On Sunday 22 November 2015 members of the Africa Southeast Africa Area gathered at their stake centres for a special stake conference that was broadcast to the whole Area from Salt Lake City. Elder Quentin L Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided at the meeting. Elder L Whitney Clayton, the senior president of the Seventy, conducted the meeting.
Elder Carl B Cook, the Area president, was the first speaker. He reminded us that obedience brings blessings, and shared with us the story of Frederick from Uganda. Frederick paid his tithing, even though it was all the money he had left. He went home hungry, with no food at home. When he arrived, he noticed that his neighbour had left a bowl of food on his windowsill. She told him that she felt that he needed food. The Lord will bless us as we pay our tithing. Our faith will increase and our burdens will be lightened. When encouraging us to attend tithing settlement with our Bishop, Elder Cook said, “Do it. Do it.”
Elder Clayton taught us that keeping the Sabbath day holy helps us keep sacred covenants and is integral to our being blessed. He also taught that we must choose to be self-reliant, and as we do, we will be able to care for ourselves and our families, and then help others. We can qualify for the Lord’s help by working, and paying tithing. Then He will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing upon us.
Sister Cheryl Esplin, first counsellor in the General Primary Presidency, reminded us to build on the Rock, which is Christ. If we build on it, we cannot fail, and when the storms come, we will stand firm. Parents are to help their children build a steadfast faith. Are the life and teachings of Christ embedded in our children’s minds? She encouraged us to speak of Christ more frequently and assured us that the Spirit would accompany our words.
1. Missionary work: Peace doesn’t come from pursuing worldly objectives. More young people need to be encouraged to serve missions: it is a priesthood duty.
2. Sacrament meetings and the Sabbath day: Make the Sabbath a delight. Let it be a sign of our devotion to God. Keeping it a holy day will help to keep us unspotted from the world. Families can counsel together on how to achieve these objectives.
3. Temple and family history work: We cannot be made perfect without our ancestors, nor can they without us. Youth will have greater protection from the adversary as they participate in this work. The Sabbath is a good time to do it.
Newton Senyange of Uganda had this to say after the conference: “The meeting was a powerhouse! Elder Renlund taught me a great perspective about sisters and their role in building the Lord’s kingdom. As leaders we should work with them. Paying tithing takes faith. I feel that we will be rescued from poverty as we obediently pay an honest tithe.”
Marcell Noble of Namibia: “I have realised once again the importance of the women in the church and the home. I cannot magnify my church calling without my wife next to me.”
Nourcel Kaniki of Democratic Republic of Congo: “There were very important messages for us, especially regarding self-reliance, and using women in the church. I learnt about the importance of the priesthood as an umbrella to protect the family.”
Freddy Ntiranyibagira of Burundi: “Because of challenges that I face, I sometimes have a problem paying tithing on time, but I have a testimony of paying it, and am now committed to paying it. It will come first, not second.”
Sifelani Mananga of Zimbabwe: “I was impressed by Elder Carl B Cook telling us to follow the still, small voice to pay tithing, no matter what your circumstances may be. He also reminded us that obedience brings blessings. As Elder Quentin Cook said, pursuing worldly objectives won’t bring peace.”
By Collette Burgoyne