United Methodist Bishop Benjamin Boni asked for God’s blessings on this coastal town and every nation “going through the sad phenomenon of terrorism” during an Easter service in the town that was the site of a deadly terrorist attack that killed 19 people.
The service was two weeks to the day after three gunman fired on beachgoers at the resort area that is popular with both tourists and locals.
“Do not get into discouragement; do not let you go into anxiety,” Boni urged those attending a service at the Temple Eternity.
“May the Lord help us promote life in a world marked by the culture of death. And Jesus told us to go everywhere and cultivate life, so that people can experience this abundant life that the risen Lord communicates to all men,” Boni continued.
United Methodists who packed the church to overflowing cheered the bishop’s message of hope.
The Temple Eternity, about 150 meters (164 yards) from the scene of the attack, was deliberately chosen for this solemn worship. It is the oldest Methodist church in Côte d’Ivoire. For the occasion, this place of worship could not contain all the faithful since some came from other churches like Israel and Azuretty United Methodist churches.
Boni’s sermon focused on “The third day is for you,” from 1 Corinthians 15:4, where Paul said Jesus rose on the third day, according to the Scriptures.
The emphasis of his sermon was on the first and the second days — the passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ that were days of confusion, doubt and sadness for the disciples.
Those days, Boni said, represent Christians bogged down in difficulties and trials.
He exhorted the faithful and all people of Grand Bassam and Côte d'Ivoire to maintain hope and to “think about the third day when everything seems dark because with Jesus Christ, the desert bloom again.”
The faithful, encouraged by the message of victory, prayed earnestly for Côte d'Ivoire and peace in the world as well as for the body of Christ.
Boni had visited the site of the March 13 attacks in his role as third vice president of the National Commission for Reconciliation and Compensation for Victims of the Crises in Côte d'Ivoire. He led a delegation to the site four days after the attack. The group visited the administrative and traditional authorities, among them His Majesty Tanoé Amon, king of Inzima Kotoko. The delegation also visited the hotels where the attacks took place to bring compassion and encouragement.
Koutouan is a United Methodist and a journalist in Côte d’Ivoire.
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