This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The first white hand Amram Musungu ever shook belonged to a Mormon missionary.
It was 1992, and the 14-year-old Musungu had come for high school from his home in western Kenya to live with his brothers in Nairobi. He felt an instant kinship with that white boy from America willing to meet him in his own land.
Musungu was a deeply spiritual boy who attended a Pentecostal church throughout his childhood, but when his older sister died, he yearned to know where she was. He felt his pastor offered little solace and few answers.
The Mormon teaching about eternal families gave Musungu the hope he sought. He soon devoured the Book of Mormon, but the thought of baptism terrified him. He had been baptized by immersion once, and his pastor told him if he would die if he were ever baptized again. "But I was ready to die knowing I would see my sister again," Musungu says. "I didn't die, proved the Pentecostal church wrong."
Barely three years later, Musungu was given one day's notice before being called to serve as a full-time missionary in the Kenya Nairobi mission, which included Uganda and Tanzania.
"It taught me that you can go any place the Lord wants you to go," he says. "I plan things out, but Heavenly Father has other ideas. I rely on the [Holy] Spirit to direct my life."
Today, Musungu lives in Utah, with his wife, Noelle Nkoy. He is pursuing a graduate degree in economics at the University of Utah and helped translate the Book of Mormon into Swahili, which he teaches at Brigham Young University.
He is one of only two black men three black singers in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and spends time preaching Mormonism to African refugees, 35 of whom he baptized in 2007.
Friends, casual acquaintances and even strangers constantly ask him how he could join "that racist church," but Musungu is undeterred.
"Withholding priesthood served God's own purpose. His timetable is different than man's," he says. "I have seen the blessings of the priesthood in my life and many others. It's a good joy."
- Peggy Fletcher Stack