9 June 1981—three years to the day after the announcement that all worthy men could hold the priesthood—the branch president from Accra, Ghana, visited Church headquarters.
Emmanuel Abu Kissi, 42, is a member of the faculty of the Legon University Medical School and a general surgeon at the 1,000-bed Korle Bu Hospital.
He came to Salt Lake City to speak at LDS Hospital.
Dr. Kissi fits a pattern of some new Latter-day Saints in Ghana: after completing formal education, they go abroad to work or to continue studying. There they meet the missionaries, are baptized, and return to Ghana to serve their people and build up the Church.
Dr. Kissi was working in a hospital near Manchester, England, when his wife, Benedicta Elizabeth, received the missionaries one day. She became interested in their message and shared it with her husband when he returned.
“When we left for Britain in 1976,” Dr. Kissi says, “I hadn’t been satisfied with the many Christian religions I was acquainted with. In my search I had read the Bible page by page. When we went to Britain, I thought that perhaps I’d get to know the truth there.”
At first the elders sounded to him like everyone else. But then they gave him a Book of Mormon. “Don’t tell me about it,” he said. “I’ll read it myself.” After finishing it, he consumed the Doctrine and Covenants, seven Volumes of Church history, Jesus the Christ, Mormon Doctrine, and all the tracts the missionaries could provide. After intense prayer and study, he asked for baptism.
They were baptized in Manchester 8 February 1979. Lillian, 9, and Emmanuel, 8, have since been baptized; Eric, 6, is preparing.
Since the Church is still new and relatively unknown in Accra, some recently baptized Ghanaians have a hard time finding it when they return. But only a few days after Dr. Kissi’s arrival, he discovered a patient reading the Doctrine and Covenants in the hospital where he worked. When he greeted her, she excitedly exclaimed that Church members had heard that he had been baptized in England and that everyone was looking for him. The patient? Sister Sampson-Davis, mother of one of the first two full-time missionaries from Ghana.
In the summer of 1980, Bryan A. Espenschied, president of the Africa West Mission, set him apart as president of the sixty-five-member Accra Branch. Brother Kissi finds that the Church is well received among Ghanaians and that it’s easy to introduce the gospel to others. When they receive a Book of Mormon, they read it and are open to discussion.
President Kissi believes that the Church has potential in Ghana, a country about the size of Utah with a population of about twelve million people. “Ghanaians are spiritually-oriented people thirsting for the truth,” he says. “Most know they haven’t found it—and they aren’t satisfied. They keep changing churches. Many are unhappy, in turmoil—even though their family life and professions are going well. This is why they’re so receptive to the gospel.”