News Release

President Russell M. Nelson’s Africa Southeast Area Connections

In 1985 as a new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Elder Russell M. Nelson received an assignment from President Ezra Taft Benson to supervise the work of the Church in Eastern Europe and Africa. Since 1985, President Nelson has visited many of the countries in the Africa Southeast Area including, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe. Five of those countries were dedicated for the preaching of the gospel by Elder Nelson. Namibia and Zambia were dedicated in 1992, Tanzania and Ethiopia in 2003 and Malawi in 2011.




During his visit to Tanzania in 2003, where he dedicated the country for the preaching of the gospel, the then Elder Nelson said, “The Lord honors the blessings of His servants…When a prayer of dedication comes, blessings will follow. A dedicatory prayer sets the direction, but the power comes from you the members and leaders of the Church…The Lord will establish a Church here by your efforts.”

In 2011, Elder Ronald A. Rasband, then of the Presidency of the Seventy, accompanied then Elder Nelson to Malawi. Elder Rasband said, “During the trip, a scripture kept coming to mind. That scripture is found in the Doctrine and Covenants 107:35, “The Twelve being sent out, holding the keys, to open the door by the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” We were literally able to witness this verse in action as Elder Nelson dedicated the country of Malawi…”

Church membership has grown dramatically between 1985 and 2018. There are more than 210,000 members in the Africa Southeast Area and more than 560,000 members through-out Africa. In April, President Nelson told church members in Kenya, “Membership in the continent of Africa is about the same as it was for the whole Church when I was a boy.”



A special blessing of the growth of the Church are temples. The Johannesburg, South Africa Temple was dedicated in 1985, the year Elder Nelson received the assignment to oversee the work in Africa. Four more temples in The Africa Southeast Area, are either under construction or have been announced. The Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo Temple, and the Durban, South Africa Temple are under construction and will be dedicated soon. Two additional temples have been announced but construction has not begun. A temple in Harare, Zimbabwe and a temple in Nairobi, Kenya.


In April 2018, President Nelson said to the saints in Nairobi, “Our message to the world is that Jesus is the Christ and that His way of life is the way of joy and happiness not only in this life but in the life ahead.” The influence of President Nelson’s service, and his testimony of the Savior, is a blessing now and will be for generations to come in The Africa Southeast Area.


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