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, addressed listeners on New Year’s Day.
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.
“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 spoke on Jan. 1, he gave thanks for all that God has done in 2009 and committed the radio project into God’s hands.
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 Conference, United Methodist Communications and the denomination’s Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
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 broadcast originated.
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.”
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.
Tim Tanton serves as Media Group director for United Methodist Communications.