An Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is traveling to several countries in West Africa to meet with government, Church and other religious leaders.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles started his in-person ministry in Nigeria, where he shared messages of peace and love that are central to the gospel of Jesus Christ
Elder Christofferson traveled to Abuja for a meeting with Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo, the vice president of Nigeria, on Monday at the Nigerian Presidential Complex.
“You’ve got to appreciate a meeting that begins and ends with prayer,” said Elder Christofferson. “He couldn’t have been more gracious to receive us, and we talked about some of the history of the Church, especially in Nigeria, mentioning the growth that we’ve seen since [the Church was organized in] 1978.”
“I appreciate the social service works that the Church is doing in the area of clean water, immunization and several other things. For faith-based organizations, it is an article of faith that you must contribute to the development of society,” said Vice President Osinbajo.
Elder Christofferson was joined by 20 local Church leaders and others at a meeting with the Nigerian vice president, which was covered by national Nigerian media.
“In that short time, we emphasized the humanitarian work we’ve done here, our efforts to make sure that our people are among the best citizens of the nation in their efforts to promote education, self-reliance, strong families,” said Elder Christofferson.
The Church’s ongoing humanitarian efforts in Nigeria focus on vision, clean water and neonatal care.
Vice President Osinbajo expressed interest in the Church’s higher education system, including Brigham Young University. Elder Christofferson emphasized the success of the Church-sponsored BYU–Pathway Worldwide, which has more than 5,000 students enrolled in Nigeria since the program was introduced in the country about five years ago.
“I talked to him a little bit about added or additional visas for missionaries to come here from other countries outside of the Economic Community of West African States,” the senior Church leader added.
Elder Christofferson said the outreach meetings provide an opportunity for the government leaders to “become better acquainted with us … and we can understand what their priorities are and where we can contribute.”
Elder Christofferson is joined on the ministry by his wife, Kathy; Elder S. Mark Palmer of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Elder Hugo E. Martinez, Elder Larry S. Kacher and Elder Jörg Klebingat of the Africa West Area Presidency.
Elder Christofferson and the other senior leaders offered instruction to stake, district and mission presidents over the weekend in Lagos and Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
It has been two years since an Apostle has visited the region. Elder Neil L. Andersen ministered in West Africa before the pandemic began.
The Church of Jesus Christ has a large presence in Nigeria. The faith was established over four decades ago in Nigeria, home to about 210,000 Latter-day Saints in more than 700 congregations.
The senior Church leader hopes to share love and gratitude to those who are currently serving in West Africa, to better understand the needs of those who live and serve here, and to share messages that allow for the Lord’s Church to be united throughout the world.
The Church has operating temples in the Africa West Area in Accra, Ghana, and Aba, Nigeria. A temple is under construction in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and ground will be broken in March on a temple in Sierra Leone. Temples have also been announced in Lagos, Nigeria; Benin City, Nigeria; Kumasi, Ghana; and Monrovia, Liberia.