News Release

New president of the Accra, Ghana mission shares insights on missionary work

Heeding the call

Trevor T. Keyes, who was recently called to preside over the Accra, Ghana mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has expressed appreciation for the chance to advance the message of the restoration.

Keyes was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Him and his wife are scheduled to begin their new assignment in July. As a young man, Keyes, whose family joined the church in the 1964 when he was three years old, served in the Johannesburg mission, when it encompassed the whole of South Africa and Zimbabwe.

At the time of his call, Keyes was serving as the Africa Southeast Area (ASEA) Priesthood support specialist for returned missionaries, while his wife, Colleen, served as ASEA Relief Society support specialist for returned missionaries.

In the following interview, Keyes shares his insights about the importance of missionary work as prepares to start his new assignment:

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MORMON NEWSROOMAs a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what do you think has better prepared you for this assignment?

KEYES: I am not sure that a person is ever ready for such an important assignment as a mission president. The most important aspect that prepares you for such an assignment is the Lord’s love and his guiding spirit. Our 4 sons have served missions (our youngest son is presently on mission) and have given us much insight into what impact a mission president and his wife can have in the lives of the missionaries.

My wife and I have also met with many returned missionaries in Gauteng over the past few months through our Africa Southeast Area (ASEA) assignment. The returned missionaries that we have met with have taught us much about the expectations that missionaries presently have, not only on mission but also once they have returned home from mission. These lessons have helped us comprehend the personal needs of the missionaries and how we can help them reach their expectations whether it be spiritual or otherwise.

MORMON NEWSROOMShare with our readers what this assignment signifies about the growth of the Church in Africa?

KEYES: It is exciting because for the first time the brethren have called more than one mission president from South Africa in the same year.

MORMON NEWSROOM: How important is missionary work?

KEYES: Firstly we are taught in the scriptures that it is a commandment that we must do missionary work. We are commanded that we must “teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19), “preach the baptism of repentance for remission of sins” (Mark 1:4) and “open your mouths in proclaiming my gospel” (D&C 71:1). We love the Lord and thus it is imperative that we obey his commandments.

The Lord has given us his restored gospel together with all the saving ordinances, covenants and blessings that come with obedience to his will. It is important that we give our fellowmen the opportunity to have the same blessings in their lives as we have in ours.

The effects of missionary work are remarkable! Have you ever noticed how vibrant and alive a ward or branch often is when there is a strong missionary spirit in its members and when there are many new converts within the unit? Missionary work is important as it keeps us focused on what really matters.


MORMON NEWSROOM: How do you expect to connect, inspire and lead the missionaries in the Accra?

KEYES: By helping them strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ and encouraging them to renew and keep their covenants thereby empowering them not only to obtain personal blessings but to bless the people they teach as they are guided by the Holy Spirit. We hope to achieve this by our example and being missionaries ourselves by going out and doing missionary work together with them personally, by interacting directly with the missionaries and their investigators in their homes.

MORMON NEWSROOM: What would your advice be to young people thinking or preparing to serve a mission?

KEYES: Start by going out with the missionaries regularly as Ward Missionaries before entering the Missionary Training Centre (MTC) – this will help them get a sense of what to expect and how to share the gospel with investigators. Mission life is not always easy. There are times that it is hard. When I first started my mission, I at times would come home feeling down because of various things such as rejection that I may have received that day, or because of other difficult experiences that had come my way.

I decided to write in my journal every night at least one spiritual experience I had that day. Soon, each morning, I would wake up excited to see what spiritual experience I would have that day that I could write about later that night. Even the bad experiences then became good, meaningful experiences as after analysing them you realise that you have learnt from them.

With the right attitude and goals you will not remember the bad experiences, only the good ones.  Have a sense of humour – it will help you through the difficult times, as well as those around you!

MORMON NEWSROOM: Did you serve a mission? If yes, briefly tell our readers about your best mission experience.

KEYES: I served in the Johannesburg mission when it included the whole of South Africa and Zimbabwe. I had many wonderful experiences particularly in being led by the spirit.  It is difficult to single out the best missionary experience. One experience which may teach others happened when I was serving in Cape Town. My companion & I had a large teaching pool. No one appeared to be really advancing towards baptism. We felt that although we did not want to leave anyone out, we were not effective as we were being hindered from finding those that were ready to hear the gospel.

I mentioned it to my mother who was also serving a proselyting mission at the same time. Her response taught me a great lesson. She suggested that we pray and ask the Lord that those investigators whom we were teaching and who were not interested in the gospel would themselves “sack” us. She however also said, and this is the lesson, that I must ‘be careful what you pray about as the Lord always answers our prayers but that the answer may not be what we want’.

I prayed that if there was any person in our teaching pool who was not ready to get baptised that, unless we could be helping in some way, they would “sack” us themselves. Within about 3 – 4 days we had almost no one in our teaching pool. To me it was a massive lesson but a great experience to know that the Lord is there for us. It was not what I expected but it helped us greatly to become more effective in our work. What I did not do was tell my companion about my prayer.

He almost had heart failure. When I explained to him what I had done, he was relieved and also learned from the experience.


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