His people. He remembers them. He knows them, and He is anxious to bless them as well as me or you or anyone in the world.”

Elder Christofferson and his wife, Kathy, arrived in the capital city of Banjul on February 23 for the purpose of dedicating The Gambia for the preaching of the gospel. Elder Christofferson has dedicated a country just one other time—Angola in southern Africa in November 2010.

The dedication of The Gambia took place at sunrise on a beach near Banjul. Elder and Sister Christofferson were led by flashlight to the appointed place. Of the ceremony, Elder Christofferson wrote, “Few moments in my life will be as memorable as this one now is. Not only was this morning’s gathering the dawn of a new day—it was also the dawn of a new era for the people of this country.”

A notable event took place earlier this year paving the way for the nation’s dedication: On January 20, 2022, Elder Hugo E. Martinez, center, and Elder Larry S. Kache were the first general authorities of the Church to be invited to attend a presidential inauguration ceremony in The Gambia.

Elder Hugo E. Martinez, center, and Elder Larry S. Kacher, center right, General Authority Seventies and members of the Church’s West Africa Area presidency, are seen among other dignitaries from many African countries in Banjul, Gambia.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

While in The Gambia for the inauguration, Elder Martinez and Elder Kache met with government officials, including the Honorable Musa Drammeh, minister of lands, regional government, and religious affairs.

Church News writes that Elder Kacher expressed their desire to build a long-term relationship between the Church and the country’s government. Drammeh response was encouraging: “Religious freedom and tolerance is second to none. Our government is serious about religious freedom. We are aware of your tremendous contribution to humanity. You are welcome to establish a church here. We will facilitate that. Our doors are open.”

Elder Martinez and Elder Kacher also spent time ministering to Church members in the area—members who are excited and grateful this country has now been dedicated.

“I'm so happy to be here today because this is a long-awaited opportunity for the people of The Gambia to have this blessing. We are good people. We have members who are here, have dedicated their lives so much, waiting for this day when the land will be dedicated to start the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Emelia Ahadjie, a West African Latter-day Saint who attended the historic event, told Church Newsroom.

Government leaders in The Gambia are also enthusiastic about the Church’s official presence in their country. First Lady Madame Fatoumatta Bah Barrow met with Elder Christofferson to discuss collaboration between the Church and her foundation to help those in need.

“[This] meeting is the best meeting I ever had since I became a First Lady,” said Her Excellency. “It’s the mighty God [who] works in miracles. I'm happy about this visit and I hope this is a beginning. … And we will continue in strengthening and changing the lives of people of this country.”

Watch Newsroom’s coverage of Elder Christofferson’s visit in the player below or read more about Elder Christofferson’s ministry in West Africa here.

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