Anthony Obinna was raised in a very traditional African family and had little knowledge of Christianity. However, in early 1966, he had a dream in which he was visited by a personage who took him to a beautiful building and showed him everything in it.
One day, he picked up an old September 1958 copy of the Reader’s Digest. He opened it and saw a picture of the same beautiful building he had been shown in his dream. The heading was “The March of the Mormons.” He had never heard the word “Mormons” before, but he started to read the story because of the picture of the building. He discovered that the article was all about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Brother Obinna stated: “From the time I finished reading the story, I had no peace of mind any longer. My whole attention was focused on my new discovery. I rushed out immediately to tell my brothers, who were all astonished to hear the story.”
In 1971 he wrote a letter to the headquarters of the Church for instructions. Pamphlets, tracts, and a Book of Mormon were sent to him. But he was advised that there was no authority to organize the Church in Nigeria at that time.
Brother Obinna reported: “Persecutions, name calling, and all kinds of abuses were rendered to me. I was persecuted in various ways but I kept deaf ears. I knew I had discovered the truth, and men’s threats could not move me and my group. So we continued asking God to open the door for us.
'We were given a program to follow on Sundays. We continued praying always, until 21st of November, 1978, when the Church was officially opened for the black race (in Africa) with the authority to hold the priesthood and administer the ordinances thereof.”
Nineteen members were baptized on the above date, and the Aboh Branch was organized, with Anthony Obinna as president, his brothers Francis and Raymond as his counselors, and his wife Fidelia as Relief Society president. Brother Obinna was the first black branch president in Africa, and the Aboh Branch was the first official native branch organized in black Africa. The new branch presidency promptly reported the event in a jubilant letter to the First Presidency:
The entire members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in this part of Nigeria have the pleasure to thank you and the Latter-day Saints throughout the world for opening the door for the Gospel to come to our people in its fullness.
“We are happy for the many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple you spent supplicating the Lord to bring us into the fold. We thank our Heavenly Father for hearing your prayers and ours and by revelation has confirmed the long promised day, and has granted the holy priesthood to us, with the power to exercise its divine authority and enjoy every blessings of the temple. …
“There is no doubt that the Church here will grow and become a mighty centre for the Saints and bring progress enough to the people of Nigeria as it is doing all over the world.”
Brother Obinna further testified to all the world: “The most important [discussions] and love in my house are about “our Church.” As Christ is guarding his true church, membership is increasing daily, and I testify that in the future, the membership of the Church will be as great as the sands on the seashore. God is great and performs wonders. No human power can withhold God’s work in this world.”
Excerpted by Marnae Wilson from “Voice from Nigeria,” Ensign, December, 1980