Restoration and Church History
A Powerful Missionary Spirit

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A Powerful Missionary Spirit

Shortly after the establishment of the Church in Sierra Leone, a civil war began in neighboring Liberia. At the time, eight Liberian men were serving as full-time missionaries. The missionaries stayed in Liberia when fighting began, but their work ground to a halt in the summer of 1990 when Monrovia came under siege. The missionaries were determined to continue their service and decided to do so by making the difficult journey to their mission’s new headquarters in Freetown.

Elder Marcus Menti, who was serving as zone leader, counseled with his companion, Joseph Myers, and with Philip Abubakar, a counselor in the local branch presidency who owned a car, to plan for the journey. As they struggled to find scarce fuel and make other arrangements, they relied on the assurance in 1 Nephi 3:7 that the Lord would provide a way for His children to do as He commanded. “En route,” Menti recalled, “brother Philip our driver observed with amazement the gas gauge making no change at all after having traveled 14–18 miles. He was very much astonished. We were not for we knew the Lord would provide a way.” The missionaries also felt the Lord’s hand protecting them as they passed through several militarized checkpoints without being detained.

Sierra Leone: Liberian Missionaries

First Liberian missionaries shortly after arriving in Freetown, 1990

After the Liberian missionaries arrived in Sierra Leone, the number of converts increased, and the number of branches soon doubled. Walter Stewart, a senior missionary serving in Freetown at the time, remembered that the Liberian missionaries “brought a powerful spirit of faith and devotion to this part of the mission, certainly bred out of the agonizing they have suffered in their beloved homeland.” Members in Sierra Leone soon demonstrated the same indomitable missionary spirit. In 1992 foreign missionary couples were removed from Sierra Leone because of fighting in the country. By the end of 1993, 89 full-time missionaries from Sierra Leone were serving in their place, carrying the Church forward through the conflict.