“The visit of the of the Former President, it seems like a dream!”
Following the end of his term, after working devotedly for Benin for the past ten years, he visited Korea. The first meeting with the former president could be dated back to July 2013. At the time, President Yayi Boni, with the company of businessmen and ministers had come visit the World Camp to congratulate Pastor Ock Soo Park and the youth. Even after that, after carefully following the way in which the IYF was working so devotedly for the development of Africa, President Yayi Boni sent Ambassador of Benin to Japan as a Special Envoy to express his wish to ‘build a Youth Centre on 25 hectares of land, in Calavi, just on the outskirts of the capital city’. With the enthusiastic support of President Yayi Boni in March 2015, Pastor Ock Soo Park was invited as a State Guest and was also decorated.
President Yayi Boni strongly hoped that the many youths of Benin would be able to the learn the bright and clean mind of the IYF in order to lead Benin in the future. Pastor Ock Soo Park also wished to invite the President to Korea but the price of security, 3.5 million dollars, made the visit difficult. Many months had passed with such disappointment.
President Yayi Boni had started his term in April 2006 and after a successful re-election in 2011, he finished his term in 2016. Former President Yayi Boni did not forget his promise with Pastor Ock Soo Park and the first foreign country that he visited after the end of his term was Korea. That may be what made the former President’s visit more meaningful, and his actions was also touching to the IYF students. On the 12th President Yayi Boni landed at 3pm and came through Incheon International Airport.
The Gracias Choir members, Baritone Paul Oh, Soprano Jin Young Park, Hye Mi Choi, and Su Yeon Lee sang ‘Victoire Alleluia’ and ‘Ee Yawhe’ with a magnificently harmonic acapella. Even the clear sky was shining brightly upon the visit of former President Yayi Boni. “Thank you for welcoming me so enthusiastically” he replied. “The brothers and sisters of Korea, thank you so much for welcoming my visit. Pastor has done many works until now and he will still do so much more. I hope that the blessings of God will be upon all of you and I love you all.” Pastor Ock Soo Park said, “I am so thankful that the President who was so good to us in Benin was able to come to this visit. The visit of President Yayi Boni feels like a dream.”
The former President Yayi Boni, during the past re-election, worked in order to plant the freedom of democracy in Benin and cast out the widespread dictatorship in Africa. He was hugely respected by the people and President Bush even said, “He is a leader that has devoted himself to leading a less developed country.”
7.15pm, on the 12th, towards the end of the World Culture Camp. In front of the Kimchun IYF Retreat Centre, IYF students, education leaders, Gracias Choir members were waiting for the arrival of a vehicle then shouted, “Bienvenue a la Coree”, which means ‘Welcome to Korea’. The passenger of the vehicle was former President Yayi Boni. Although he is a former President of a country halfway across the world the he was a figure all the more welcoming for the IYF members.
He said that he was so happy to be able to come to Korea and he began to shak ehadns with every single one of the Gracias Choir members.
The company of the President checked the schedule and at 7:40pm, the former President came to the 4th floor of the IYF Daeduk Centre. Receiving the enthusiastic welcome of 3500 people, President Yayi Boni took his seat and the witnessed the performance of the Gracias Choir and Orchestra .
As a performance, Flutist, Paul Edmund Davies, played ‘Doppler Fantasie Hongroise Annie Laurie. Paul Edmund Davies, who was scheduled to leave the following day, said that he was so sad that he could no longer see the lovely students anymore. After the rendition, there was the performance of Gracias Choir. Soprano Su Yeon Lee and Mezzo Soprano Hyo Jin Ban sang ‘Belle Nuit, O Nuit D’amour’ and Tenor Kyung Soo Park followed up with ‘The Anthem of Love’.
Especially ‘Ee Yawhe’ sung by Soprano Jin Young Park and Hye Mi Choi, welcomed the fromer President of Benin. Then, ‘It is Well with my Soul’ by Tenor Julio Gonzalez, Tae Jik Woo and ‘Je suis dans la joie’ by Tenor Gonzalez and Soprano Hye Mi Choi filled thw hall with its beautiful music. Especially, conductor Boris Abalyan congratulated his visit saying ‘A precious guest has come today.
“It is an absolute honour to be able to meet Your Excellency, and I truly welcome you here. I am truly happy that you came to Korea and I hope that you will enjoy the concert.”
Former President Yayi Boni and his family, along with 3500 young people from 40 countries were overjoyed by the performance.
Then, former President Yayi Boni gave a short congratulatory message.
“Pastor Park is a servant of God that leads souls to God. All the words that Pastor preaches is from God. Everyone, we can win with the faith in God. We have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ. By faith, we can overcome difficulties. Although Benin is a poor country, by the grace of God, I was able to lead Benin. Although Korea also has problems such as the division of the peninsula, I believe that through the Word of Pastor that problem will be solved. We will be blessed by God with Pastor.”
Especially due to the visit of the former President Yayi Boni, the Gracias Choir and Orchestra shined as brightly as ever and the sound of music touched all of those who heard it. Finally, the word and the message by Pastor Ock Soo Park raised strong hope.
“Former President Yayi Boni is a very busy person and we had to stand in line to meet him in Benin. However, today seems like such a dream, and I am so happy. Although his term has ended, he has led his country well and he came to Korea despite his busy schedule. Many of us went to welcome him. The university students who went to volunteer in Benin were so happy. Such things so not happen in the world but God has worked and we are so thankful.”
“In 2 Kings 5, there is a servant girl who was captured as hostage. Although she was in a very pitiful and miserable state, we cannot find any complaint, distrust, or misery in her heart. If you go to the fields of Africa, there are many animals; there are carnivores and herbivores. No matter how much meat there is, herbivores only eat plants, and no matter how good the plants may appear, carnivores only eat meat. There are people who have hope inside of themselves despite how hard the circumstances may be. If Jesus enters you, just like a carnivore changing to a herbivore, a heart filled with despair, pain, sadness and worry can change to a life filled with happies and hope.”
“I was surprised about how modest he was despite being the former President. When one student handed a bouquet of flowers to the President at his visit, I was touches by him who said thank you to even the little things. I was so happy and was moved that he came to the 2016 World Culture Camp.” (Su Jeong Park – Hankyung University Year 3)
“It was so inspiring that the first country that he decided to visit after the end of his term was Korea. Pastor Ock Soo Park has been preaching the Gospel powerfully with the Word that said God will give the whole world as your possession, I was so thankful that God was with President Yayi Boni.” (John Shin- Central University Year 3)
“He has led a difficult country such as Benin for ten years, and he said that it was due to the grace of God. As I saw how the grace of God was full in his heart and how modest and deep his heart was, I was moved. I think that he is a true leader that has fought against corruption. (Eun Bi Ko – Busan University Year 4)
It was planned that President Boni Yayi would give a special lecture to the young people in Songho Solbat Camping Area on the 13th.