On June 14, 1989, the government of Ghana banned all activities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the country. Foreign missionaries were sent home, meetinghouses were locked, and Church members were forced to keep a low profile during this time, which came to be known as the “freeze.”
“It was like being orphaned,” said Kweku Ghartey, a member, as he recalled the situation. With no end to the freeze in sight, many members dealt with challenges such as confusion and peer pressure.
The Church authorized members to hold meetings in their homes. Sundays were spent singing hymns, reading scriptures, and partaking of the sacrament in families and small groups.
“Our homes became sanctuaries of the Spirit,” recounted William Acquah.
Active and dedicated home and visiting teachers also played an essential role in holding the Ghanaian members of the Church together during the freeze. Newer converts remained in contact with fellow worshippers thanks to these important visits. Members began to realize that though the physical presence of the Church was missing, they were still enjoying the blessings of living the gospel.
“We realized that the Church is not the meetinghouse that had been taken away by the authorities but in our own hearts,” said Doris Aggrey-Barlow.
In November 1990, the government of Ghana ended the freeze, and the tried and tested members of the Church rejoiced to once again meet together in their chapels and meetinghouses.
Emmanuel Kissi, one of the people who had waited longest for the Church’s arrival in Ghana in 1978 and who saw his faith rewarded again when the government lifted the ban, summed up the experience of the Ghanaian Saints: “We’ve been through the furnace. We’ve come out refined.”