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New friends, strengthened faith: 1,200 youth attend FSY in Democratic Republic of the Congo

‘Thank you for being on the covenant path,’ Elder Ardern tells the youth

Nearly 1,200 youth of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints from eight stakes and districts across southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo attended a For the Strength of Youth conference in Lubumbashi this month.

The conference was divided into two five-day sessions to accommodate all the attendees ages 14 to 18, reported the Church’s Africa Newsroom. The first session took place July 10-15 for the Lubumbashi, Katuba and Ruashi Stakes and the Kasumbalesa District. The second session took place during July 17-21 for the Kisanga, Likasi, Kolwezi and Kikula Stakes.

Youth attend a class outdoors at a For the Strength of Youth conference in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Youth attend a class outdoors at a For the Strength of Youth conference in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, July 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Ian S. Ardern, General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Africa Central Area presidency, called the participants “enthusiastic, thoughtful, truth seeking and faithful young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

He said while he was with them, they radiated their love of the Lord and His restored Church.

“FSY conferences are designed to help youth strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ and to grow spiritually and socially in a safe environment where youth have similar beliefs,” Elder Ardern said. “New friends are made, and some discover for the first time that their best friend is their Savior, Jesus Christ. It was Him who said, ‘I will call you friends, for you are my friends’ (Doctrine and Covenants 93:45).”

Youth take notes in a class at a For the Strength of Youth conference in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Youth attend a class at a For the Strength of Youth conference in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, July 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Pungwe Kongolo, Area Authority Seventy, and many local leaders, teachers and counselors also spoke to the youth.

The classes focused on things like faith, repentance, resisting temptation, developing Christlike attributes, seminary, sharing the Gospel, preparing for a full-time mission, family history, temple work and self-reliance.

The youth expressed afterward that the leaders helped them feel welcome and at ease. They also said how much they loved meeting other youth from different wards and making friends with their roommates. One young woman remarked on how much she learned and how her faith had been strengthened.

Youth greet each other at the start of a For the Strength of Youth conference in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Youth greet each other at the start of a For the Strength of Youth conference in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, July 2023. The sign has the letters JSF, which stands for Jeunes, soyez forts — For the Strength of Youth in French. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Toward the end of the conference, the youth performed a service project cleaning up the school grounds of the Catholic girls’ high school where they were meeting.

Elder Ardern thanked the youth in a post on the Church’s Africa Central Area Facebook page.

“I count you as my friends, friends who are being true and faithful in a world where Satan’s temptations are ever present. Thank you for being on the covenant path, thank you for your faith, your smiles, your simple and sincere prayers, your willingness to learn and apply the Savior’s teachings, your plans to serve as honorable full-time missionaries, and for simply being you.”

Youth spell out the letters JSF (French for FSY) in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, July 2023.
Youth spell out the letters JSF, which stands for Jeunes, soyez fortsFor the Strength of Youth in French — in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, July 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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