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'Great nation,' an example in Africa

Ghana is land of peace, constitutional government; 'Pray that it may continue'

ACCRA, Ghana — President Gordon B. Hinckley asked Latter-day Saints in Ghana to pray that peace may continue in their land and righteousness in the hearts of their people.

"This is a great nation, this nation of Ghana," said President Hinckley. "It is a nation where there has been peace and constitutional government for a long time. This nation stands as an example to all of the nations of Africa for its stability and good government. Pray that it may continue."

Speaking at a member meeting Jan. 10 in the International Conference Center in Accra, President Hinckley called gathering with Latter-day Saints in Ghana "a great blessing and a great opportunity."

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve also spoke at the meeting, during which Elder Sheldon F. Child of the Seventy and Africa West Area president, conducted and offered remarks. Elder Child's counselors in the area presidency, Elder H. Ross Workman and R. Conrad Schultz, both of the Seventy, and Elder Child's wife, Sister Joan H. Child, bore brief testimonies.

During his remarks, President Hinckley said he and his wife, Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley, traveled to Ghana so he could dedicate the Accra Ghana Temple.

The temple is a "witness and testimony to all the world that we believe in the immortality of the human soul," he said.

"We know that as we live here, we shall live when we pass through the veil and that we shall go on as a part of the eternal purposes of our Lord in living and doing great and good things," said President Hinckley. "We know that through the atonement of Jesus Christ all men shall have the opportunity of the resurrection. If we obey the laws of God, we may go on to greater glory than anything we have ever dreamed of."

President Hinckley then directed his remarks to the young men and women in the congregation.

"You are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are sons and daughters of God. We sing the song, "I Am A Child of God." Do we realize what that means? That we have divinity within us and that it is our obligation to stand a little taller, be a little more godly, living up to the great inheritance which we have.

"To you young men and you young women, I want to throw out a challenge today to make something of your lives. Do not drift along the way so many people are trying to do these days. Do not get involved in evil things which only lead to sorrow and destruction, illness, even death. Rise to a higher level."

President Hinckley asked the congregation to do four things, which if done, he promised, would secure their place in the Church and help them grow in faith and prosperity.

  1. Attend your meetings. "You must meet together if you grow in faith," said President Hinckley. "It is your obligation to build and strengthen one another."

Some members may have to walk a long way, he said. "You may have difficulty getting there, but it will be important that you be there. That is why we build meetinghouses. We are building meetinghouses all over the world, 400 of them every year, in order that our saints can meet together."

  1. Read the scriptures. "Read the word of the Lord," said President Hinckley. "The Savior said, 'Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me' " (John 5:39).

President Hinckley told the congregation that if they want a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, they must read of His life in the New Testament and in the Book of Mormon.

3) Pay your tithing. "I believe that the Lord cannot bless people unless they are willing to show their obedience to his commandments," said President Hinckley.

"Now the Church has built these beautiful facilities here. These facilities have come out of the tithes of people all over the worldÉ. You do not pay your tithing to make the Church rich. The Church can get along without your tithing, but I believe with all my heart that you cannot get along without paying your tithing to the Lord."

  1. Say your prayers. "Get on your knees every morning and every night and pray to the Lord," said President Hinckley. "Pray with your families. It makes such a difference to pray to the Lord expressing your thanks and invoking his blessings upon you. I have a testimony of prayer. I know that prayers are heard and answered."

President Hinckley told the members that if they will do these four things — all expressions of their faith — that they will prosper. "Attend your meetings, read your scriptures, pay your tithing, say your prayers and you will be solid and faithful and strong in the Church."

During his remarks, Elder Nelson said it paid the Church honor to have tribal chiefs and tribal elders attend the member meeting.

He recounted a 1986 trip to Ghana when a chief thanked him for a copy of the Book of Mormon. "The chief said, 'You could have given me rubies, or pearls or jewels of great worth. Nothing would have been as important to me as additional word about the Lord Jesus Christ,' and he thanked me most sincerely."

Elder Nelson also spoke of the ancient law of tithing and asked members to concentrate on the things that really matter — building God's kingdom and establishing His righteousness for generations.

"Can you see the future of Ghana, the future of neighboring countries, all responding to the Lord as He gives the direction to pay tithing, to keep the commandments, to keep morally clean, to love your families, to be righteous," Elder Nelson said. "These blessings will come to you."

During brief remarks, Elder Child said the Lord has prepared the hearts of the African people to receive the gospel.

"As early as the 1950s, Church literature, pamphlets, tracts and a few copies of the Book of Mormon found their way to Ghana," said Elder Child. "Many of you read them and were converted. . . . They knew the Church was true, and they prayed and waited for the day when the Church could be established in this great land.

"Their prayers were answered. Twenty-five years ago last month, the first missionaries came to Ghana to establish the Church. Within one year, over 400 were baptized. Branches were organized and functioning. Today we have over 100,000 members in nine different nations, with 22 thriving stakes and 18 districts (in West Africa).

"Tomorrow, we will have the opportunity of being witness of the dedication of the temple here in Accra, Ghana."

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