3:00 P.M. EST March 15, 2010 | ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS)
The Jubilee United Methodist Church Choir, led by Serge Melloh, sings
during the consecration of The Voice of Hope radio station in Abidjan,
UMNS photos by Tim Tanton.
View in Photo Gallery
United Methodists showed how to throw a party with the daylong
celebration of a new radio station—a celebration so joyful and energetic
that it could not be dampened by downpours outside.
“We are happy that God has inspired the church to build this radio
station to serve the glory of his name,” Bishop Benjamin Boni declared,
standing outside the station’s brightly polished wooden doors March 14.
What is the frequency, and what will be the name of the radio station
as a symbol of the living God? Boni asked, reading from a prepared
The station’s name is The Voice of Hope, and its frequency is 101.6
FM, replied the Rev. Michel Lobo, administrative secretary of the United
Methodist Côte d’Ivoire Conference. The name, he explained, came from
the 2008 General Conference theme, “A Future With Hope.”
The small crowd repeated the name and frequency—“La Voix De
L’Esperance, FM 101.6”—three times, concluding with “Amen!”
As the consecration continued, the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive
of United Methodist Communications, uncovered a large plaque bearing the
names of the station’s key partners: Boni, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of
the denomination’s Texas Annual (regional) Conference, Hollon, and the
Rev. Jerome King Del Pino, top executive of the United Methodist Board
of Higher Education and Ministry.
A four-hour worship service followed next door at Jubilee United
Methodist Church, where nearly 1,000 people filled the sanctuary and
overflowed into outside seating. The choir, a praise band and a brass
ensemble created a mighty sound of soaring French hymns and music that
poured out through the open windows and doors. Precious breezes blew
back in, cooling those inside.
The choir, decked in maroon robes and mortarboards, waved white
handkerchiefs in vigorous yet graceful movements as they sang,
frequently dabbing the moisture that glistened on their faces.
Edouard Okoue, the project coordinator who led the development of the
station, recognized the dignitaries and overseas guests and gave glory
to Jesus Christ for the station. He thanked the church members who
contributed “beyond what they had to do.”
He commended the station’s director, Lydie Acquah, who has led the
development of the staff and programming for the past four months. “Mrs.
Acquah, you have worked hard with your team,” Okoue said. “We put our
confidence in you, and we want to surrender you to the Lord.”
Acquah embodied the spirit of the day, dancing to the music
frequently. She urged people to give to the special collection for the
station near the end of the service.
“The baby is born,” she said. “The baby needs shoes and garments.”
She ticked off specific needs—computers, cars, vans, supplies—and the
people responded, dancing as they placed money in the offering baskets
at the front of the sanctuary. A shout of acclamation rang out when a
former prime minister, Pascal N’Guessan Affi, announced he was donating a
car. Joel Ackah, an insurance executive and president of the conference
board of investments, offered insurance for the building and car. The
day before, his brother, Emmanuel Auguste Ackah, ambassador to Ghana and
Côte d’Ivoire Conference lay leader, had brought a power generator for
A visionary step
Throughout the service, speakers expressed gratitude for the
partnerships that created the station, and representatives from the two
United Methodist agencies along with government ministers offered words.
Hollon spoke on behalf of his agency and for Bishop Huie—flight
problems prevented the Texas delegates from arriving in time. He
reminded the congregation of the Apostle Paul’s instructions to the
Philippians, to “provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the
living God” and to carry light into the world.
Bishop Benjamin Boni (left), the Rev. Celestin Akaffou (center) and
Lydie Acquah sing outside the new station.
View in Photo Gallery
“What you have undertaken with creating this radio station is a very
visionary thing to do,” he said. “It’s a very Methodist thing to do, to
take the good news into the world. It’s a very faithful thing to do, to
go into all the world with messages of hope, healing, peace and
“This is your station,” he said. “It speaks through your voice, and
it is your voice on behalf of all United Methodist Christians. Through
it, you convey the message of Jesus Christ, and you carry the hopes of
all United Methodists.”
Taking the podium, Ken Yamada, staff executive with the Board of
Higher Education and Ministry, noted that the weather outside the
worship service had changed.
“It is raining,” he said. “God is joining us in blessing this radio
station.” The congregation applauded.
Yamada said he hopes the station will be an important educational and
communications resource for the people of Côte d’Ivoire.
“The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry has already begun
working with Bishop Boni and Dr. Yed Angoran (advisor to Boni) on
establishing a distance-education center at the United Methodist
university in Côte d’Ivoire,” he said.
The center will link with a francophone project in Europe, the North
Katanga University in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Africa
University in Zimbabwe. “This is another step in providing essential
resources and infrastructure for the development of principled Christian
leaders who will transform Africa and the world.”
The station began broadcasting Dec. 24 with a signal that covers
Abidjan, the commercial capital of Côte d’Ivoire, as well as towns
around the city—an area with an estimated 3 million people. While
broadcasting different genres of Christian music in French and English,
the station also offers programming on a range of topics identified in
audience surveys—spiritual formation, health, school studies, legal aid,
Acquah expresses her joy before guests (from left) Yao Saki,
Rev. Larry Hollon, the Rev. Gary Henderson and
View in Photo Gallery
The programming reflects a principle that Boni emphasized in the
service: Evangelism must address a person’s whole needs. The work of
salvation isn’t restricted to the soul, he said.
“The Lord is really listening to our needs, and spreading the gospel
should be our priority,” the bishop said. He told the congregation that
he also envisions building a television studio.
Boni said the church must work closely with the minister of
communication. Yao Saki, a representative of the minister, offered words
of support. The presence of several political dignitaries reflected the
relationships the church has in the government.
The church’s view of radio as a force for good was lifted up during
the sermon, in which the Rev. Nathanael Ohouo preached against “evil
press” and said the church’s duty is to fight negative and untruthful
messages with the saving word of God.
During his communion prayer, Boni added: “We don’t want to have a
press that divides, but a press that unites”—one that advances hope, not
Hope was evident throughout the day, as the celebrations culminated
in a three-hour concert that had the United Methodists dancing until
*Tanton is on staff at United Methodist Communications.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.