When Lwazi Mchunu was sixteen years old and visiting his mother in Durban, South Africa for the Christmas holidays, he came across a book without a cover. It had been given to his mother by his uncle, who was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). His mother, who had to work every day, had never read it, but Lwazi was intrigued. As he read, he discovered it was a copy of the Book of Mormon.
It had an immediate impact upon him. He said, “I have always been interested in religion and attended the Catholic church as a child, but when I read that book, I didn’t know what I felt, only that I had a special feeling.” He later identified it accurately: “I felt the Spirit.”
When he returned to his father’s home after the holidays, he took the book with him and completed it in four months. He knew that the message within it was true. He didn’t know what to do with that knowledge, so he contacted his LDS uncle, who was thrilled for him. His uncle encouraged him to continue reading it, which Lwazi did. He waited for the household to fall asleep, and then he would read it quietly. He read the book three times.
In 2007 his uncle moved to Pietermaritzburg, and Lwazi was finally able to attend an LDS chapel for the first time. Lwazi says, “I would go to my uncle’s house for the weekend, and that is where I met the missionaries. Lwazi was baptized on March 18, 2007, two years after he first read the coverless Book of Mormon.
Lwazi finished his matric at the top of his class in 2007, and his parents expected him to enter college. As the oldest child in the family, he was expected to set an example. He wanted to serve a mission, but his family thought going on a mission would be an “opportunity wasted.” After struggling with his family’s disapproval, Lwazi capitulated and went to college. In 2009 he accepted a teaching position at the school where he graduated. He later worked in sales at two large corporate companies where he worked his way up to manager. 'The company had a vision to promote young black Africans and I was identified as one of those men,' said Lwazi, “They wouldn't understand that I wanted to quit because of a mission.'
During this difficult time he was only able to go to Church once or twice a month because of his work schedule, and it took three taxis just to get to his ward. He was surrounded by other temptations because of the type of people that he was living with in Durban. Worse, Lwazi was approaching age 24 and was running out of time. He said, 'I knew the Church cut-off date for missionaries was 25 years old and I needed to do something, but I had many responsibilities. If I resigned, I would disappoint a lot of people.”
However, shortly afterwards, the company started to take a different direction. Lwazi remembers, 'I think it was God that was preparing a way for me to quit. It was a good time for me to say that I didn’t think the company was going in the direction that would fit me. I quit my job in 2013 and began to spend my time preparing for my mission.”
All the same, he didn’t want to go to Church alone all the time. He approached his mother and expressed his feelings. She said that she had been thinking about going to Church herself. The next Sunday they all went as a family. Since then, his mother and four siblings have been baptized.
Elder Mchunu is now twenty-four years old, and left for his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints January 9th, 2014, to serve in Kenya. When asked how he felt about serving a mission he said, 'I have two feelings: first, I am very excited because I always wanted to go… I believe this will be the foundation for the rest of my life; and second, I am emotional that I'm able and worthy to pay my Heavenly Father back for His kindness to me.'
He also intends to offer hope to others who feel restricted because of their family’s beliefs or traditions. “I would tell them to continue doing right…and trust in God and His timing!”