Monday, July 17, 2017

First LDS Branch Created in Mali

I have previously posted about the Church's recent efforts to establish an official presence in the West African nation of Mali. The first official branch in Mali was organized on July 9th and not on June 26th as I originally reported. The Bamako Branch was organized under the administration of the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission. Local members report that the first branch president is not a Malian native, but rather an African from another West African country. Currently, indicates that only Bamako and northern, eastern, and southern areas within approximately 100 kilometers of Bamako are within the boundaries of the Bamako Branch and the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission. Otherwise, the rest of Mali remains under the administration of the Africa West Area Branch. A member group also operates to the immediate southeast of Bamako in Mountougoula. Local members report that preparations are underway for the assignment of the first missionaries in the near future.

Mali is the third West African country to have its first LDS branch organized during the past 18 months. The Church organized its first branch in Senegal in mid-2016 and in Guinea in June 2017.


Mike said...

MainTour said...

Just heard from friend in another church going out to Ethiopia where they dig wells on their church properties and give the water away for free. They gain many converts from people coming for the free water. Does the LDS Church have anything similar in Africa?

James said...

MainTour, as one who was involved with and connected to Welfare Services (as part of my part-time mission), I can answer that question. The Church has goodwill ambassadors and those who volunteer their time to humanitarian and welfare projects all around the world. During the two years I served as a Humanitarian Missionary (from 2006-2008), we heard of several opportunities like that. I also know that my dentist and his family and my physical therapist and his family (both of whom live within Utah County) have gone on such goodwill missions to build homes, dig wells, and so on. They have thus represented the Church in several nations. So the Humanitarian and Welfare arm of the Church is more comprehensive and wide-spread than most people realize. While my health has never allowed me to be involved in that kind of goodwill work in other nations, it happens all the time. At various times on the bulletin boards the wards and stakes of the Church display, such opportunities are listed. Often, such opportunities afford other countries the chance to become familiar with Church members involved in such work even if the Church may not be allowed to actively proselytize in such nations. And projects like that have opened doors. I would urge any of you who are able to to take advantage of such opportunities. I wish I were in a position to do so. I have heard from several who have, and all say it is an experience they will never forget and want to be involved with again. Does that answer your question? I hope so. Thanks.

Bryan Baird said...

I think in a couple years or so the entire continent of Africa could reach 2,000 wards and branches.

James said...

Bryan, the Church in Africa is growing well. FWIW, the Wikipedia page on LDS statistics worldwide notes that Africa has 1,849 congregations (seems to be a current number). The LDS Newsroom Statistical profile for Africa notes 1,792 congregations as of the end of 2016. That suggests that this year alone, Africa has had a net gain of 57 congregations. If we consider that there have been 197 days thus far this year out of the 365, that means that roughly 54% of this year has passed, which means that we have roughly 46% of the year left. Since Africa has seen a net increase of 1.06 congregations for every percent of this year (with 1% of the year being equivalent to 3.65 days), it appears that may work out to around .29 Church units have been created each day of the year. Continuing to run the numbers, with 168 days left this year, if the pattern continues, there may be a minimum of 49 additional units created prior to the end of this year. That would put the year-end total at somewhere around 1,898 congregations in Africa, with a net gain of 106 for the year. Of course, that is without factoring in missionary work, and assuming my math is correct (which has been doubtful lately). If these calculations are anywhere near correct, then only 102 congregations would need to be created by the end of 2018 to reach that 2,000 congregation mark. Seems very doable. I have often felt that the Lord's hand has been over Africa particularly, and that has been verified by the unprecedented growth there. As previously noted, Africa now has 3 temples in operation, with 2 more under construction, and 3 others having been announced within the last five General Conferences. Once those 5 new temples are dedicated, that will more than double the number of African temples in operation. It is not hard to believe that several more African temples are on the list of 85+ that are being considered for an official announcement within the next 15 years. All of this points to the idea that the Lord is hastening the work in Africa. As one whose mother grew up in that nation, I can easily attest to the humility and receptivity of the African people to the gospel, especially after the priesthood restrictions were lifted almost 40 years ago. Africa is a nation which has seen unprecedented and significant growth over the last several years. While political barriers and ridiculous restrictions exist in some African nation, the Lord is moving His work forward, and the African Saints have seen their faith and prayers rewarded in a most significant way. Just wanted to share those thoughts, for what they are worth.

James said...

Just also wanted to note that I have been blogging a lot lately, particularly regarding temple developments. Here is a link, for any interested in these new posts. Still ironing out the issue preventing people from commenting, but I am working on it. Enjoy!

John Pack Lambert said...

Arizona, Hawaii and Texas all just aaw new wards. Port Harcourt Nigeria just got three new branches.

James said...

That was awesome to see, John! Thanks. It will be interesting to see where current Church growth trends and all the relevant factors take the Church in terms of growth in certain world areas. I know right now the Church is growing well in Africa and South America, but seems to be stagnating somewhat in the US. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the new trend will be to have more new temples announced for nations outside the US and Canada than within it. And for me, the temples on my list for the immediate future reflect that idea. I have no doubt that temples will continue to rise in the "Mormon corridor" as they are needed, but perhaps the temples dedicated recently elsewhere in the US, along with temples scheduled for a renovation that may involve an expansion, will serve the rest of the nation better than new temples. Time will tell whether or not these theories (and they are only theories) prove correct.

coachodeeps said...

continent not nation

James said...

Thanks, coach. I misspoke. I do that a lot when referring to Africa.

Alex said...

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Eduardo Clinch said...

Guinea has maybe the best growth potential of the 3.

Christopher Nicholson said...

Why is that?

James said...

Maybe the observed trends. To briefly change the subject, I wanted to note that I have been able to resolve the issue many people had reported with their ability to comment on my blog. If anyone is wanting to look over my latest posts and offer any feedback, please feel free. Thanks.

James said...

But in getting back on the subject of Guinea, it appears that this nation has had significant growth thus far in 2017. There is still just the one branch, but the resources written by Mat and David about Guinea point to the notion that Guinea may experience substantial growth now that the one branch has taken root. That is not a very complete answer, but that's what I found as I researched the question. Hope it helps.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Mali has a lot of terrorist/political issues, plus is at least 90 percent Muslim. Senegal, while more stable, is even more Muslim.
Guinea-Conakry is less predominatly Muslim, more like Sierra Leone. I will check that stat after posting. I have higher hopes for Guinea-Bissau, too.

L. Chris Jones said...

We also have Yeah Samake as a great member and Malian leader. He did great work as mayor of his community and now as an ambassador in India.

John Pack Lambert said...

Brother Samake is key to Mali. Another factor is that we need to consider overall popukation size. Lastly the conversion of Muslims does happen. In the case of Sierra Leone a man who had been the leader of over 1 million Muslims there emigrated to New York City and joined the LDS Church there.

Another factor is that in some ethnic groups to leave Islam is equated with abandoning your ethnicity. In others not so much so. Thus while Fulani and other groups in northern Nigeria have strong ethno-cultural connections to Islam, the majority Muslim Yoruba not as much so. This makes it possible for a Muslim Yoruba to join the Church more easily in many ways than it would be for a Fulani.

Considering that at least up until recently over 40% of the population of Ivory Coast was Muslim I strongly suspect some members there are former Muslims. It might greatly help missionary work in Mali, Guinea and Senegal if a member who used to be a Muslim in Ivory Coast wrote a book or at least a pamphlet explaining his conversion and addressing his views ro Muslims. I also gave to wonder if someone like James Toronto with a deep background in Islamic history might make a good candidate for the first mission president over Mali, Senegal and Guinea. Although my first impression is that when we get a seperate mission for those countries it will have an Ivorian president.

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