Forty ˚C, this is what the thermometer of the town hall of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in west Africa indicates. Each afternoon in April, an untenable heat wave hangs over the city.
The atmosphere is overheated, the air no longer flows and each ray sent by the sun burns painfully like the edge of a sword. Nature dreads this time of year. Trees lack water and wilt. Birds fight over the last foliage available.
Life clings to the promise of a rainy May; a month of rebirth.
For people, April is just as painful. One never gets used to these high temperatures. It is hot, and homes and workplaces are not air conditioned. In addition, there are constant water and electricity shortages for those who have these facilities.
For farmers, it’s the off season. The soil is never drier than in April. No grass grows. The good news for the farmer is that the more drought asserts itself, the more closely the saving month of May comes.
“For us Christians,” Phoebe Lankoande says, “April represents death and rebirth. Our sinful nature should die so that we rise again with Christ. It is the month of Easter.”
For over six years, Phoebe served as Partnership Facilitator for Compassion International Burkina Faso, watching daily the health of the implementation of programs in the partner churches south of Ouagadougou.
With a real passion for the cause of children, Phoebe long served the children’s department of her church, the International Evangelism Centre (IEC). Amid the hundreds of children she oversees at Sunday school, Auntie Phoebe sings, prays, has fun and laughs with the children.
“By identifying with these little fellows, I get to help them understand the most complex concepts,” Phoebe said.
To better serve these young friends, in October 2012 Phoebe initiated a program of enlightenment, edification and entertainment for children on a local TV channel called Impact TV.
The show is called “Youth Space” and is broadcast every Thursday afternoon.
Broadcasting on cable since 2008 and now online, Impact TV was founded by Pastor Mamadou Karambiri to offer various programs of exhortation, sermons and teachings, live services, praise, sports and news. Millions of viewers in Burkina Faso, Africa and around the world benefit from the services of the “Channel of Heaven” as the jingle puts it.
Since 2007, IEC has also hosted a Compassion Child Development Center (CDC) which now welcomes 227 children whose ages range between 3 and 17 years. Since its opening, it has implemented both curricular and extra-curricular activities to meet the physical, emotional, economic and spiritual needs of registered children. Education occupies a good part of the program on the days the children attend.
But the weeks before Easter are reserved for learning about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Traditionally, in Burkina Faso, Easter is celebrated only in churches.
In a country where over 70% of the population is Muslim, the Easter message is left behind the walls of churches.
In 2014, beyond the festivities and many prayer meetings organized by the church, the TV program “Youth Space” decided to take Easter out of the church and into the homes by talking about it on their Thursday broadcast.
Entitled “In the Footsteps of Christ”, the show offered viewers a way to revisit the last days before Christ’s death, to familiarize them with the events of His death and resurrection.
The guests of the day were a group of children from the Compassion child development center.
Fourteen-year-old Balkissa was on the show. Living in a Muslim family, she learned about the mission of Christ on earth from her registration in the Compassion program.
“I was proud to participate in this program. I know my parents were hooked on our neighbors’ television to see me. But also, they had the chance to learn a lot about Easter,” Balkissa says.
In each of her broadcasts, Phoebe ends with a short quiz that is most often about the content of the broadcast day.
Two other youth in attendance, Mohammed and Asseta, feel they learned a lot from the show.
“Auntie Phoebe clearly explained that it is because Jesus lived without sin, died for our sins, and rose again that our Christian life has a meaning,” Asseta says.
Most registered children who have a TV set at home did not want to miss the show. Balkissa thinks that it is a fun way to learn and grow spiritually. Sometimes they tune the center’s TV set to Impact TV to watch their program.
“Any time the show is on-air, my heart goes to the viewers who do not believe in Christ. A TV show is a weapon that tears down walls of incredibility and of darkness. Saying the right word in the right moment can make the difference in the heart of somebody out there,” Phoebe said, as she turned her microphone off.
She hopes that sharing Christ’s wonderful resurrection story occurred in the right moment to drive a heart to love Jesus. For people watching, young or old, to find their own season of death and rebirth.