Ecclesiastes 3:1 - For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
There is one thing we humans can always count on; it’s change. Everything changes. Sometimes change comes on quick, while other times change is painfully slow. Expectations change. There is good change and there is bad change. It’s always there. Change forever weaves throughout our lives.
This month we experienced a change here at Childcare Worldwide. After more than a decade of performing for tens of thousands of people, the Ugandan Kids Choir has concluded its final tour.
In 2006, we brought the first group of choir kids to the United States. They performed at Childcare Worldwide’s 25th anniversary celebration, and then spent a few weeks also performing at churches around the Pacific Northwest. We learned a lot hosting that first tour, but the biggest lesson was how much everyone loved them. The children brought joy with them everywhere they went. Since then, tours have been bringing smiles to people’s faces in every corner of the country. They performed at churches, in parks, at museums - even at Disneyland!
More importantly, they became an integral part of our sponsorship program, demonstrating to hundreds of people the difference that one caring individual can make in the life of a needy child. Thanks to their efforts, 8,999 children found sponsors to help them complete their education and achieve their dreams. What a blessing!
While we would love to continue to bring talented Ugandan kids on tour, it has become increasingly difficult for us to bring the group to the US. Obtaining travel visas are more costly and complex than ever before. There have been many times in the past when we were concerned that we wouldn’t be able to get permission for the kids to enter the country, and a few occasions when we had to cancel performances as a result of visa delays. With each new tour, we spent hours praying that the needed documentation would “go through” without delays or added costs.
Over the past couple of years, we also found it increasingly difficult to secure performance bookings for the choir. Many churches have changed their policies and practices for outside groups who wish to speak or perform during Sunday services. Many churches have also begun setting service plans in place many months - or even years - in advance, limiting dates available for choir performances. And without performances, the Ugandan Kids Choir cannot fulfill its purpose.
Through the years, God has been so faithful to the Ugandan Kids Choir, and we praise Him for that! We are also so grateful for the enthusiasm, the energy, and the passion the choir kids dedicated to hundreds of performances all over the United States. They have been amazing ambassadors, and have proven again and again that child sponsorship works! More importantly, they have been effective witnesses for Christ. It warms my heart to know that so many people were positively impacted by the joy in the songs sung by the Ugandan Kids Choir. They blessed so many!
So, while this change wasn’t the kind we had hoped for, we are choosing to reflect on it as a time of celebration for all 18 of the Ugandan Kids Choir groups that have performed on behalf of Childcare Worldwide through the years. Over the coming months, we will be highlighting choir kids of the past through photos and updates on where they are now. We will let them share how God blessed them through their experience as a choir tour member. More importantly, we will praise Him for his provision, his love and care for this wonderful part of the Childcare Worldwide ministry. To HIM be the glory, forever and ever, Amen.