PIQUA — One local church is starting the new year with a performance of song and dance from an inspirational, traveling choir — and they are encouraging the public to attend as well.
The African Children’s Choir will be coming to Piqua Baptist Church, 1402 W. High St., on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m. This concert, like all of the African Children’s Choir concerts, is free and open to all.
“When you meet these kids and see their potential, people are just blown away with hope and joy,” Kyle Serquinia, tour leader, said. Serquinia said that people who attend their concerts are “blessed by these kids and blessed by the Lord.”
The choir connects to audiences with their smiles, voices, and lively African songs and dances. The program features well-loved children’s songs, traditional spirituals, and gospel favorites. There are also videos, dancing and personal testimonies, and a love offering as well where attendees can donate to support African Children’s Choir programs, such as education, care and relief and development programs.
“The love offering goes to help more children in Africa go to school,” Serquinia said.
Music for Life (MFL), the parent organization for the African Children’s Choir, works in seven African countries: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. MFL has impacted the lives of over 100,000 people through its relief and development programs during its history. MFL’s purpose is to help create new leadership for tomorrow’s Africa by focusing on education.
“African’s Children Choir has been around since 1984, and in that time, we have helped over 52,000 children throughout Africa go to school,” Serquinia said.
Serquinia told the story of the founder of the African Children’s Choir, Ray Barnett of Vancouver, B.C., who was on a humanitarian trip in war-torn Uganda when he gave a small boy a ride from his home to the safety of another village.
“This boy sang,” Serquinia said. “He had so much joy and hope … even though he had lost both of his parents and did not know where his next meal was coming from.”
Barnett decided that if he could show the American people the hope and joy of the African people, then some people might be inspired to get involved.
The tour that is coming to Piqua is Choir 46. There have been around 50 choirs in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada since the beginning.
Serquinia and his choir group have been in the United States since August. “We’re in Ohio now,” Serquinia said. “We’ve been doing shows all throughout Ohio.
“The kids have so much energy and joy and so much hope when they perform. People always leave feeling really blessed.”
Serquinia said that when the children share some of their personal stories that it can look like a hopeless situation.
“We’re able to show people … the solution is education,” Serquinia said.”With help with education, these kids can make better lives for themselves.”
For the children, participation in the choir offers them the opportunity to come to the United States and see what life is like in other places.
“They are all coming from very humble beginnings,” Serquinia said, explaining that many of the children may not have had electricity or running water. Many of them have gotten to go swimming in the ocean for the first time or to turn on a light switch for the first time. They also have the opportunity to practice their English.
“They start to dream about their future,” Serquinia said. He added that the experience teaches them “if they trust God and they work really hard, they can do anything they put their minds to.”
They continue to benefit from the program when they return home.
“When they go back to Uganda, they have all of their schooling paid for,” Serquinia said, which includes all the way to their college education. Serquinia noted that education in Uganda is expensive and that hundreds of thousands of people go without it.
“This is really a life-changing experience for the kids,” Serquinia said. “It really puts them in a direction for them to be able to be very, very successful.”
All of the kids in the choir that will be coming to Piqua are from Uganda. They go through a training academy for the first four months. Since arriving in the United States at the end of August, they have traveled to New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio.
“We have been able to go to a lot of places and get to do a lot of really cool things,” Serquinia said.
Serquinia encouraged the community to come out and see them perform.
“The concert is so much fun and is such a worthwhile thing,” Serquinia said. “It is so much fun to come … and be blessed by the children.”
Seeing the children perform and donating during the love offering gives community members the opportunity to help kids in Africa with their education.
“It’s making a huge difference,” Serquinia said. “It’s a blessing to be a part of it, and it’s a blessing for people who get to come and see these kids.”
The African Children’s Choir has performed for presidents, heads of state, and most recently the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II, for her Diamond Jubilee. The choir has also sung alongside artists such as Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, Michael W. Smith, and other inspirational performers.
There are no tickets necessary, but donations are welcome.
For more information, Piqua Baptist Church can be contacted at (937) 773-4583. More information about the African Children’s Choir can be found on their website at www.africanchildrenschoir.com
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336