Elder Gong Urges Youth in Africa West Area to 'Take Care of Each Other'


On June 11, 2023, Elder Gerrit W. Gong, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, met with youth throughout the Africa West Area, and offered a message of hope and encouragement to the future leaders of Africa.  The meeting was held at the Christianborg Stake Center in Accra Ghana with over 1000 local youth attending.  It was also broadcast throughout the Africa West Area to Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, Benin, Togo, the Gambia, and other parts of Ghana.


“This is what I know to be true, the only way we can be truly happy and fulfilled is if we follow the commandment to love God and love our fellow man,” Elder Gong said. “We hope that you will love one another, and that you will take care of each other,” he added.  He shared that the Children and Youth Program of the Church helps us all to feel as though we belong and are part of something bigger.

Elder Gong was joined in Accra by his wife, Sister Susan Gong, and Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, a General Authority Seventy and the President of the Africa West Area, and his wife Sister Wendy Nielsen.  Elder and Sister Nielsen opened the meeting by talking about their grandkids. “I know everything about my grandkids, what’s important to them, and what they struggle with,” said Sister Nielsen and added that,” this is how your Heavenly Father knows you, he knows your name, your struggles, and your joys, and he wants you home with him.  You are not ever forgotten, even the very small details of your life are known to your Heavenly Father.”

Elder Nielsen discussed the power of friendship with the gathered youth.  “The Savior called all who obeyed his commandments his friends,” he said. “I say to you that ye are leaders, because you will lead the Church in Africa, and leaders find friends, and help them and work with them.  I urge you to be the friend that helps others to do what is right.”

Sister Gong shared that the world is not a perfect place and that we are not perfect people, but “through the love of Jesus Christ, and by obedience to the two great commandments, love God and love your neighbor, we can build a world around us that brings us closer to the celestial kingdom. We can create a sacred place for ourselves.”


“The way, the truth, and the light is Jesus Christ” stated Elder Gong to begin his remarks.  He said that one of the best ways for youth to feel His guiding light is by utilizing the resources the Church has developed for the youth.  He 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.”

A panel of youth from the Accra area assisted Elder and Sister Gong in discussing how to become closer to Christ.  The panel shared their personal stories of repentance, prayer, relying on the Holy Ghost, and keeping the sabbath day holy.  “When you live a life in Christ, you will have a happy life,” said one of the panelists.  Another noted that “the Savior knows all our trials and understands us. When we are close to Him, we are happy and fulfilled.” 

Elder Gong concluded by encouraging the youth to be goal setters.  “Set goals that will help you be better in all aspects of your life,” he counseled.  The panelists shared their unified desire to serve full-time missions and shared their personal goals for preparing themselves to serve the Lord. Attending seminary, studying the scriptures, praying more earnestly, and applying the atonement through repentance were some of the goals that will help them in their desires to serve.


“The things that the Apostle taught today are true!” said George, a youth from the Congo Town 2nd Ward in Liberia.  Yolanda, from the Port Harcourt North Stake in Nigeria, shared that “I’m grateful to learn about the Children and Youth personal development goals.  I want to attend seminary and increase my scripture reading.”  Emmanuel, from the East Tanokrom Ward in Takoradi Ghana, said that “I am so grateful to hear from an Apostle. He knows the needs of youth and has helped us to be able to set goals.”

The Youth Devotional is part of Elder and Sister Gong’s visit to the Africa West Area, which includes meeting with members, missionaries, and Church leaders in Ghana, Nigeria, and Cote d’Ivoire.