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(Benin) ‘A Dream-like Day’ IYF Center Groundbreaking Ceremony – Pastor Ock Soo Park awarded a medal

Downtown Cotonou

On March 11th, sirens from two motorcycles could be heard throughout the cities of Cotonou and Calavi as they escorted Pastor Ock Soo Park during his state visit. As we traveled between both cities all day, amazing works that were prepared by God occurred. In the morning we attended an English Camp at Benin Calavi University hosted by the IYF USA branch. Having attended the camp and right before giving a Mind Lecture, pastor was able to have a short meeting with the former Vice Chancellor. After the meeting, pastor gave an hour long special Mind Lecture to the English Camp participants. We could feel the students’ hearts become brighter as pastor gave a message on how people can live a joyful life when they open their hearts and converse amongst each other.

Good News Medical Volunteers providing medical service in Benin

Medical volunteer service will start from today and last until tomorrow inside the Calavi City Hall. The city of Calavi is located right beside Cotonou, the capital of Benin, and is also home to the government donated land where the Benin IYF center shall be built. Many citizens came to receive medical volunteer service inside the city hall. Despite the hot mid-summer weather with scorching sunlight, no operational problems were experienced because of the shade created by trees located on the city hall’s yard. In addition, the Chairman of Benin Christian Association came to visit Pastor Ock Soo Park at the President’s guesthouse, in preparation for tomorrow’s Benin Christian Leader’s Forum. The one, who organized Pastor Ock Soo Park’s meeting with the Chairman, was the Minister of Justice. After giving instructions for today’s groundbreaking ceremony, the Minister of Justice had special instructions to give and so he attended and joined the discussion while dressed in casual clothes.

 Good News Medical Volunteers providing medical service in Benin

The next agenda was a meeting with the Minister of Health & Welfare in order to have cooperation concerning Buruli Ulcer treatment. The meeting lasted nearly an hour, and it was decided to follow along the guidelines set by the WHO and to sign an MOU Agreement for Buruli Ulcer treatment. The Minister of Justice was once again present and enabled the discussions to run smoothly.

Korean guests seated in the VIP section during the groundbreaking ceremony

Groundbreaking ceremony for construction of IYF Center funded by the government After meeting with the Minister of Health & Welfare, pastor was escorted by 2 police motorcycles to the groundbreaking ceremony venue. As we approached the venue, we observed flags erected by the roads which signaled a national event, and therefore could sense the magnitude of this event.

 Soldiers were on patrol

The President arriving at venue on a helicopter

However, we were totally surprised when we arrived. The land looked completely different from the day before. It was crowded with so many people, and armed soldiers were stationed on the site of the venue. People were moving busily in order to welcome the President. How was everything prepared in just one day? We were able to experience just how important the President and government considered this groundbreaking ceremony to be.

 Pastor Ock Soo Park greeting the President

Pastor Ock Soo Park conversing with the President

The groundbreaking ceremony for Benin IYF Center was attended by President Boni Yayi himself, all Cabinet members, assistants, over 2,000 citizens, police officers and even armed soldiers in case of an emergent situation. The groundbreaking ceremony began as soon as the President arrived in his helicopter.

  Congratulatory speech by Mayor of Calavi

Congratulatory speech by Minister of Health & Welfare

 Congratulatory speech by Minister of Youth

Congratulatory speech by Minister of Justice

 Pastor Ock Soo Park giving a message

 Pastor Ock Soo Park giving a message

First of all, the Mayor of Calavi explained how the land would be used, and then the Minister of Health & Welfare and Minister of Justice each gave opening messages. Pastor Ock Soo Park then praised missionary Kwon Yeong Go martyrdom 14 years ago, and shared her stories to those in attendance. Furthermore, President Boni Yayi proclaimed that citizens would grow healthier through Buruli Ulcer treatment and that he would like to be remembered as a President who planted hopes and dreams inside the youth, and wished for God’s blessing to be upon Benin.

 Gracias Choir’s performance

President smiling and enjoying the choir’s performance

President applauding and cheering for Gracias Choir’s performance

President pleased with Gracias Choir’s performance

 President giving his congratulatory speech at the groundbreaking ceremony

The President announced, “The 2nd all-purpose IYF Center in Africa shall be constructed in Benin. The building materials will arrive soon and construction shall commence beginning from April. I thank Pastor Ock Soo Park for using all of his heart to develop Benin and construct an IYF Center.” He emphasized that the area would develop tremendously through the groundbreaking ceremony.

 The President and Pastor Ock Soo Park moving towards digging ceremony site for land development

Pastor Ock Soo Park participating in the digging ceremony with the President

A hospital, broadcasting station, soccer field, stadium, and a polytechnic college are planned to be built on the IYF Center. The groundbreaking ceremony further boosted those plans.

 Presidential banquet held at the President’s palace

During the Presidential banquet at the President’s palace, Pastor Ock Soo Park was awarded a medal of meritorious service.

We moved to attend the banquet at the President’s palace. At first, only a few people were allowed to attend, however the entire team was allowed to come due to the President’s invitation. The President invited nearly 70 people in total: 20 Korean medical volunteers, choir members, staff members, missionaries from Western African and their wives, native pastors, and IYF USA members who came to host an English camp.

Good News Medical Volunteers at the Presidential Banquet

Pastor Ock Soo Park’s medal awarding ceremony

Medal Awarding Ceremony for Pastor Ock Soo Park’s meritorious service for Benin

Medal Awarding Ceremony for Pastor Ock Soo Park’s meritorious service for Benin

During the banquet, the President awarded Pastor Park a medal of meritorious service in order to praise his service for Benin by sending Good News Corps volunteers, Good News Medical Volunteers, and hosting World Camps.

Pastor Ock Soo Park preached briefly after the banquet. The President was pleased to listen to the sermon.

Pastor Ock Soo Park speaking to the President after the banquet

After dinner, Pastor Ock Soo Park showed the President the story of David on his Ipad, and preached the gospel. The President wrote down the verses that were shown, and said he would read them before going to sleep. He also wanted to receive a private prayer, and informed pastor that he would be in contact with him again. The President of Benin has opened his heart completely to Pastor Ock Soo Park and the IYF. We observed how he wanted to implement everything Pastor Park proposed and what the IYF pursued. Benin is currently under a poor environment and is not receiving much attention in Africa. However, the Benin drawn inside the heart of God is truly a tremendous Benin.

 Pastor Ock Soo Park signing his certificate for medal

President congratulates for receiving medal of meritorious service

After the banquet and upon returning to his quarters, Pastor Ock Soo Park said that it was not he who received the medal, but it was for everyone. He felt like he was dreaming and was so grateful to God. Before falling asleep, the President’s son and daughter-in-law came to meet Pastor Park. The President’s son was worried that the Ministers might have been uncooperative.

President congratulates for receiving medal of meritorious service

Did Satan know that such great works would happen? Satan was so jealous that he tried to prevent Pastor Ock Soo Park from going overseas. We have no doubts that God will prepare amazing works before us. On the other hand, I am quite saddened to not be able to fully express these great works of God, due to my narrow views and shallow heart. Throughout the remaining agenda, I sincerely hope for God’s works to continue.

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