|Church launches ‘Voice of Hope’ radio in Côte d’Ivoire|
Lydie Acquah and Bishop Benjamin Boni pray in the
studio of the new United Methodist radio station in Abidjan, Côte
d’Ivoire. UMNS photos by Ginny Underwood.
By Tim Tanton*
Dec. 28, 2009 | ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire (UMNS)
People in this West African country are receiving messages of hope
along with information to enhance their lives through a new radio
station launched by The United Methodist Church.
The station, Radio Methos (101.6 FM), began test transmissions during
the Christmas holidays, and Bishop Benjamin Boni, who leads the
denomination’s Côte d’Ivoire Conference, will address listeners on New
Described by the church as “The Voice of Hope,” the station first hit
the airwaves Dec. 20 with a test broadcast of songs in French.
Acquah, director of the new 101.6 FM station, demonstrates
the production studio equipment.
“Glory to God,” said Edouard Okoué, coordinator of the church’s radio
project, as he listened to the music through a cell phone. The phone
was passed around a group of United Methodists gathered at Okoué’s home.
It was an emotional moment, as members of the group laughed with
delight or simply smiled through eyes brimming with tears.
Lydie Acquah, hired as station director in November, described her
feeling upon hearing the broadcast in one word: “Joy.”
A longer transmission followed on Dec. 24 with a Christmas Eve
worship service, greetings recorded by church leaders, and music. The
test ended the following day and was scheduled to resume Dec. 28.
A hard road
“The dream has become a reality,” Boni said in an interview. The
radio station will be a way to educate and transform people, and to
spread the good news of Jesus Christ across the country, he said.
When he speaks on Jan. 1, he is going to give thanks for all that God
has done in 2009 and commit the radio project into his hands, he said.
The launch is a milestone in a process that began 18 months ago with
conversations involving the radio station’s four partners – the Côte
d’Ivoire Conference, the Texas Annual (regional) Conference, United
Methodist Communications and the denomination’s Board of Higher
Education and Ministry.
Bishop Boni tries out the equipment at
the new station, ‘The Voice of Hope.”
The journey has been “very hard,” Okoué said. An auditor at an
accounting firm, he has given many hours each week in volunteer time to
helping make the station a reality.
Though the equipment installation is complete, construction of the
building is still under way. The station is housed behind Jubilee United
Methodist Church in Abidjan – the church where the Christmas Eve
The station will be the church’s biggest communications asset,
enabling it to reach villages that otherwise would be inaccessible, said
Sam Koffi, an assistant to Boni. “Communication is the key no matter
what you do.”
The country is trying to reunify after a long crisis, marked by a
five-year war that ended with peace agreements in 2007. The crisis has
left people tired and without hope, Koffi said. “The most critical thing
this radio is going to focus on is bringing people hope” through health
and education programs, he said.
Rebuilding the country
Acquah sees opportunities for disseminating information about topics
as diverse as health, agriculture, poverty and the electoral process.
She also wants to reach out to youth and women, who are often most
affected by poverty.
“My vision is simple but a very strong one,” she said, speaking in
French. “…Because of what we suffered during the war, the radio station
has both a vision to evangelize and also to work for a rebuilding of a
new Côte d’Ivoire.”
The presidential election, expected to occur in February or March,
will be an important moment for the country. The radio station will
broadcast messages of peace, reconciliation and the importance of
accepting the election result, Acquah said.
Stamping out diseases of poverty is a focus for The United Methodist
Church, and Acquah said the radio station will sensitize people to the
causes of malaria, one of the worst killers of African children. “The
radio’s going to be extremely important in information sharing with
respect to waging the war against malaria.”
She also noted that the church operates medical ministries and
schools and is active in addressing social issues, yet doesn’t talk much
about itself. “We have a very exciting Methodist community but one that
was somewhat introverted, so the radio station is an opportunity to
render this community extroverted.” The church has about 700,000 members
in Côte d’Ivoire.
Messages played Dec. 24-25 included greetings from Boni; Bishop
Janice Huie, leader of the Texas Conference; the Rev. Larry Hollon, top
staff executive of United Methodist Communications; and the Rev. Jerome
King Del Pino, top staff executive of the Board of Higher Education and
Ministry. The partners will dedicate the station in March.
The station is encouraging supporters to leave a message by Jan. 1 to
be broadcast on air. The message – a scriptural passage, inspirational
quote, personal testimony or comment – can be recorded by calling
More information on the station is available at www.amplifyhope.org.
*Tanton is Media Group director for United Methodist Communications.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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