We often sing "Praise to the Man" in our congregations (Hymns 1985 #27), which is about Joseph Smith, and contains the memorable line, "Sacrifice brings for the blessings of heaven." Such sacrifice may take many forms, from the physical hardships suffered by the early members of the Church to modern-day social ostracism or the loss of employment, friends, or even family associations. Sacrifice, though it tugs at our heartstrings and stretches us almost beyond what we can bear, does indeed bring forth the blessings of heaven, as a protestant minister discovered.
Baende Isukongola had with a thriving congregation in Kinshasa, Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo). However, he began to have serious misgivings about his church's teachings. As he searched the scriptures, Baende noted numerous teachings and practices which were missing from his church, including the biblical practice of tithing. He investigated the teachings and practices of other churches, but he found them to be incomplete as well.
One day, a friend mentioned to Baende that a group he knew only as "the Mormons" preached and practised tithing. The minister enlisted the assistance of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa for help locating such a church. The Embassy directed him to the Zaire Kinshasa Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Not long afterwards, Baende arrived on the doorstep of the mission home, anxious to learn about Church doctrine. Each week, armed with a long list of penetrating questions, he met with the missionaries. His questions were answered as the Spirit bore testimony to him. He asked to be baptized. Somewhat later, his wife and two sons also joined the LDS Church.
Knowing what he now knew, Baende could not remain a protestant minister. He resigned his pulpit, and in so doing, gave up a guaranteed income with lifetime security. He was glad to do so, realizing that he had found a pearl of great price, a splendid treasure in the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Still, it took great courage in a country with unemployment rates of over 80%. There was no assurance at all that he would ever work again.
Then a miracle occurred. Baende obtained a permanent, secure job with the government. In the midst of all the unemployment in Zaire, he had secured his temporal future. Two weeks later, one of his sons also secured employment. Both recognized the hand of the Lord in their lives and testified often of God's goodness to them.
Sacrifice is often defined as what we give up. But in the economy of heaven, we always receive something even better. Brother Baende Isukongola is a living testimony that it is true.