While visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo Nov. 11-13, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke with other faith leaders, met with missionaries and ministered to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elder Christofferson and his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson, have been to Lubumbashi in that nation, but this was their first visit to the capital city of Kinshasa.
“We see a vibrant Church, a rapidly growing Church; we see a stable Church and great opportunities for the future,” Elder Christofferson said. “Members are making individual contributions, but as a Church, we’re beginning to be a real force for good in this area.”
Latter-day Saints in the growing Central African country have been waiting for several years for an Apostle to visit the capital of Kinshasa, said a report from the Church’s Africa Newsroom.
The Apostle said he came to Kinshasa to learn. “I was anxious to see more of what the Church is in this area and to edify and strengthen the Saints to whatever extent was possible.”
Elder Christofferson was joined by Elder S. Mark Palmer of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Jacqueline Palmer; Bishop Gérald Caussé of the Presiding Bishopric and his wife, Sister Valérie Caussé; Elder Thierry K. Mutombo, General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Africa Central Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Nathalie Mutombo. The Mutombos are both natives of Kinshasa.
On Saturday, Nov. 12, Elder Christofferson presided at a training meeting in a meetinghouse near the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple. In the afternoon, he gathered with missionaries who are serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa West Mission. The missionaries are all from DR Congo.
“They have close to 160 missionaries at this point, and they’ll soon be well over 200 with the ones coming in because they’re serving in this nation, coming out of the Congo in growing numbers,” Elder Christofferson said. “They are alive and vibrant, and they will be the strength of the Church in years to come.”
Special Church meetings were held on Sunday morning, reported Newsroom, and Elder Christofferson also addressed youth and young adults in Kinshasa.
“It’s hard to find the words to describe it so vibrant, so full of life, so exciting just to see them and to feel the energy that they bring,” Elder Christofferson said.
About 90,000 Latter-day Saints make up more than 250 congregations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The temple in Kinshasa was dedicated in 2019. Ground was broken for the country’s second temple, in Lubumbashi, in August. A third temple in the county, planned for Kananga, was announced in October 2021.
National Council of Religions for Peace
Elder Christofferson met with faith leaders on Friday, Nov. 11, at a gathering of the National Council of Religions for Peace in Kinshasa.
He spoke of the importance of marriage and families. “Marriage and families are the foundation of society. If we have strong families, we have a strong nation.”
“We’re anxious to collaborate with you and in making sure that the legal framework supports marriage,” Elder Christofferson said.
“There is, even in the law, the tradition of bride price or dowry, where families can set a price for any young man who wants to marry their daughter. And sometimes it’s just absolutely prohibitive,” he explained.
Sheikh Abdallah Mangala, a legal representative for the Islamic community in the Congo, said: “We are so grateful to meet with leaders of the Church today. We acknowledge and applaud your great efforts to work in collaboration with the interfaith community.”
Sheikh Mangala continued, “We congratulate you on your work to strengthen marriage and family in the DRC and to help the most vulnerable. We look forward to working together on these noble projects.”
In a video posted to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Elder Christofferson said it was his privilege to meet with representatives of the interfaith council.
“It’s something we try to do whatever we can, because these relationships with people of faith, of various faiths across the world, bless us, but allow us to be a blessing,” he said in the video.
Elder Christofferson said great accomplishments can be achieved together through resources, effort and support.
The council gave him a memento — which on one side shows hands clasped together, and which Elder Christofferson said represents the basis of these kinds of relationships: “We join together to do as much good as we possibly can together.”
Humanitarian work in DR Congo
Also on Friday, Elder Christofferson and Bishop Caussé visited Saint Joseph Hospital in Kinshasa. The Church helped the Catholic organization to build the hospital and provided medical equipment, reported Newsroom.
The Church has also worked with Saint Joseph on prior projects for vision, neonatal resuscitation training and clean water, collaborating to drill a well and reservoir and provide an electric pump, tower tank and distribution.
Bishop Caussé then traveled to Lycée Matonge secondary school in Kinshasa, which trains hundreds of girls every year. The Church helped rebuild the school after it was damaged by flooding a few months ago.
“We put a retention wall, and we built new classrooms, and we also delivered equipment for the school,” Bishop Caussé said. “We have desks for the students. We also provided sewing machines. And it was so wonderful to be here and to see the students and how very committed they were to their studies and how this new infrastructure of this new facility is blessing their lives.”
Earlier this year, the Church also provided immense refurbishments to another school in Kinshasa — the Badiadingi Institute — donating desks, classrooms, sewing machines, water cisterns and more.
And in August and September, the Church supported the Women of Faith humanitarian organization in giving food and supplies to about 12,000 people in DR Congo affected by conflict in the eastern region of the country.
Newsroom reported that Elder Christofferson would continue his ministry in Africa in Kenya and Ethiopia. He had hoped to travel to Uganda, but meetings with Church leaders and missionaries would be held virtually due to an Ebola outbreak.