Missionary Moments: “Where Are God’s Men?”
By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News staff writer
Opiew Ablla was born in the grasslands of southeastern Sudan and grew up across the border in the Ethiopian village of Gog. His people, the Anuak, were herdsmen and farmers who had lived in villages along the banks of rivers in the rich, fertile border region for many generations.
Long ago, Protestant missionaries came to his village to teach. They translated the Bible and taught the people to read and write.
“When I was a boy and learned to read, I also began to study the Bible, but I soon found I had questions,” said Brother Ablla. “I wondered and wondered why the prophets and apostles of the ancient times of the Bible weren’t on earth today. I asked many people, but no one around me seemed to have an answer.”
Over the years, he repeated the question, “Where are God’s men?”
When Opiew was in 8th grade, war erupted; it was no longer safe to stay in his village. With many others he moved to Kenya and was given the opportunity to immigrate to the United States. Soon he found himself living in Utah.
“LDS missionaries knocked on my door many times in those early years, but I always kept the door closed. Although a number of years had passed since I had my first questions about the Bible, I still remembered and I still wondered. One day I decided to open the door. I invited the missionaries in and asked the question that had stayed with me since childhood: ‘Why are there no longer prophets and apostles on earth today as there were in ancient times?’ To my surprise the LDS missionaries not only answered my question but were very excited to do so. They explained that we do have prophets and apostles on earth today.”
They told Brother Ablla about the Church and about a living prophet. “This was great news to me and caused me to want to learn more. I was eventually baptized on May 31, 2002.”
Two years later, Brother Ablla married his wife, KelliAnn; they have three children.