How an older sister’s invitation and seminary teacher’s influence were pivotal moments in Elder I. Raymond Egbo’s conversion

Sustained as a general authority during April 2024 general conference, Nigeria’s Elder Egbo has a testimony of learning from the scriptures

At 14 years old, Elder I. Raymond Egbo was attending a Catholic boarding school in Nigeria when his 18-year-old sister kept inviting him to “come and see” what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was all about.

He really knew only what the encyclopedia had told him about Latter-day Saints, and besides, he was a Mass server for the Catholic Church at the time. But his sister was persistent. She had been baptized after their father’s friend introduced missionaries to the family.

One Sunday, walking back home, Elder Egbo passed the building in Calabar, Cross River State, where the small branch met. It was a fast and testimony meeting, and he heard his sister bear her testimony — and right after sacrament meeting, she took him over to a man she said was the seminary teacher.

“She says, ‘Here’s one of your seminary students,’” Elder Egbo remembered. And next thing he knew, he had a set of scriptures, a binder, a manual, a marking pen and other materials in his arms as the teacher said, “We’ll see you tomorrow.”

So he started going — leaving his school in the evening to walk to seminary classes and sneaking back into the compound afterward.

Map showing location of Port Harcourt in Cross River State, Nigeria.
Map showing location of Port Harcourt in Cross River State, Nigeria, where Elder I. Raymond Egbo, General Authority Seventy, was born. | Church News graphic

While reading the course of study, Elder Egbo came to Doctrine and Covenants 135 and the martyrdom of Joseph Smith.

“Something powerfully touched me, and I knew that the Prophet Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God. I knew that he was killed for the truth,” he said. “It came to me so powerfully. I still feel right now how I felt that day when I read it.”

His sister made sure he was reading the Book of Mormon as well, which then solidified his testimony.

“I think the Lord took me through that journey,” Elder Egbo said. “Once I knew that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, it wasn’t difficult for me to accept that the Book of Mormon was the work that he was called to do, because he was a Prophet. And from that time on, I’ve had great respect for prophets and seen what they do, why they are called, and they’re called for a purpose.”

After that, he had no qualms about getting baptized into the Church.

Teaching his father through his mission letters

Elder Egbo’s sister was not done influencing his life for good. Later, while he was attending university, she encouraged him to serve a full-time mission, and he was called to the Nigeria Lagos Mission.

Their father was angry with him for leaving his studies. But Elder Egbo regularly wrote him letters describing everything from his mission president to his companions to what he was teaching and how he was doing. He also bore his testimony in the letters.

While his mother and sisters wrote back to him, his father never wrote back.

Elder I. Raymond Egbo
Elder I. Raymond Egbo | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

But near the end of Elder Egbo’s mission, his mission president called him into the office and was holding a big packet. Inside was a smaller envelope with a letter, and the mission president began reading it out loud.

Elder Egbo realized the letter was from his father — who wrote that because of his son, he had decided to investigate the Church more and was now baptized.

The packet was full of his father’s replies to his letters with the note, “Please give it to him for me and tell him that I will be waiting for him when his mission is done.”

Elder Egbo was overwhelmed with emotion.

“More than anything else, I wanted my dad to be baptized. ... I was miles away from him, but the Lord was doing to him what I was doing for somebody else in the mission field, and He touched his heart.”

Best friends get married

Elder Egbo also regularly wrote to someone else on his mission — a young lady who had become a good friend when her family moved into his branch in Calabar, Nigeria, in 1994.

Comfort Ese had been meeting with the missionaries — but mainly only to make her aunt happy, with whom she lived at the time. Then she overheard one of the missionaries saying she was “too stubborn” and wasn’t progressing.

But the other missionary said: “It is good to teach this kind of stubborn girls because they turn out to be very good members of the Church and they will be very, very devoted. You never know what she will become in this Church. So let’s keep teaching her,” Sister Egbo recalled with a laugh.

After that, she read the Book of Mormon with real intent and gained her testimony. Elder Egbo’s older sister and that missionary would later get married years after his mission.

When Elder Egbo returned from his mission, he and Sister Egbo were close friends for a few years in their 20s.

“Then one day, he told me there was no need for us to date because he’s done all the dating all these years. He just wants us to get married,” Sister Egbo said with a smile. “And then I just realized that my best friend had been someone that is supposed to be my husband. So that was it.”

‘Hooked on seminary’

Like Elder Egbo, Sister Egbo has a strong appreciation for the Church’s seminary program. They both understand the blessings that come from studying the scriptures, because they experienced it in their own conversion stories.

So when the opportunity came for Elder Egbo to work for Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, he took it.

“I’ve loved it. It’s been my life. I got into seminary from Day 1 of being a member of the Church. The first day I stepped into the Church, I got hooked on seminary,” he said.

He has held a variety of positions, including institute director, coordinator, country director and area director — the last meaning a family move to the Africa West Area offices in Accra, Ghana.

Said Sister Egbo: “We are very thankful to the Lord for the many privileges we enjoyed being in seminaries and institutes, because you have to live what you teach. You study the scriptures for a living.”

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, with Nigeria Calabar Mission President Idyo Raymond Egbo and his wife, Sister Comfort Ikip Ese Egbo, in 2009 during Elder Andersen's ministry in Africa.
Elder Neil L. Andersen, right, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, with Nigeria Calabar Mission President Idyo Raymond Egbo and his wife, Sister Comfort Ikip Ese Egbo, in 2009 during Elder Andersen's ministry in Africa. | Church News archives

When Elder Egbo was called to be a mission president, the family moved from Ghana back to Calabar, Nigeria, and his thoughts turned to his seminary teacher.

“I went back to him and invited him to be my mission clerk. So that’s the miracle of this Church: A young boy who was a seminary student years later calls his seminary teacher to be his mission clerk. That was an experience I’ll never forget.”

At first the Egbos were not sure how to feel about returning to Calabar for their mission assignment after they had left to live in Accra. But Sister Egbo said they soon felt very thankful to the Lord.

“There could not have been a better place for us to serve than going back to our people and serving amongst our people — people we love,” she said.

They have seen huge growth in the Church as well. From three branches in and around the city of Calabar, now there are four stakes and an announced temple.

His testimony to his children after being called

Elder Egbo had been serving as an Area Seventy in the Africa West Area, but when he was sustained a General Authority Seventy in April 2024 general conference, he felt overwhelmed with thoughts of inadequacy.

As he was studying the scriptures, he came to Doctrine and Covenants 26, where the Lord asked the Prophet Joseph Smith to study the scriptures and to preach.

Elder Egbo felt a strong and calm influence — not just a feeling but also a voice — in his mind and his heart.

“I was at that point in time confident that the Lord did not make a mistake and this was the right thing and I need not worry about how to face the people.”

He said he was sure his children — who are in their late teenage years — must have fallen off their seats after his name was called in the Saturday morning session. And he knew he should tell his children his witness of Jesus Christ.

“The very first thing I did once the video came on before we explained anything to them was I said to them, ‘I want to bear my witness of Jesus Christ.’ And I did that and said to them afterward, ‘Never forget that I bore witness of Christ to you the very first time I spoke to you after I was sustained in general conference.’”


Family: Idyo Raymond Egbo was born June 25, 1974, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, and is from Akai, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. He married Comfort Ikip Ese on May 15, 2003, in Calabar, Nigeria. They have three children.

Employment: Seminaries and Institutes of Religion since 2002 in a variety of positions, including institute director, coordinator, country director and area director.

Education: Associate degree in education from Cross River State College of Education in 1998, a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography and regional planning from the University of Calabar in 2002, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Cumbria in 2022.

Church service: Area Seventy in the Africa West Area, president of the Nigeria Calabar Mission (2009-2012), mission presidency counselor in Nigeria Lagos Mission, stake presidency counselor, high councilor, branch blerk, branch mission leader, full-time missionary in the Nigeria Lagos Mission.

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