In 1965, Anthony Obinna had a dream of Jesus Christ taking him through the Salt Lake Temple. Having never seen the temple before, he did not recognize the building until he saw pictures of it in the Reader’s Digest in 1971. He sent a letter to Church headquarters in Salt Lake City and was told that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had not yet been established in his country of Nigeria with no plans to do so.
- “I was totally disappointed,” Obinna recalled, “but the Holy Spirit moved me to continue writing. Many a time in dreams I saw some of the missionaries of the Church discussing matters about the Church.”
- He continued to write, and while his patience was sometimes tried, he didn’t give up on the testimony that had been kindled inside him.
- “We are not disencouraged anyhow but shall continue to pursue the practice of our faith which we have found to be true,” he wrote in 1976 in response to another letter urging Obinna to do the best he could on his own for the time being. “We are very optimistic that Our Lord Jesus Christ will make it possible in future for the Church to take more direct action. We are well aware that our faith is being tried. We are doing everything we can to establish the truth among so many of Our Heavenly Father’s children in this part of the world.”
He asked Church headquarters for gospel literature. He also began an unofficial branch in his village.
After the priesthood was extended to all worthy males of the Church in June 1978, Obinna sent a letter to Church headquarters pleading for missionaries to be sent hastily to Nigeria. The branch operated until November 1978 when the first missionaries—Rendell and Rachel Mabey and Edwin and Janath Cannon—arrived and three days later baptized 19 of the congregation. Obinna was ordained a priest and appointed as the branch president. His brothers were called as his counselors in the branch presidency.
Obinna and his brothers soon wrote another letter to the leadership of the Church:
- “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,” they wrote. “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.”
Obinna baptized his wife Fidelia and she served as the first black Relief Society president in Africa. In 1989, they were sealed in the Logan Utah Temple; their son was living in Logan at the time. Obinna passed away on August 25, 1995, at the age of 67.