“Auntie, maybe the bus will break down and we can stay at your house for a little while longer. I’m not ready to leave” -words spoken by new Ugandan friend.
And I feel as though my little heart might leap right out of my chest.
Kevin and I have had the pleasure of hosting three young children & their chaperone from Uganda these past few days. They are doing a ten month tour of the United States with the African Children’s Choir. These children come from the poorest parts of Uganda, and the children are often orphans or living in single-parent homes. The children audition for a spot in the African Children’s choir, and when selected they spend 6 months in training prior to leaving for the United States. In their training they learn English, appropriate culture customs, and of course singing and dancing! Their concerts consist of traditional Ugandan songs, dances, playing the drums, and singing contemporary gospel music.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to listen to them, I’d suggest you check out their tour schedule, here. They will be in the United States until September!
What’s amazing about African Children’s Choir is that after theses children complete their tour, their education is fully funded through University. This can mean the difference between life and death for these children.
One of the young men who is staying with us was apart of the Children’s choir 18 years ago, and now today he is a full-time chaperone of the children. Prior to volunteering his 10 months to being a full-time parent/support/friend/brother to these children at 26 years old, .
Timothy was a business analyst at a construction company in Uganda.
He tells his story like this,
I had been working for several years– getting ahead and helping support my family… when one evening… everyone had left for the day, but I was still working…
I heard God say to me, “Timothy. You need to quit your job. You will get a phone call. And when you get that call, say yes.”
And crazy enough, Timothy did. He quit his job the next morning not entirely sure what would happen, but certain God had a plan for him.
The next day the African Children’s Choir called him. Asked him to come back on tour again. This time not as an 8-year old kid in the middle of a 5 person, single-parent home… This time, they wanted him to be a chaperone to the 18 children who had auditioned and were ready to come to the United States for the first time.
It is through this remarkable leap of faith that finds Timothy in my living room, singing gospel songs, and coloring with 8-year olds. One of the boys and I sit together, building a legos model of a statue in Paris, while Timothy sits there with the other two boys coloring. And teaching them about Jesus.
The children are bright- they are only 8, but reading to me as if they were in middle school already. They are also polite to us and play wonderfully well with one another..
“Auntie Shelby, will you pass me that piece there? Auntie Shelby does this look right? You are better at this than me!” “Uncle Timothy what is that bible verse that goes with that song you are singing?” “Uncle Kevin what Is your favorite animal??” “Might I have a cup of water, please Auntie?”
And our night passes together pleasantly.
It isn’t until we put the boys to bed that our talk turns to serious matters with Timothy. He is teaching us about Ugandans- their culture, their politics, their economy. He offers advice about our own country- what he’s thankful for, what he’s praying for, and how he is living his life for Jesus.
We’re halfway through our conversation when he says what I know in my heart too:
“I just want to have on my heart what God has on his. God loves the world so much, he has changed my heart so much. He has asked me to love my neighbors like I love my own self. It is only through God that a country can change. Only through God’s love that a heart can be changed.”
Timothy and I have more in common than anyone would dare to believe.
While Satan seeks to divide us, Christ is always at work to unite us. First to himself. Then to one another. This is why Timothy and I can sit together speaking of God and dream about the realities of God’s Kingdom.
The place where children are never hungry for food, nor hungry for love or relationships. The place where we all belong, and all are invited to sit with their beloved Father. A place of endless opportunities. A place scarcity, corruption, and sin will never taint.
Jesus Christ brings His Kingdom to our earthly kingdoms through the same channels, the same avenues, and the same ambassadors.
He uses us.
Knowing this brings more joy, more hope, & more reason to live than my heart feels able to contain.
If you wish to help the African Children’s Choir, I’d invite your prayers over the communities in Uganda.
If you feel moved to support their work (and trust me, it is a GOOD work) I invite you to view how you can help, here.