By Janis Breazeale, Saint Matthew’s, Fort Motte, Founding Member of the Ft Motte Ukulele Choir (AKA “The Ukuloonies”)
It all began with a simple prayer, and a longing for God to use me for His purpose in a unique and more challenging way.
Feeling stuck in the spiritual gift of hospitality, I began praying diligently for a new spiritual gift. Then, one night I heard a voice tell me to start a ukulele band. I kept hearing this voice repeatedly and realized it must be God.
I began arguing with God, because I had no musical background and feared I was not capable of such a daunting task. I knew the Bible was full of men and women chosen, not because of what they could do, but because of what God could do through them. Was I faithful enough to trust God? I know that, in the hands of God, we can become more than we can imagine; we just need to be willing to let Him transform us. I had to step out in faith and trust Him.
After telling my good friend about hearing God’s voice, she boldly jumped in, becoming the second member of the band, and took me to buy my first tiny ukulele. The next Sunday, I smuggled my Uke into church and waited with great anticipation to pluck it from my bag during announcement time. When the big moment came, I boldly jumped up and explained that God wanted me to start a ukulele band!
Eyes rolled and snickers rippled across the pews as this six-foot tall, 70-year-old woman strummed a tiny soprano ukulele! They were right, I did look like Tiny Tim, and I did need to tune my instrument. But little did they know, I was God’s instrument and God was tuning me. Afterwards, one person asked me why I didn’t just join the choir. I said, “Well, God didn’t tell me to join the choir; He told me to start a ukulele band!”
That same person not only joined the band but found us a ukulele course in the North Carolina mountains run by Jim Pankey. Jim has since come to Fort Motte to run workshops for our ever-growing band of 18 brothers and sisters in Christ!
We now have a name, The Ukuloonies, because we ARE a little bit crazy and we love to laugh! Our mission is simple: singing hymns of worship and praise to God’s glory and His glory only. Colossians 3.23-24 is taped to my ukulele… “And whatever you do, do it heartedly as to the Lord and not of men knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord.”
Although we began in Fort Motte, with our church members, we now have folks from around the county and the Columbia area, from different churches, and some with no church affiliation. Musical talent or experience is NOT a requirement to be a Ukuloonie! We are now receiving requests to play at schools, churches, clubs, retirement homes, and birthday parties from all over the state. Our “gigs” are opportunities to share the love of Christ, serve our Lord, and witness in a joy-filled way through music! Because we took that first step in faith, God has blessed each of us with spiritual gifts we did not realize we had.
It really is miraculous how we have grown and, for me, confirmation that this was God’s voice I heard that night, not just my own “crazy” idea. I may never truly know why God chose each person for the band, or why they said yes, but God knows. I just know that my life has changed forever, and I have learned a profound lesson, don’t be afraid to step out when you hear His voice calling you. To God be the glory!
(This article first appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of the Jubilate Deo.)