The Young Single Adults throughout the Africa West Area gathered on June 18, 2023, to hear an Apostle of the Lord. Elder Gerrit W. Gong, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was on the last day of a 10-day visit of the Africa West Area, attending the gathering of saints in Ghana, Nigeria, and Cote d’Ivoire. He instructed the YSA’s to see themselves the way that God sees them, not in the way that the world sees them. He quoted Samuel 16:7 and said,” what the Lord is concerned with is clean hands and a pure heart. That is how he looks at us.” He also asked them to look at each other the way that God looks at them, without judging. “See others spiritually and they will all be beautiful to you,” he said.
Elder Gong began his tour on June 9. He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Susan L. Gong, as well as members of the Africa West Area presidency, Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, General Authority Seventy and President of the Africa West Area, and Sister Wendy Nielsen, Jörg Klebingat, General Authority Seventy and first counsellor, and Sister Julia Klebingat, and Elder Alfred Kyungu, General Authority Seventy and second counsellor, and Sister Lucie Kyungu.
The Christianborg Stake Center in Accra Ghana hosted an all-area youth devotional on 11 June. Youth from Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia gathered in their local meetinghouses to hear Elder Gong. Over 1500 youth attended the devotional in person. Sister Gong taught that the world is not perfect, and sometimes our lives are not perfect, but, by being obedient, we can, “build a world around us that will bring us closer to the celestial kingdom and create a sacred place for ourselves.” Elder Gong shared that the Children and Youth Program, For Strength of Youth, Preach My Gospel, and the Scriptures all provide ways for them to, “deepen your Gospel understanding and to develop testimonies of Jesus Christ that will last throughout your lives.”
The West African tour included a meeting with His Eminence Sheik Osman Nuhu Sharubut, the National Chief Imam, and Grand Mufti of the Republic of Ghana. This visit included a tour of the National Mosque of Ghana in Accra. Elder Gong and the Chief Imam shared their desires for unity and peace among countries and religions. “The basis of our inter-faith relations is simple, we do everything together as brothers and sisters, and we do it in love, without conflict.” said the Chief Imam. Elder Gong presented him with a stained-glass replica of the Tree of Life and noted that the tree is sustained by living water, which represents our united faith in God, and that the tree will be fruitful and bless the lives of many. He then told the Chief Imam that, “throughout your life, you have been a fruitful tree.”
Elder Gong also had the opportunity to meet with His Royal Highness Tackie Teiko Tsuru II, the Ga King, called Ga Mantse by his people. The Ga Mantse had visited Salt Lake and attended General Conference in April. He had invited Elder Gong to visit him in Ghana and welcomed him to his palace along with Elder Nielsen and Elder Klebingat. The King thanked Elder Gong and the other Church leaders for the collaboration on many projects in Ghana including donations to purchase equipment and supplies for a local children’s hospital and providing the funding for renovations and new building construction at an Accra primary school named for the King’s grandfather.
While on his tour, Elder Gong was able to visit the site of the new temple soon to start construction in Kumasi. In Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire he was able to visit the Temple that is very near completion. With Church leaders from Liberia and Sierra Leone, Elder Gong visited the Accra Ghana Temple. The Accra Temple is one of two operating temples in the Africa West Area, the other is in Aba, Nigeria. There are nine temples announced, under construction or operating in the Africa West Area. The Accra temple was dedicated in on 11 January 2004.
With members of the Area Presidency, Elder Gong instructed missionaries in Lagos Nigeria, Kumasi Ghana, Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Coast Ghana, and at the Missionary Training Center in Accra. In Accra, at the combined mission conference of the Ghana Accra and Ghana Accra West missions, Elder Gong urged the missionaries to remember three things; first, that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, second, that you fulfill prophecy every day, and third, that you stand in holy places. He told the missionaries that they were, “laying the foundation for a lifetime of being a disciple of Jesus Christ,” by serving a mission.
While in Accra, Elder Gong conducted devotionals for the Church employees of the Africa West Area, and the Temple workers in the Accra Ghana Temple. During the devotionals he expressed his love, acknowledging the great sacrifices that Church employees and temple workers make. “Please do not become discouraged in your work,” he taught the employees. “No one loves you more and wants to help you more than the Lord, and he looks at each one of us with infinite love and infinite patience.”
Priesthood Leadership meetings were held in Lagos Nigera and Accra Ghana. Elder Gong instructed leaders from the Owerri, Port Harcourt, Lagos, and Enugu areas of Nigeria while in Lagos. In Accra he met with priesthood leaders from Sierra Leone and Liberia.
A highlight of Elder and Sister Gong’s visit to West Africa was a visit to Cape Coast Ghana, where the Church was first established in West Africa. They visited several historic sites including the beach where the first members of the Church in Ghana were baptized.
Elder and Sister Gong had the opportunity to attend Sacrament meeting both Sunday’s that they were in West Africa. They attended the Christiansborg ward, and a combined meeting of the Kaneshie and Mateheko wards at the Kaneshie Stake Center. On both occasions the members had the privilege of hearing from Elder and Sister Gong. While in Kaneshie Elder Gong concluded his remarks by offering an apostolic blessing to the members attending as well as all West Africa. “I bless you to feel the peace of the Lord, his divine peace. In all your difficulties and trials be not troubled, be not afraid. Feel the Lord’s peace.”
During the 10-day visit, Elder and Sister Gong ministered in Ghana, Nigeria, and Cote d’Ivoire.