“A child from Uganda, a teenager from the U.S. and an adult from Johns Creek are all part of one humanity under Christ,” said Christian Life Director Greg Lisson. As part of February’s Christian Life theme, “One Humanity,” Wesleyan partnered with the Sozo Ugandan Children’s Choir to bring a unique celebration of diversity to the community.
During the third week of February, Wesleyan hosted a group of 21 orphaned students and nine chaperones to lead chapel and engage in schoolwide activities. It did not take long for the Ugandan students to make a joyful presence around campus. For two days, the choir members brought smiles and songs to the hallways, engaging in a variety of activities from lower school lunch to high school chorus class.
After school, nine Wesleyan families graciously offered their homes to house the children and chaperones. Senior Ashton Cameron’s family hosted two girls and their teacher for a few days. She said, “We heard about the opportunity and volunteered to host. In the information we got, it was compared to a ‘mini mission trip’ for the host families. I think it will be a little taste of a missions experience brought to Wesleyan, and everyone will get to experience it together.”
The group of Ugandan students and chaperones traveled to all the way to Peachtree Corners as part of their tour of schools and churches across the United States to raise funds for their orphanage. Art teacher Meagan Brooker took charge of coordinating the event, as she heard about the organization through her friend and missionary Jon Brennan. “I heard that they were touring, so I jumped on the opportunity to invite them to Wesleyan,” said Brooker. “While here, they will attend classes, both ours and their own, eat lunch and hang out with students of all divisions. They are bringing handmade goods and musical CDs to raise money for their orphanage in Uganda.”
The Sozo mission is to empower Ugandan orphans with the tools and faith necessary to achieve a brighter future. “‘Sozo’ is a Greek word found in the New Testament, used often by Jesus, that means ‘to save,’ both in physical restoration and spiritual salvation” the organization explains on their website. Their goal is “saving children physically, emotionally and spiritually by giving them a place to call home.”
According to the Sozo website, over half of the population of Uganda is 15 years old or younger, as a result of extreme poverty and health risks. The organization’s current project, The Village Project, is raising support for the construction of a village complete with a school, clinic and Christian ministry. Through mission outreach and the Sozo Children’s Choir, they work to help these children by giving them loving homes and hope for a future. The choir, specifically, tours the United States in order to raise support for their mission and bring joy to communities like Wesleyan.
It is not every day that Wesleyan students get to interact with children their own age from a completely different part of the world. Brooker said, “I feel like it’s easy to get caught up in our own bubble so that we don’t see the lives of many who are underprivileged. This is a great way to gain perspective and to make connections culturally and relationally. It will bring in a level of diversity that we don’t see every day.”
In the days leading up to Winter Break, many students and teachers were anticipating the Ugandan choir’s arrival. Chapel band member and sophomore Braden Thorne said, “I’m really excited for the Sozo Choir to come to Wesleyan because I think the new energy will help us see worship in a whole new light. I can’t wait to experience God through their perspective, and I am really looking forward to meeting them and hearing their stories.”
The Sozo Children’s Choir seeks to not only bring joy to various Christian communities but also to raise awareness about the grave reality for many children living in deep poverty in Uganda. Their slogan, “All Children Thriving. All Communities Transformed. All for God’s Glory,” illustrates the important idea that with God’s love, all things are possible. Through their chapel performances, students of all grades were reminded of the power of prayer and the necessity of kindness for God’s children across the globe.
When asked about Sozo Choir’s impact on the Christian Life theme, Lisson said, “This is one of the best representations of what we are talking about in chapel this month: ‘one humanity.’ It is a reminder that the Gospel is for all people, and Christ came to save all people from every different nation, tribe and tongue across the globe.”
After spending time with the choir members for two days, the Wesleyan family embraced a group of strangers with immense excitement and generosity. The Sozo orphans have struggled with heartbreaking childhoods, but thanks to the grace of God and the loving home of Sozo, they radiate joy and inspire others to share a positive outlook on life. From their visit, Wesleyan students have seen first hand the truth of “one humanity” and the endless love of Christ for every one of his children.
Lisson summed up the Sozo Choir visit when he said, “I think it is a phenomenal experience for Wesleyan. Even if they can’t come back in the future, I think events like this are a great opportunity for our school and community. I hope we can bless them as much as they bless us—a mutual encouragement.”