Little Slice of Heaven

Story and photo by Emily Rogers, Assistant Editor, Global Internal Communications

There was hardly a dry eye in the auditorium of the Global Ministry Center (GMC) after the Tanzanian Children’s Choir sang on Friday afternoon.

“I’m here for singing and telling people the love of Jesus through gospel songs,” says Compassion-sponsored Hawa, 14, whose joy for life, talent for singing, and love for Jesus was translated through her tears. “I want people to know that the Lord is present.”

The choir had been invited to celebrate the 2008 Global Leadership Forum and to welcome Compassion’s newest field country, Togo.

Hailing from the Anglican Mlimwa Student Center in Tanzania, 12 children from the 40-person choir boarded a plane for their first trip outside their country.

“None of these kids had ever been out of Tanzania, let alone on an airplane,” says Gary Clark, a Compassion choir host. “So it was a big deal, a big deal.”


Fourteen-year-old Danessa wasn’t intimidated by her first flight. “I don’t fear because I know Jesus is with you, with me, everywhere, even on the airplane,” she says with a smile.

More than 150 different children’s choirs in Tanzania are assisted by Compassion. Much like this group, they spread the gospel to various churches in their country, using their songs of praise, rich in rhythm and movement, to reach out to the community.

Hawa says, “I try the best of my level, even in Swahili, to tell [people] God is good through everything.”

This choir trip was the first time Compassion has brought a group of sponsored children to the GMC. The idea came from East Africa Area Director, Ephraim Gensi. Ephraim challenged us to use the Tanzanian children’s choirs to promote Compassion when he spoke at a chapel service earlier this year.

Tanzania’s Country Director, Emmanuel Mbennah says, “Personally, I have always had a desire that children’s choirs from field countries could come and minister, which would be a developmental experience for them and true ministry to people at GMC as well as sponsors and potential sponsors.”

Mary Lou Elliot, David Dahlin’s assistant, heard Ephraim’s words and decided to act. She says, “The Lord put that in my heart somehow, I don’t know why.”

Mary Lou’s idea was embraced by our leadership. They created guidelines to protect the children while in the U.S., and these guidelines will serve to govern similar visits in the future.

After the decision was made to bring the children to the U.S. and guidelines established to protect the children while here, Mary Lou had six weeks to select which children would come, obtain their visas and plane tickets, and find places for them to stay.

Hosting and featuring the choir was a dream come true, she says: “It brings me to tears; just the thought of bringing children from the centers who are full of the joy of the Lord.”

The children return to Tanzania today, after an eight-day visit. Their time here was packed with a visit to the zoo, a natural wonder called the Cave of the Winds, and an amusement center – in addition to inspiring performances at Southeast Christian Church in Parker, Colo.

13 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Lizzie May 25, 2012

    Hey! Have you done this since 2008? I just saw this post today, and I was curious if you still plan to do more. BTW, the post is AWESOME. That must have been soo amzing for the kids and those listening! 🙂

    1. Jacquie Parella May 25, 2012

      Glad you liked the post Lizzie. We haven’t done this since 2008. Thanks for asking!

  2. Chris Giovagnoni September 25, 2008

    Wess’ story about Washington will be posted on Monday.

  3. Mary Lou Elliott September 19, 2008

    Unfortunately, the availability of this children choir coming to Compassion wasn’t confirmed until almost the end of August and that just didn’t leave us enough time to notify and bring in sponsors (which in itself is a much bigger process than you would think!) We did consider it, but knew we just couldn’t go that direction this particular time.

  4. Chris Giovagnoni September 19, 2008

    I’m working on getting something from Wess about his dinner at the White House, as well as from Mary Lou about the children seeing their sponsors question.

  5. Barb September 17, 2008

    I was thinking along the same line as Vicki. Did their American sponsors know about this? I definitely would have been there! How awesome!

  6. Vicki Small September 17, 2008

    First, I mis-read the Guest List.

    And Dave, you nailed the reason Compassion works. Without the Chrisr-centeredness of Compassion, it would be just one more relief organization, doing some good things, but not likely changing a lot of lives.

  7. Juli Jarvis September 17, 2008

    All I can say is — Leave it up to the kids to upstage the adults — all the guest speakers, professional musicians, planned seminars and activities were upstaged by these precious little ones, whose words and music spoke volumes to all! That’s why we all do what we do — find sponsors for these great little bundles of faith, joy and Christian love!

  8. Vicki Small September 17, 2008

    I second David’s idea!

    I noticed that the invitation to Wess did not include his wife, although the vast majority of people who were invited were listed with spouses or guests.

  9. Zach Younkin September 17, 2008

    I think it is amazing how we here in America sometimes lose the fact that God is really always with us, yet Danessa is so strong:

    “I don’t fear because I know Jesus is with you, with me, everywhere, even on the airplane.”

    Will we in America ever be like that?

  10. compassion dave September 17, 2008

    “Fourteen-year-old Danessa wasn’t intimidated by her first flight. ‘I don’t fear because I know Jesus is with you, with me, everywhere, even on the airplane,’ she says with a smile….Hawa says, ‘I try the best of my level, even in Swahili, to tell [people] God is good through everything.’ “

    Why does the Compassion ministry work? Because Jesus is in it!

  11. David September 17, 2008

    Could you have Dr. Stafford share about his White House dinner with President Bush and the President of Ghana?

    I saw his name on the guest list.

  12. Vicki Small September 16, 2008

    Assuming that some of them were sponsored by Americans, were they put in touch with their sponsors, while they were here? Did their sponsors know the children would be here?

    If my TZ child had been part of that group, I would have moved heaven and earth to go to Colorado Springs to see her!

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