Restoration Missionary Work Goes To Africa

In 1992 Hensley M* who was from Nigeria West Africa, came to the RLDS World conference, discouraged about the changes taking place in the church. He stayed with Mary Anne and Val Gross who were members of Colbern Road Restoration Branch. Of course they witnessed to Hensley.

Hensley became excited when he heard that there was a body of saints who were holding to the original doctrine called RESTORATION BRANCHES.

Hensley was introduced to Michael Gatrost who took an interest in helping Hensley in some way as did Mary Anne Gross. Both attended the Colbern Road Restoration Branch. When Hensley returned home, he wrote Mary Anne a letter asking that someone come and discuss becoming part of the Restoration Branches.

In 1993, the Center Place Restoration Corps under the leadership of Dr. Charles Zerr and Richard Smith the chairman, was asked to help send someone to Nigeria. Skip Robison was asked and George Mefferd was asked because he was chairman of the Colbern Road Restoration Missionary Committee at the time. Michael Gatrost and Dr. Zerr sent $500.00 to Hensley which was not received for several months.
Michael, Gatrost at one business meeting at Colbern Road, appealed to the Branch to set aside some money to assist Hensley. This was the beginning of Colbern Road's involvement with the work in Africa.

Skip and George consented to go to Nigeria. Communication was very bad. Telephone service was totally unreliable and most of the time those who answered the phone couldn't speak English. E-mail was not a choice and sending a FAX was nearly impossible but was about the only way to communicate with Henlsey in preparation to go to Nigeria. Nigerian phone lines were usually not in operation. There was concern about going to Nigeria because the country was in turmoil and it was not safe for an American to go there without being met by a Nigerian.

George and Skip heard that Hensley was already in Lagos looking for them so they decided to go. They were to travel by standby tickets which didn't work. In Kansas City, Skip was permitted to travel but George was not but Since they were traveling together, the airlines did allow George to travel.

In St. Louis there were over 50 waiting on stand- by and they were told that it would be at least the next day. Skip or George called Dr. Zerr and finally decided that George and Skip would pay $750.00 each to get to London and then continue on standby. This could never have happened if Skip didn't have a credit card.

Arriving at the Lagos International Airport, George and Skip looked for Hensley. Hensley didn't know if George and Skip were coming for sure and they didn't know if Hensley was still in Lagos or how to find him.
By the grace of God, patience and much fervent prayer, connection was finally made after two days.

Six members of Hensley's family became part of the Restoration with over 40 nonmembers worshiping in Hensley's church. George had a revelation from the Lord to call Hensley to the office of Elder. Skip gave confirmation of the call, all taking place about 2:00 AM in the morning.

Colbern Road gave $500.00 and South Chrysler gave $2000.00 for Hensley to buy a good used car. George helped raise $700 for Hensley and Gloria to get married. They had wanted to get married for a few years but couldn't afford to.

Since then money was raised for another car for Hensley as well as a bus for the church.

Michael and Julie Gatrost became part of the Coyle Foundation and agreed to use $35,000.00 to help Hensley build a church in Umuahia. Membership now exceeds 100 with 11 priesthood and an elementary school taking place at the church.  The school was started in 2003 with an enrollment now of over 100 students.  There was no water at the church until someone contributed funds to drill a well and storage barrels to have a surplus when the electrical power is off.

In 2002 the team conducted a women’s retreat and a youth retreat. Sheila Shrunk brought much appreciated ministry to the women. Testimonies from women and youth illustrated how valuable this ministry was. A few testimonies from women and youth are available. <READ MORE>

Gloria M*, Hensley’s wife is a nurse and has a clinic at the church where she has treated hundreds of patients and has delivered babies. Gloria offers this ministry when she is off work and on weekends. This is a free service she and the church offers to those who are unable to afford a doctor or hospital. She is always in need of funds for medicine and equipment.

THE WORK IN KENYA BEGAN IN 1994 UNDER THE DIRECTION OF SEVENTY RICHARD NEILL 

In July 1994, at the South Chrysler Reunion, a prophecy was given to Pamela O*, through Patriarch Verle Cornish. Pamela was visiting from Kenya, as a guest of Viola Presler. The prophecy stated that thru her testimony, the gospel would go throughout Africa.

Correspondence ensued over the next several months, until January 1996, when Seventy Ron Smith and Elder Steve Ferguson went on the first missionary trip of the Restoration, to Kenya. In February 1997, Seventy Richard Neill, Elder Steve Smith and Priest Jared Hawley went on a second mission to Kenya, resulting in several baptisms, and the ordination of Sam A*, Pamela's father, to the office of Elder.  Richard Neill was the spokesman and Steve Smith assissted. There was a very positive report of this field.  Since that time Elder Sam A. has been very instrumental in helping to spread the work in Africa.  It was through Sam at the University that Eric met Pamela, was converted to the church and then married Pamela.  Eric also works tirelessly spreading the gospel, even now to Tanzania and Uganda.

IT WAS UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE CENTER PLACE RESTORATION MISSIONARY CORPS
THAT THE A.R.M. BOARD WAS FORMED, BRINGING ALL OF THE AFRICAN MINISTRIES TOGETHER.


Prior to this date nearly all missionary endeavors were going through the Center Place Restoration Missionary Corp. At the April meeting in 1997, a motion was made to establish a missionary board to focus on ministry to Africa, and that this board would consist of people who had been to Africa. It passed unanimously, and Seventy Richard Neill and Elders Steve Smith, Steve Ferguson, George Mefferd and Skip Robison were placed on the board.Brothers Neill and Smith had been to Kenya in February 1997, Brother Ferguson was in Kenya in January 1996, and Brothers Mefferd and Robison had been to Nigeria in 1993.

This new missionary board met for the first time in May 1997. The first item on the agenda was deciding on a name for the organization. Bro. Neill shared an experience he had, and he felt directed the name should be African Restoration Ministries, to be known by the acronym, A.R.M. Bro Mefferd confirmed this idea, stating that he had had the same experience. There was unanimous agreement for the name of this new missionary board. Bro. Neill was elected Chairman by virtue of his office of Seventy and this being a new field and unorganized. Skip Robison was elected Vice-Chairman and Steve Smith Treasurer. Steve was commissioned to obtain a bank account and to get A.R.M. registered for a 501c3 tax exempt status.  Richard Neill acted as chairman for several years. George Mefferd, Doug Smith and Dale Stafford have served as chairman since.  The ARM Board consists of 9 members chosen from those who have brought ministry in Africa.    <READ MORE>

Over the next several months plans were made for the next trip, which took place in August 1997. Seventy Ron Smith and his wife Di and Elder Doug Smith, were joined by Seventy Richard Neill and Elders Brian Mundy and Gary Hawley and Priest KJ Eichhorn on this third Mission.

At the April 2002 Conference of Elders, it was approved that the A.R.M. board would join the Restoration Conference of Elders. and work through the Evangelism Council, as a board under the Conference of Restoration Elders. [Tidings of Zions May-June 2002 Issue]

Liberia became a newly formed group in Africa in 2005 when Randy Vick was assigned there by the United Nations Mission to Liberia. He served as a UN Police Commander. 


The work goes forward with the help of many good men and women. Some of the young men and some women have brought new hope to the youth and the women in Africa. < READ MORE>


* last names removed for privacy