Saturday, May 02, 2009

Mormons Making Inroads In Africa

Africa's 'Mormon superstar' is first black African LDS general authority

Joseph Sitati grew up as a Quaker in Nairobi, Kenya, but felt no great affection for the faith. Its sermons were too political, he felt, leaving him thirsty for spiritual satisfaction.

When Sitati attended his first Mormon service in 1985, something new stirred in his soul.

"There was a very good spirit there," Sitati said. "That was something I was unfamiliar with."

John Carmack, a visiting LDS general authority who is now an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, impressed him.

"The words that he spoke sent the spirit right through me," he told his friend. "This kind of held me spellbound."

He believed he was feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit.

"When I was baptized into the LDS Church in March 1986, I was overwhelmed by the feeling of love," Sitati recalled. "I loved everybody and everything. It invigorated me.

Some 23 years later, Sitati, a Mormon superstar in Kenya, has now arrived where Carmack was -- in the First Quorum of Seventy. He is the first black African to join that august body, the church's second most important tier of leaders.

"The calling is quite intimidating," Sitati said last week before returning to Nigeria, where he is currently supervising a corps of Mormon missionaries. "I never thought of being a member of this high council. I consider it a great honor, but heavy responsibility."

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