Pure religion: 'Help yourself'

Kweku A. Anno knew from the moment he was called as bishop of the Odorkor (Ghana) 1st Ward that his ward members would look to him for answers to their questions: "How will I feed my children?" "How can I afford to see a doctor?"

Most of the members in Bishop Anno's ward were unemployed and lived in crumbling, unsafe buildings, hungry most of the time. Many had simply given up, unable to even hope.

Bishop Anno immersed himself in the scriptures and searched materials the Church provided about welfare. When able-bodied members asked for assistance, he told them, "The Church will help you, but you must do all you can to help yourself." Bishop Anno put them to work cleaning the Church meetinghouse and picking up litter.

He spent time at the LDS Employment Resource Center where he heard about one company that wanted to hire more than 100 people who could type faster than 60 words per minute with less than a 5 percent error rate.

Bishop Anno spoke to one young man who had never worked with a keyboard.

Out of fast offerings, the bishop bought a small used typewriter, and the young man began to practice. To his surprise, he not only learned to type, but he was offered a position with the company. With a steady income, he was able to afford an apartment. It wasn't long before he had been promoted to a position of supervising an entire floor of employees.

Additional keyboarding classes were organized. Eventually, more than 30 ward members obtained similar employment.

But that wasn't all. Bishop Anno knew that only 12 percent of Ghana's 170,000 students pass a high school qualifying exam each year.

So, Bishop Anno called in a few of the most educated members of his ward and asked them to tutor the ward youth in math and English. When the next exams were taken, nearly all of the youth of the Odorkor 1st Ward passed the test and went on to high school.

As the ward began to lift itself from temporal bondage, "tithing and fast offerings increased, and we could care for those in distress without asking for additional funds from the stake."

"When the Savior was on the earth He looked out for people,"said Bishop Anno. "If He were here today, I'm certain He would do the same."

Neil K. Newell, Welfare Services

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