News Release

Elder and Sister Bednar Reflect on Middle East Ministry 

Elder David A. Bednar and his wife, Susan, concluded a week-long ministry to the Middle East, where they connected with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. They also visited the general area where the announced Dubai, United Arab Emirates temple will be built.  

Common Values

Following a theme that Elder Bednar and Elder Gong recently discussed at a two-day conference at Brigham Young University titled “The Islamic World Today: Issues and Perspectives,” both Elder and Sister Bednar shared how much Latter-day Saints have in common with Muslims.

“We believe that the family is a central aspect of our faith; Muslims believe that also. Not for the same doctrinal reasons, but the values are identical,” Elder Bednar said.

“They are very devout. In the mornings and several times during the day you hear the call to prayer, and they pray often,” Sister Bednar added.

Elder Bednar also addressed religious persecution. “We have much more in common with Muslims than perhaps many people might expect. And unfortunately, there are some in the Church who have mischaracterized and negatively stereotyped Muslims. We are a people who know persecution, so we should not persecute those of different faiths.”

Middle East Latter-day Saints

“I am most impressed by the simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints in this area of the world,” Elder Bednar said. “I recognize that simple faith everywhere I go, but this is a different culture, and the members of the Church face difficulties in many aspects of their lives here. To see them press forward with such faithfulness will be a lasting memory for me.”

“I am astounded by the strengthening of the Church in this area. Numerically the growth is gradual but steady. The increase and strengthening of their faith in Jesus Christ is miraculous,” he emphasized.

Sister Bednar said, “The people are amazing. And many of them have sacrificed a lot to be members of the Church. It is incredible to see the faith of the members here in this area.”

Teachings of the Church

Elder Bednar held meetings with both the general membership of the Church and with leaders, sharing similar topics in his teachings. He said, “The name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the Church of Jesus Christ. He is the source of all truth. And we have tried to emphasize that principle.”

“We are yoked to and with the Savior through the covenants and ordinances of his gospel,” he continued. “To me, that is a very practical concept; it is not ethereal or abstract. In an increasingly confused world, we can have clarity of direction as we are yoked to and with Him.”

At various meetings Sister Bednar also addressed the Saints. “It is hard to look out in the audience, see the faces of the people, and not fall in love with them. We are all members of the Church of Jesus Christ. We have the same values. We are bound to each other and to the Lord through our covenants. I have a great feeling of love and admiration for all of these wonderful members,” she said.

Humanitarian Efforts

There are dozens of humanitarian projects in operation across the Middle East, something noted by Sister Bednar. “I have been impressed with the work Latter-day Saint Charities is accomplishing all over this region. The work is helping to bless the lives of people,” Sister Bednar continued. “I had an opportunity a few years ago to visit a refugee camp in Kurdistan. The Church has worked in a remarkable way to provide better living conditions for the people who are away from their countries.”

“There is an endless need,” Elder Bednar said. “We cannot address every single need, but we can address many. And we will assist as many people as we possibly can.”

Dubai, United Arab Emirates Temple

In the April 2020 general conference, Church President Russell M. Nelson announced the first temple to be built in the Middle East. He announced that the temple will be built in Dubai.

“It makes great sense that the temple would be located here,” Elder Bednar said.  "Transportation systems have been oriented to bring people here. It will provide ease of access, and it is in a very dynamic area. It seems to me the Lord has picked a perfect location for His temple.”

He added, “It will bless the Saints here in Dubai, in Middle Eastern countries, and Saints from throughout Eastern Europe. Dubai is a transportation hub; it will be easier for them to come to this temple.”

He expressed appreciation for government leaders. “The United Arab Emirates has been most supportive,” he said. “They are providing the opportunity for synagogues, for cathedrals, for various Christian churches, obviously for mosques, and for a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

“I think the United Arab Emirates is playing a key role in trying to show an openness and an inviting nature,” Elder Bednar said.

Special Memories

“I think one of my special memories was meeting here in Dubai,” Sister Bednar said.  The Saints had not been together for a year and a half. You could feel the excitement in the room. It was almost electric as they saw each other. There is something about gathering that fills our hearts and our souls with appreciation.”

“It is just a remarkable thing about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Sister Bednar said. “We hold each other in esteem, we appreciate what everyone is doing to build the kingdom, and the people that you connect with become lifelong friends.”

Elder Bednar said, “I like to invite members to ask questions in appropriate settings. And I will long remember the quality of the questions; that is how you know that there is increasing strength and increasing faith in the Savior. The questions from the members were not about programmatic things. They were about the essence of the gospel. They were simple. They were focused, and they were foundational.”

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.