News Release

Elder Christofferson Meets Religious Leaders in Central Africa

Ministry includes humanitarian outreach in Kinshasa

“Marriage and families are the foundation of society. If we have strong families, we have a strong nation,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a visit to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Downloadable SOTs B-roll

Elder Christofferson, his wife, Kathy, and other senior Church leaders traveled to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in November to meet with interfaith leaders, visit humanitarian sites and minister to local members.

Latter-day Saints in this growing Central African country have been waiting for several years for an Apostle to visit the capital of Kinshasa.

The Apostle said he came to Kinshasa to learn. “I was anxious to see more of what the Church is in this area and to edify and strengthen the Saints to whatever extent was possible.”

Elder Christofferson was joined by Bishop Gérald Caussé of the Presiding Bishopric and his wife, Valérie; Elder S. Mark Palmer, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Jacqueline; and Elder Thierry K. Mutombo of the Africa Central Area Presidency and his wife, Nathalie, who are both natives of Kinshasa.

Interfaith Meeting

Elder Christofferson met with members of the National Council of Religions for Peace in Kinshasa on Friday, November 11, 2022.

“We’re anxious to collaborate with you and in making sure that the legal framework supports marriage,” the senior leader told the gathering of faith leaders in the DRC.

“There is, even in the law, the tradition of bride price or dowry, where families can set a price for any young man who wants to marry their daughter. And sometimes it’s just absolutely prohibitive,” Elder Christofferson explained.

“We are so grateful to meet with leaders of the Church today,” said Sheikh Abdallah Mangala, a legal representative for the Islamic community in the Congo. “We acknowledge and applaud your great efforts to work in collaboration with the interfaith community.”

Sheikh Abdallah continued, “We congratulate you on your work to strengthen marriage and family in the DRC and to help the most vulnerable. We look forward to working together on these noble projects.”

Humanitarian Projects

On Friday, Elder Christofferson and Bishop Caussé visited Saint Joseph Hospital in Kinshasa. The Church of Jesus Christ has assisted the Catholic organization with building the hospital and has also worked with Saint Joseph on some prior projects for vision, neonatal resuscitation training and clean water. Medical equipment was also provided. In addition, the Church has collaborated with the hospital to drill a well and reservoir and provide an electric pump, tower tank and distribution.

Later in the day, Bishop Caussé traveled to Lycée Matonge secondary school in Kinshasa, damaged by flooding a few months ago. The Church has assisted in rebuilding the school, which trains hundreds of girls every year.

“We put a retention wall, and we built new classrooms, and we also delivered equipment for the school,” the presiding bishop reported. “We have desks for the students. We also provided sewing machines. And it was so wonderful to be here and to see the students and how very committed they were to their studies and how this new infrastructure of this new facility is blessing their lives.”

Ministering in the Congo

Elder Christofferson presided at a training meeting for local leadership on Saturday in a meetinghouse near the Kinshasa temple. In the afternoon, the senior leaders gathered with missionaries who are all from the Congo and are serving in the Kinshasa West mission.

“They have close to 160 missionaries at this point, and they’ll soon be well over 200 with the ones coming in because they’re serving in this nation, coming out of the Congo in growing numbers,” Elder Christofferson said. “They are alive and vibrant, and they will be the strength of the Church in years to come."

Special Church meetings were held on Sunday morning. The Apostle also addressed Latter-day Saint youth and young adults in Kinshasa.

“It’s hard to find the words to describe it so vibrant, so full of life, so exciting just to see them and to feel the energy that they bring,” Elder Christofferson remarked.

“I will do more scripture studies. I’ll pray a lot and also listen to the voice of the Holy Ghost. … [Elder Christofferson] invited us to do so, and I’m willing to do it,” said Jacques Kipoy, 26, a high school computer science teacher who came to the special Sunday meeting in the Kinshasa Democratic Republic of the Congo Binza Stake.

Fatuma Banonja, 23, said her heart was touched by Elder Christofferson’s “invitation to study the Book of Mormon every day and to put our heart in Jesus Christ and to know that Jesus Christ is our shepherd.”

“I felt like he was talking to me,” described Jonathan Ngoyi, 27, who said it has been difficult to find the time to study the scriptures since he returned home from his mission. “He promised us that if we study, if we keep studying scriptures, we will be able to understand and hear the voice of the Lord via the Holy Ghost.”

Ngoyi is one of thousands of young adults in Africa who is a BYU Pathway Worldwide student. He studies applied technology. Nana Kipoy, 22, works at an international school in Kinshasa and is also a BYU Pathway student.

“I learned how we can help others to know the gospel and also how we can help them to understand the plan of salvation, … how we can help them to understand the mission of Joseph Smith and … recognize the voice of the Lord by reading the scriptures,” explained Ngoyi.

There are about 90,000 Latter-day Saints in more than 250 congregations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Across the Congo River, a temple has also been announced in Brazzaville in the neighboring country of the Republic of the Congo.

Kinshasa is home to the Congo’s first temple, which was dedicated in 2019. Ground was broken for another temple in Lubumbashi in August. A third temple will be built in Kananga

The Christoffersons have been to Lubumbashi, but this was their first visit to Kinshasa.

“We see a vibrant church, a rapidly growing church; we see a stable church and great opportunities for the future,” Elder Christofferson concluded. “Members are making individual contributions, but as a church, we’re beginning to be a real force for good in this area.”

Elder Christofferson continues his ministry in Africa in Kenya and Ethiopia. He had hoped to travel to Uganda, but meetings with Church leaders and missionaries will be held virtually due to an Ebola outbreak. His travels will also take him to India this month.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.