On June 14, 1989, the government of Ghana banned public meetings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and sent police to lock down LDS chapels in the country. For the next 18 months, Ghanaian Latter-day Saints were unable to attend Church meetings.
Security forces stood outside LDS meetinghouses to make sure no one entered. Missionaries left the country. Many thought the Church would cease to exist in Ghana because of the ban — known by members as the freeze.
“The freeze was very hard for me personally and for my family,” said Flint Mensah in a new Church video about the freeze. “Church was our everything and all of a sudden it was all gone.” (history.lds.org/article/our-homes-became-the-sacrament-hall-sabbath-day-worship-during-the-freeze?lang=eng)
“It was like being an orphan,” said Kweku Ghartey.
Benedicta Elizabeth Kissi said before the freeze, members in Ghana were taking their ability to gather together on the Sabbath day for granted.
“When the freeze came we couldn’t meet as brothers and sisters,” she recalled.
However, the 9,000 Latter-day Saints in Ghana committed to keep the faith on their own.
With permission from Church leaders at headquarters, members began to organize meetings in their homes with their families. Each week they dressed in their Sunday best, partook of the sacrament and sang hymns.
William Acquah said, “Our living room became a sacrament hall.”
Brother Ghartey said partaking of the sacrament in their homes sanctified their homes. “The Spirit of the Lord was strong.”
Charles Sono-Koree said the freeze taught Church members to know and to understand how important the Sabbath day is to God’s children and to His Church.
President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during his April 2015 general conference address that though the doctrine pertaining to the Sabbath day is of ancient origin, it has been renewed in these latter days as part of a new covenant with a promise.
“That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
“For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High. …
“And on this day … let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, … that thy joy may be full. …
“And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, … the fulness of the earth is yours” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-10, 13, 15-16).
Quoting Isaiah in calling the Sabbath “a delight,” President Nelson said, “true believers keep the Sabbath day holy.”
Most of us may never be faced with a challenge similar to that faced by the Ghanaian Latter-day Saints — who lost their ability to worship together on the Sabbath day.
However, like them we can show our dedication and commitment to the Lord and His Church. One way to do this is following the recent directive from Church leaders to improve our observance of this sacred day.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained in a training video released in June 2015 that Church leaders have felt the importance of encouraging families and individuals to rethink and refocus their efforts on what they do on the Sabbath day. “Our whole desire is that throughout the Church, we focus our Sabbath day worship on the Lord,” he said. (www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-leaders-call-for-better-observance-of-sabbath-day)
(Church News Feb 6, 2016)