Making Music Together | Street Kids Ministry

by - 6:05 PM

Mucking around and playing music with James, Taurai, Tafudzwa, Nelson, Lisa and Nyasha!

I had an incredible day getting to know the street children who came into the church compound for their daily class and lunch. This time there were a handful of them, and I was placed in charged of the afternoon activities because Tandi, one of the ladies who usually teaches them was busy getting a few of the other kids to take a shower and clean up – since most of them only have weekly showers! Tandi was also busy throughout the day organizing the Ghetto Christmas production that would be performed as an outreach on the weekend. We are all very excited about that!

In the simple classroom we had, with a wall painted halfway with blackboard paint, some markers and paper, and a Bible story book, I got the kids to write out a portion of one of the Bible stories before I promised to teach them a few games and maybe even take out my ukulele to play.

The children’s names were Taurai, Tafudzwa, James, Nelson, Lisa, Anisha, Tanya, Happiness (!!!), Nyasha and Tinashe.

I got them all to sit in a circle after they had done their writing. Quite a few of them had little schooling and could write very rudimentarily considering their ages were between 11 to 14 years old. I took out my ukulele and they were mesmerized. Tafudzwa asked if I could play something. So I played one of my favorites, ‘I Could Sing of Your Love Forever’. They loved it so much that they start clapping and swaying to the chorus. When I finished, they whooped and cheered and clapped enthusiastically. I asked the kids if they knew what I was singing about. Tafudzwa piped in, ‘You singin’ about love?’

I was so glad they picked that up! So I promised everyone that I’d teach them one thing on the ukulele, but first, we all had to learn this song. They eagerly leaned forward to listen for the second time. But this time round, I told Tafudzwa – who was fourteen years old, and probably the most literate in English of all of them – to lead with some hand drumming on their thighs as I played and sung. I taught them the words of the song beginning with the repetitive chorus. And we began!

To our great delight, everyone started joining in fairly quickly and I got everyone to follow their leader in the drumming! Someone even added in their own improvisation from the starting rhythm, and then Taurai got up and started jiggling and clapping and dancing to our singing. It was so, so much fun. And just from the smiles on their faces, I could see they were really having a grand time and connecting thoroughly with the medium of music! Eventually, I also got up from sitting and started walking around with my ukulele in hand, strumming and dancing as I went. The children got up one by one and trailed me as I grooved around the room! It was so funny and so much fun at the same time.

Later on, when the kids were told to go and have their shower in the church, so that they could put on a set of clothes from the FBC (food, business and clothes bank) that ONE church started, Tandi told me afterwards that when she asked them if they’d had a good day today, they all enthusiastically nodded their heads and said they had such a fun time and they were happy. That made me so happy and I thanked God for bringing me here. I never would have thought that I would be a part of a pioneering street kids ministry. Just two weeks before I arrived, Pastor Sean, Tandi, Mercy Tanyaradzwa and a few others from the church had been initiating this program and inviting street children into the compound for a meal and some English classes where they would also incorporate Bible stories and games. It is amazing that I came just at the right time. I believe God wants me to learn from these guys who are putting in such difficult work in a tough place – and you know, at the same time, their lives are also filled with their own struggles with providing for their families, earning a living in a country where unemployment is rife, and so many other concerns. But I see Jesus working through their hearts and lives – they themselves will talk about the love of God compelling them and inspiring them to live their lives in a manner worthy of their calling. It is amazing beyond my wildest imaginations that I could be here now. Right now. That God would lead me here to teach me what it means to start a tough ministry like this. That he would connect me with like-hearted individuals and a church that is passionate about reaching their poor and needy and lonely in their community. That he would place music in my heart and soul and hands and feet, so I could be here to bless these children with music that they’ve never heard before. And at the same time, that God would place me here among them so they can teach me their kind of music in Shona!

Once again, I felt God’s whisper in my heart. I knew that this is exactly what I want to do and what I will be doing everywhere that I go. In Isaiah 42, God has often spoken to me about the power of his light and truth penetrating the darkness. His hope and love can be made known through music. There maybe barriers of language, culture, religion, social class, education and whatever else this broken world may throw at me, but God’s culture and his everlasting love and truth transcends it all. And I have found that playing music with others enables me to connect with them, to connect them with others, and finally to connect them with God.

It’s amazing how quickly it happens, and how thoroughly captivated these children are when it comes to music-making. I believe God has placed it in them. There is that unmistakable inclination and thirst for creativity and a connection with those around them through song and dance. I believe we are called to redeem the arts. What we sing about and the message we share is what matters most. I believe when we began to live for God wholeheartedly, he inspires us with music that comes from his spirit. This has power to touch people spiritually and emotionally – it has power to heal scars that run deep, and convict the hardened hearts of men and women regardless their backgrounds. That’s why I believe in music therapy – but not just therapy or music in and of itself. I believe it is a gift of God that must be shared with others, and it must be given intentionally and with much prayer and unconditional love. This ability to love can only be poured out in our hearts, our broken jars of clay, by Jesus Himself.

You might notice that I often talk about Jesus as if he were a person walking and talking and living beside me as a friend and leader. And that may sound weird at first, but the thing is, it does feel that way to me. I know even though I’m all the way here in Zimbabwe, so far away from everything I know, He is with me. As I am striking up conversations with local vendors, with street children, with the church youth, with the missionaries and aid workers, I know that He is with me. As I am playing music with others, or worshiping and praising at church, or giving someone a hug, I know that He is by my side. He whispers in my spirit, he inspires my thoughts – the thoughts that I know I did not conjure on my own, because they appeared with way too much clarity, insight and simply newness of ideas that I couldn’t have made up just in the moment.

God leads me to people and places that I’d never dream or imagine of going to and connecting with. But when I feel the urging and the prompting, I often go with it, and find that there was something there all along that God wanted me to speak into, or minister to, or simply be an encouragement and blessing to the person or family at hand.

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