During Elder Rasband’s visit to Africa, local members told they can live, prosper in faith and joy

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — On the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 16, a young adult from Africa posed a probing question to Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“During the pandemic a lot of young single adults found themselves in a mental, emotional and spiritual decline from a lack of fellowship. What advice do you have for those who are struggling with mental health and facing feelings of depression, anxiety or hopelessness?”

It was one of several anonymous questions posed by youth and young adults spanning 32 countries across the Africa Central and Africa South areas, who tuned in to watch his responses in a live Facebook broadcast.

Elder Rasband presided at the event, which also included other general and local Church leaders: Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Jennifer Kearon; Bishop L. Todd Budge of the Presiding Bishopric and his wife, Sister Lori Budge; Elder Christoffel Golden, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Africa South Area, and his wife, Sister Diane Golden; and Sister Gladys Sitati, wife of Elder Joseph W. Sitati, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Africa Central Area.

Together they offered heartfelt counsel and testimony on topics ranging from the COVID-19 vaccine, to sexual abuse, to a discussion about which attributes one should look for in a future spouse.

Thalia Holmes, left, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Patrick Kearon, Sister Jennifer Kearon, Bishop L. Todd Budge, Sister Lori Budge, Elder Christoffel Golden and Sister Diane Golden gather for a Youth and Young Adult Facebook Live event broadcast from a studio in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Nov. 16, 2021.
Thalia Holmes, left, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Patrick Kearon, Sister Jennifer Kearon, Bishop L. Todd Budge, Sister Lori Budge, Elder Christoffel Golden and Sister Diane Golden gather for a Youth and Young Adult Facebook Live event broadcast from a studio in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Nov. 16, 2021. Credit: Screenshot from Facebook

Almost 800 comments from viewers streamed in over the course of the event.

“Thank you for this amazing time and the Spirit we felt during this moment,” remarked Yvresse Rousseau from Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.

“This broadcast really helped,” commented Natalie Kapema from Zambia.

The event was part of a busy 11-day visit to Africa by Elder Rasband, the Kearons and the Budges.

With the help of technology, the visiting leaders held priesthood leadership conferences and other meetings across the Africa Central Area and participated in stake conferences in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nairobi, Kenya. The leaders also met virtually with missionaries assigned to serve in Gabon and Cameroon, as well as those who have recently been evacuated from Ethiopia due to unrest. They visited the Johannesburg South Africa Temple, met with Church leaders and members in the Africa South Area and made an impromptu trip to the newly reopened missionary training center in Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg, South Africa. In most settings, Elder Rasband invited and responded to questions from the Saints.

‘It was like having the Lord speak directly to our challenges’

Elder Sitati said Elder Rasband’s visit felt like the Lord was reaching out to the Saints of the African continent. Elder Rasband has recently been assigned as the supervising Apostle for the Africa Central and Africa South areas.

“Having an Apostle of the Lord focused specifically on the Church in the Africa Central Area was really like having the Lord Himself speak directly to the challenges that we as leaders and members face,” he said.

Elder Golden reflected on some of the messages that encapsulate the essence of Elder Rasband‘s visit.

“The first principle involved love,” he said. “Elder Rasband emphasized the importance of cultivating a love of God and a love of our fellow beings.”

He also “instructed us as leaders to strengthen the Church and live the gospel here in Africa,” Elder Golden continued. “He expressed that the Lord and his President, Russell M. Nelson, the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles love us, are grateful for our service, and need us in this holy work.”

Along with that came a clarion call to follow the living prophet. This, said Elder Sitati, “was especially relevant at a time when not only are many not vaccinated against COVID-19, but we also have several places where there is growing anxiety due to insecurity such as Ethiopia, Uganda and some areas in the DRC.”

‘Faith and joy, regardless of the circumstances’

But despite these difficulties, said Elder Golden, “we were given the Apostolic assurance that we can live and prosper in faith and joy, irrespective of where we live, in all circumstances and at all times — even within the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

Elder Sitati also described the “comfort and assurance” that emanated from the Apostle.

“In my interactions with Elder Rasband, I felt the confirming witness deep in my heart that he is an Apostle of the Lord,” he said. “It is difficult for me to properly describe the feeling to someone else, but being around him made me feel holy.”

Shortly before returning to the USA, Elder Rasband said that he was “amazed and impressed with” the people he had interacted with in Africa.

“This is the sixth time I’ve been to Africa and I’m constantly pleased and inspired by everyone,” he said. “Whether it be the leadership we’ve been with, or members, or missionaries — I’m amazed by these wonderful people who are trying to do their best and build up the Lord’s Church and kingdom.”