The history of the Church in Liberia is an example of great faith as members of the Church strive to live the gospel through great challenges. As one reads the history of Liberia, it is easy to see the hand of the Lord working to protect His Saints and to bring the blessings of the gospel to the people of this great country.
In 1987, the articles of incorporation for the Church was approved by the government of Liberia, and J. Duffy Palmer and his wife Jocelyn were called as the lead couple to open the Liberia Monrovia Mission. Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, accompanied by Alexander B. Morrison of the First Quorum of the Seventy, visited the Church members in Monrovia and dedicated the land for the preaching of the gospel on September 2, 1987.
Two years after the first Liberian baptisms in 1987, the Church members’ trials began with an eight-year civil war that brought physical danger, trials, tribulations, and suffering. The Lord blessed those who remained true to their faith through the adversities and tribulations of life as the following story shows:
At the beginning of hostilities, the Area Presidency directed the members in Liberia to hold home meetings and to not assemble at the meetinghouses. During the civil war, the reason for this counsel became clear. When the war got to Monrovia, many people of other faiths began gathering in their own churches in the community, seeking shelter and safety. Then the tragedy came. As the soldiers invaded the city, they entered some of these church buildings and killed all the men, women, and children. But the Latter-day Saint Church members were safe because they had followed the counsel of priesthood leaders.
In 2014, Church members in Liberia faced another challenge: The deadliest outbreak of Ebola in recorded history prompted the Church to remove its 86 full-time missionaries from Liberia.
Throughout the Ebola crisis, the Church worked through recognized relief organizations and on-the-ground partners to help communities in need. Many members also volunteered their own time to help spread awareness of proper sanitation practices.
The Church provided emergency resources to purchase local rice and oil for food, as well as bleach and containers for cleaning. Members in Ghana had a special fast and donated money to help those in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Latter-day Saints in the region also continued missionary work in the absence of full-time missionaries. Once the country was declared Ebola-free, missionaries returned in September 2016.
Today there are more than 12,544 members of the Church in Liberia, comprising 4 stakes, 12 districts, 27 wards, and 11 branches.
Recording history like this is important. Every member of the Church is encouraged to keep a journal and record the events of their lives and the lives of their families. Doing so will help us see the hand of the Lord in our lives and realize the blessings He has given us.