Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Country information: Mozambique

Published: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

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Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 21,669,000; Members, 4,851, Mission, 1; Districts 2; Branches, 18; Percentage LDS, .02, or one LDS?in 4,467; Africa Southeast Area; Mozambique Maputo Mission.

A country on the southeast coast of Africa, Mozambique covers 309,496 square miles. Almost all are Africans and speak one of the Bantu languages, though the country's official language is Portuguese. About 55 percent of the people practice tribal African religions. About 30 percent are Christians, mostly Roman Catholics, and Muslims.

The Church was established in Mozambique at two separate locations, first in the city of Beira, which spilled over to the village of Marromeu, then in the capital city of Maputo.

Mozambique was a Portuguese colony until the latter part of the 20th Century. In 1975, Mozambique became an independent nation, adopting a Marxist-Leninist form of socialism and forming strong political ties with the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc satellites. Mozambique was invited to send young students to Eastern Bloc nations and Cuba for training.

In 1982, 13-year-old Chico Mapenda left his hometown of Beira, Mozambique, to study in the German Democratic Republic. In 1989, while looking for a branch of his church, Mapenda met the missionaries, who gave him a Book of Mormon in Portuguese. He was baptized on 14 January 1990.

Shortly after Mapenda's baptism, East and West Germany were reunited and many of the foreigners in the former German Democratic Republic had to return to their homelands. Mapenda returned to Mozambique that same year.

Soon after arriving in his homeland, Mapenda began to share his new religion with his family and friends, including his father-in-law, Francisco Dique Sousa. Mapenda's brother, Gimo, who was working as a minister in a Protestant congregation, was one of Chico's earliest followers. The Mapenda brothers began to organize small groups of unbaptized "Latter-day Saints." The brothers served as traveling ministers for these congregations. Chico held the Aaronic Priesthood. Gimo hadn't even been baptized.

In November 1991 Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Seventy and a member of the Africa Area Presidency visited Mozambique and reported that Chico was leading and teaching groups of up to 150 people. Five years later, in June 1996, Elder James O. Mason, also a member of the Africa Area Presidency, visited Beira and organized the Beira Group and authorized the first baptisms. Gimo Mapenda was finally baptized.

John and Jan Hunter, a missionary couple serving in Mutare, Zimbabwe, were assigned to visit Beira to care for these new converts. On 1 September 1996, the Beira Group was transferred from the Zimbabwe Harare Mission to the South Africa Johannesburg Mission.

Finally, on 30 January 1999, nine years after Chico Mapenda was baptized, the Beira Branch was organized with Augusto Cherequejanhe as branch president. He had been introduced to the Church in 1992 by his father-in-law Francisco Dique Sousa.

Sousa was so enthusiastic about the gospel that he organized congregations of unbaptized "Latter-day Saints" in his village of Marromeu. In May 2000, the first missionaries, Andre Kemmeny, James Dewey, Petros Dlamini and Travis Williams, from the South Africa Johannesburg Mission traveled to Marromeu and in four days taught 69 first discussions. People waited all day outside of the huts where the missionaries were teaching to hear the first discussion. A month later, missionaries returned to that village and in three and a half days taught 21 second through fourth discussions. A month later, the first baptisms occurred in Marromeu with 25 people being baptized. In October, 30 more people were baptized. The Marromeu Branch was organized on 21 October 2000 with Francisco Dique Sousa as branch president.

Over a year after the Beira Branch was organized, on 3 March 2000, missionaries were transferred to Beira and began to teach the gospel. Missionary work went well in Beira. A little over three years after the arrival of the first missionaries, on 13 April 2003, about 650 members gathered for the creation of the Beira Mozambique District, the first in the country. Augusto Cherequejanhe was called as president and Chico Mapenda as a counselor.

In the mid-1990s the Church was established in Maputo. In February 1995, Elder James O. Mason of the Seventy traveled there and formed a group with Samo P. Goncalves as leader. Like many of the early Mozambican Church members, Goncalves had joined the Church while living abroad. He had been baptized in Viseu, Portugal, in 1992. Through the efforts of Elder Mason, Goncalves, and Church attorneys Hugh M. Matheson and H. Thomas Kay, the Church obtained legal recognition in Mozambique in February 1996. Later that year, on 8 September, Elder Mason organized the Maputo Branch with Goncalves as the first branch president.

In June 1999, the first senior missionary couple, Ray and Judy Caldwell, and young missionaries Patrick J. Tedjamulia and Chimbinja J. Valente from the South Africa Johannesburg Mission arrived in Maputo to begin missionary work in Mozambique.

In October 1999 Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve visited Maputo. In a park near the sea he blessed the land. Jorge Mounga, the first Mozambican missionary, began to serve in December 1999. On 17 February 2001, an open house was held in the newly-reconstructed Maputo meetinghouse.

The people of Mozambique benefited from Church humanitarian aid. A deadly drought, the worst in 100 years, caused great suffering in Mozambique and neighboring countries. In 1992, the Church shipped 1 million pounds of food and relief items for victims of the drought in this area.

Membership in 2003 reached 1,976 organized in nine branches.

The Mozambique Maputo Mission, the 339th mission of the Church, was organized in January 2005. It had been one of four countries comprising the expansive South Africa Johannesburg Mission. Since the first baptisms in 1996, the number of missionaries has steadily grown to about 30 at the time the mission was organized. The mission also included the other Portuguese-speaking country of Angolo, located on the west coast, opposite Mozambique.

Membership in 2003 was 1,976. In 2005, membership reached 3,472.

Sources: Chico Mapenda papers, Church Archives; "Interview between Sofia Abrantes and Xico Mapenda," June 1999, in E. Dale LeBaron Mozambique research file, 1995-2000, Church Archives; Ferron and Peggy Orton, "Spreading the Gospel in Africa," Church News, 17 May 2003, 14; "New mission, Miracle in Mozambique," Church News, 8 January 2005.

Mission — 1

(As of Oct. 1, 2009; shown with historical number.)

MOZAMBIQUE MAPUTO MISSION

Caixa Postal 1166

Correio Central, Maputo, Mozambique