It’s amazing how a simple act of kindness could inspire a lifelong ministry that helps thousands of children. Very often we meet people in our day to day life and activities. Some lead to long term friendships, business opportunities, jobs and in Ray Barnett’s case it led to more ministry.
Ray Barnett, founder of African Children’s Choir, had a very unique experience.
“Ray affectionately called Daddy Ray had visited Uganda some years before on a humanitarian trip to assist persecuted Christians in the time of Idi Amin’s brutal rule. While on this trip he and his traveling companions gave a ride to a young Ugandan boy who proceeded to light up their journey with his beautiful singing. This little boy’s talent, happiness and hope shone brightly through his voice, which stayed with Ray. The act of offering a child a ride led to them meeting this child whose talent would have forever left an impression on Ray that would benefit thousands of young children in Uganda.
When he returned to Uganda again in hope of helping the vulnerable children there, Ray took inspiration from the talented youngster he had met previously and decided to show the western world the beauty, dignity of unlimited ability of the children of Africa through choir song – The first African Children Choir was born.”
On April 15 at 8 p.m., The African Children’s Choir will perform in South Florida at the Miramar Cultural Center, located at 2400 Civic Center Place, in Miramar.
The African Children’s Choir is composed of African children, aged 7 to 10 years old. Many have lost one or both parents through the devastation of war, famine and disease. They’re a representation of the children of a continent and they demonstrate the potential of African children to become strong leaders for a better future in their country. Their concert performances include performance at the Pentagon and United Nations. The choir travels to several locations within the US and Canada for live performances. From mid-March to mid-April the choir will be performing at several locations in Florida, including West Palm Beach, Naples, Orlando, Miramar, Sarasota, Clear Water, Ft Meyers and Plant City among others. Further details of these performances are listed on the website africanchildrenschoir.com
Heidi Moen, tour leader who’s been with the choir for two years said these performances show hope from the children of Uganda. Their energy, their passion, their heads and their smiles often lift the audience and leave them mesmerized. She said, It’s been a life changing experience for her and she’s encouraging others who feel the pull to take the bold step to get on board as a chaperone like she did a couple of years ago or volunteer in other areas.
The performances raise awareness to the plight of children living in Uganda. They also give these children performing an opportunity to experience other cultures. That’s just one of the many benefits of being on the choir.
Children who join the choir and complete a choir tour benefit from a Christian education all the way up to college through Music for Life. There are many of the choir alumni who, aside from working with the African Children Choir, hold stable jobs as doctors, lawyers, social workers, journalists, air hostess, NGOs and even with the government in Uganda. That’s quite an impact to have on one’s life. Currently Music for life, the parent organization, works in seven different African nations. They operate sponsorship programs throughout 35 different schools and have helped over 52,000 children since its inception in 1984. They continue to train chaperones and encourage persons to become a Friend of the Choir. The tours and concert proceeds are used to fund the programs of ACC as well as well as to further expand their reach and their cause. For more information, visit africanchildrenschoir.com.
Carone Gordon proud mom or three children, wife and co-pastors alongside her husband at the Awe Center Ministries. She’s also the founder of Wives Members Only Club.