Uganda Sings to Us
Harmony, dancing, singing, and love—an overwhelming, undying sense of love from children who traveled to the United States of America from Uganda. Every member of the Amani Choir, a part of the Light Africa Ministry, and the Kampala Church was excited to be here and sing in the US. We were able to interview three of the choir’s young girls, Whitney, Hussinah, and Denise, and their Pastor, James Teira. The entire group stayed in Covington, with host homes who were members of the First Baptist Church (FBC) in Covington. They performed at various churches in the area, doing two absolutely amazing performances at FBC, including acapella numbers and several gave their testimony while they let the audience get to know them.
The Choir began their journey in the final days of November 2018. The nearly year-long tour kicked off in Houston, Texas. They then traveled to Oklahoma, back to Texas, and then further south to Mexico. They revisited Oklahoma and Texas before coming here, to Tennessee, before heading to Alabama. The choir’s tour ends in Michigan; however, at the time this article will be published, they’ll remain in the States four more months before returning home to Uganda. The youngest child was seven, the oldest member was twenty-two.
The girls we spoke with were very happy to share why they were here. When asked if they were sisters, one responded, “no, just sisters in Christ,” and revealed their purpose for touring in the US. They exemplified the love of Christ and how it affected them. They want to show the love of Jesus wherever they can whether that be at home or here in the US.
The relationship between Pastor Teira and his students was evident, he would joke with them causing a fit of giggles to erupt. After our interview, the kids were going to try their hand at bowling: something they had never experienced and were very excited to try.
All three of the girls have a favorite song they perform. Whitney prefers older songs while the other two have specific songs in mind. Hussinah likes to sing Amazing Grace; Denise loves to Pray for Africa.
The oldest of the three explained how they got ready for their North American Tour: “Before we come on tour, we had some few months to get ready so that when we go on tour we could perform.” Pastor Teira explained further, “It takes three months to get ready for the final preparation, but before that, they normally sing in church.” While they are on tour, they keep up with their regular studies, having classes during the day. At age five, the children learn English, and most have learned three languages by the time they reach third grade.
Whitney explained how they learned the dances they perform while they sing, “We have some people in Uganda that come and teach us some dances.” The dances the choir perform don’t really have names and are better described by the choreography. When watching them, the students have a grace that leads them in their performances. While the dancing they do goes with the music, we were also able to see a Traditional African dance aside from their choreographed numbers.
This is the fourth tour Pastor Teira has brought to the US. There are four main reasons he does these tours. “One, we share about Christ and what he has done in our lives. Two, we raise awareness of the needs of children back home in Africa. People here have been generous to help us do what we do. Third, we do work on building schools and different things we need to do for those schools. The fourth one is that we are training leadership development for the students. When we do a tour like this it opens their eyes. Back home is a closed box, but after a tour, they see a bigger picture in life. That they can dream bigger than the small village where they are born.” Whitney, Hussinah, and Denise have big dreams. One dreams of becoming a lawyer, another a doctor, and finally, a surgeon rounds out the trio. These dreams are lifetime ones, “Back in Uganda, many people they are just...they are kidnapping children and it’s bad. I’ve grown up with some people kidnapping and…” she trailed off. Pastor Teira, asked her, “Do you want to protect the children?” She agreed, “Yes, I love people.” To hear her say that was devastating. To show such love for other people while having that fear in the back of your mind? Talking to these girls really shows you that even in the worst of times the sun still rises. With all of the troubles that they see in Africa, they still show such a love of life; a love of Jesus shines completely from their eyes and radiates from their souls. We asked them what they liked most about the United States, and they replied, “The food, there’s so much of it!” But they were also looking forward to getting back home.
Each of the girls we spoke with mentioned wanting to help people and serve their communities: “I just love helping people. Some people die suffering from brain diseases or heart diseases. Sometimes they can’t afford to go be treated, so I want to become a surgeon so that I can help some people get free treatment and serve peoples’ needs.”
As we finished the interview each of the girls giggled and hugged us before climbing on the bus, eager to go bowling for the first time. I am very thankful we were able to catch them while they were on tour.
Their ministry verse is:
“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song...Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice,”
Psalm 95:1-7 NIV
To help them continue to build their schools, they do ask for contributions. To talk to them, you may email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also watch their performances on YouTube via their facebook page. www.facebook.com/amanichildrenschoir/videos/797192257314786/