The Gospel in Africa
by Terry Wilkerson
“This is a land, a people, and a place of great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Elder David A. Bednar said recently about Africa. And even though many Africans live simplified and even challenging lives, “an uncluttered life can be more significantly and singularly focused on Jesus Christ.”
Our son, Elder Nathan Wilkerson, serving in the Johannesburg, South Africa, was thrilled to attend one of Elder Bednar’s conferences when the apostle visited Africa.
The church really is growing in Africa. Elder Wilkerson teaches 20-30 lessons a week. Recently he wrote, “this past week we had 26, we are truly blessed.
Elder Wilkerson has had to make many adjustments to life in South Africa. He attended the Johannesburg MTC and went through the temple with missionaries from Uganda who started their mission without having had the opportunity to go to the temple yet. His first companion, an Elder from Rwanda, spoke five languages but couldn’t drive a car, and on Elder Wilkerson’s first day in the field, he had to drive a stick shift car on the left side of the road, never having driven stick shift before in his life.
Little things are different. It’s hot on Christmas and New Year’s and he wrote when he looks up at the night sky, he doesn’t recognize any constellations because none of them are the same.
He has had companions from a variety of interesting places, including Rwanda, Austria, Madagascar, and Utah.
Many people where he serves are poor, and many drink a lot, especially at Christmas time. But, as Elder Bednar said, many also develop great faith and love for others. Elder Wilkerson told us about how he felt love and welcome when he arrived in his first area. “All the little kids call me ‘mahuwa’ which means ‘white man’. Its so funny! Lots will come up to me and hold my hand and give me their version of a high five, which is you put your fist together and then put your thumbs together and push to the right side, kinda like swiping something. It’s wonderful.”
Elder Wilkerson loves South Africa and tells us he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.