8 Oct 2013 by Jason Law CM –
Some of the best moments in life come when we hear inspirational stories. They shine out like beacons during the darkest moments of our lives, lending light in those dark moments. They lift us up from depression and hopelessness when we find it so difficult to ever trust and hope in life again. They build us up when we feel so helpless and useless. They lend comfort during times of loneliness. And best of all, as humans made in the image of God, we share an immense joy with those who have struggled through difficult experiences and emerged stronger.
This is what many people experienced and will continue to experience during a Watoto concert. Every member of the choir emerged from the darkest experiences of life, and today stand as inspirational testimonies of what is possible when we hold on to hope. The awesome thing is that they recognize the source of their hope and joy.
The Watoto Children Choir is part of the Watoto Church, a cell-based community church, started in Kampala, Uganda, and formed to touch the lives around them with the love of Jesus, and bring healing to the cities and nations. Started in 1994, their performances are a unique blend of native African rhythms, contemporary gospel music and ethnic dance.
The DUMC church was filled to the balconies with people who were excited to be part of the event last weekend. The sounds of Africa were ushered in at around 8pm by tribal drum beats, and soon the whole stage took on the appearance of a thriving African village. Dances depicting daily life and community took their place on stage, and the whole platform was filled with colours and movement.
Bafula, one of the children of Watoto then shared the story of Watoto’s background and how the movement had given the Ugandan children hope. Some of the children introduced themselves and their stories. One boy, David, never got to know his parents because he was abandoned at a health center as a baby. Ambrose and his sister lost their father at a young age, and one day, their mother just walked away from their lives and left them to fend for their own. Another boy shared about the genocide in Northern Uganda, and how when they were seeking refuge one day, he saw his mother shot and murdered in front of his own eyes.
Stories of hope rose in the lives of these people who had seem to be without hope. One brother grew from such a broken background and graduated from university in a course purposefully chosen so he could develop the society in Uganda. Many of the children shared about their ambitions of becoming teachers and doctors so that others will not have to go through the same things that they did. It was impossible not to be touched by the lives of these children or have compassion for them, knowing such horrors and suffering at such a young age, and today having such clear looks of hope and enthusiasm in their eyes now that they have found Jesus.
The introductions then led into the song ‘God Knows My Name’. All of the children had stories of their own to tell, and many had lost either one or both parents, but the song was a joyous one that tells of the sense of community and love that they have now from a loving Father. ‘God Knows My Name’ was followed by ‘Afayoo’ which means ‘Jesus Cares’ in Ugandan, and towards the end of this song, the choir led the whole church in a joyous celebration of dance and worship.
The senior pastor of the church, Pastor Daniel Ho, then interviewed the choir leader, who shared about the projects planned by Watoto to give hope to people in a land broken by hardship, loneliness, poverty, and suffering. Among these were whole villages built for the welfare of the children, the choir performing all around the world, and social welfare programs such as Baby Watoto for abandoned babies and Living Hope for vulnerable women, sponsorship programs, and livelihood support through the sales of items like beautiful African scarves, handbags, and DVDs as well as CDs of their songs and performance. Many of the children performing in DUMC that night had only visited outside their countries for the first time in their lives.
The mighty torrent of worship continued, full of colour and excitement. It lasted for 2 hours through each night from start to end, and ended at around 10pm. The performance had an astonishing range, both from traditional styles to modern like soul, as well as virtuoso performances on African drums, from slow and gentle to fast and rhythmic. The church was truly blessed but it was clear that what most attendees enjoyed the most was being part of something meaningful in the lives of people who were once living without hope and sharing the joy with them. The stalls selling their products were swarmed heavily after the event, both for the products themselves as well as by people eager to bless them.
More than most of us, these children had reason to lose hope and drop out of contributing to society. It was Jesus that gave them hope through Watoto, and is still giving them that hope today. To hear about how their lives were changed and given purposes by Christ is already one of the best and most uplifting experiences I had. To have them presented along with great songs and dances is a tremendous bonus.
For more information about Watoto, including how you can bless them, check out their Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Watoto-Asia/260945490740 or their websites at www.watoto.com or www.watoto.asia
Noted: Pictures are provided by and credited to DUMC.