On 24 June 2023, the Makurdi Nigeria District of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held a baptismal service. Seventy-three individuals were baptized, the result of the combined efforts of a District Presidency, the full-time missionaries of the Nigeria Enugu Mission, and members who were anxiously engaged in sharing the gospel with their friends and neighbors.
Makurdi is the Capitol of the Benue State, located in Central Nigeria. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established here in 2001 and now has five branches.
The work began two months earlier. In April, a District Conference was held in Makurdi and over a thousand individuals were in attendance, a large number of them not members of the Church. The full-time missionaries assigned to the District were overwhelmed with the number of individuals interested in learning more about the Church. The conference also saw the reorganization of the District Presidency.
The new Presidency swung into action immediately by calling for a leadership council to be held the following week to discuss missionary work in the face of this substantial number of individuals investigating the Church. The council determined where they would focus their efforts and set goals for each of the branches.
The leadership council formed the ‘Makurdi District Member Missionaries’ with five members drawn from each of the five branches in the District. Brother Rhodes Dondoan was called as the District Mission Leader, and he worked with the branches to report progress and challenges to the District President King Kpochi. The District leadership then collaborated closely with President Hesbon Usi, of the Nigeria Enugu Mission, to coordinate their efforts with the full-time missionaries.
The member missionaries met regularly with the full-time missionaries to determine how to support one another. The members proved to be effective partners with the full-time missionaries as they were able to translate the lessons taught into local dialects for easier understanding. President Usi recognized the dedication of the members of the District and continued to provide additional missionary support and encouragement.
With great dedication and sacrifice, the work moved forward. Sister Lovelyn Kennedy, the District Relief Society President, deferred a scheduled surgery to be part of the work, and never missed an opportunity to go out with the missionaries. Brother Rhodes encouraged members to go out daily and made himself available to cover when there was a language barrier.
The results of their efforts were recognized two months later. In June, 73 individuals who had been taught and fellowshipped, committed to baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Great miracles were recorded although the adversary fought back,” said Sister Iniembe Hembadoon Linda of the Makurdi District. “We overcame all our challenges by the power of the Holy Ghost, who actually led this great work.”