In an effort to thwart the kingdom of God, the destroyer spreads negative information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members. However, like Paul in the Bible and Alma the Younger in the Book of Mormon, the very people who persecute the Church may eventually discover its truth and become its most stalwart members.
Such was the case with Sister Anastasia Akotbongo Bala of the Younde Branch in Cameroon. She was born into a strong Christian extended family that all lived together in the same large house. One day, she learned that an uncle had joined the Church.
She began hearing all kinds of false information about the Church, but she didn’t pay much attention because she was busy with her studies and happy in her family’s church. But then another uncle joined the Church, and then a cousin joined. When the third uncle joined the Church, the entire family became agitated.
Anastasia remembers, “What a disappointment for the family—my cousin and my Uncle David, with whom I had shared the same house and the same meals were members of this Church. I decided to persecute each one of them so that they would leave that ‘sect.’”
Anastasia watched an anti-Mormon film with her family, and, convinced that the information in the film was true, she began to criticize the Church and spread the film’s false information. She was sure the Church would hurt her relatives and trap them in a dangerous ‘cult.’
However, one day Anastasia’s cousin invited her to a year-end activity at the Church. She recalls, “I went, and everything was so different than I had expected. There was a welcome, a message, and some talks. Everything was perfect at this activity.” Unfortunately, she was not yet ready to set aside her other fears.
One day a Church member, Brother Bala, came to visit her Uncle David. Anastasia says, “He invited me to Church. I insulted him and repulsed his proposition fiercely. However, in spite of my aggressiveness to them, neither Uncle David nor he gave up. My uncle continued to exhort and encourage me.
“Somewhat later, Brother Bala invited me again, and perhaps ashamed at my earlier behavior, I accepted his invitation. At the end of sacrament meeting, I realized that everything had been very simple. None of the things in the anti-Mormon film I had watched were true. Everything was perfect and uncomplicated. The gospel was understandable and well presented, and it was on that same Sunday that I decided to take the missionary lessons.'
As she did so, Anastasia says, “I [finally] understood the marvelous plan of our Heavenly Father. I knew where I came from and what my purpose was upon the earth. The gospel which I received, and which I had so often refused, offered me another way to live, another way to see things, and another way to love my neighbor. I learned to cultivate patience, tolerance, charity, service, and many other teachings of the gospel.”
Anastasia also cultivated a relationship with the persistent Brother Bala who had invited her twice to Church. She eventually became his wife, and he eventually became branch president. She is now Sister Anastasia Akotbongo Bala.
In the Prophet Joseph Smith’s words, “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”
Excerpted by Marnae Wilson from Pioneers of Cameroon, Edith and Dan Baker, August 2009