This week's Church News presents examples of Church humanitarian efforts and local service in Ghana as compiled by Elder Michael Kirkpatrick and Sister Marged Kirkpatrick, public affairs missionaries in the Africa West Area.
They love their families, their Church, their neighbors and their nation. They are people like George Tetteh, Comfort Adu, Etheldreda Boateng and Joseph B. Quarshie.
They are Ghanians who are, as described by Elder Sheldon F. Child of the Seventy, a "wonderful, faithful people," who are "not only good members of our Church, but also good members of our communities and the nation."
And their examples, said Elder Child, who has served as Africa West Area president since August 2002, have continued to soften hearts and impress government leaders just a little more than a decade after the Church was banned here for a year and a half.
"The strength of the Church is the faith and testimony of the individual members," he said during a telephone interview from the area offices in Accra, Ghana. "The Lord is preparing the hearts of the people to receive the gospel."
And the gospel is definitely being received here, especially as members, missionaries and Church organizations such as LDS Charities continue to reach out to those in need in cities and villages throughout this West African nation. At the end of 1990, when the Church was reinstated after a year-and-a-half-long ban, Church membership stood at 9,000. During this time, members had continued to hold Church services in their homes. Today, there are some 22,000 Latter-day Saints in a country of 20 million people. There are five stakes and seven districts, one mission and a temple rising from the dust.
"The Accra temple will be a great blessing to these people," said Elder Child, "not only to members of the Church, but also to the whole country of Ghana.."
Ghana is also the site of the first missionary training center in Africa. The center in Tema opened last spring with its first batch of 54 missionaries from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Uganda and Togo. In addition, LDS students at Cape Coast University in Ghana now have a Latter-day Saints Students Association.
"The Church is respected here," said Elder Child. "We have a great relationship with the government officials. And the community leaders recognize our Church as being a service organization here to bless the lives of people. And those factors contribute to good relationships between our Church and the people here in Ghana the leaders and the people."
In fact, in November 2001, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve met with Ghana President John A. Kufuor during a visit to that country. They were scheduled to meet again this month. And in September 2002, President Kufuor was welcomed in Salt Lake City by the First Presidency. "We consider you as part of Ghana," he told President Gordon B. Hinckley and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, as quoted in the Sept. 21, 2002, Church News.
During that historic meeting, he expressed appreciation for the Church's humanitarian contributions to his country. In the past 15 years, the Church has sponsored more than 140 humanitarian projects in Ghana, valued at $7.5 million.
Today, those contributions continue. And as the Church grows here, more and more of these service efforts are sponsored by local members simply reaching out to their neighbors.
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