Tribute was paid to Isaac Newton Addy at a memorial service on November 12, 2014 at the Christiansborg Stake Center in Accra, Ghana. (The story and photos of this service can be found on the Ghana Mormon Newsroom.) The service was well attended by friends, family, Church members and leaders as well as civic organizations, showing the wide range of his sphere of influence. Indeed, Brother Addy lived his seventy-six years fully, using his leadership and teaching skills to bless the lives of many people. As an early member of the Church in Ghana, the Lord has been able to use him as an instrument in His hands. The story of his conversion is, like so many Church pioneer stories, filled with miracles and shows the hand of God in the building up of His kingdom throughout the world.
Isaac was living in Britain with his sister when he first had contact with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had moved to England to further his education. He attended Bletchley College and also studied at the Litchwork College where he qualified as an agricultural engineer. Speaking of this time Isaac recalled, “Before the missionaries came to my home I was disturbed about my very life. I fasted and prayed, fasted and prayed.” When Elder States and Elder Zoupan knocked on his door, his curiosity was aroused. Wondering who these men were, dressed in black suits and wearing hats, he invited them in to learn more about them. He felt that this might be an answer to his prayers.
Isaac’s house was filled with cigarette smoke and ash trays but it didn’t seem to bother the elders as they sat down and told him they were Mormons. Isaac didn’t even know what a Mormon was. The missionaries began telling him about Joseph Smith and the restoration of Christ’s Church. After several meetings with the missionaries and reading Church pamphlets they left with him, Isaac realized there was a great deal he could learn from these young missionaries. Following several meetings with the missionaries, he agreed to attend Church. However, when the missionaries arrived to pick him up, he was still half asleep. The missionaries were persistent and waited for him to get ready and took him to the Bletchley Leisure Center where the LDS meetings were held in Milton Keynes.
The people he met at Church were very warm and welcoming. Isaac could not believe that his color did not mean a thing to them. As he spoke with them, he felt there was something special about these Mormon people. He felt he had found his place. Learning about the Word of Wisdom, Isaac realized he would have to make some changes. Speaking of this time, he said: “They don’t smoke and they don’t drink. They don’t do the things that I normally do. Wow, that’s going to be a change. I’m going to save a lot of money now because I will no longer waste my money on these things again.”
The missionaries asked Brother Addy to read certain portions of the Book of Mormon and then pray and ask the Lord if these things were true. They assured him that the Lord would give him all the answers and help him find out if the Church was true. This happened quite dramatically when, after much prayer, Isaac had a vivid dream. Isaac spoke of this experience in 2010: “Seriously I prayed and prayed, and one night as if we were talking, the way we are sitting now talking, the Lord was just talking to me. I saw both sides of the coin: His beautiful home and then that of my senior brother, Lucifer, I saw his home as well.” Isaac knew where he wanted to be. After this experience there was no turning back, Isaac agreed to be baptized.
Before he was baptized, the Church leaders told Isaac he would not be able to receive the priesthood, but he did not fully realize what that meant at the time. He was baptized on 14 February 1976. As he attended Church, he began to understand about the priesthood and ask questions about it. The Bishop reassured him with the words: “Isaac, in the Lord’s own time you will become.” Isaac held onto those words and accepted the calling of Sunday School president and served as instructor of the teacher development class. Thus began many years of service to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The fact that the priesthood was not extended to people of African descent was also causing difficulties for the missionaries in teaching another investigator, June Gael, from Trinidad and Tobago. The missionaries invited Isaac to accompany them to teach her. As they met with her she said, “I have two boys, and if my boys cannot hold the priesthood I don’t think I can become one of you.” Brother Addy said, “Sister June, I am black, am I not? I have accepted the gospel because of my own personal testimony and revelation that I had. What do you think about that?” Again June replied, “My boys.” Then Brother Addy remembered exactly what the bishop had said—“at God’s own time.” He told June, “I think, in the Lord’s own time, things will be sorted out. I am not happy, but because of the revelation that I had, I’ve accepted the gospel. Why don’t you do the same?” Not only did June have the faith to accept the gospel and join the church, she later became Isaac Addy’s wife.
Brother Addy’s bishop was correct, the Lord’s own time did come. In June of 1978, the blessings of the priesthood were extended to all worthy male members of the Church. When a member of his ward called to tell Isaac he could now hold the priesthood, Isaac didn’t believe him. The following Sunday Isaac’s bishop confirmed the good news, interviewed him and he was ordained to the office of priest. Isaac Addy was one of the first Africans to receive the priesthood. Isaac and June were sealed in the London temple in 1978. Later, Isaac also served as a veil worker in the temple.
The Church had brought many blessings into the life of Isaac Addy. He, in turn, began to think of his ancestors and had the desire to do his family history work. To do this, he needed to return to Ghana. He returned to Ghana in 1981. However, family history was not the only reason for him to be in Ghana. The Lord had a work for Isaac to do in the early days of the Church. Isaac served in many callings, was instrumental in getting places to worship, and in protecting Church assets during the “freeze”. The experience he acquired in England was put to good use as he invested his time, energy and personal resources in training leaders for the emerging Church in Ghana. Isaac Addy had exercised his faith and trusted in the Lord’s timing. Because of this, the Lord was able to use Brother Addy as an instrument to bless the building up of the Church in Ghana.