4 INTERNATIONAL The Universal Church throughout the world T In spite he Gabonese Republic, or Gabon, is a small African country that stopped being a French colony in 1960, after gaining independence. Since then, it has been in constant ascent and has already become the territory with the highest Human Development Index (HDI) in subSaharan Africa -part of the continent located south of the Sahara Desert. of that, unfortunately, this advance is not for the entire population. According to Bishop Fabiano da Conceição Telis, head of Universal in the country, wealth is concentrated in the hands of few people. On the other hand, a good part of the population is in misery, which stimulates the search for economic growth through spiritual practices. Evangelistic work existed in the country 21 years ago, with meetings held in French, the official language of Gabon. Bishop Fabiano says that the first pastors had to face rigid restrictions in relation to the entry and exit of foreigners. “With a lot of struggle and sacrifice we were gaining the confidence of the authorities and showing that our interest is to do the Work of God. We conquered our space, the Church has developed and is seen in a positive way.” THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH IN GABON COMPLETES 21 YEARS moments of happiness and to hide the myself in parties in discos, drugs and prostitution.” When he heard about Jesus, he saw a new perspective on life and, in 2013, he began to be part of the YPG. Currently, the territory has three prayer centers and fifteen churches, including the National Headquarters, located in the capital, Libreville. The inauguration became the most important moment of the Universal in the country. “At the beginning, people did not believe that we could build a Work of that dimension without the help of the government, but we show that we do not measure efforts to give the suffering a place that teaches them to find the solution to their problems and to achieve Salvation of the soul,” says the bishop. He adds that, even though it is a very different country from Brazil, cultural barriers were not able to prevent people from identifying with work. “The people receive the message of intelligent faith very well, because it uses the head, it is less emotional. But dance is something important in meetings, the population likes to express joy through music and dance.” Among the projects that Universal maintains in the country are the ABC Group, which carries out social work with different types of donations; the Caleb Group, for the elderly; the Universal Literacy Center, which promotes different courses such as French, English and computer science; the Godllywood; and the Youth Power Group (YPG). It was the YPG that helped Essouki Golden Steph. “I was full of sentimental, family problems, I was unemployed and, to have ‘‘ At the beginning it’s not easy, but, getting involved in the activities carried out by the group, making the chains and knowing the will of God, I managed to change my life,” he says. sadness, I immersed

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