Church History
“We Have the Talent Here to Begin”
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Stories of Faith

“We Have the Talent Here to Begin”

Members of the Temple of Christ Church, circa 1987

In 1985 Joe C. Jarwleh was struggling to establish a Christian school in Monrovia. When faced with an eviction order, he received unexpected help from a local police official. The officer, while attending a training in the United States, had visited Salt Lake City, Utah, where he toured Temple Square and Welfare Square. He suggested Jarwleh write to the Church and ask for help. In response to his letter, Jarwleh received a Book of Mormon and other Church literature and was encouraged to continue learning about the Church. The Church, however, did not yet have legal recognition in Liberia.

Undaunted, Jarwleh began sharing the Book of Mormon with his students, their parents, and his friends. At the time, he was a member of the Temple of Christ Church, a congregation looking for “a church of God that would give us salvation,” which met regularly in New Kru Town. Jarwleh brought the Book of Mormon to the meetings, and a short time later he wrote to Church leaders in Salt Lake City, informing them that the congregation was “praying tirelessly for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be legally recognized and established in Liberia.”

Thomas Peihopa, a man from New Zealand, came to Jarwleh’s office a short time later to discuss Jarwleh’s school. Peihopa was surprised to see a copy of Gospel Principles on the desk and announced that he was a Latter-day Saint. Jarwleh excitedly shook Peihopa’s hand and immediately made him promise to return. After Peihopa’s second visit, he began participating in Sunday meetings at the school and was soon invited to speak to the members of the Temple of Christ Church in New Kru Town. After Peihopa spoke, they asked him to baptize them and be their leader. Peihopa explained that he could do neither without sanction from Church leaders, but he agreed to continue attending their meetings. Peihopa also wrote to Church headquarters on their behalf.

Shortly thereafter, another member of the Church, Harvey D. Brown, arrived in Liberia on a work assignment. Brown, who had served as a mission president in Thailand, accompanied Peihopa to a Temple of Christ Church meeting. After the meeting, Brown said he had “never seen a more ready congregation waiting to be baptized.” Brown was impressed by a tract the group had produced and distributed that outlined the principles of the restored gospel. Brown later attended Soul Winning Church of Christ, another group that had been writing to Church leaders in Salt Lake City, and found them likewise converted and sincere in their longing to join the Church. Brown urgently wrote to Church headquarters. “The time is ripe and we have the talent here to begin,” he declared.

When Brown was invited to a reception that would be attended by government officials who could help the Church secure official recognition in the country, he saw the hand of God in it. By the end of the night, he had a clear idea of what was required. On May 12, 1987, the Liberian government officially recognized the Church. “Untold prayers from the Liberian investigators had been answered,” Brown wrote. On August 22, 1987, after the arrival of missionaries, Thomas Peihopa helped baptize 47 people, most of them members of the Temple of Christ Church, into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Ghana Accra Mission soon organized home groups in New Kru Town and Congo Town.