News Release

Elder David A. Bednar Addresses Latter-day Saints in Historic Virtual Devotionals

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led a series of historic virtual devotionals for the Middle East/Africa North Area April 24–26, 2020. He was accompanied by Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy and members of the Middle East/Africa North Area Presidency.

Latter-day Saints in the region gathered in their homes, across six time zones, to view the devotionals broadcast by internet transmission in Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog.


This was the first time a devotional was broadcast to the entire Middle East/Africa North region. The broadcasts originated from the Church Office Building auditorium on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, in the same room where general conference was broadcast to the entire world a few weeks before.

Participants were invited to submit questions in advance of the devotionals, which were held in a conversational format with a focus on becoming more devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.

Many of the questions centered on the recent announcement by Church President Russell M. Nelson to build a temple in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This will be the first Latter-day Saint temple in the Middle East.

Elder Bednar said that with all of the excitement about the announcement, the way to prepare for the temple is to focus on the covenants and the ordinances that have the power to transform men and women to become more like the Savior.

“The fundamental purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to transform us,” Elder Bednar said. “We are to be born again or to become new creatures in Christ. And we cannot do that just with our own capacity and our own willpower. We need heavenly help; we need the power of godliness in our lives.”

He continued, “That is what the ordinances do for us, by providing access to the power of godliness, over time, helping us to be born again, to receive his image in our countenances, to have more of the thoughts that Christ would have and to do more of the things that Christ would do. All of the ordinances on the covenant path are a part of that transformation process.”

Elder Bednar also answered a question asking if we truly can be considered perfect in mortal life. “The word ‘perfect’ means complete,” he explained. “We think perfect means performed without mistakes,” but it’s more helpful to “learn about the difference between performing without mistakes and over time incrementally becoming complete, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little.”

Building on the Foundation of Christ

“We live in a day in which the need to be close to the Savior has never been greater,” said Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy.

Comparing the magnificent root structure of a tall oak tree to faith in Jesus Christ, he said, “We choose how deeply we want to send our roots into gospel soil. We choose how closely we want to be drawn to the Savior, and to his gospel.”

“The Lord Jesus Christ, He is the true Foundation,” remarked Elder Clayton. “When we build on Him we cannot fall. Wherever you are, whatever your situation, if you will build on him, you will be fine.”

Elder Clayton reflected on his visits to the Middle East and North Africa regions with his wife, Kathy, and spoke of “the beautiful cities in which you live in your marvelous part of the world. We honor you; we respect you and we love you.”

Elder Anthony D. Perkins, president of the Middle East/Africa North Area answered a question about the recent Bicentennial Proclamation to the World: The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elder Perkins shared President Nelson’s description, that it is a “monument of words — words of solemn and sacred proclamation — written, not to be carved in ‘tables of stone’ but rather to be etched in . . . our hearts.”

“I think about what a blessing it will be for my grandchildren to be taught from that document,” said Elder Perkins. “I think the greatest use of this proclamation may be the way we teach it in our homes, to help our children have a strong foundation based on Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone supported by living prophets and apostles.”

Elder Perkins also encouraged members with questions about temporal and spiritual preparation. “We hope that you will prepare yourselves in every needful way. It is an attribute of God to prepare and to plan, and He will bless you. The key is exercising faith in Christ.”

Elder Larry S. Kacher, first counselor in the Middle East/Africa North Area Presidency, addressed the question of how to recommit to the faith in times of discouragement, a timely question in light of recent disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

He shared President Nelson’s counsel: “Our Father knows that when we are surrounded by uncertainty and fear, what will help us the very most is to hear His Son.”

“As we do,” Elder Kacher said, “we have received the promise from a prophet of God, President Nelson, who said, ‘I promise that you will be blessed with additional power to deal with temptation, struggles and weakness. I promise miracles in your marriage, family relationships and daily work. And I promise that your capacity to feel joy will increase even if turbulence increases in your life.’”

Elder Kacher continued, “All of those promises are given to us, if we can align our lives so that we can hear Him. Instead of turning inward, if we can turn upward and outward, these promises will come about, and we will be able to handle even the deepest discouragements that we face.”

Elder Kacher also expressed gratitude to members who, “during times of hardship and discouragement . . . have chosen to remain faithful to covenants.”

The Church’s new children and youth program was the backdrop for a question posed to Elder Jeffrey H. Singer, second counselor in the Middle East/Africa North Area Presidency.

In response to a question about how to figure out what goal is the right goal, Elder Singer reminded the youth, “This is your life. What do you want to accomplish? Who do you want to become?”

“As you think about setting goals,” he said, “and you are trying your best to follow the Savior, the Holy Ghost will prompt you with things that you can do now. That inspiration will come in the form of a thought, it will come in the form of a feeling, it might come when you are singing a song, but it will come.”

Elder Singer also counseled, “It is a choice that we make to follow Jesus Christ on the covenant path. And it makes life so much more hopeful.”

‘Addressing Us in Person’

Latter-days Saints in the Middle East/Africa North Area who participated commented on the unique format of the virtual devotionals. “It was so rewarding to me to feel like we were in a personal conversation with these leaders,” wrote Kristen Wilkinson. Confirming that same feeling, Salar Mustafa said, “I felt that I was in the audience with them. I listened to their messages as if they were addressing us in person.”

Others expressed the feelings of peace and love they felt from the leaders. “Their talks let me feel how special we are in this area,” said Hana Tiyari. The Ibrahim family reported feeling great peace when they listened to Elder Bednar.

Carina Davis felt grateful for the “promise that the Savior knows us and knows what we need right now.”

Elder Bednar emphasized, “These truths are for you, not just for everyone else. They are for you. Those promises are sure, and they apply to every covenant receiving, covenant keeping, covenant remembering, covenant honoring member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

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