Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on an April ministering trip to France, Germany, Armenia and South Africa. He is extending the hand of friendship to the Church’s neighbors and friends and setting the example of Christ-like service to refugees and victims of disasters and conflicts.
First stop in Elder Rasband’s ministry was Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt, France, site of the Church’s Paris France Temple. He met there with a French journalist and explained his responsibilities as a special witness of Jesus Christ. He shared a copy of what he described as one of his most cherished possessions, The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ.
He then warmly welcomed Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt Mayor Richard Delepierre, presenting him with a copy of The Book of Mormon as well. Mayor Delepierre expressed his admiration for the temple and its architectural workmanship and grounds. He said that the sacred building has become a part of the greater community. He also expressed his desire to preserve religious liberties in the public sphere as part of his mayoral responsibilities.
In response, Elder Rasband said he was grateful for the mayor’s support of all faiths, including The Church of Jesus Christ.
“He is a great friend of the Church,” Elder Rasband said. “In fact, at one point in our interview, I said, ‘you ought to be a spokesman for our Church.’ He was so kind and so generous in his comments with the Church’s participation in his city.”
In addition to meeting with civic leaders, Elder Rasband ministered to thousands of Church members and missionaries over the course of the weekend, in several meetings. He shared with them his and Sister Rasband’s love of France, where he had for several years managed a business venture in Ribecourt, north of Paris, and later as a General Authority served in the Europe Central Area Presidency, which oversees Church operations in France.
The apostle shared that the focus of his ministry to Church members is bringing a three-fold message from Church President Russell M. Nelson: “I’m going to tell them three things in every meeting. One: We love them so very much. Two: We thank them for all that they’re doing to build up the Lord’s Church and His Kingdom. And third: We need them.”
Elder Rasband’s second stop was Munich, Germany, where he met with 170 Church full-time missionaries in the Germany Alpine Mission, which serves southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
After addressing the missionaries, Elder Rasband ushered them outside, into three large white tents. Inside, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with them, assembling and boxing 2,532 hygiene kits. Other missionaries loaded them onto a commercial truck, where they will aid earthquake survivors in Türkiye and Syria. Church members in the Frankfurt, Germany area mirrored the Munich project, assembling another 2,500 hygiene kits.
“We’re delivering them to the Turkish consulate so they can be sent to the places where they’re needed most,” Elder Rasband explained. “To date, the Church has contributed (US)$13.5 million of funding and goods to help in this relief effort. It all goes back to our belief in caring for Heavenly Father’s children.”
Elder Rasband related that in Türkiye, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is working with AFAD (the national disaster management agency) to deliver 50,000 food boxes and 50,000 hygiene kits to impacted families. The Church’s contributions also include tents, blankets, medical supplies, infant care items, wheelchairs, generators, heaters and coats, as well as four mobile medical clinics for key disaster locations.
In collaborating with Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children, the Church of Jesus Christ is working to secure housing repairs, child protection services and psychosocial care for those in need. Relief projects are underway or completed through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Project HOPE, MedGlobal and Rahma Worldwide. Similar endeavors in Syria are being facilitated by the International Medical Corps, Mercy Corps, ADRA, ShelterBox, CARE and NuDay Syria.
Elder Rasband explained that European Latter-day Saints have also led the Church’s humanitarian response to the armed conflict in Ukraine and now the Turkish/Syrian earthquakes. Their efforts encompass a wide scope of service activities, including ongoing monthly relief shipments to Ukraine.
“My heart rejoices when I think of how … all of these countries in Europe are providing refugee service to families and mothers and children…,” Elder Rasband said.
He asked the missionaries to express his gratitude to Church members when they leave Munich to return their local congregations: “When you go back to your branches and your wards, you tell them that I shared my love and appreciation for them with you.”
Following his ministry in Germany, Elder Rasband travels to Armenia.