By Steven Norris
The trip was a year in the making. As our family wrapped up our time in Uganda in the summer of 2022, Francis and I started scheming. Music is an integral part of the healing work that Francis and Missy Ward-Angalla (CBF Field Personnel), are doing with refugees in Kampala, Uganda. Therefore, for the past year, we have been laying the foundation to co-lead a music camp, bringing together musicians from the Unites States and across East Africa for a transformative week.
For two weeks, our days started with a time of devotion, prayer, and worship. Since this was a group of artists, I focused on the often-overlooked character of Bezalel in the Hebrew Scriptures. Bezalel was “called by God” and “filled with the Holy Spirit” to craft the Tabernacle and all its furnishings (see Exodus 31-39). In many ways, he is the patron saint for worship planners and artists who use their gifts to lead God’s people to the throne of grace.
The rest of my days were filled with music theory classes, trombone instruction, directing the camp choir, more music theory classes, a’dungu lessons (an African harp that comes from the Alur people in northwest Uganda), and some coaching sessions with the Amani Sasa staff. Other faculty members focused on teaching voice, piano, guitar, violin, cello, and drums.
The real payoff came on the last day as the students presented a recital of what they had learned. While the range of skills varied, the smiles that spread across faces and the cheers that rose from the audience were universal. My beginner trombone student played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Skip to My Lou.” Who could have guessed that those would receive the loudest roar of the whole concert? The smile on Daniel’s face and the pride with which he walked off the makeshift stage made the hard work worth it.
Amani Sasa Music Camp 2023, Choir
Trips like this remind me that CBF is a family. At their weekly prayer service, we prayed for three areas: the Amani Sasa staff, the Amani Sasa clients, and “Amani Sasa overseas.” That includes all of the partners that support this ministry and are a part of its ongoing success. CBF Georgia is a proud partner of this sacred work — work that is meeting the physical needs of refugees and their families as well as spreading joy and healing through the gift of music.
We are Amani Sasa overseas.
Quartet performing “Our God” during a recital at the 2023 Amani Sasa Music Camp.
The impact of this camp was limited only by the need for more instruments. Participation had to be capped because there were more students interested than instruments available. That got to me thinking: how many CBF families have old instruments sitting around their house collecting dust? Maybe you, or a child you know, were once in band or orchestra and you’ve kept that horn in the closet thinking that one day you might get it back out? What if the Spirit could breathe new life into those instruments by placing them in the hands of a student in Uganda? Would you be willing to practice resurrection in that way?
I would like to encourage our church family (and any other friends of FBC) to bring those instruments to our church. We will work to get them in good playable condition and transport them to Uganda for what we hope will be an annual celebration of creativity, beauty, and Spirit-inspired music. As the psalmist says, “let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
Steven Norris performs on the trombone at a recital during the Amani Sasa Music Camp.