6: A Woman of Faith: Sara Beysolow Nyanti, Foreign Minister of Liberia

During a 24-hour stop in Kinshasa on June 12, Chris Miasnik and I were invited for a short visit to the Embassy of Liberia in the DR Congo by our longtime friend Da Moynson Tarr, Chargé d’Affaires. He mentioned that he would be leaving the following week for Salt Lake City where he would be to host the foreign minister and asked if I could join him.

What a wonderful day it turned out to be! And at the airport, she graciously agreed to share impressions about her visit in the short video posted below.

Sara Beysolow Nyanti is a Liberian woman who has accomplished much good in her life [2]. She specializes in building multilateral partnerships to address humanitarian issues [3]. In 2005, she began work for the United Nations. She successfully confronted crises in Nepal, Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria, Gambia, Yemen, and South Sudan [4]. In 2021, she was appointed as UN Assistant Secretary General [5]. In 2023, she became the foreign minister for Liberia and the dean of the president’s cabinet [6].

During her visit, Sara was presented with this figure of Christ [7].

Sara Beysolow Nyanti is a woman of faith. She believes in God and in the power of good and godly people to relieve suffering, restore justice, and empower individuals to reach their potential. Nyanti is an ordained Reverend and a minister at the Zion Grove Baptist Church in Brewerville, outside Monrovia. She is married to Stephen Joeboe Nyanti and is a mother and grandmother.

Her faith impels her to see the work she does every day as a form of ministry [8]:

The reality is that there is a temple ministry and there’s a palace ministry. You can serve in the church, pastor the church– be the one that’s ushering and teaching and so forth. But you can also be the one that’s in leadership in the nation that’s called to bring shalom to the lives of God’s people. The temple ministry is expected to reinforce the palace ministry.

And so for me, the service to humanity that I’ve done in other roles I’ve had in the UN, and particularly this role, it’s all, it’s all about ministry. How do we make sure that in our service, we are bringing shalom to the people?

The morning was a whirlwind of activity including visits to various Church food production and humanitarian facilities, hosted by Da Tarr and by Elder and Sister David and Annette Wells. Nyanti’s comments underline the joy and astonishment she felt in seeing these efforts:

“I was so inspired. … I used to be humanitarian coordinator, huge humanitarian operations … and to see that you are on the other side and some of the food we’re giving, some of the hygiene kits we’re distributing. It came from you! I didn’t know that! And that blew my mind” [9].

“I was not expecting that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a program, has a whole system, a global system. of self-reliance, of food security, of promoting maternal health. And I’m not talking about just throwing money here or there, … it’s labor. You’re working, you’re growing, you’re planting, you’re preserving, and you’re feeding, and you’re teaching others how to feed. … This is what church is intended to be” [10].

After lunch, Andrew Unsworth described the Tabernacle and its organ—and literally pulled out all the stops as he demonstrated the power of music to move and inspire.

“To see that humongous, monstrous machine of a piece of equipment—that’s an organ! … Some of the pipes go 32 feet!” [11]

Afterward, the minister was visibly moved to see photographs of her deceased father presented by members of the FamilySearch team:

“Never did I imagine I would see my father’s face on that screen in that presentation. … That was hugely emotional for me” [12]

The reach of affordable higher education made possible through BYU Pathway in Liberia and thirty-eight other countries in Africa was welcome news of potential partnership:

“You have the BYU … where Liberians can get their certificates and degrees online at minimal costs. … We’ll work with the existing subcommittee we have on education … so we can look constructively at how we now promote this and get young people signed on” [13].

We were uplifted by the minister’s optimistic and faith-filled closing words: [14]

I leave with the sense [that] I’m not crazy that this view I have of what church means and what Jesus intended that is being lived out [here]. …

I leave … with a stronger conviction and more confidence in the fact that Liberia can be transformed. Just looking at what a church can do from the ground up, it’s like building a nation. That’s what a nation can do.

I leave from here with more confidence, with stronger conviction, and the fact that it’s possible. Yes, for sure. God bless you, too.

View Notes

[1] Screenshot from “A Woman of Faith” video, at about 00:11:43.

[2] For a general biography, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_Beysolow_Nyanti (accessed July 4, 2024).

[3] See Nyanti’s article entitled, “Dealing with ethical dilemmas: A partnership broker’s personal perspective,” in Betwixt and Between: The Journal of Partnership Brokering, Issue 6, 17 June 2016, https://partnershipbrokers.org/w/journal/dealing-with-ethical-dilemmas-a-partnership-brokers-personal-perspective/ (accessed July 4, 2024).

[4] Some of Nyanti’s harrowing and heartfelt experiences in South Sudan are summarized in a podcast entitled “My Heart Was Crying – Sara Beysolow Nyanti – Former Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan,” Awake at Night, https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/my-heart-was-crying-sara-beysolow-nyanti-former-resident/id1429922419?i=1000619826301 (accessed July 4, 2024).

[5] https://frontpageafricaonline.com/news/2016news/liberian-woman-appointed-to-assistant-secretary-general-level/ (accessed July 4, 2024).

[6] See, for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvKSSTsrliE ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrDy8iXqCu0 (accessed July 4, 2024).

[7] Photo courtesy of Elder and Sister David and Annette Wells, 27 June 2024. Photo ID: IMG_4366.jpeg.

[8] From “A Woman of Faith” video, at about 00:02:00.

[9] From “A Woman of Faith” video, at about 00:07:00. Photo courtesy of Elder and Sister David and Annette Wells, 27 June 2024. Photo ID: IMG_4361.jpeg.

[10] From “A Woman of Faith” video, at about 00:06:00. Photo courtesy of Elder and Sister David and Annette Wells, 27 June 2024. Photo ID: IMG_4354.jpeg.

[11] From “A Woman of Faith” video, at about 00:08:00. Photo courtesy of Elder and Sister David and Annette Wells, 27 June 2024. Photo ID: IMG_4378.jpeg.

[12] From “A Woman of Faith” video, at about 00:08:30. Photo courtesy of Elder and Sister David and Annette Wells, 27 June 2024. Photo ID: IMG_4400.jpeg.

[13] From “A Woman of Faith” video, at about 00:09:00. Photo by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, 27 June 2024. Photo ID: IMG_7614.jpeg.

[14] From “A Woman of Faith” video, at about 00:11:00.

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw