Mormons reach growth milestones in Africa, world

The LDS Church organized its 3,000th stake — a group of congregations like a diocese — over the weekend. This one was in the West African country of Sierra Leone.

Despite ongoing political tensions and upheaval across the continent, Africa remains fertile territory for Mormon missionaries, reports LDS growth expert Matt Martinich.

"In 2012, the Utah-based faith has made significant progress organizing new stakes in countries that previously had no stakes," Martinich writes on his blog. "Earlier this year, the first stakes were organized in Botswana, Cape Verde, India and New Caledonia."

For the past few decades, the LDS Church has focused missionary work and humanitarian aid on that region of the globe.

For instance, the Ouelessebougou Alliance, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit organization, announced Monday in a news release that it is working with Islamic Relief, LDS Humanitarian services and the LDS Provo Missionary Training Center on a project to send 4,200 education kits and 4,500 health kits to the West African nation of Mali to benefit villagers in one of the poorest areas of the world.

Oh, yes, and a Brigham Young University graduate and Mormon entrepreneur, Yeah Samake, is running for president of Mali.