LONDON — Rejoice Osaremwimba was wandering through shops near the Peckham High Street in London. She was only 19 years old when she left her native Nigeria, hoping to find better employment and education opportunities in London than at home.
At times she was lonely for her parents and siblings who remain in Nigeria, but with a few new friends and great optimism, she continued to work nights in a local restaurant and was saving money to begin studying at the local university within a few months.
Lately, she had become increasingly aware of an inner struggle that something was missing in her life. So without telling her friends or roommates, she was now in the second day of a planned three-day fast, hoping to find a church that would fill her emptiness.
Two missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where doing what missionaries often do — they were street contacting in Peckham on that day. When they first saw Rejoice, they had an initial concern that she was too young to approach, but felt they should go ahead and attempt a conversation. She thought it a little strange that one of their first questions was about her age, but after she assured them that she was 23 years old, they gave a very brief explanation about who they were and what they were doing, and then set up an appointment to meet two days later.
At the first real lesson, Rejoice readily received the doctrines they taught. She explained that she was a "seeker" who had been fasting and looking for a new church. After several lessons, she felt the emptiness inside dissolve away; almost as if some unseen light had replaced some strongly felt darkness. Within a few weeks she accepted their invitation to be baptized into the LDS Church and started sharing her new-found religion with her friends.
Rejoice's circumstances in London are not at all unusual. Within the boundaries of the local group of congregations, there live people from almost 150 nations. London has a very richly divergent population. Of the converts within the London England Wandsworth Stake, where Rejoice lives, during the past several months there have been baptisms of people from Columbia, Asia, Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone.
Mormon missionaries are sent around the globe and have a charge to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, in a single city, within a single LDS stake, those from many countries are taught.
Lorin Peterson is a retired oral surgeon serving a proselyting mission for the LDS Church in London, England. Email: [email protected]