Choir 68 On Stage with Chris Tomlin

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We were honoured to be invited by Grammy-award winning Gospel artist, Chris Tomlin, to join him onstage at his Love Ran Red tour/concert this March  ‘Lord, I Need You,’ which is one of the Tomlin songs that we sing, is a key part of the message of hope that we carry on tour. The celebration of the Gospel of Christ touched thousands of lives that night, and we were thrilled to be a part of that.

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Of course, we love Chris Tomlin’s music, so it goes without saying that the children were overwhelmed with excitement when they were invited back on stage while Chris sang ‘God’s Great Dance Floor’ – a favourite at Watoto Church. The kids were asked to teach the crowd some of their dance moves, and they loved every minute of it.

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Thank you Chris Tomlin for your friendship and love. God bless you.

Leaders Are Born

It’s 8 a.m. on a Monday morning and all the adults from Choir 71 are at a weekly planning meeting. So what happens with the children when the “cat” is away?

Their discipline is not lost. The children behave in the same orderly fashion with maybe a bit more giggling and teasing.

To ensure this, every week the adults in Choir 71 identify an outstanding child with leadership skills to lead the team. This week Denis Opio, a 9-year-old boy becomes captain of the ship.

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Before he begins calling the children together he is interrupted by Pamela, a 12-year-old girl who has also been chosen to lead in the past. “Denis, I’m taking these two with me outside. They have not yet mastered the moves for “Heirs,” she says as she slips out of the room to train the two children.

When the children have all gathered around him, Denis gives them their first instruction. “Vocal warm ups. We start with vocal drills and then…”He’s distracted by some children who are still playing hide-and-seek.

“Today, we are going to run through all the songs, starting with the Canadian national anthem. Let’s continue with the warm ups.” It seems as if Dennis has the entire morning planned out and under control.

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As part of their vocal exercise, they lay down and do push-ups, followed by sit-ups.

It’s now time for the actual practice. Denis ensures that every child is singing right. When he hears one of the children singing off key, he pulls his chair closer to listen again. He then asks them to start over.

“I love leading and I feel happy when the children listen to me and follow my instructions. But sometimes they don’t and this makes me feel bad,” he says, revealing his passion and frustration.

Since Denis started training for choir, he has been a very lively boy, excited about everything especially taking lead in all activities.

“He’s strong-willed and goal-oriented. He gets frustrated when the entire choir makes mistakes during practice,” explains Solomon Ndawula, his uncle on tour.

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Denis will also stand up for the other children and hold the adults accountable to their words.

“He’s very observant and quickly learns from the adults. He sees a part of our character that interests him, and he will pick it up,” Solomon adds.

During training we nurture our children’s God-given talents. We encourage their good habits and help build their character.

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One hour later when the aunties and uncles return from their meeting, Denis hands the team over to Brian Mwaka, their team leader.

In unison, the rest of the group thanks Denis for leading them through practice as they rush back to their positions and continue with their day.

In The Heart Of Our Father

Watoto is a tangible expression of God’s love for the Fatherless. It is home to thousands of Uganda’s orphaned children who have discovered that they are sons and daughters of God.

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All the children who have travelled with the Watoto Children’s Choirs share a story of separation.

“I never saw my parents. Before I came to Watoto, I used to stay with my grand mother and my three sisters,” says 12- year-old Robert Musoke. He’s currently on Choir 71 and will be travelling to Canada in January.

When these children experienced the loss of those whom they loved, they found themselves lost in a world that didn’t know how to embrace them and fill that gap in their lives. They found themselves tangled in fear, worry and need.

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Sometimes in our own journeys we’ve also felt lost, lonely and abandoned. Many of us have also felt the need for a Father’s love. Oh, What Love draws the parallels between the orphan story and our own spiritual journey.

Our stories, like the Watoto Children, take a new twist when Christ intervenes in our lives and reconnects us to the love of the Father. At Watoto the children are given a new life and the opportunity to claim a greater destiny. This is also our inheritance through Jesus: a new life and a greater destiny. We are no longer orphans.

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In Oh, What Love the children declare, ‘We are heirs, children of God…,’ as they proudly glorify the love of the Father for each one of us.

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