On the 7th of August, at 1:30pm, there was a meeting between Pastor Ock Soo Park and the son of the President of Benin, Nasser, in the Benin Royal Hotel.
Nasser had attended the World Camp in Korea in 2013 and was touched by the Lecture of Pastor Ock Soo Park. Through that, he was able to open his heart toward us and he even came to the church of Benin to receive the assurance of salvation. Nasser, who arrived exactly at 1:30pm, briefly exchanged greetings with Pastor Ock Soo Park and Missionary Gwang Woon Kim, before taking his seat to eat.
Nasser, who had visited Korea in 2013, said that he really enjoyed Korean food and was grateful for what the had prepared for him. After the meal, Pastor Ock Soo Park told Nasser about the five subjects; IT, Mind, Skills(Construction), Soccer and Music, that will be taught in the IYF Centre once it had been completed, while he also mentioned that they were going to build a stadium on the plot of land next to it.
However, Pastor Ock Soo Park pointed out that we are an organization that has to support more than 200 branches in over 80 countries, and so did not have enough resources to carry out such procedures alone, asking the son of the President to understand such situations. Moreover, he stated that they would more actively carry out the processes within the MOU that are needed to help the people in Africa who are suffering from the Buruli Ulcer and allow them to escape from their old lives in darkness and begin again, full of light. Additionally, he expressed his wish for President Thomas Boni Yayi to become the first President who brings upon the extinction of Buruli Ulcer.
After listening to Pastor Ock Soo Park, Nasser said, “Although I am not very aware of the various procedures needed to make the medicine, I will help the committee in making a decision and the steps that need to be taken in order to produce it. I will also be involved in the meetings between the Department of Health and the Medical team in order to stop the procedures from being delayed and be push on with them rapidly. I consider myself the spokesman and the advisor on the government’s side for the IYF. I know the IYF well and I think of myself as one of your members. I will make sure that there will be no delay and that there will be no great problems.”
There had been a plan to meet the President the day before the 7th but he was caught up in Egypt because of an important meeting, so, we could not meet him. We had just accepted that he was a very busy and that we would not be able to meet him on this occasion. All the same, Nasser made a few phone calls to see if Pastor Ock Soo Park could meet the President and after a few minutes, he led us to the President’s Palace himself.
While going from the Benin Royal Hotel to the President’s Palace, we were escorted by police, often surpassing the normal traffic lines and overtaking cars while most of the traffic split before us like the Red Sea, to let us through. It was a very memorable scene.
In the waiting room of the President’s Palace, on the first floor, we handed in our mobile phones and were escorted right away to the waiting room on the third floor.
At approximately 5pm, we entered into the President’s Office. Having known in advance that we were coming, he had already prepared the Prime Minister, the Deputy Minister of the Development Department, the Deputy Minister of Health and his son, Nasser, who were all personnel needed in this meeting. After greeting President Yayi, we shared our greetings with the the Prime Minister, who was set to become the President in the next term, the Deputy Minister of Development and the Deputy Minister of Health.
Immediately, the Gracias Choir introduced a song for the President of Benin and members, Hye Mi Choi and Jin Young Park began to sing a duet. The President was delighted as he began to applaud in time to the music and the Prime Minister too bore an expression of awe and amazement.
Afterwards, we revealed the progress in construction we had made on the 25 acres of land provided by the government to President Yayi. We demonstrated that we will be teaching the five subjects in the IYF Centre; IT, Mind, Skills(Construction), Soccer and Music and also mentioned that we will be building a stadium next to it once the Centre has been completed.
Also, as we showed him the ocher brick that were made to be used in the construction, he was very interested and expressed his gratitude to us.
Then, Director Hyo Jung Hwang explained the content of the cure of the Buruli Ulcer. He introduced a way of curing the disease by not killing the virus but strengthening the immune system. Director Hyo Jung Hwang explained the procedure with the help of a video that showed examples of those people who were healed by taking the product. After hearing the explanation, the President was very satisfied and happy.
At the end, the President of Benin, Thomas Boni Yayi, declared, “If it is anything to aid this country, I will not hesitate but help you with everything!” He then put his son, Nasser and Ambassador Joe Mahon Lupang, who came as a Special Messenger, in charge of these affairs. Once again, the President did not want us to leave early and insisted that we eat at his feast.
6:40pm. We arrived at the location of the feast near the place of our event in Cotonou.
The Deputy Minister of Health, whom we met at the President’s Palace, had already arrived. While striking a natural conversation with the Deputy Minister, he said this,
“Today, I heard so many unbelievable things. It was like I was dreaming.”
He had been so surprised by us, who had come with stories, pictures and videos, proving that the Buruli Ulcer, whose only treatment was amputation because it was thought to be incurable, is actually, in fact, he opposite.
Moreover, he revealed that he will push the clinical tests forward as soon as the product that can cure the Buruli is handed over to him.
After finishing his meal quickly, Pastor Ock Soo Park headed to the venue of the event to preach the sermon.
After preaching the sermon, he went to the hotel to pack his possessions and go to the airport.
On that day, so many amazing things happened before our eyes. Although we did not have a precise promise with the President, we were able to meet him as soon as we went there and we were able meet the Deputy Minister of Health at exactly the right time. All the things that had been impossible during the three days that we had been at Benin came true in that one afternoon. God is leading Benin. When I think of the promise of God for this land of Benin, I remember the sermon that told us to go out and ‘save people’s lives and preach the Gospel’ and I am hopeful.