Restoration and Church History
Trusting in God in a Time of War

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Trusting in God in a Time of War

On November 12, 1989, Church leaders asked the Saints in Liberia to participate in a home-group pilot program. Instead of gathering as branches in meetinghouses, smaller groups would meet in members’ homes. At the time, Aaron Sando was serving as president of the Caldwell Branch, where the Saints were eager to begin meeting in a recently procured meetinghouse. Many branch members, including Sando, resisted the counsel and informed the mission president that they would continue assembling as normal. In response, the mission president invited Sando to come meet with him. After some discussion, Sando was still not convinced, and he returned home to do some yard work.

As he was cutting the grass, Sando had an unusual experience. Unsure whether he was awake or asleep, he found himself “at [the] very edge of a cliff” on top of a “very high mountain.” Fearing that he would fall, he heard a voice say, “Why would I cause good people to stumble and fall by the wayside because of my stiffneckedness?” When he came to himself, he prayed, “Oh, Lord, was it you that spoke to me? If it is true, speak to the other people too.” He went inside, and soon his first counselor knocked on the door. “I think the program is right. We should do it,” the counselor said. “How do you know?” Sando asked. The counselor replied, “Well, the Spirit said we should do it.” Within a half hour, all the others who had opposed the home-group program came to the door, each with their own spiritual witness supporting the program. “We embraced each other, and we decided to take the program … without any question.”

Three weeks after the pilot program began, Liberian politician Charles Taylor’s group of revolutionary fighters entered Liberia. As war conditions got worse, many members wanted to stay in groups and use the meetinghouses for shelter, but local leaders looked for other solutions. “The message for us was that if we kept the [counsel] of our priesthood leaders and the commandments, the Lord would bless us during this terrible time,” Toby Tweh recalled. Militants began targeting and massacring large gatherings of people, including groups taking shelter in churches. Sando noted that because they followed the counsel of their leaders to meet as small groups in homes, the Liberian Saints “were spared the massacre.”

Many Liberian Saints have since reflected on the sustaining influence of the gospel during the war. James S. Goncolo of the Sinkor Branch recalled, “Family Home Evening and our prayers strengthened our testimonies and increased our desires to keep God’s commandments and we were able to go through these hardships.”