I got to know of the Church in 1993 through a classmate, Brother Chikendu Mugabe Amadi, while a law student at Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) Port Harcourt Nigeria. I visited with him and saw the book ‘Jesus the Christ’ by Elder James E. Talmage. I read a portion of the book titled ‘Christ’s Tabernacle in the Flesh’. I was touched by the gospel insights in the book and asked where I could get one, he then told me about the Church that he joined in 1987 with his kinsman Japhet Okpara.
What I had read about Jesus Christ was in my mind and I asked Bro. Amadi more about the Church. I was desirous to find answers to questions I had as a young man. I eventually arrived at the nearest meetinghouse, the Port Harcourt 3rd Ward located close to the University entrance which was also within walking distance from my hall of residence. I arrived late and sat at the Sunday School class which was the first meeting of the day, as was the pattern then. A few moments later I was invited by a big man [whom I later knew as Bishop Kalu I. Kalu], and taken to the Investigators class. Bishop Kalu later gave me a copy of the Ensign magazine, and specifically referred me to a talk by Elder Russel Nelson, attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions, I read the story and it changed my attitude about marriage and family as he brought with him primary children who sang ‘I am a child of God’ in the meeting.
In the investigators class, I was taught about the Prophet Joseph Smith and was asked if I have heard about him, the name seemed familiar but I could not recollect where I have come across it. But now I know that it was the Spirit telling me about the Prophet Joseph Smith
Bishop Kalu was very encouraging and a source of strength and inspiration, he is one person that remains my mentor to date. I love him, a great Gospel teacher, I sincerely wanted to teach the Restored Gospel with a testimony like that of Bishop Kalu. I eventually got baptized on 26th December 1993 in the natural water behind the Ogbonabali Ward meetinghouse building and confirmed a member of the Church in the Meetinghouse. The following Sunday, I was ordained a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood during quorum class. And during sacrament meeting, I was asked to bless the sacrament. I was asked to repeat prayer words correctly by the bishop. On this Sunday, I went to Church with my classmate Bro. Amadi after waiting for him in his house for us to go to Church together because I have told him about my baptism and I was delighted he came back to Church.
The message of the Restored Gospel appealed to my heart, though born Anglican to humble parents, and as the tradition of the Anglican Church was given infant baptism with my other siblings in 1973. The Book of Mormon changed all that as the copy I was given in the investigators class and with marked portions to read, I tried my best in reading it not with a desire to obtain a testimony, but with my student legal mind. I was searching for faults because nothing compares to my Holy Bible. I had been doing critical Bible study before coming to the Church. I finished the Book of Mormon in no time and diverted my love for secular books to love of scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon.
Bishop Kalu, I believe used his gift of discernment of the spirit and God blessed me through him, as the Sunday after my ordination, I was sustained as a Sunday School Teacher. I was also called as a Seminary Teacher, and I enrolled in the Institute of Religion class, while I taught the Old Testament in Seminary class, I studied the Book of Mormon in the Institute Class. This connection to the scriptures changed my life as that was the beginning of a lifelong love for the Standard works of the Church and other writings, that I have accumulated over the years a large library of Church Literatures and scriptures. I even went on to teach Institute Classes for years even as a Stake President.
PIONEERING THE CHURCH IN OMOKU, MY HOMELAND.
While I was in Lagos, Nigeria, where I did my National Youth Service I received the strong feeling that I had a mission to establish the Church in my hometown, this feeling has been confirmed severally by the Spirit of God. I felt inspired and decided to fulfill the Mission. I began with my wife who was not a member of the Church, and she with her unique testimony joined the Church, I baptized her like I did for all our five children.
We went to Church in Port Harcourt from Omoku, our hometown. It was about two-hour drive. We did this every Sunday until sometime in 2001when the Port Harcourt West Stake Presidency authorized me and family to stay back and worship in Omoku under the supervision of Rumueme Ward. I was also informed of some members of the Church who resided in our town and surrounding towns. As a family, we looked for these persons and eventually found them, two of whom were old Schoolmates at the University. We started worshipping in my one-room apartment and later moved into 3 rooms flat in the City center where on the 9th of January, 2005, the Church was officially organized with me as the first Branch President, and my wife, first Counsellor in the Relief Society.
Before our official Organization on the 9th of January 2005, we carried out missionary work, and ward missionaries will come and prepare them and baptize them. I did not serve a full-time mission and had no idea of the program until I had passed the missionary age. Notwithstanding, I learned and taught the missionary lessons for over three years before the organization of the Church in my homeland, from my six lessons investigator’s pamphlets coupled with my Seminary and Institute manuals and experience as a High Counsellor briefly before my call as a Branch President.
The Church moved to its present rented building at 45 Obor Road, Omoku, in June 2005. The Stake Presidency in Collaboration with the then Mission President, President Adams of Port Harcourt Mission, made arrangement for the full-time missionaries attached to Emuoha Ward to be coming to Omoku on Thursdays and stayed in my home and I will take them back to their base at Emuoha on Tuesdays. These Missionaries were very helpful to us, we learned missionary skills from them and they inspired our Children, Elders Kofi, Moriba and others were among these early Missionaries sent to us before we had our official full-time missionaries, the first companions being Elders Tandoh from Ghana and Funaki from Tonga. All these Missionaries taught us the Gospel of restoration and eternal family, they inspired us tremendously and helped to inspire our infant children to love missionary work.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ means everything to me and my family, they are true and life-changing when we apply every word therein with the required faith and spirit. As a branch President in a new place and a new doctrine, it naturally imposed a new life on me, if my tribe's people will accept it. They must see the change for me to believe and follow. This is a religion with everlasting promise, hope, and blessing. I tried to teach as I learn before and after my calling as a Branch President. By the time we started on 9th January 2005 we heard 36 members on record with 19 active, by the time I was called as a Stake President on the 19th November 2006, we were 167 Omoku ward members on record, with over 125 active members.
The big one came, the Aba Nigeria Temple dedication of 7th August 2005 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, our family of 5 then, me, wife, Justina, and Children, [Joy, Daniel, and Gabriel] were overjoyed, we saw the Lord’s prophets. This was the 2nd time I will be seeing the Lord’s Prophet, the first during his first visit to Nigeria in 1998 at the Civic Centre, Port Harcourt. After the dedication, we got sealed as a family on 22nd September 2005 and our children, Joy, Daniel and Gabriel were sealed to us, and we heard the privilege of having John and Joseph born in the covenant. This new experience meant everything to us because of the temple Covenants and teachings, the purpose of life became clearer both spiritual and temporal.
I began to serve as an ordinance worker in the Temple after being set apart by the Temple President Kirk on the encouragement of Elder Crossling, a Couple Missionary attached to Owerri Stake. I have since enjoyed spiritual experiences that cannot be written here till date.
On the 19th November 2006 the Lord’s Prophet sent President Lowell M. Snow to reorganize Port Harcourt West Stake following the relocation of President Obinna, and I was called by the Lord as Stake President and I served in that calling for seven years, I courageously soldiered the edifying and purifying responsibility of bearing the priesthood keys to preside in that stake. It was edifying associating with the Lord anointed servants, President Russell Nelson, Elders Lowell Snow, Craig Cardon, Joseph Sitati, John Dickson, Christopher Golden, Legrand Curtis, Olukanni Adeshina, Richard Ahadje, Declan Madu and others with their wonderful spouses as well as Mission Presidents. It was purifying, alluding to miracles received for self, family, stake members, community, and country. It was and remained unquantifiable blessings.
The Church grew, and the Lord built our faith in Him, and following the first presidency approval, it was my task on the 4th April 2010, to announce that Omoku has being given a Ward status. My life is family, Church, and Community.