Saturday, January 20, 2007

African Children's Choir; a night of heroes

All week long the church received phone calls from outside the area: "Are you really having the African Children's Choir at your church? Can we get tickets?" No, we replied, the concert is free. When 7:00 pm arrived yesterday night, the sanctuary was comfortably filled to capacity as was the balcony. 26 eight and nine year olds from Uganda overwhelmed us all with high energy tribal dancing, Ugandan music and familiar Gospel choruses. We alternated between clapping along with their fast rhythms and weeping at the purity of their voices.

The African Children's Choir, to my chagrin, is quite old and has been touring the USA in two separate busses for years. It's goal is to raise funds and awareness for the broken ones in Ugana, Kenya, Rwanda and elsewhere. All of the children in the choir lost one or both parents to war, disease or starvation. Over 500 children audition for the 26 spots on the 14 month tour. They will all return home to finish their education in the Ugandan orphanage/school and go on to become Uganda engineers, teachers, pastors, lawyers and doctors. In their eyes I saw hope and I saw heroes.
We also had a guest with us last night sitting in the front row; he was African-American and very tall. He looked familiar, but I could not place his name and his face. He introduced himself to me on the way out, but his name slipped out of my head among the many conversations with so many other guests. Outside one of our friends said, "Did you see who that was?" I said "Yeah" his name is "Horace something". "Not Horace something, Horace Grant, the great Los Angeles Lakers player and Chicago Bulls player!" I jumped out of my skin. He was such a hero for me during our Michigan days when he played with Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippin. So I searched the church and found him with his wife in a room with the Children's Choir kids, who were clinging to him and climbing all over him. You see, they hosted some of the kids earlier in the week and were so moved by their experience they drove all the way down to Santa Barbara just to hear them and see them again. Another hero for me!!


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