Serving as a hospital chaplain was not on Koffi’s radar when he completed a Bachelor of Finance degree, but he had felt ‘called to ministry’ since he was a teenager.
It all began when Koffi was visiting another church in his home nation of Benin one Sunday, and he met a group of Mercy Ships crew members. He had never heard of this organization before, but he felt compelled to attend their day worker interviews the following day. The Advance Team were selecting Beninese to work as interpreters and translators for the Africa Mercy’s upcoming 2009 field service.
In each nation Mercy Ships serves, a large number of local dialect and trade-language speakers are needed to help our teams effectively communicate with our patients. The necessity of receiving accurate patient history, clear medical permission, and explaining surgical information simply, is only the tip of the iceberg.
Koffi’s first season of service as a conduit of communication for Mercy Ships was in the Hospital OutPatients Extension (HOPE) Centre in Benin. He loved the work so much he traveled to neighbouring Togo to continue his interpretation work in the following field service.
After returning to his job in Benin for a year, Koffi felt the irresistible pull back to Mercy Ships. His heart for God and his passion for people made way for further work as a translator in the ship’s on board hospital. Later he served as a trainer for the incoming French-speaking Guinean interpreters.
In 2013 Koffi signed on articles as a long-term volunteer crew member. This time his area of ministry was as a team leader in the ship’s dining room. As Koffi set his hand to the practical tasks before him, he also volunteered additional time in the ship’s wards; praying with and encouraging the patients and their caregivers.
Koffi’s passion for our patients saw him invited to serve as a full-time hospital chaplain the following year.
“I love what I’m doing,” he says. “My job is to care for the patients emotionally, spiritually and mentally. We encourage them through the Word of God, we sing, pray for and council them. The toughest part is when we have to give them bad news [about their condition] but because we have built a relationship with them, we can share, be there with them, pray. When I am around the patients I feel they are my brothers and sisters. I love them, and they call me ‘Alleluia’.”