‘As long as I rely on Him’: Elder Goury’s journey from 29-year-old convert to General Authority Seventy

A series of faith-building experiences has helped Elder D. Martin Goury, sustained as a general authority during April 2024 general conference, learn to trust in the Lord

Growing up in a village near Gagnoa, Côte d’Ivoire, and raised with Christian beliefs, Elder D. Martin Goury dreamed of one day becoming a clergyman. He liked the idea of serving others as a man of faith.

In October 1992, he was in London, England, trying to learn English and gain an education, when he met Latter-day Saint missionaries. He tried to politely dismiss them by saying he didn’t speak their language, but one was the only native French-speaking missionary in London. Unable to come up with another excuse, Elder Goury walked away with a French copy of the Book of Mormon.

He started reading the Book of Mormon, and within a month he received a witness of its truthfulness, but he lost contact with the missionaries. “If this is the Lord’s Church,” he thought, “He will provide a way for them to meet with me.”

Several weeks later, a new set of missionaries came by his apartment. Elder Goury told them he had been reading the Book of Mormon and knew that it was true. After taking time to learn more about the faith, he was baptized at age 29 in April 1993. “I remember being very happy,” he said.

His joy increased as the missionaries taught him about the priesthood.

“They explained the meaning of the priesthood and how I could use that to serve other people. For me, that was my dream coming true,” he said. “I was delighted to become a member of the Church.”

More than 30 years later, Elder Goury was one of 11 sustained as new General Authority Seventies for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during general conference on April 6, 2024.

Finding Ruth

Dalébé Martin Goury was born in Gagnoa on Jan. 30, 1964, to Maurice Yoro Goury and Gaby Odette Goury. He grew up in a village called Lehipa and the cities of Oume and Gagnoa.

In 1992, Martin left the Ivory Coast and moved to England, where he gained an education, found the Church and met his wife.

Elder D. Martin Goury
Elder D. Martin Goury | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Ruth Kennington’s paternal grandparents joined the Church in England after World War II. Her mother was baptized as a teenager in the 1960s. Ruth Kennington was raised in an active Latter-day Saint family where everyone — including grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins — was a member, a rarity in England, she said.

Having developed a strong testimony of the gospel, she was serving in the England London South Mission in 1992 when she met an investigator named Martin Goury. She was transferred to another area for several months, during which time he was baptized. She was then transferred back to the original area and saw Martin again at a stake conference.

When he saw her, Martin said he had a spiritual impression that she was his eternal companion, but he immediately pushed the thought away because she was a sister missionary.

They occasionally saw each other when the missionaries needed French translation, although Martin said he mostly helped the elders.

After completing her mission, Ruth was invited to attend the temple sealing of a family she taught. Martin, a close friend of the husband, was also there, and they reconnected.

Several weeks later, when an institute teacher encouraged Martin Goury to consider finding a wife, he went to the house of the Lord to pray for guidance on the matter.

“This feeling came to me, ‘You have received your answer, cast your mind back,’” Martin said, thinking of Ruth Kennington.

They began dating and months later were sealed in the London England Temple on April 8, 1995.

Relying on the Lord

The couple spent the first 15 years of their lives together living in the United Kingdom, during which they started their family and Elder Goury served in various ward leadership callings.

“Those callings helped me to solidify my testimony,” he said.

In 2010, Elder Goury’s work in the oil and gas industry took the family to Lagos, Nigeria. Upon arriving there, he learned the branch president, an American, was moving back to the United States.

“I knew they were going to look for a branch president, so I went back to England for three weeks hoping that while I’m there they will call another one,” Elder Goury said. “But they waited till I came back.”

One week after he returned, Elder Goury was called as the branch president. It wasn’t the calling he wanted, but it was the calling he needed and proved to be a foundational experience that taught him to rely on the Lord. His wife had a similar experience serving as the stake Relief Society president.

“I had to study the scriptures. I had to use the General Handbook, and that really helped me to grow personally,” he said. “It helped me to strengthen my own testimony to help those I was working with.”

While striving to do his best as branch president, Elder Goury felt blessed in his employment, both financially and through management opportunities that were beyond his experience. It all prepared him for his next Church calling.

“There is not a single part of our life that the Lord doesn’t know — He knows everything,” he said. “I look back today and wonder why I worried at certain times, because He had this plan. I just needed to trust Him more.”

‘Turn them to the Savior’

After seven years in Nigeria, Elder and Sister Goury were called as leaders of the French-speaking Benin Cotonou Mission.

Along with feeling overwhelmed, an unexpected challenge came as some missionaries questioned Elder Goury’s leadership because he had not served a mission as a young man.

“Some even had the courage to say that in front of me, but we worked with them,” Elder Goury said. “With the help of the Savior, we were able to manage a lot of those situations.”

Elder D. Martin Goury and his wife, Sister Ruth Goury, served as leaders of the Benin Cotonou Mission from 2017 to 2020.
Elder D. Martin Goury and his wife, Sister Ruth Goury, served as leaders of the Benin Cotonou Mission from 2017 to 2020. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Following inspiration, they placed younger missionaries who were willing to work in leadership positions and focused on learning about Jesus Christ, which blessed the mission. They felt the truth of words spoken by President Boyd K. Packer: “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior” (“Little Children,” Ensign, November 1986).

“We felt strongly that we needed to turn them to the Savior,” Sister Goury said. “Every zone conference, every discussion that we had was about turning them to the Savior.”

“Turning them to the Savior resolved many of our issues,” Elder Goury said. “Because the missionaries turned to the Savior, the Lord blessed them with baptisms, and they had great success.”

‘Willing to serve and learn’

Before their mission ended in July 2020, Elder and Sister Goury anticipated he would return to his previous employment in Nigeria or even the United Kingdom.

That job disappeared with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. They weren’t sure what they would do, when they received a call to meet with the president of the Church’s Africa West Area.

“We had no home, no job, no nothing,” Sister Goury said. “But it all worked out.”

Because of a recent missionary-related incident, Elder Goury thought he was being called in to be chastised. Instead he was called to serve as an Area Seventy in his native Côte d’Ivoire.

Not only was he shocked, but Elder Goury felt unprepared and unqualified. Then he reflected on his call as a mission president.

“I knew nothing about mission leadership, but I was willing to serve and learn,” he said, knowing that “as long as I rely on the Savior, I’m sure I will do my part.”

While serving in the Third Quorum of the Seventy in the Africa West Area from 2020 to 2024, Elder Goury was also able to find employment with the Church.

‘The beauty of this gospel’

Elder Goury had similar feelings of weakness and inadequacy — “like a fish out of water” — when called to be a General Authority Seventy prior to the April 2024 general conference.

He found courage in knowing that discouragement comes from the adversary, Church leaders prayed about his call, and this is the Lord’s work — “He knows you can do it.”

“That has really strengthened me,” he said. “I also know this is the Lord’s work, so as long as I rely on Him, He will help me to know what to do.”

As he has served and ministered, Elder Goury has shared the gospel with members of his family. Some became members and others did not, but at every possible opportunity he talks about his faith and the Savior with his family and others.

“I feel that the Lord has made it possible for me to discover this gospel to help my brothers and sisters,” said Elder Goury, who has performed temple ordinances for his deceased parents. “For me, that’s the beauty of this gospel.”

Elder D. Martin Goury, a new General Authority Seventy, was born in Gagnoa, Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa.
Elder D. Martin Goury, a new General Authority Seventy, was born in Gagnoa, Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa. | Church News graphic


Family: Born Jan. 30, 1964, in Gagnoa, Côte d’Ivoire, to Maurice Yoro Goury and Gaby Odette Goury. Sealed to Ruth Simone Kennington on April 8, 1995, in the London England Temple; they are the parents of four children and live in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Employment: Worked as a primary school teacher, a design engineer, a senior project manager and deputy project director for Cameron, a general manager of Nigeria operations for OneSubsea Services and country operations manager for Schlumberger, and for the Church as a leader and member support coordinator.

Education: Received bachelor’s degrees in teaching from CAFOP de Man in 1988 and mechanical engineering from London South Bank University in 1997.

Church service: Area Seventy, president of the Benin Cotonou Mission from 2017 to 2020, bishop, branch president, bishopric counselor and elders quorum president.

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