As you know, I'm in a Modern Africa class at BYU. Yesterday's class focused on the Church in Africa. You probably also know that my baby brother is currently serving in Angola (part of the Mozambique mission), so I had a feeling that the topic would be one to which I'd feel a connection. But I wasn't really prepared for what an emotional and uplifting experience I would have. We watched the film Pioneers of Africa, which took up most of the class period, and then we just discussed our thoughts for the last 15 minutes of class. I will not apologize for what I say next: Yesterday strengthened my testimony that BYU is the Lord's university. No, I do not mean that makes our sports teams succeed or sets BYU students above anyone else. What I do mean is that BYU was established for a very specific purpose: "To assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life." The aims of a BYU education are to be spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, character building, leading to lifelong learning and service. How grateful I am that I've had the chance to take part in that sort of an education, and how badly I wish I would have taken greater advantage of my time there. I have less than a month left at BYU, and I know I will miss it. I will miss the chance to so openly discuss spiritual topics in a secular setting. I will miss knowing that the person sitting next to me in class holds more or less the same beliefs I do. But I'm also excited to take this unique education and apply it elsewhere. We don't need a BYU professor to allow us to build our testimonies of God through learning and study. We have been taught that the Holy Ghost will teach us the truth of all things. That means each of us can grow closer to our Father in Heaven by enriching our lives through knowledge and learning. So I challenge you each to do that. Whether you're in school or not, make a goal to learn something new, to better yourself.
Specifically, the discussion in our class highlighted the stark contrast between the dark, oppressive history of colonialism in Africa that we have spent the semester learning about and the brightness of hope that the Gospel brought to saints in Africa. The most interesting thing was realizing that one could not have happened without the other. Without colonialism, Europeans would never have sent Christian missionaries to Africa. Without exposure to Christian beliefs, Africans would not have been prepared to hear the Gospel. It reemphasized for me that trials are brought about for our own good. It's hard to remember, but it's so nice to know that the Lord only gives us struggles in order to prepare us for something greater.
How refreshing to see the big picture once in awhile :)