Through the eyes of…

… a chaperone on tour

IMG_4367This post is from Molly Kirk, one of our development representatives based out of Denver, CO. Molly had the unique opportunity to meet the children of Choir 40 while they were at our African Children’s Choir Training Academy in Kampala, Uganda and as a result of a lot of doors that only the Lord could have opened, is blessed to have the opportunity to advocate for the Choir both remotely in Colorado, and at times on tour itself. She has spent over 6 weeks on tour with this Choir so far, and every time she sees them she is reminded just how powerful their testimonies are. She can only hope her voice someday makes as much of a noise in advocating for the children of Africa as the children’s voices do during their concerts.

Below is Molly’s reaction to her first time seeing the Choir perform in the States:

There are sixteen children in the 40th African Children’s Choir. Eight little boys and eight little girls who are nothing short of amazing. They are soft-spoken, obedient, almost shy in demeanor. They have great respect for their elders, stand in line, and respond in unison. To them, everyone is an “Auntie” or an “Uncle.” They finish everything on their plates, and never complain about what they are served, evidence of the true gratitude that exudes from them. They even have a thank you song for every meal host churches prepare for them. Some of them are only 7 years old, their foreheads press into your rib cage when they enfold you in their tiny but strong embrace. To see them in their embroidered sweatshirts and neon sneakers, in their play clothes, they are so small.

But when they sing.

When they sing they are seven feet tall. Their smiles and their expressions and their voices tower. They radiate a joy and a confidence that anyone would find enviable. Many of the songs are begun by the voice of one. Five brave little fingers reach for a microphone and a single child pipes out several lines of praise before more voices join in-harmonizing in a sound of pure, innocent beauty such as only children can make. And if their voices weren’t enough, they sing many of the songs in two different languages, and thank you for coming in four.

All of this in front of a sanctuary filled with hundreds of strangers. Sometimes the voices quaver, ever so slightly, and sometimes the microphone is held a little too far from a child’s moving lips. But they press on, as they always do, and soon the swell of a chorus of voices drown out timidity and the audience is won over, doubly.

And when they dance.

When they dance the audience is awed into stillness. Shock of color and movement. Eight year olds sing into a microphone while they stomp out a beat, and spin in circles, even jump across the stage. Satin yellow dresses and headbands sway to music- as vibrant as the voices that they adorn. Shimmery pants and traditional African tops are only the background to intricately embroidered patterns that are each similar in design, but as unique as the child who wears them.

Costume change and the stage is filled with tangerine-orange juxtaposed against beautiful brown skin, and skirts that have strings of shells, and little boys who pound out rhythms on African drums as though they were warrior-men. The beat on the drums is so driving, the cadence so mesmerizing, the timing so impressive, one forgets that these could ever be children, like Mark, who are still waiting for their front teeth to grow back in.

Before the concerts, there is always a time of prayer, and the children ask God to help them smile nicely while they perform.

He does.

For an entire 80 minutes, radiant smiles, and radiant colors and radiant sound overwhelm the senses and warm the hearts of all who have the privilege of attending. When the choir sings, “the world is a village now, and it isn’t very large” the entire audience resonates with their message and the children are no longer singing to strangers. They are singing to aunties and uncles. To brothers and sisters. To their global family. And as this family learns their stories of triumph and trial, they become invested.

Because the stories of the children are ones worth being told.

And because these stories are only the visible tip of the iceberg. So much lies beneath the surface. But their presence and their lives are witness to the fact that the many deep, invisible needs of Africa can be addressed, one life at a time. Because people in the West are able to see the tip of the iceberg, through the children, resources are being pooled to reach the incredible need below the surface, and thousands are being given an opportunity for education, for hope, for becoming the leaders of tomorrow.

And that is why so many pour their hearts into bringing a bus load of African children into the Western world.

The transcending beauty of a beat and a tune and a smile.

The power of God shouting through the small lungs of children.

A melodic call to action that begs the response of nations.

By: Molly Kirk

If you would like to experience the unforgettable feeling of watching the African Children’s Choir perform visit our See the Choir page to find out when they’ll be delighting audiences next in your area.

If you would be interested in volunteering or becoming a chaperone, you can read more about those opportunities here.