In 2010, the Lord gathered a smallish Army of Helaman from the Mochudi Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Botswana. Twelve young men who had been friends (as well as partners in mischief), helped each other find the gospel. They later supported each other as they prepared to serve missions. Each of these young men were the only members of the Church in their families, so they joined together to form a Church family they called 'The Band of Brothers.'
It all started when two missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave one of them a pass-along card with a picture of the Book of Mormon on it. The teenager felt a great desire to learn more about the book and asked the missionaries if they would sell one to him. The missionaries replied, “We’ll give you the book for free if you come to Church on Sunday!”
The teenager failed to make it to Church on the following Sunday and assumed the missionaries would be disgusted with him. Much to his surprise, he said, 'The next week those same two guys showed up at my door smiling at me like I was an old friend!” The elders began to teach him. When he first heard the Joseph Smith story, he said, “It was like I already knew it. It was like everything they were telling me was already within me—just a reawakening. I was hit by the truth, and I never looked back.”
He told another friend about the gospel, and soon some of the new converts began carrying the Book of Mormon to school. One of the converts explained, “My friend seemed to change at the snap of a finger. I thought it had something to do with that black book he started carrying around at school. I could see what a good man he had become, but I also remembered the bad things that he had done in the past. A part of me really wanted to change, as well.”
As the Band grew, so did its influence on the young men. One explained, “For me, the weekend was the best time of the week because I knew I was going to meet up with my brothers. We boys didn’t have a lot of material possessions, and we had our own fair share of challenges, but our level of enthusiasm toward the gospel of Jesus Christ was remarkable.”
Another young man added, “We all had the spirit of missionary work and were getting anxious to serve officially. We had a little competition going as to who would serve first. We prepared by getting together and studying our scriptures and having gospel discussions.”
Many of the Band of Brothers are now serving missions, and they still strengthen each other from a distance. One explained, “Sometimes when things get a little rough here in the mission, I read my brothers’ testimonies, and it takes me back to the spirit I felt when I was with them.”
Another missionary contributes, “I was the first of the Band of Brothers to leave on a mission. Hearing how my fellow brothers are now following the gospel and are going on missions gives me great hope and faith in times of trial because I know I am not alone.”
Even though these young elders have little support from their non-member families, on preparation days they email each other and chat online to influence each other to remain faithful and valiant. One was speaking for the entire group of twelve when he said, “This group we call the Band of Brothers has become my family. We were placed here on earth at the same time and place so we could be together and strengthen each other.”
Their influence on each other will be felt for generations.
Taken from The Band of Brothers, compiled by Elder Mark and Sister Shirley Taylor of the South Africa Johannesburg Mission; exerpted by Marnae Wilson