Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Their Religious Affiliation

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Uriah Brown, a member of the Council of Fifty, belonged to what religion?
a.                  Quaker
b.                  LDS
c.                   Methodist
d.                  No religious affiliation
Yesterday’s answer:
C.   Meet on Sundays and read from the Book of Mormon
From the life of Moses Mahlangu:   Moses Mahlangu’s conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began with that first Book of Mormon encounter sometime in the 1960s. The exact circumstances are unclear, but Mahlangu’s cousin Johannes Lekgwati may have received a copy from members of the white family he worked for, who had themselves received it from missionaries. Moses and Johannes took the book to another cousin, Frans Lekgwati, who was more fluent than they were in English and could explain the book to them. They enjoyed its teachings and believed the book to be true. A small group of believers, including Mahlangu, Frans and Johannes Lekgwati, Piet Mafora, and some of their families, began to form around the book.
They met in their homes in Soweto, outside of Johannesburg, to study the Book of Mormon because they did not know where to find a Latter-day Saint chapel. In time, one of the group, Piet Mafora, found a chapel in Johannesburg while making deliveries in the area. Moses went to see the building himself, but no one was there when he arrived. When he went a second time, the custodian introduced Moses to Church member Maureen van Zyl, who was able to give him the address of the mission home.
Mahlangu arrived at the mission home on a Saturday sometime in 1968. Following South African practice at the time, as a black man, he knocked on the back door rather than approaching the front entrance. Lawrence Mackey, one of the missionaries at the mission home, remembered the housekeeper telling him someone wanted to speak with them.
Mackey and his companion went to greet their guest. They were impressed by their “golden investigator.” Mackey remembered meeting with Mahlangu for several weeks, each time telling the mission president, Howard C. Badger, of the wonderful man with whom they were meeting. Following mission policy, which prohibited proselytizing black South Africans, the missionaries met with Mahlangu but did not teach him. Finally, after three weeks, the mission president consented to let the missionaries teach Mahlangu about the apostasy and restoration.
Eventually, the young elders introduced Mahlangu to their mission president. Mahlangu’s retelling of the ensuing conversation bears striking parallels to Pauls’ experience in Ephesus recorded in Acts 19:1-7. Mahlangu recalled telling Badger,
“I am with the Church of Christ, like you, you are the Church of Jesus Christ. I want to unite these two churches to be one.”
“Have you been baptized?” Badger asked.
“Yes. I have been baptized.”
“How did they baptize you?”
“I went in and baptized Mr. [Lukwati] and then after that [Lukwati] baptized me in this church.”
“When they baptized you, did you receive the Holy Spirit?”

Mahlangu confessed he did not understand. Badger asked where Mahlangu and those who baptized him received the authority to baptize. Mahlangu replied that his authority came from the Bible, and the mission president told him the Joseph Smith story and explained the Latter-day Saint doctrine of authority. When Badger had finished, Mahlangu accepted what he had been told and said he was ready for baptism.

Richard E. Turley Jr. and Jeffrey G. Cannon, “A Faithful Band, Moses Mahlangu and the First Sweto Saints,” BYU Studies, Vol. 55, No. 1, 12-14.

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