Monday, February 19, 2018

First Convert Baptisms in Mali

The first convert baptisms in the country of Mali took place this past weekend. Local members report that four converts were baptized in a swimming pool, including two converts from the Bamako Branch and two converts from the Farako Group. Missionaries serving in the Cote d'Ivoire Abidjan Mission have been teaching investigators by Skype for the past couple months and there are as many as two dozen more individuals preparing to be baptized in the near future. The Church is currently in the process of obtaining the legal registration requirements for full-time missionaries to begin serving in Mali. Local members report that as many as 65 people attend church services in the two congregations.

See below for a photo of the first baptismal service.

19 comments:

Downtownchrisbrown said...

More great news out of West Africa.

Eduardo Clinch said...

Yay! I am also comforted or reassured by the number of native Christians in Mali, too. The field is ripe.
And hopefully tolerance is maintained.

Johnathan Whiting said...

That's pretty cool!

My question is, though, if these are the first people baptized, then where did the other members of the branches come from. I understand some are investigators, but are the rest transplants from neighboring countries? Or are the rest all investigators?

L. Chris Jones said...

Some have joined the church while living abroad and have returned home. One example is Yeah Samake, who is now the Mali ambassador to India.

David Todd said...

I have known two different wonderful YSA-aged men from Mali during my time at BYU. One of them joined the church last summer. The other one hasnt shown much interest as of yet, but will certainly have had much positive exposure when he returns to Mali if nothing else. I love to see the gospel spreading so that it can reach people who have never had the opportunity to hear about it before!

James Anderson said...

Usually the Church is brought to a country by expatriates from that country that learn of it in the country they have gone to. These are apparently the first natives of Mali that learned of it there to be baptized there.

John Pack Lambert said...

I am very encouraged by this development. The current or most recent ambassador of Mali to India is a member of the Church. He joined the Church in believe in New York City and later studied at BYU. His wife is a native of India, who I believe also joined the Church in the US. One of the people profiled in Meet the Mormons in a Nepali man who currently lives in Nepal, but joined the Church abroad, I believe in Russia, but I might be remembering wrong.

One of the key people in the growth of the Church in Mozambique, Chiko Mapenda, joined the Church in the German Democratic Republic where he had been sent by the government of Mazambique to learn the ways of socialism. When Germany reunited he was made to return home, and shared the gospel with his father-in-law, Francisco Dique Sousa. Sousa then shared the gospel with dozens of people in the time before missionaries came to Mozambique and he was baptized.

While the growth of the church in many African countries, such as Ivory Coast, was fueled by expatriates joining the Church elsewhere, that was not as much the case in the mid-20th century.

The Church was established in Spain, the Philippines, Thailand, Paraguay and essentially in Japan, South Korea and Italy by the actions of Americans, most often military personnel in those countries. South Korea was greatly moved forward by Kim Ho Jik, who served in the Cabinet, having joined the Church while studying at Cornell where his lab-mate was a Latter-day Saint. Clearly without Brother Kim the Church would have had a harder time to grow, but many others joined early on from interactions with LDS servicement. In the case of Italy it was also service men from abroad who started things. Although the story of Vincenzo di Francesca is well known, he had little role in the actual organization of the Church. Turkey and Greece also saw US servicemen as most of the early members, but this has not translated into much actual Church growth. The modern growth in Turkey post dates the post Cold War draw down in US servicemen there.

Brazil and Argentina were largely opened as a result of the efforts of immigrants who joined the Church in Germany before going to those countries. India is opened as a result of various expatriates joining abroad, although it was a very long process.

The first native Jamaican members were baptized by expatries living there, but then went through a time where all expatriates had left and since it was pre-1978 they were unable to hold an actual sacrament meeting. It is not surprising they named one of their later children Spencer. Yes, it was just one family at that point.

The moving force behind opening the Church in Guatemala, and the first temple president there, was an American who had married a Guatemalan woman and emigrated there.

On another note, a ward in my stake was renamed this weekend. It was accompanied by a boundary change. The old ward had as its eastern boundary a very complex school district boundary and the school district was the name of the ward. It was also the name of a city, but the township the ward is not named after is a much bigger community than the Walled Lake Ward.

John Pack Lambert said...

In the case of Mali, besides expatriates in the US like Samake, there have probably been expatriates in various parts of Europe (the first two key couples in Ivory Coast joined in Germany and France, the couple in Germany the wife was German the husband Ivorian). There are lots of Malians in France. It is also possible some have joined in such countries in Sierre Leone and Ivory Coast, and maybe Nigeria and elsewhere. The modern world has lots of people who travel across international borders for various reasons, for various amounts of time in all sorts of directions. A sizeable portion of those who have joined the Church in Europe over the last 40 years have been from Africa. Many of these have remained in Europe, but others have returned to Africa.

John Pack Lambert said...

Looking at the picture, the couple not in white are almost certainly existing Church members. What I cant tell at all is if they are mission leadership from Ivory Coast (possibly mission president and wife) or Malian members.

John Pack Lambert said...

Well, that couple clearly is wearing name tags. Here https://africawest.lds.org/cote-divoire-abidjan-mission is a picture of mission president and wife, who do not look to be the same people to my eye, so these are proably either senior missionaries or a counselor and his wife.

John Pack Lambert said...

Actually, my reading of "Mormons at the Piazza" now indicates that the coming of the Church to Italy was heavily driven by expatriate members returning. Fabio Cagli, a Jew who left Italy due to Mussolini's racial laws, joined the Church in Switzerland, married a woman whose family had been the mainstay of the Lausanne Branch for three generations (that was in 1945) and then shortly after their marriage moved to Bologna. The Caglis were then the only Church members then in Italy, and would hold meetings with tourist members, Mormon students in Italy, and missionaries passing through. In about 1951 the Caglis moved back to Switzerland. However before that Brother Cagli baptized Pietro and Felicita Snaidero, who had learned of the restored gospel while living in France from their daughter who had joined the Church.

In their home near Udine the Snaidero family eventually set up Church meetings, to which they attraacted a few other people. They would on occasion travel to France to attend conferences of the Church and in 1958 Brother and Sister Snaidero were sealed in the Swiss Temple. Ezra Taft Benson praised the Snaideros as pioneers of the Church in Italy in a talk he gave at a conference in Italy in 1964.

All these groups were dearfed however by the 500 or so LDS servicemen and women located in Italy as of 1944. From an institutional perspective the LDS Church largely comes about in Italy because of continued US military presence during the Cold War.

Matt said...

The first Malians to join the Church were baptized in the 1980s. A member group, primarily comprised of foreign Latter-day Saints, operated in Bamako, Mali in the mid-1980s, but it eventually closed. In the past decade, many more Malians have joined the Church especially as they have visited countries where there is an LDS presence. However, even Malians who live in Mali have joined the Church. However, they were taught and baptized in neighboring countries, such as Ghana. Thus, this is the first time that the Church has baptized new converts in Mali.

Christopher Nicholson said...

It occurs to me that (in various countries) we have to get most of our converts from among people who are already Christians, yet the reason they're Christians in the first place is because other people's missionaries in decades and centuries past converted millions of non-Christians. How come they were able to do that and we aren't? Why do most people need to be "prepared" with mainstream Christianity before they get the restored gospel?

Eduardo Clinch said...

Some animists or atheists may convert to the LDS faith, no doubt. But in a highly Muslim society it is certainly harder to teach and baptize Muslims, one being outright hostilty and danger.

John Pack Lambert said...

There have been Muslims convert in Ghana and probably other west African countries. Others have converted from Buddhism for example. The success of some Evangelical Christians in converting Muslims in some places comes while putting everyone so involved at risk of arrest etc.

Matt said...

Yes most LDS converts were previously Christian, but not for all countries. For example, most converts in many Asian countries were previously Buddhist or nonreligious. Most converts in Albania, Sierra Leone, and Mali are nominally Muslim.

L. Chris Jones said...

In some countries it is illegal to teach Muslims. In those countries we are only allowed to teach other Christians or non religious.

ALFREDO said...

the gospel is in progress amen

John Pack Lambert said...

I am skeptical about many claims about religious affiliation of converts. There have been several African-American converts who were in some way affiliated with Islam before joining the Church. Elder Martins was involved in Spiritualism before joining the Church and I am sure this is true of others in Brazil. My grandmother was Jewish before she was baptized, but before that she was a Jehovah's Witness. I have known other Jewish converts but some had only ethnic and not clearly rrligious connections to Judaism.