The first time I heard about the restriction on black men holding the priesthood, I was on my mission. I was baptized in 1984, after the restriction had already ended. Two years later I was called to serve in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission.
While assigned to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, my companion, Elder Francis Jack, and I visited a less-active sister. Her husband was a theological professor from another church. He asked us why the priesthood had been withheld from men of black African descent. He said many things that bothered me—things I had never heard before. When I walked out of that room, I felt very low and very discouraged.
Elder Jack and I rode our bikes back to our apartment without speaking. When we got there, he looked at me and said, “Elder Dube, what is wrong with you? You seem very disturbed.”
“Didn’t you hear what he said?” I responded. “How could this happen?”
“Elder, do you believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy Joseph?”
“Yes,” I said. “But what does that have to do with this?”
“It has everything to do with it,” Elder Jack replied. “We believe in revelation, don’t we?”
I thought about his words and what the professor had said. That night I woke up in the middle of the night. I felt happy and at peace.
The answer to every gospel question ties back to what happened in 1820. Knowing that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith means that he was a prophet and that this is the Lord’s Church. If Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy Joseph, then all gospel principles and questions fall into place. This is a church of revelation, and the Lord reveals certain processes at certain times to His servants, the prophets, and that is what brought peace to me.
I started jumping up and down and woke my companion, shouting, “Yes, yes! You are right, Elder Jack! Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy Joseph! This is the Lord’s Church!”
The lifting of this restriction has been a blessing to members throughout Africa. The priesthood has blessed me and my family in every way possible. It has been a great strength to me to have the blessings of the temple, the blessing of knowing that we will live together as families for eternity.
Access to the priesthood has blessed Africa. People here are happy and positive already, but the gospel has added to it. Families are very important in Africa. So the temple is seen as a great blessing. The Church is growing very quickly here.
Members here listen to the will of God and we go and do it. This has blessed the members. At a time when some areas in Africa have 90 percent unemployment, our members seem to be doing well because they are self-reliant. The priesthood and direction from priesthood leaders have blessed us.
I am grateful to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for the opportunity to bear the priesthood, for the blessing it has been in my life, and for how it has blessed members throughout the African continent.