Every year, as congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints grow in different areas, several dozen new stakes (groups of congregations similar to dioceses) are organized around the world.
As we reported, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles organized the 3,000th worldwide stake of the Church in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in December 2012. The stake is the first in the West African nation and consists of eight congregations (around 3,000 members).
In the video below, Elder Holland reflects on the organization of the new stake, the role of the Church in Sierra Leone and the resilience of the members there.
“So much is happening that there seems to be this momentum, and it really seems to be featuring now the African moment, in a sense,” Elder Holland says.
The past decade has been one of rebuilding in Sierra Leone, following the end of the country’s civil war. Elder Holland says the Church has been a great source of peace for members there; many endured extreme hardships during the war.
Abibu Charles is part of the new stake’s leadership and said the past year has brought incredible blessings for his country. “Ten years back, I never thought this would have happened,” he said. “The Church is growing rapidly. Things are happening.”
Elder Holland said the people of Sierra Leone have a strong desire to serve others and a wonderful perspective on life.
“If ever you wanted an object lesson that your happiness doesn't depend on your material wealth, you'd go to Africa,” he said. “These are happy, blessed, joyful people, and in many cases they have almost nothing.”