There remain, however, areas of the world where our influence is limited and where we are not allowed to share the gospel freely. As did President Spencer W. Kimball over 32 years ago, I urge you to pray for the opening of those areas, that we might share with them the joy of the gspel. As we prayed then in response to President Kimball’s pleadings, we saw miracles unfold as country after country, formerly closed to the Church, was opened. Such will transpire again as we pray with faith.
These areas of the world are being prepared now for the Gospel to go forth to them. I urge those reading this blog and sympathetic to the Church to pray for those areas to open to missionary work. In this post, I wish to discuss the extent of the Church's presence in the Middle East and predominately Muslim countries.
Last Summer the Church reorganized two of the areas in Europe into one area and created the Middle East Africa North area. According to the Deseret News 2009 Church Almanac, this area had about 2,800 members organized into one stake and two districts at the end of 2007. The stake is the Manama Bahrain Stake and one of the districts is in Israel. I do not know exactly where the second district is, but I suspect it is in Jordan. To get information about exact meeting times and locations for the congregations in this region, contact the Middle East Africa North Area Desk at 1-801-240-2146.
Below is a list of countries in which there are congregations of the Church. These congregations are almost, if not entirely, made up of members from foreign countries, specifically the United States, Europe and the Philippines.
United Arab of Emirates
Currently the Church is growing rapidly in the United Arab of Emirates where, just a couple years ago, there was only one congregation. Now there are four I believe. There are also several congregations in Saudi Arabia and branches or groups in Yemen, Egypt, and Morocco. There are branches or groups for those in the military in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the mid-1970s a mission operated in Iran for a few years. Most of the few converts fled to other countries.
Asia and Europe East Areas
Many of the predominately Muslim countries in Asia and Europe have a smaller LDS presence than in the Middle East. There are members of the Church, both natives and foreigners, which meet in the name of the Church in Kazakhstan in a couple cities and in a group in Kyrgyzstan. A couple years ago a news article about the Church in Eastern Europe reported that a congregation existed in the capital of Tajikistan. A branch or group for those in the US military operates in Uzbekistan. Other than what I wrote above, this appears to be the limit of the Church's presence in Central Asia.
Pakistan is probably the Muslim country with the strongest LDS presence. There are two districts in the country and probably somewhere around 2,000 members and 10-20 branches. Pakistan is part of the India New Delhi Mission and only native Pakistani missionaries serve in the country. There are Church built meetinghouses and strong activity among members. Many of the members live in Christian communities. There is also a branch of the Church in Bangladesh, where the first baptism in that country recently took place.
In Europe, the Church does have a small presence in the predominately Muslim country of Kosovo where the first baptism occurred in the past year or two. Members meet in at least two locations: Pristina and Gjakovë. Albania has its own mission and close to 2,000 members in almost a dozen congregations. I have not been able to find any Church presence in Azerbaijan. In Turkey, the Church has four branches and recently began translating General Conference into the Turkish language.