Paul Smith is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Paul Smith is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Mormon Church will expand its teachings to Africa and Asia.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has expanded its spiritual outreach to broader parts of the world. The LDS has announced the creation of three brand new missions. One of them lies in Vietnam and the other two are located in Africa: Nigeria Owerri Mission and Democratic Republic of Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission.

Each of the three newly minted missions shall be made by the realignment of the existing boundaries of missions already present in the larger region. All three will begin operations before on on July 1, 2016. The Democratic Republic of Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission is to be carved from divisions of Democratic Republic of Congo Lubumbashi and Democratic Republic of Congo Kinshasa missions. The Nigeria Owerri Mission will be made from the division of Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission.

The new Vietnam mission is scheduled to be carved from the existing Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission. For a number of years, the latter has included missionaries who can speak Vietnamese and sent to do their work in Vietnam. They are termed branch builders and will continue buttressing local branches and members. President Lewis Hassell, responsible for Vietnam as a component of Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission, will head the new Vietnamese mission. Sister Mary Bliss Hassell, his wife, will accompany him. Hassell has taken responsibility of the region beginning May 2015.

Matt Martinich, an independent Mormon demographer, said that Mormons and a few LDS missionaries have operated in Vietnam for the preceding 10 years, but the Utah headquartered faith suffered minimal growth up to 2014. That was the year it was officially recognized and a second congregation, or branch, was created in Ho Chi Minh City.

To Mormons, establishing missions within a communist nation can be extremely exciting. Vietnam has an underserved population of 94 million individuals and LDS efforts have scarcely reached it. 

According to Martinich, the two new African missions are interesting developments -but their creation is predictable. The new Nigerian mission will perform an important role in the country. It has a mandate to reach out to the Igbo people, who live close to the mission. One prominent writer who belongs to the Igbo tribe was Chinua Achebe, who wrote Things Fall Apart. The Igbo homeland also houses the world's biggest Jesuit statue, which is 28 feet high. It is a logical decision to build a mission in the area, as the place has enjoyed notable growth in the last few years post arrival of missionaries.

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