Togo, first visit to French-speaking Africa

After the Global Christian Forum meeting in Accra, Ghana, Olivier Fleury and Martin Hoegger headed to neighboring Togo for a few visits. Read about JC2033's first visit to Togo!

On the first day, we took part in an Assembly of God service at the Akato-Démé temple in Lomé. We addressed the many children, then the congregation. “I owe Togo a debt of gratitude. It was in this country that I decided to propose to Sylviane. We got married 33 years ago,” Olivier said at the start of his sermon!

After the service, we were invited to a meal by John Walada, pastor of this large Pentecostal denomination. Responsible for the “One Hope” movement in Africa, he is a “church planter” and leadership trainer.

The following day, we visited pastors from the Assemblies of God, specially convened for the occasion. “Can you imagine every Togolese hearing the Easter greeting: ‘Christ is Risen’? What will be the Assemblies of God's gift for the 2000 years of His resurrection?” Olivier asked them.

With pastors from Togo's Assemblies of God

In his response, Pastor Saram Ankou, Assistant General Secretary of the Assemblies of God, stressed the importance of the celebration: “Your message got through. Thank you very much. We want to focus on what's essential in every church: the Risen Jesus, whom we want to celebrate.”

Another important visit. “Le Corps du Christ”, a council of Pentecostal and Evangelical church leaders. Every year, the council organizes a retreat at Easter. After familiarizing themselves with the initiative, they will focus on the Road to 2033, “a very interesting evangelization tool that will mobilize us all”. 

A spark!

The President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Togo, Mgr Benoît Alowonou, was unable to receive us, as he had to travel to Rome at the last minute. However, we did have an excellent meeting with the leaders of the Focolare Movement, Patricia Massan, co-responsible for the local community with Ambroise Tolema. The meeting was also attended by the head of Jeunesse en Mission du Togo, Fofonè Tengue. It seemed to us that God had lit a spark between these two movements, so great was the joy of the meeting! May it ignite the whole of Africa for 2033!

In fact, we've been in contact with these two great movements, one Catholic, the other Pentecostal, for many years and in several countries. They have become bridges between us and various churches. In Togo, the Catholic Church is in the majority, while the numerous Pentecostal churches are expanding rapidly. 

With members of Focolare and Youth With A Mission

The Alliance Biblique du Togo works with all the member churches of the Christian Council. It is without doubt the most ecumenical organization in the country. Estelle Akouegnon, the general secretary, recalls that on the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus, a major Bible distribution program was launched. She believes that something similar could be achieved by 2033. 

At present, the Bible is distributed in four vernacular languages, but texts in several other local languages - there are over 50 - are in preparation. The challenges are limited financial resources and a very low literacy rate in the countryside: less than 20%. 

Olivier Fleury and I were able to take part in two radio and television programs to publicize JC2033. Another powerful experience was our meeting with students from the Assemblies of God Theological Institute. Both French-speaking and English-speaking students from West Africa come here for training. Several of them, from seven different countries, expressed their desire to become ambassadors. This has encouraged us, as they will undoubtedly be people in positions of leadership in times to come. 

The Kombaté family

Our special thanks go to evangelist Sylvanus Yawotse, who prepared our visits and accompanied us during these few days, and to Professor Israel Kombaté and his wife Esther (of Swiss origin), who provided us with accommodation on the campus of the Institute of Theology. They also welcomed us at their table, in the company of their three charming children, Johëlle, Anaëlle and Raphaël

At the end of this brief but intense stay, Olivier Fleury made this observation, “I remember Billy Wilson, the president of the Pentecostal World Fellowship, telling me that there would be more initiatives in Africa by 2033 than anywhere else. This visit confirmed this for me. Africa's vocation is to pass on the faith. We need Africa, and Togo in particular. In all our encounters, we were greeted with amazement and gratitude.”

Martin Hoegger

You're a peacemaker, your heart beats for unity!

You want to bear witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

You love sharing and celebrating with your Christian brothers and sisters!

Yes, I'd like to know more about being an ambassador!