By Jide Afolabi, Cotonou
The All African Baptist Youth Fellowship West Africa Region, AABYFWA, successfully held its 2nd Biennial Conference in Cotonou, Republic of Benin.
The conference with the theme “Here Am I, Send Me”, Isaiah 6:8 brought youths from the 16 countries in the West Africa Region together in Cotonou.
In his opening address, the President, AABYFWR, Bro. Gideon Washington thanked God for His infinite grace and abiding faithfulness to joyously celebrate the 2nd Biennial Session of the All African Baptist Youth Fellowship West Africa Region, AABYFWA. He applauded all delegates from the 16 participating countries of West Africa urging the “youths to work together to build a better and brighter, more efficient and effective organization that makes a redemptive difference for Christ”.
In his speech, the All Africa Baptist Youth Fellowship, Bro. Jonas Kakenge Mbwenga represented by the General Secretary, Pastor Onajite Enunuaye congratulated Baptist youths of the West Africa Region on the conference. He said “Today marks another historic presence in being the first sub-regional youth body to conduct its conference, allow me to congratulate and thank you all through your leaders for this event.
Jonas likened the conference theme to that of the continental elective theme “Moving forward together”. He said, “As you avail yourselves to be used by the Lord, I too call all of us to move together in such a call of being used by the Lord”. He called on all delegates to support the upcoming AABYF Conference scheduled to hold in Ghana next year. He said, “We have chosen West Africa to host us in 2023, Accra, Ghana. This gathering is yours, this gathering is ours. I call you all to prepare for it.”
While congratulating the leadership of AABYFWR, the Chairman of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship, Western Region, Revd Dickson O.E Madoghwe, Ph.D. urged the youths to support the leadership of their Churches, Conventions, and Unions. He said, “If there is any conflict in your Church, Association, Convention or Union, you should not be on the negative side. At all times, ensure that you are on the side of God, be an instrument of peace”. He encouraged youths who are well placed vocationally and economically to help raise other youths.
In his remarks, the General Secretary, All Africa Baptist Fellowship, AABF, who doubled as the Regional Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, BWA, Pastor Elias Apetogbo congratulated the leadership and all delegates. He said that All Africa Baptist Fellowship has 72 Conventions with over 20 million baptized members. He noted that 32 countries are official members of AABF while 41 are unofficial members. He urged the delegates to yield to the call of the master and like Isaiah responded, Here am I, send me.
Major highlights of the conference were the Theme interpretation which was taken by Pastor Ahoga Augustin; Bible study on theme 1 & 2 by Rev Owei Thongo and Rev Mawuli Gadzo respectively; and the Training Session on “Spiritual Life of a Christian Leader” by Rev Dr. John B. Laba while Rev Comar Codjia Kokou, Administrative Secretary, Togo Baptist Convention took the sermon.
Other highlights were sermon and prayer taken by the General Secretary of the All Africa Baptist Youth Fellowship and immediate past President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention Youth Conference, NBCYC, Pastor Onajite Enunuaye; intercessory prayers for selected countries in Africa and other parts of the world, prayer sessions; worship and praise ministration; praise celebration and general devotion.
There was a breakout session where topics on – Religious Compromise, Effects on Church Growth; Youth Ministry; Leveraging Digital Platform for Total Growth, and Urgency of Mission Work in Africa were facilitated by Pastor Amel Agbohouto (Benin), Bro. Kpomgbe Koffi Ferdeust (Togo), Bro. David Agogo (Nigeria) and Pastor Enunuaye Onajite respectively. Bro. Kpomgbe Koffi Ferdeust, Area Director for Africa for the Online Horizons Leadership Training for the continent of Africa also facilitated the training on the Baptist World Alliance Horizons Leadership Training.
Delegates also had the opportunity to engage in sports and outdoor activities including site seeing. The youths visited historic and tourist centers in the country. Among visited sites were Temple De Python; La Porte Du Non-Retour; Routes Des Esclaves; Cotonou Cadjehoun Airport; President’s Freedom Square; and Beaches among others. These sites are located in Cotonou and Ouidah.
The conference resolved that Cote D’Ivoire will host the next conference in September 2024.
In his closing remark, the President of the Benin Baptist Union, Rev Kakpo Marc Gabriel thanked God for the success of the conference. He encouraged delegates to not allow the impacts of the conference to be lost on them while the President of AABYFWR appreciated all youths for their support during the conference.
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