A full-time missionary serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission has died following a brief illness.
Elder Hermann Keredjim Mwanken, 21, passed away on Oct. 21. He was reportedly nearing the end of his missionary service when he died. He was from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo and a member of the Abattoir Ward, Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Masina Stake.
“We pray that (Elder Mwanken’s) family and loved ones will feel comforted and supported at this difficult time,” said Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to more than 62,000 Latter-day Saints, 21 stakes and four missions. DR Congo membership accounts for 10 percent of all Latter-day Saints in Africa and is the world’s largest group of French-speaking members.
The first missionaries arrived in Kinshasa in 1986 when the Church received legal status in the African nation. The Zaire Kinshasa Mission was created in 1987. The country’s first stake was created nine years later.
Chris Miasnik and his wife, Angie, recently completed a temple mission to the new Kinshasa temple. Many Latter-day Saints there are grieving Elder Mwanken’s death.
“The whole Church in the DR Congo is in mourning,” he told the Church News in an email. “I’m an administrator for two Facebook pages in French about the Church reaching over 22,000 francophone adherents worldwide. Hundreds of shocked people are posting their condolences.
“This might be the first time for many that they have had to experience a missionary’s death in the field. It is also a time where they will have a chance to strengthen their testimonies about Heavenly Father’s plan for happiness.”