Additional Resource

Testimony of Evelyn Jepkemei

NOTE: Evelyn Jepkemei is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nairobi, Kenya.

Early 2004 marked the beginning of a new life for me. In February, a friend invited my family to a party to celebrate her son’s birthday. My husband was unable to attend, but the kids and I attended the party. We met many people and made friends, including a gentleman who had just moved to Kenya from Utah and wanted to know more about Kenya. I invited him for dinner, and he came with his son.

When we offered coffee after dinner, they declined, citing religious reasons. I was curious but did not want to pry. I later learned from a friend that my guest was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Up until then, all I knew about the Church was negative and really too little. However, I could not understand how such a smart lawyer could fall for a false religion.

We continued to communicate, and I met members of his family who were completely devoted to the Church and were very warm people. It bothered me because I knew we can “know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). These people were wonderful and had an inner glow that could not be consistent with false religion. My friend spoke to me about the principles of the gospel, and I could see he lived it. He worked as an anti-corruption advisor and often held civic education campaigns, which I attended whenever my schedule permitted. He quoted scriptures often in the course of his work.

Having trained as an educator, I sometimes evaluate curriculum support materials for our national curriculum. I specialize in religion, so I was interested in what my Mormon friend had to say about certain things. He taught me so much about the Church, and I never really found any of the teaching offensive, as I had been told it would be. I never read the Book of Mormon because I feared it might contain controversies that would come between me and my friend, but I enjoyed listening to him teach.

One Monday morning in July 2004, I had an assignment to evaluate a certain version of the Bible and recommend if it would be useful for schools (in Kenya, religious education is part of the national school curriculum). As I read commentaries on various verses, I found some offensive interpretations, and so I called up my Mormon friend just to share my thoughts about the commentary with him.

After a lengthy discussion, I was prompted to ask him why his theology and mine agreed even though I was not a Mormon. He told me, “Evelyn you are a Mormon, because I know you seek the truth; you just don’t realize it.” As soon as he said that, I felt a burning in my chest, I could not breathe, and I did not understand anything I was experiencing. He said it was okay and that it was the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the truth to me. It was the most wonderful feeling; I did not want it to end.

After that incident I went home and pulled out the Book of Mormon. As I read it, I knew it was true; my heart was at peace. I can’t explain the feeling. I knew that Joseph Smith was God’s prophet, and I know beyond doubt that the Church is true. Weeks later the missionaries taught me, and I went into the waters of baptism on 4 September 2004.

I wanted to experience what my friend and his family had. As they lived the gospel, they had an inner glow that made anyone who knew them want to know what they had. They became a wonderful example to me and really, without trying to convert me, led me to the true gospel.

After baptism, I had to relinquish positions in the church where I was active. I lost all my friends, and that really hurt. My husband and my parents do not approve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My children each obtained a testimony and are active in the Church, although they have not yet received their father’s consent to be baptized.

The callings I received in the Church helped me learn more about the Church. Even though I did not know much at first, I learned a lot from the sisters in Relief Society and the entire Church program. The Church has become a vital part of my life and has answered important questions regarding my life. It has healed scars that I had in my life before. I now know why I’m here, and that fuels my determination to do my best and live the gospel “though the world may deride” (quotation from Latter-day Saint hymnal).

My work means more to me now than just a means to earn a living. I do it to please my Heavenly Father. The gospel has changed the way I relate to others for the better. Though I have had and still have persecution, I have joy that never leaves me. The love I receive from my stake and ward leaders is more than riches, for they have loved with the love of the Savior.

My membership in the Church means I am on the path to my eternal home. Without it I am nothing. It has blessed my family, especially my children, and for that I’m grateful. I try to be an example to others just like my friend from Utah was to me.

We all can shine the light of Christ by the way we live, even before we speak to our neighbors. By our fruits they will know we are followers of Jesus Christ.

Sister Evelyn Jepkemei

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.