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The reunion between President Thomas Boni Yayi and his son with Pastor Ock Soo Park

benin1-02 Pastor Ock Soo Park greets the government officials, including the Minister of Youth (Right)

On the 9th of March, at nine in the evening, Pastor Ock Soo Park arrived in Benin through the VIP room in the airport. This visit was possible as the President invited Pastor Ock Soo Park as a State Guest. In the VIP room, the Minister of Youth, the Special Envoy who visited Korea, the son of the President and many Ministers of important departments were waiting to welcome Pastor Ock Soo Park and his company. From that moment to the moment that Pastor would leave, he would use the transport, security and two motorbikes that had all been provided by the President.

benin1-03Approximately eleven in the evening, the thousand-strong brothers and sisters gathered to welcome Pastor Ock Soo Park

benin1-04Pastor Ock Soo Park preaching the Word after arriving in the Benin church

benin1-05Pastor Ock Soo Park preaches the Word

Pastor Park, who was welcomed in the VIP room, headed straight for the church, where many people were waiting for his visit. Although it was at a late time, one thousand people gathered to cheer his coming and welcome him with all their lungs to express their happiness. Although they want to shout and sing together, while listening to the Gracias Choir, they were hushed but when the song ended, the audience answered them with roaring applause.

After the welcoming performance, Pastor Ock Soo Park stood on the podium to preach the sermon, which lasted forty minutes. He spoke of the story of the female student whose mother was blind and thought, for that reason, her life was ruined. However, he said that as she was dispatched to Tanzania as a Good News Corps Volunteer, her heart had changed completely and began to become the most loving person to her mother. This story rang true in the heart of the people. Pastor finally added that we become amazingly happy when our hearts are opened and flow with one another.

benin1-06Ministers participating in the President’s welcoming event at the airport

benin1-07The President greeting Pastor Ock Soo Park at the welcoming event

In the early morning of the 10th of March, there was a call from the President’s palace.

News came that the President, who could not come the night before because of the late arrival of the flight, said that the official welcoming event will be at the President’s VIP room at the airport. At arriving at the VIP waiting room, we saw that ten important government Ministers and Secretaries were already there. The Minister of Youth and the Special Envoy of the President greeted Pastor Ock Soo Park warmly and introduced him to the other Ministers and Secretaries. While talking with the Minister of Youth, the President arrived and invited Pastor Ock Soo Park and the Ministers into the President’s VIP room.

benin1-08The Special Envoy of the President reporting to the President at the airport welcoming event

benin1-09The overview of the building briefed at the welcoming event

The Special Envoy of the President gave a short briefing to the President about this visit. During the briefing, the President told the all Ministers that while Pastor Ock Soo Park is in Benin and working for the country, the Ministers must help him with all their strength if their department are related to the work that he may be doing. The first design of the building that will be built on the land that had been given was finished, and as the President heard that the design was at hand, he wanted to examine it, therefore; Deacon Hyuk Chun Kwon, who was in charge of the design, briefed the President on the first design.

benin1-10 Deacon Hyuk Chun Kwon briefing the design at the President’s welcoming event in the airport

benin1-11Pastor Ock Soo Park explaining the design at the President’s welcoming event in the airport

benin1-12 Deacon Hyuk Chun Kwon briefing the design at the President’s welcoming event in the airport

The initial design consists of three floors on a piece of land that is one thousand square metres large. It had been designed to be an all-purpose building including a hospital, a broadcasting station and a youth centre. The President was very satisfied and called the mayor in person to tell him to help with all the things that he was able help with. Moreover, when adding that we would help the business of researching a cure for the disease that many people in Benin are suffering from, called the Buruli ulcer, the President was very thankful and said that the government would help with all the things that were within its powers to do so. He was also grateful towards the Medical Volunteers who were currently working in Benin.

benin1-13The Choir singing in the local language at the President’s welcoming event in the airport

benin1-14The President giving a standing ovation after the song at the President’s welcoming event

benin1-15The President exchanging greetings with the Choir at the President’s welcoming event

After the official briefing of the visit was over, Pastor Ock Soo Park said that the Choir had prepared a song for the President and as the President called them in, the Gracias Choir began to sing in the local language of Benin. The slightly nervous and tense atmosphere was gone and there was a smile arising on the face of the President. As the song came to an end, he stood up to approach the Choir and shake hands with them and he did so with a bright smile. The song of the Gracias Choir has the power to open the hearts of the people listening and make them smile.

We were so amazed by the fact that, despite his busy schedule, the President himself came to the airport to hold this welcoming event. As he was leaving very hurriedly, he invited us to the feast where we would be able to talk in detail as well as promising to attend the Groundbreaking.

After the President had left, the Chief Secretary presented the visitors with the President’s guest house for accommodation and informed us that during the three days in Benin, we were scheduled to meet the President every day.

benin1-16Pastor Ock Soo Park interviewed with the Mayor in the Mayor of Calavi’s office

After the interview, the Minister of Youth suggested to go the plot of land together.

The Minister of Youth explained the schedule in which he wanted to visit the Mayor, who was in charge of the ground, and go together with him to that land. The land’s grass and thorns were being pulled out with the help of the soldiers hired by the government. It was a piece of flat ground located next to the National University. The building was designed to be surrounded with red bricks all along the exterior and, thankfully, the soil was of very good quality to make those red bricks. In Malawi, we were able to largely reduce the construction costs due to the endowment from the government and it was the same case in Benin.

benin1-17The 25 acres of land that the government had endowed. It was mostly made of the good quality soil that could be used to make bricks needed in construction.

benin1-18Pastor Ock Soo Park discussing with the Mayor

As we add 7% of cement when we make bricks, God had prepared perfect soil for us to be able to heavily reduce the cost of construction. Originally, the Mayor wanted to build a stadium on that ground. So, he had already drawn up designs but following the will of the President, he easily gave up the land. However, as Pastor Ock Soo Park visited the site, he saw the architectural drawings of the stadium that the city were planning to build and suggested to Deacon Hyuk Chun Kwon that they build a stadium and because it was discussed that it was possible, a stadium with international standards and seats from which the crowd can watch was put into plan to be built.

benin1-19 After praying for the development of the ground, Pastor Ock Soo Park speaks about future plans with the Mayor of Calavi and the Minister of Youth

The Mayor, the town officials, the Minister of Youth and everyone at the site were all joyful. In order for these things to progress the Mayor decided to receive the admission of land development and the acknowledgment of land rights while the Minister of Youth decided to conclude an MOU with all the events and support that is received for the development of the land.

As one person, the President, opened his heart to help the IYF, countless things are now happening in Benin.

The Good New Medical Volunteers are working for four days in Benin, IYF USA is running an English Camp and at the church, a Summer Retreat is being held. On the land that had been endowed by the government, a hospital, a broadcasting system, a youth centre, a Specialist Skills School, an arts hall with 900 seats for all purposes and a football field of international standards are all the things that have been planned to be built.

benin1-20benin1-21The Good News Medical Volunteers working in Benin

Not long after one year past 2001, there was Missionary Kwon Young Ko, who had the heart of God that loved Benin and expressed it with all his heart, before he went to be with the Lord. Escaping from the thoughts that were bothering him from such a young age, he was a person who preached the Gospel with all his heart in Benin. The small seed that he had spread then had not become rotten but is actually beginning to grow and bear amazing and wonderful fruits.

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