An Evangelization Center for Young People in Benin
Benin is a complex and varied African country. While in the north, the population is overwhelmingly Muslim, with Christians making up only a small minority, in the south, the population consists mainly of Christians and members of traditional African pagan religions.
Voodoo remains popular, and superstition is widespread – even among many Christians. As a result, there is a need for a constant deepening of their faith, making religious formation one of the highest priorities for the local Church. For this reason, a special school of evangelization was established in 2014 in Cotonou, which is the economic and administrative – though not the official – capital of the country and also the seat of government, and which sits in the far south of the country on the Atlantic coast.
The school is for young people aged between 18 and 30. This is known as the “Jeunesse Bonheur” (or “Youth Happiness”) project and is regularly supported by ACN. It is derived from the well-known “Jeunesse Lumière” (or “Light of Youth”) project in France, initially established by the well-known priest, Father Daniel Ange.
Under this project, young people involved spend a full year living their faith together, getting to know it better and discovering how to pass it on to others – and with joy. Among their other activities, these young people go into the schools and visit the families, people in prison and the elderly, and share their faith with all who are willing to listen.
This “school of evangelization” makes the Church in Benin something of a pioneer within Africa, and ever since 2014 young people and young adults have been able to take part in its various programs. It has borne many visible and tangible fruits – for example, out of the young people who took part in the first four years of its program, no fewer than 12 have since entered the seminary and five a religious order. Several have gone on to establish their own Christian families, while others have found work within the Church sphere and now play an active part in its life.
The evangelization school was initially established on a provisional basis and in temporary conditions. This has done nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of those involved, but in the long term the center does need suitable and appropriate premises, not least so that it can accommodate more participants. It is also expected that in future young people will come from other African countries to take part in the program.
A new building is being built progressively, in stages. The first section, which is currently under construction, is the accommodation block for the young men. ACN has already promised $55,200 towards the cost of the project.
Can you help support this evangelization center for young people in Benin?
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