Please join us as we intercede this week for Serge-Armand Yao in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).
Located in West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire is a religiously diverse republic of 24 million. According to a 2014 census, 43% of Ivoirians are Muslims (mostly Sunni) who reside mainly in the north, while 34% are Christians (17% Catholic, 12% Evangelical) who live primarily in the south. After gaining independence from France in 1960, Côte d’Ivoire thrived economically due to abundant coffee and cocoa exports. However, global economic recession and drought in the 1980s led to economic instability, increased crime, and sociopolitical unrest. In recent years, Côte d’Ivoire endured two religion-fueled civil wars in 2002-2007 and 2010-2011.
Serge is pursuing his PhD in Old Testament at Université de l’Alliance Chrétienne d’Abidjan (UACA) in Côte d’Ivoire. For his dissertation, Serge is examining issues of ethnicity and identity in the Book of Esther in order to promote respect for cultural differences amid tribalism and division. A pastor and teacher, Serge also serves as Academic Dean at Alliance Theological Institute or Institut Supérieur de Théologie de l’Alliance Chrétienne in Côte d’Ivoire. Serge and his wife Rita have three children: Miaclundjé Christ-Hanniel (14), Miayrunyan Ira-Loïs (9), and Miaoundjué Anne-Doris (7).
Serge shares the following message:
I am the Academic Dean for the Alliance Theological Institute in Côte d’Ivoire and Lecturer of Hebrew and Old Testament at Université de l’Alliance Chrétienne d’Abidjan (UACA), where I am currently a PhD candidate. With my wife Rita and our three children, I also serve as a pastor in the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Cote d’Ivoire.
In Côte d’Ivoire, there are more than 60 ethnic groups, divided into four linguistic groups. From 1999 to 2011, Côte d’Ivoire has experienced deep sociopolitical crises as a result of ethnic tensions, sectarianism, and nationalistic and sometimes xenophobic behavior. Unfortunately, Christians in general and Evangelical Protestants in particular have contributed to these growing tensions.
My doctoral dissertation explores ethnicity in the Book of Esther through an interactionist approach. Rereading biblical texts alongside current ethnicity research is important for at least two reasons. The first is to enable African interpretive communities to become aware of the complexity of ethnicity in the Bible through in-depth studies of relevant texts. Inappropriate interpretations of such texts could be disastrous. The second reason is to help these communities to acquire a relational perspective on ethnicity by developing a concept of “otherness” that facilitates peaceful cohabitation.
I give thanks for God’s love and providential care for my family, for the good progress of my research, and for the quality of the supervision I am receiving.
Pray for wisdom and intelligence in my studies. Pray for balance between studies, family life, and spiritual life.
Pray for peace in Côte d’Ivoire. The next presidential elections are scheduled for 2020. We are already observing acute social and political tensions.