“The words of the apostles have changed our lives. I plan to follow their teachings,” declared Emmanuel Jelle of the Entebbe Ward in Uganda after attending the broadcast to Africa from Church leaders in Salt Lake City on Sunday 23 November 2014.
Commenting on the message from Sister Jean A. Stevens, of the Primary General Presidency, Angela Kamangira of Lilongwe, Malawi, said, “The messages were very special. It was a blessing to me— in fact life-changing. What stood out for me was the importance of teaching the scriptures to the children in families.” “I liked listening to the talk from Sister Stevens. We need to have the habit of scripture study with our children. Also, as Africans we are tied to our culture. We need to focus on the gospel culture to lead us to our Father in Heaven,” said Sara Balyejusa, the newly sustained Stake Primary President, of the Nsambya Ward, Uganda.
After hearing the talks, Abeesha Katsande of Zimbabwe responded, “The messages were inspiring and uplifting. I have fasted and prayed many times to find a job, but have so far been unsuccessful. This morning I was taught, ‘God knows our plight.’ That teaching gave me confidence and comfort.”
“We should be willing to sacrifice ourselves and everything we have for the kingdom of God. We need to give our best. Our best is good enough for the Lord. We need to stop making excuses,” said Grace Balmoi of the Ntinda Branch, Uganda. Steven Kssenyonjo of the Mukono Ward, Uganda: “In Jesus Christ we have to change because we become new creatures focusing on eternal life. We have to change from our traditional customs to the [customs of] the restored gospel.” Bishop Fred Kamya of the Nsambya Ward, Uganda commented, “I liked this conference because the things they talked about help to change our mindset so that we can become better Saints. We have a problem with mindsets in Africa. This will transform us.”
For many members, Elder David A. Bednar’s and President Dieter F. Uchdorf’s remarks on African traditions stood out. Elder Bednar noted that some African traditions are consistent with gospel values, such as the importance of the family and the strong bonds among family members. However, there are also some negative cultural traditions, such as the bride-price, lobola, and the traditional relationship in which the husband rules the home without consideration for his wife. He stated, “The practise of lobola conflicts with the gospel plan.” He counselled members of the Church to “discontinue the practice and follow the Lord’s counsel.”
President Uchtdorf quoted Elder Oaks on the practice of lobola: “This practice leads to behaviour unbecoming a member of the Church.” He directed members to “discontinue this practice,” and counselled that “The Lord’s way is the best way to bring families together forever.”
“The message from Elder Bednar about cultural practices touched me. Our sons and brothers face big challenges when marrying. If people know we are gifts from God, then they will not sell a girl as a wife,” said Elizabeth Tuliraba Kaffu, newly sustained Stake YW President, from the Seeta Branch in Uganda.
“I was impressed by two messages today: First, a message on culture: Don’t continue to do the same thing because someone else did it. Let it go. Second, I enjoyed Elder Bednar’s comments on paying tithing: It is the only way we will be blessed as a people,” said Richard Okello of the Seeta Branch, Uganda.
Brian Kizito of the Makindye Ward, Uganda (photo left)remarked, “I liked the conference because it talked so much about Africa. So much was centered on Africa. I have never been to a conference that talked about Africa. It assured me that our leaders love us and are concerned about us.”
Jimi Sass, from South Sudan, is studying in Uganda and attends the Kajjansi Branch. He said, “A lot of things captured my attention today, like some of the false traditions we have in Africa which are against the teachings of our Gospel culture.” Bahle Bonga from Kwazulu-Natal, thought that “The messages were an eye-opener. We Africans are a cultural people and honour our ancestors. We respect them and do as they have done. The church addressed that issue this morning so that we can be straight in the church but still honour our culture. The leaders didn’t say, ‘Don’t marry’. They taught that the gospel culture comes first. The leaders care for the African people.”
To read more about the broadcast, follow this link: http://www.mormonnewsroom.co.za/article/church-members-throughout-southeast-africa-gather-for-broadcast