‘A day never to be forgotten’ when Elder Christofferson ministers in Ethiopia

Elder D. Todd Christofferson met members and missionaries one by one on a Central Africa trip that also included meetings for Kenya and Uganda

After meetings in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and before attending the unveiling of a statue of Joseph Smith in India, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles ministered in Ethiopia and Kenya in the Central Africa Area.

In addition to meetings with members and missionaries, Elder Christofferson also met with other faith leaders and government officials and connected electronically with members in Uganda.

As Elder Christofferson taught missionaries in Ethiopia on Sunday, Nov. 20, President Robert Dudfield, the president of the Ethiopia Addis Ababa Mission, said the meeting “was filled with the Spirit.”

“Elder Christofferson taught pure doctrine and then took time to respond to well-thought-out questions from several of our missionaries,” President Dudfield said. “This was such a special experience for our mission. We truly felt the hand of the Lord touch us through His chosen servant this day. This was a day never to be forgotten.” 

President Dudfield said the Apostle took time to greet every missionary. He called it a special moment for the group, many of whom were part of the temporary evacuation to Kenya in November 2021 because of unrest in Ethiopia.

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The meetings with missionaries and members were held at the Meganagna chapel, built among trees and gardens in the city of Addis Ababa. That day, families were eating lunch on the grassy areas of the grounds. President Dudfield said Elder Christofferson stepped away from the day’s schedule to meet, greet, minister to and uplift those outside the chapel.

“The agenda took care of itself but to witness Elder Christofferson take time to minister as the Savior would was very special to witness. Spirits were unexpectedly lifted that day for all involved,” President Dudfield said. 

Elder Ian S. Ardern, General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Central Africa Area presidency, said Elder Christofferson spoke with more than 400 members about his calling as an Apostle and special witness of Christ. 

“He taught that as members of the Church, each of us can show, by what we say and do, that we are followers of the living Christ and thereby are witnesses of Him,” Elder Ardern said.

Ethiopia District President Efrem A. Mekonen with his wife, Sister Yetimwork Getachew Asefa, and their baby, Ezra, with Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Nov. 20, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

As members reflected on the experience, they expressed how a visit from an Apostle of the Lord had touched their lives. 

Rahel Alemayehu said: “Seeing Elder Christofferson here in Ethiopia was such a blessing for me. He helped me to know more fully that Jesus knew me and loved me.” 

Kassahun Mengesha expressed his feelings by saying: “It was a great privilege for me to be visited by an Apostle of the Lord. We were blessed by his teachings. When he smiled at us, I felt the love of the Savior. This will remain as one of the best moments of my life.” 

Gideon Getachew Ayana wrote: “I have no words to express my feelings. Being with an Apostle was such a blessing for me and my family. I truly felt the Spirit which gives me more hope, more power and greater direction to lead my family. This is such a wonderful time to be a member of the gospel.”

Outreach in Ethiopia 

Elder Christofferson was joined in Ethiopia by his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson; Elder Ardern and his wife, Sister Paula Ardern; Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé and his wife, Sister Valérie Caussé; and Elder S. Mark Palmer of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Jacqueline Palmer.

While in Ethiopia, Elder Christofferson met with Ambassador Mussie Hailu, the United Religious Initiative representative at the United Nations and the African Union, and Massaud Adem, Deputy Secretary General of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia. 

Elder Christofferson spoke of the willingness of the Church to help and join with other groups to bless lives by doing as the Savior taught and did. 

Ambassador Mussie Hailu from the United Religions Initiative, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Massand Adem from the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia pose for a photo in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Nov. 20, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Many of the 121 million inhabitants of Ethiopia participate in religious adherence, including at Orthodox churches or mosques. Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first arrived in Ethiopia almost 30 years ago, and today, two chapels and five rented buildings are counted amongst the churches that dot the land. 

Elder Ardern said it was wonderful to be with Church leaders and their wives in Ethiopia.

“As [Elder Christofferson] spoke with the members and missionaries in meetings and one on one, it was clear that he loved them, and the members felt that love. How fortunate we are that the Apostles travel the world to teach, testify and bless the members and friends of the Church and today that was the privilege of the Saints in Ethiopia,” Elder Ardern said.

Meetings in Kenya

On Friday, Nov. 18, Elder Christofferson held a meeting for missionaries in the Kenya Nairobi Mission at the Upper Hill Ward building in Nairobi.

Kenya Nairobi Mission President David Sturt said the missionaries were spiritually prepared to listen to Elder Christofferson’s message and to deepen their testimonies of living Apostles.

“The most powerful moment for me came when a missionary asked Elder Christofferson what it meant to be a special witness of Jesus Christ. His answer was the most powerful and clear witness of the resurrected Christ I have ever heard,” President Sturt said. “The Spirit carried it into our hearts, and will be something we will never forget.”

Elder Thierry K. Mutombo, General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Africa Central Area; his wife, Sister Nathalie Mutombo; Elder Matthew L. Carpenter, General Authority Seventy and president of the Central Africa Area, and his wife, Sister Shelly Carpenter, joined Elder Christofferson in Kenya.

After hearing of his outreach in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, senior interfaith leaders in Kenya were eager to meet an Apostle for the first time, reported the Church’s Africa Newsroom.

A lunch was held in Nairobi for the religious community’s leaders, including the Hindu Council of Kenya, the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, Kenya Women of Faith Alliance, the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Muslim Leaders Forum, and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims.

“We collaborate with like-minded people for the things of the Lord. I want you to know that it’s not essential that we all believe the same thing,” Elder Christofferson said at the meeting. “We can share common values and work together on things that we all agree are important and are a priority. We hope that we can be a force with you and collaborate with you for the same purposes.”

In response, Abdirahman Ismail, executive director of the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, said: “We wish to work together to carry on this good work, ensuring our communities live harmoniously. We don’t just engage in matters of faith — faith is broader than just our spaces of worship. We engage in national development and social discourses and above all ensure peace, that our country lives in peace.”

The religious leaders were given copies of the Book of Mormon as well as materials on strengthening the family.

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