On June 14, 1989, Ghana’s government suspended all Church activities and public meetings. This ban, known as the “freeze,” had been imposed due to misunderstandings and misinformation. It proved to be a test of faithfulness for members of the Church, most of whom had been members for only a few short years.
Acting mission president Emmanuel Abu Kissi received word from Church leaders that members would be authorized to hold private sacrament services in their homes. Joseph Larbie’s family wore their best dress and met each Sunday in the front room of their home. They often invited other members in the area to join them as they sang hymns, took the sacrament, and taught each other gospel principles.
Home and visiting teaching were vital to maintaining a sense of unity. Larbie, like many others, visited other members of his branch often. He likened Church members to coals in a pot and explained that “any coal that got out of the pot by mistake becomes very cold.” These visits helped keep the coals burning.
Even though members were careful not to hold large public meetings, several were arrested for worshipping in their homes and jailed for short periods of time. Larbie and William Sowah spent one night in jail and were subjected to rough treatment and verbal abuse. But they saw this experience as an opportunity to share the gospel with the other inmates and told them the Joseph Smith story.
Letters from local members and visits from Church representatives eventually clarified the Church’s purpose and intentions in Ghana. In November 1990, government officials finally lifted the restriction and allowed all Church activities to resume. “It was jubilation,” Joseph Larbie said of the first meeting after the freeze.