Recently it was our privilege as a church family to host the Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda. This was the third year in a row for us and each time we host them the church is packed. Listening to their songs, seeing their joy and watching as they dance before the Lord in thankfulness to Him is inspiring.
However, having them in your home is another issue altogether. The children come in groups of two or three with one of their adult chaperones. We provide sleeping space and some food as an exchange. This time because we were hosting them on a Sunday night we had them in our homes for two nights as their rule of thumb is to take Mondays as a day off from traveling and performing. They arrive at our homes Sunday night after the performance and clean-up are finished. They leave Tuesday morning after a full day off when they do laundry, school work and sleep in. This gives a little more time to visit and to play with them. The first questions our guests asked my wife was whether or not we had children. They love to play with other children on a day off. They were disappointed when she said no but happy when she said we have grandchildren that they will get to spend some time with.
The girls are orphans who live in a Watoto home with a mom who creates a new family experience for up to eight children per home. It is a wonderful thing that Watoto is doing. If you don`t know much about them go to their website: www.watoto.com. It is very impressive what they are accomplishing. However what I have noticed is that these girls crave a father-figure`s attention. Give them a bit of time to get to know you and they want all the attention you can give them as a man. The girls sat on each side of me Sunday night with a book asking if I would read to them. Monday night when I got home I had to leave for another meeting but I promised the girls I would see them before they went to bed. I arrived home around 9pm and was tired. I said hello to the girls then turned on the TV to watch the last bit of the hockey game when all of sudden two girls are right beside me. One takes the remote out of my hand and turns off the TV while the other one grabs my hand and says, “Come play with us.` Obviously you deny what you want in order to play with two girls that you may never see again.
Later, God spoke to me about what had transpired in my home. Their hunger for my attention is exactly what God wants from me. God wants me to desire Him in the same way they wanted my attention. Play with me, read to me, talk to me or just spend time with me was their heart`s desire. God wants me to have the same heart desire for His attention. He is always available. He is always waiting. He is never tired or busy or wanting to do something else with someone else. He constantly watches me. He is always available to me. Crazy to think that I`m the one who gets too busy or too tired or too distracted or would rather spend time with someone else and ignore the creator of the universe but its true.`
The other lesson was a bit more pointed than that one. I arrived home and the auntie who was staying at our place asked me how my day had been. She was standing in my kitchen washing dishes and cleaning up. I told her how I rose at 5:30, started my day with a breakfast meeting at 6:30 and ran a full day before arriving home at 4:30 only to head out to another meeting at 5pm. Honestly I was whining about how hard I was working even though it was not that hard of a day. (in my defence I was also battling a cold…I know I know its not much of a defence). This woman, born and raised in Uganda spending her life rescuing, raising and rebuilding the lives of orphaned children listened to my sad lament. Once I was done this was her response to me. She stood in my kitchen with her arms extended at her side gesturing to the house I live in and said this in response to my complaints, `Pastor Russ, to whom much is given, much is required.`
That took guts but it was like the voice of God Himself speaking through this wonderful African woman saying to me don`t you dare complain about your life. Look at how much I have blessed you. You have more than you will ever need. You are blessed to the extreme. Don`t you dare complain about what I have called you to do.
I got in my car, drove to my next meeting but I couldn`t shake the image of this wonderful African woman being bold enough to confront me about my complaining in regards to serving God. I am blessed. I have an abundance. I have nothing to complain about. My God is a good and generous God. I am trying to live with this as a constant awareness in my day to day life.
I can`t wait for the next time Watoto shows up. I know God will use them to speak to me again.