November 13, 2006
The Republic of Benin received 8 American Clergy Ambassadors for Peace, on November 10, 2006; the religious leaders were led by Archbishop Charles Phillip Johnson and accompanied by UPF Regional Chairman, Rev. Eiji Tokuno. The delegation stayed in Benin until November 13.
From Nigeria, they entered Benin at Seme Kpodji, where they were welcomed by the Sub-Regional Chairman, Rev. Paterne Sosie Lin Zinsou, with a delegation of Benin Ambassadors for Peace. A police escort conducted them by road to Cotonou.
Welcome for American Clergy
Upon their arrival at the Hotel GL, the International Chorus ‘’The Crown of Peace’’ welcomed them with joyful songs.
At the beginning of the dinner, Rev. Tokuno introduced the American clergymen and women, explaining that they came as representatives of Jesus, Christianity and True Parents.
Archbishop Johnson introduced each member of the group and gave an enthusiastic message in which he declared that the wall between America and Africa was broken.
A city was assigned to each person in order to hold eight simultaneous rallies on November 11, with the Cotonou rally as the main venue. In addition, they would visit churches and meet local officials.
On November 12, a banquet of peace and fraternity was organized, and on November 13, the Minister in charge of African Integration granted an audience to the group.
Simultaneous rallies took place on November 11 at 10:00 a.m.
Cotonou Rally and associated activities centered on Archbishop Dr. Charles Phillip Johnson.
Cotonou is the commercial capital and the biggest city in Benin.
Five hundred people participated in the rally at the Palais des Congrès, including 70 religious leaders and 50 political leaders. Entertainment was provided by the international chorus “The Crown of Peace’” and the musical group “Les Héritiers du Christ.” The internationally-known musician Tym offered the congratulatory song.
Archbishop Dr. Charles Phillip Johnson
The introductory prayer was given by Rev. Dr. Moise Sagbohan, a Methodist leader. The welcoming remarks were given by the President of Ambassadors for Peace, Aziadome Kogblevi, a professor and former minister.
Before the main speech, delivered by Archbishop Johnson, Rev. Tokuno gave a short presentation about True Family Values, with an emphasis on fidelity. Then he introduced Archbishop Johnson, who explained the mission by the American clergymen and women sent by UPF Founder, Father Moon.
He asked all Ambassadors for Peace to stand up and gave some explanation about their mission before starting to read the message.
The message was given with conviction, energy and enthusiasm.
Seven new Ambassadors for Peace were appointed.
Participants were very moved by the rally, which concluded with a congratulatory message from H.E Pascal Chabi Kao, special advisor of UPF-Benin, followed by a message from Prof. Jean Claude Codji.
During the lunch after the rally, Archbishop Johnson gave some ideas about how Ambassadors for Peace can organize themselves with periodic meetings.
Prof. Kogblevi expressed satisfaction with the rally, commenting that everything was well explained, enabling every Ambassador for Peace to understand his mission.
That evening, a celebration was held centered on Archbishop Johnson and Rev. Emma Lofton Woods (who came back from her rally city located 40 km from Cotonou), with the full support of the Regional Chairman. Many exciting impressions were reported. (Please find those reflections at the end of the report.
Associated activities of Archbishop Johnson in Cotonou City.
On Sunday, November 12, Archbishop Johnson, accompanied by the Sub-Regional Chairman and his wife and three pastors, visited a Methodist Church and a Celestial Church.
In each of them he gave a message of peace and reconciliation, emphasizing the return of the clergy to the land of their ancestors. This message was welcomed by 200 people at the Methodist Church and more than 120 people at the Celestial Church, a worldwide spiritual movement born in Benin. The hospitality at each church was wonderful. While Archbishop Johnson was praying at the Celestial Church, a woman had a vision of him with honey in his hand that turned into flowers. Afterwards, she described the vision and interpreted it to mean that he needs to share the message of peace and reconciliation with everybody, and that when he does so it will bring the spirit of peace and reconciliation and produce results.
Porto-Novo is the political capital and the second largest city in Benin.
Pastor D.L. Cabbagestalk, Jr, Ambassador of Peace, presided over the rally, which took place at the Maison International de la Culture of Porto-Novo, which houses the historical Museum da-Silva.
Two rallies were held. The first and main one took place at Porto-Novo City and the second one in a city called Sèmè-Kpodji, near the border with Nigeria.
The rally at Porto-Novo had 225 participants, and the rally at Sèmè - Kpodji had around 50 participants. Among the participants were municipal authorities, city councilors, the honorary Consul of Brazil, the Vice President of the city’s Council of Elders, members of the Council of Elders, executives of the city, kings, and Ambassadors for Peace. For this occasion, the city authorities arranged for a performance by “The Ballet of the Capital”; they brought a much-appreciated cultural dimension to the meeting.
Meetings with the municipal authorities included a discussion about the development of Porto-Novo City were held.
In the King’s Palace
King Onikoyi Abessan invited the delegation to his palace. Afterwards, Pastor Cabbagestalk talked about the vision for peace in Benin, Africa and the world. The king designated Pastor Cabbagestalk as a prince of the Kingdom of Yoruba and its personal representative in the USA. He said that from then on he would be a full member of UPF and invoked the Creator’s blessing on Rev. Moon and all his activities.
The visit to the da-Silva Museum
The visit to the da-Silva Museum deeply moved the pastor because it showed certain aspects of how slaves were treated at that time. The promoter of the museum, H.E. Karim Urbain da-Silva, expressed his wish to see a room dedicated to Rev. Moon in museums in Africa and throughout the world. Such a room would have various items about Rev. Moon on display.
On November 13, Pastor D.L. Cabbagestalk visited a Catholic Church and gave a message of peace and reconciliation, which was applauded by participants, who were very happy to hear such words.
Ouidah is one of the historical cities in Benin. Emma Lofton Woods was the speaker at the rally held at the Conference Center of the Research and Development Historical Institute. The promoter of this institute, Prof. Honorat Aguessy, participated in the event and gave it his full support. The rally had 50 participants.
Rev. Emma gave the message with strong energy, determination and absolute focus on its content. People thought of her as a “Second True Mother.” At the end of the speech, people were not in a hurry to leave. They were happy and moved. A fraternal atmosphere was created, and participants came forward to offer congratulations.
Reading of the Speech at a Celestial Church
On Sunday, November 12, Rev. Emma gave the rally message at a Celestial Church called the Church of the Land of Canaan as a part of the Sunday Service. There were 130 participants.
The wonderful experiences of these two rallies moved Rev. Emma, as well as all members of the delegation of Ambassadors for Peace and Volunteers for Peace.
Abomey is the historical capital of Benin.
The rally took place at the conference hall of the prefecture of Abomey. The rally was sponsored by the Prefect and presided over by Dr. Elis May.
Ninety people participated in the rally, paying full attention to the speech. The message of peace and reconciliation was very opportune for Abomey City. Many department officials participated in the rally.
On November 12, two churches were visited, a Baptist Church and a Celestial Church. In the Celestial Church, Dr. May gave a message of peace and reconciliation and spent time with the people.
Dassa is located at the center of Benin and is the crossroads for travel northwards.
The rally was sponsored by the mayor of the city, who is also Ambassador for Peace. He offered the conference hall which is at the Maison du Peuple de Dassa. The rally was presided over by Bishop Rufus O. Okunubi, with a total of 60 participants, including the mayor and many other leading figures. The message was well received, and participants resolved to develop UPF activities.
Lokossa is located in the Department of Mono/Couffo and is the most important city of this department.
The rally was held at the Maison du Peuple and attracted 400 participants. This was the largest audience after the main rally in Cotonou.
Minister Ahmon Mann presided.
Among the participants were mayors from four different cities and many distinguished guests at the departmental level. The large audience was very enthusiastic. Many traditional ballet groups were invited to perform.
This was the first time that such a large audience had assembled at this location, and the rally opened many doors for activities in this important locality.
Parakou is the biggest city in the north of Benin.
The Prefect offered the Conference Hall of his office to use for the rally. He is an Ambassador for Peace.
Rev. William Revely arrived at Parakou after a five-tour drive and presided over the rally. The rally gathered 110 participants from different professions. People were moved by such a message and expressed a willingness to support the UPF initiative. Rev. Reverly said he was very satisfied with the rally.
“This initiative is creditable,” one participant commented; “we understand that indeed there cannot be peace without family stabilitys. We are grateful to Rev. Reverly for coming to the north of Benin, because it is not easy to travel to the north, considering the state of the road.”
Djougou is the second biggest city in northwest Benin.
The event was sponsored by the Mayor and the king of the locality and presided over by Bishop Donovan Rivers.
Djougou received Bishop Rivers on November 11 at 9:30, after about five hours 30 minutes on the road. He was accompanied to the hotel, where he greeted the spiritual adviser of the head of the state and mayor of the city. After greetings and presentations, the bishop explained the mission of the peace tour and his hope for the town of Djougou. At the invitation of the mayor, he paid a visit to the town hall, where he had a discussion with the mayor and some of his assistants.
During the conversation, he explained the mission of Rev. and Mrs. Moon and the reason why the clergymen were sent to the whole world. Afterwards, he mounted a horse and joined other people on horseback and in vehicles, followed by a delegation made up of the mayor, volunteers for peace, and some Ambassadors for Peace. In a reception reserved for VIPs, he was greeted by a jubilant crowd to the sound of the tam-tam.
There were 87 participants in the rally, including the king of the City of Djougou, the imam, members of the Communal Council, leaders of women’s associations, members of the royal court, and chiefs of services.
The participants were very focused on the message and followed the reading with much interest.
Eight new Ambassadors of Peace were appointed.
After the rally, the Mayor organized a luncheon reception for Bishop Rivers at the Hotel Lake of Djougou, along with more than 20 distinguished guests. Bishop Rivers was received by the king, who engaged him in a serious discussion. Then the mayor again organized a dinner, during which gifts were presented. In a moving moment, Bishop Rivers expressed his hope to see Africa take responsibility for development. He promised to support, as much as possible, some development initiatives in Djougou. Lastly, he received at his hotel Volunteer of Peace Atacora Donga and expressed a desire to collaborate with them for the well-being of Djougou and the area.
Banquet of Peace and Fraternity
On November 12 at Hotel GL in Cotonou, a Banquet of Peace and Fraternity was held in honor of the American clergymen and women. It was an amazing time for celebrating together the victory of the rallies and congratulate the clergy. More than 150 people attended the banquet, including many pastors and other distinguished guests.
The banquet was sponsored by the owner of Hotel GL, Mrs. Grace Lawani, an Ambassador for Peace and head of mission of Benin. At the beginning of the banquet she gave a testimony about God’s love. She give clothing to each member of the clergy, which they wore for this occasion. A system of brotherhood was initiated by the sub-Regional Chairman. Each member of the clergy chose by lottery one political leader, one religious leader and one civil society representative. Many testimonies were given by the Americans.
A gift was prepared for each member of the clergy and was transmitted to each of them by a religious leader.
The Special Advisor of UPF brought the event to a conclusion, testifying to the great work done by UPF founders, Rev. and Mrs. Moon.
Audience with the Minister in charge of African Integration and Beninese Outside of the Country
An audience was granted by the Minister in charge of African Integration and Beninese Outside of the Country to the eight American clergymen and women. They explained UPF’s vision of peace and their purpose in coming to Benin; they promised to support a project for Benin.
Visit to the Peace Embassy Building
After the audience, the clergymen and women visited the Peace Embassy Building, which is under construction, and offered prayers. Then Archbishop Johnson gave a short message to the representative of Volunteers for Peace, describing Father Moon’s life and emphasizing the need for unity. Those in leadership position give and give, he said, so they need to be encouraged and supported so they do not become tired. It was very short but moving advice.
Accompanied by the Sub-Regional Chairman and some Ambassadors for Peace, set out for Togo, with a police escort.
Media Coverage and National Impact
The main Rally and Victory Banquet of Peace and Fraternity were shown on national television, and a private television station covered the main rally.
Before the events, those stations were given information about the mission of the clergy and the world tour. The sub-Regional Chairman was interviewed on television, and many announcements were made on the radio and in the newspapers.
Five newspapers commented on the event.
In local cities also, local radio stations and sometimes newspapers covered the events.
Reflections and Conclusion
"God is really present in the UPF. I will do everything possible to invest myself for the development of UPF even if I don’t get anything in return."
Mrs. Grace Lawani, Head of Missions for the Head of the State
I was very moved by Rev. Moon’s message and the conviction and energy with which it was delivered. I will set up a room for Rev. Moon in ten of my museums in Africa and in the world, as a way of immortalizing Rev. Moon.
H.E Karim Urbain da-Silva Former Advisor of Head of State, Consul of Brazil in Benin
Through what I heard today, I realized as political leader that there is a spiritual aspect of politics. Power without God is not power.
Prof. Jean Claude Codjia, University Professor and Political Party President
I was very worried about what attitude the clergy would have, because of what I heard about Black Americans. But when the delegation came to the border and showed big smiles I was very comforted. When Rev. Johnson declared that the wall between Africa and America is broken and there is no gap between us, I was so happy. I feel like I am the happiest person in the world.
Rev. Emmanuel Oko, Pastor
I participated in one UPF seminar presided over by the Regional Chairman, Rev. Tokuno, in which he presented in a deeply touching way the life of Rev. Moon. This was my first deep experience with UPF. What I heard today and what I am experiencing through the message of peace, reconciliation and breaking boundaries brought to us by the American clergyman is my second very exciting experience with UPF. So I am determined to extend the message of Rev. Moon everywhere.
Mrs. Pierrette Deguenon, Women’s NGO leader
No one can speak about peace without God, who promotes peace. The way chosen by the UPF is the best way to realize peace.
M. François Dossou, Spiritual Leader in the Celestial Church
This rally was a blessing for our country, because this conference permitted everyone to understand that we must break the imaginary terrestrial borders between religions which have divided our people for a long time, in order to understand the message of True Parents, Rev. Dr. Moon and Mrs. Moon. This historical and unforgettable ceremony linked people determined to build a culture of universal peace. May almighty God unite all people and all nations in a culture of peace.
M. Basile Sidi, retired soldier