Church Now Registered in Rwanda, Africa
By Elder Brent and Sister Cheri Andrus
On 24 October 2013, the Church was officially registered and recognized by the Rwandan government. Rwanda is one of the last Sub-Sahara African countries to receive missionaries. This was in part due to the tragic genocide of 1994 that took the lives of one million people in 100 days, creating an unsettled environment. Fortunately, through the years, the country has become quite stable.
The first branch of the Church was organized in 2008. It consisted of 14 members who met in a member's home. The same year the Rwandan government imposed a moratorium on church registrations due to internal problems with some local churches. As a result, the LDS Church was not able to be registered. However, the right to worship was protected and the branch continued to meet.
Elder Holland dedicated the country of Rwanda in August 2009. Six months later Brent and Cheri Andrus were called to serve in the Uganda Kampala Mission and assigned to Rwanda as the first missionaries. They were given the charge of supporting the lone branch, administering humanitarian service and preparing for the time when the Church would be registered.
The Andruses were replaced in September 2011 by Brad and Karen Wilkes. During their tenure the government enacted legislation that again provided for churches to register. LDS officials embarked on the registration process that took 20 months to complete.
In the meantime, six young missionaries were sent to Rwanda but were limited to teaching only friends and family of members. Those member referrals kept the missionaries busy, and more than 100 people entered the waters of baptism in that first year.
Elder and Sister Andrus returned to Rwanda for six months, this time with the opportunity of working with young missionaries. They were recently succeeded by Steven and Kathi Palmer who are currently serving.
There are now three branches and nearly 200 members in Rwanda. With the registration complete, missionaries are free to openly proselytize. The growth of the Church will surely accelerate.