Bare Record blog pointed to an interesting article recently on the Church’s Newsroom website that was taken down apparently at about the same time the news broke that the Chuch is being accused of misusing and hoarding over $100,000,000,000.00 in cash. (I’ve posted the text of the article below). The article removed by the Church News reports on Elder Neil Andersen’s somewhat recent trip to Zimbabwe where he told their vice president, “We are not a wealthy people but we are good people, and we share what we have.”
I suppose one could argue that Elder Andersen was referring to the members of the Church in Zimbabwe when he said: “We are not a wealthy people …” I don’t think this was the case especially since now that the Church has buried the story altogether, but it is possible.
There are an estimated 23,000 Mormons in Zimbabwe and it’s very likely they are very, very poor.
Zimbabwe’s per capita GDP is $600, the third lowest in the world. The average wage is $253 a month—and that’s for the 30 percent of the population who are employed. The highest government salary is $508 per month. (Source)
And yet, Zimbabwe is one of the most expensive countries to live in. This translates to — members of the Church, like most people in that country, living in absolute squalor.
In my travels to Africa, I had the opportunity to visit with some of the members of the Church in another nation considered richer than Zimbabwe. I was overwhelmed by the poverty I witnessed there. I was told I could not give money to the people in the streets by my LDS escorts. I ignored their demand and was richly blessed by sharing whatever I could when they weren’t looking.
Members in that nation often worked for the Church in some capacity and while the Church did often pay slightly more than the going rate to many of them — most of them did not even have clean water to drink and still lived in abject poverty. In fact, the Stake President at the time did not have running water in his home (nor did any members in his stake) and in his case, he was lucky enough to have a water faucet on his small lot, although the water was not potable. No toilets in the homes either, just a hole in the ground a few feet outside the home if lucky. His home was very small and was built with cinder blocks. It had one bedroom and one other room. Their “kitchen” was a gas burner on the porch. Their shower consisted of taking a small bucket of cold dirty water from the faucet, with a sponge and some soap and pouring it on yourself while squatting in a filthy dirty concrete 2′ by 3′ shed. This was preferable to bathing in the river.
My business colleague and I were not allowed at first to travel by ourselves. We were driven around by a white LDS driver from compound to compound. When we entered the Mission Home, the guard checked our van for explosives as we entered the armed gated small office complex. When we went anywhere it was with this kind of security. The Mission Home I’m guessing was a $10,000 or more per month property, based on prices I saw for comparable spaces there. The Mission President and many of the couples serving with them lived in beautiful luxury apartments equipped with anything you’d enjoy in the US. Washer, dryer, dishwasher, 4+ bedrooms, beautiful furniture, etc. Clean water! Clean dishes! Showers, bathtubs, toilets, flooring, A/C! Heat! These were things that NO member of the Church in that region of Africa had. Even members who worked full time for the Church lived in shacks.
We finally decided to shake our security detail and went to see the real Africa. We hung out in the streets, we visited small businesses, and we went to a Christian church where members were singing praises to God. There was no piano, no musical instrument, no anything. They just had their angelic voices and they had their faith. It was then that I felt the Spirit of God — among the people with no security. Not dressed up like clergy or businessmen. Among the people who the white leaders were afraid to visit and to whom they refused to give their money.
I imagined all the things I could do for these people if I just had more resources. What a difference it would make to have access to clean water, a toilet, plumbing, electricity. How easy it would be for the Church to spend money on making these poor people’s lives a little better. At least for the members who they are taking tithing from. Build a hospital! Build a city in Africa instead of in Florida. Build affordable clean small homes where members can live with some dignity and comfort. Create a huge garden and only send service missionaries who live among the people. Bring modern medicine. Bring compassion.
Fast forward to Neil Andersen’s visit with the president of Zimbabwe.
“We are not a wealthy people but we are good people, and we share what we have.”
I could be wrong, but this comment seems more likely to align with what I experienced first hand in Africa. Otherwise stated: “Don’t let them know you have money, or they will mob you.” I find it truly sad if this is the selfish sentiment behind the mask of feigned love and generosity.
We should be spending billions of dollars around the world to help alleviate suffering. Here and abroad. Just hoarding that kind of money to me is sinful, especially considering that the money doesn’t even belong to them anyway. The greatest portion belongs to those who give the most. And the widow’s mite goes to members you’ll find in Zimbabwe and in Provo alike who simply have nothing to give but who are compelled to give in order to receive the blessings of the Temple.
Elder Andersen, they are not a wealthy people and they are sharing all they have with you and those around them. But what are we doing for them? With 100 Billion Dollars, we could literally change their world.
I personally hope there’s an accounting from the Church for those sacred funds. I don’t care if the funds are somehow called non-sacred because they’ve been laundered through the Stock Market. It’s still all tithing money and we as members have a right to know what it’s been used for.
Imagine if the accusation is true that the Church took money from these sacred funds and used them to bail out the failing City Creek Project allegedly to the tune of $1.3B. That’s over a Billion Dollars wasted on empty mall and condo spaces. How many homes could be built with that money alone? Even at the high cost of $250 a square meter in Zimbabwe, a beautiful clean little home or apartment could be built for $30,000. This would mean that with 100B, you could build more than 3.3 million homes, one for every active member of the Church.
The Church is defending itself as is expected. I can’t speak to whether they have done anything illegal, but I can say that hoarding and stockpiling the widow’s mite is repulsive especially while pretending to be poor and humble.
Elder Andersen meets with Zimbabwe’s Vice President Mohadi, pledges support
A Historic Visit
Elder Neil L. Andersen, a member of The Quorum of The Twelve Apostles from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has concluded a historic visit to the office of Zimbabwe’s Vice President, His Excellency K. Mohadi.
Elder Andersen discussed with Vice President Mohadi plans to assist with development, education, improvement of health services and strengthening of families. He pledged support and love for the people of Zimbabwe, noting that the Southern African country was now home to more than 30,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Elder Andersen was accompanied by his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, and by Elder Joseph W. Sitati, 1st Counselor in the Africa Southeast Area Presidency, and his wife Sister Gladys Sitati, and by President Phillip Mathemera, president of the Zimbabwe Harare South Stake.“One thing we have learned as being disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ is that we put more on what we feel than what we see, and when we are with the people of Zimbabwe, we feel the love of God for them, and we feel their goodness,” Elder Andersen said in an interview following the meeting of November 14, 2018.Elder Andersen said the significance of the meeting with Vice President Mohadi was to “express to him our desire to help improve Zimbabwe.” He noted that Vice President Mohadi had made a specific request for support with the development of clean-water wells in more remote areas of Zimbabwe.“We want to help in every way we can,” said Elder Andersen. “We are not a wealthy people but we are good people, and we share what we have,” he added.Before meeting Vice President Mohadi, Elder Andersen briefly met with Hon. Minister Davis Marapira, who expressed gratitude for Elder Andersen’s visit and reiterated the government’s desire to revive the economy, attract investment and drive rural development.Marapira is the former Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement.
Elder Andersen said he expected to meet with Zimbabwean President, His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa during his visit to Harare, however, the planned visit coincided with a trip by the President to Kenya.“We wish him well. We are thankful for his attitude and his desire to help this country. We pray very deeply that he can be successful. We know he’s a believing man, and we pray that he will pray, and that the blessings of Heaven could be upon him, upon his leaders and the people and that there can be progress economically in this country,” said Elder Andersen.Elder Andersen also shared with Vice President Mohadi news that the Church planned to begin construction of the Harare Temple in late 2019, an edifice that will bring special blessings to the people of Zimbabwe.The current number of Temples either operating, announced, or under construction in Africa is nine.