Edward M. Ngindu from Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo, never expected to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Born in 1963 and christened in the French catholique tradition, he married Suzanne Kanulondi in 1984. However, in September 20, 1987, his life changed.
He met a man named Mutshipai Kayembe, who was some kind of a leader from some kind of a Church. He was holding an intriguing blue book. Edward explains, “At the time I was a student at the department of French language and African Linguistics, so naturally I had a penchant for reading. This book intrigued me, so I asked Mr. Kayembe to let me look at it.
“He handed it to me without hesitation. I read the title: ‘The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.’ Then I looked through the title page and the testimony of the three and eight witnesses. I decided then and there that the book was an invention of Americans. I figured Americans were capable of any mischief, so I returned the book to its owner.
“To my surprise, Mr. Kayembe replied with energy, ‘Guard this book, and read it in full. This one is written in a language I cannot read (French), but I know it is the word of God. If you read it, it will enrich you and your family.’”
Edward admits, “In my pride and conceit, I wrote him off as a fool. I decided he must be illiterate if he couldn’t read a book but said it promised riches. I threw the book in his face and turned on my heel.
“After I had walked two steps he called me by name and said, ‘Edward, I beg you to take this book. I promise you will receive great blessings from it.’
“Suddenly a peaceful feeling, sort of like a warm breeze, enveloped me. Ashamed, I returned to Brother Kayembe and humbly accepted his book. That night as I knelt in prayer with my wife and two small children, just one and two years old, I prayed that the Lord would help me understand the contents of the Book of Mormon.
“During the night I had a dream wherein I was visited by an unknown personage standing in my room. I will never forget his voice as he spoke: ‘The book you have is not an invention of the Americans as you think. It is the word of God. It is intended for the whole world. If you read, and especially if you believe in its message, you will be happy in your life and you will discover God’s purpose for mankind. Your life will change.’'
Edward continues, “The dream closed, but my eyes would not. Sleep left me, and I was wide awake thereafter. I started reading the book. The more I read, the more I desired to read. I learned about the trip of Lehi and his journey in the wilderness with his family. I followed how Nephi behaved compared to his brothers, but I still couldn't grasp what it all meant.'
He was scheduled to meet with missionaries from this new Church in the evening but swapped places with his wife, Suzanne. She listened to what they said, and quickened by the Spirit, she believed immediately. She remarked, “Ever since the death of my father, I had never felt such hope that we would meet again with the departed who are dear to us.” She promised the missionaries that their family would attend Church the following Sunday, where Brother Mutshipayi was Branch President.
Edward remembers, “That Sunday morning she began getting the children ready very early and we headed out, crossing the creek on a flexible iron rail bridge. I suffered a spectacular fall and was thrown in the mud along the creek. My right knee was bleeding and my trousers were torn. I suggested to my wife that maybe this was a sign from God that we should return with the family and go to mass instead.
“My wife objected strongly. ‘No, Edward’ she said. ‘It is Satan who wants to keep us from the truth. We need to meet Brother Mutshipayi at the Church, where he is waiting for us.’”
Instead of meeting at a large cathedral, the Ngindu family found themselves arriving late to join a small group of around twenty members meeting in a bare room. They were sitting on dusty benches held together by large nails. Though the surroundings left much to be desired, Edward was impressed with the way everyone was discussing the book in question. At the end of the meeting, he was greatly surprised and touched, remembering, “Everyone rushed to embrace us, men and women alike. Each expressed great love and the desire that I teach them more about the Book of Mormon.”
The group leader handed him plenty of documents of the Church to take home and study for the next week. His first batch contained a few copies of the Liahona, Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood I and II, 23 Questions Answered by the Book of Mormon, and a Book of Ideas for Family Home Evening.
Though Brother Ngindu's service is impressive, Brother Kayembe also deserves credit for beseeching him one more time, after the Book of Mormon was thrown in his face. When on the Lord’s errand, it's best to overlook offenses and persevere.