They gather either twice or thrice a week in preparation for the following Sunday‘s singing. They wear good choir uniforms, some of which make them resemble angels. They are choir members, and in other churches they are called praise team members.
Parents whose sons and daughters are not part of these spiritual music church groups feel sorry for their children. They believe that being choir members, the sons and daughters will escape from rampant immoralities such as premarital sex, smoking and drinking, let alone, gossiping.
However, looking at how some choir members behave, one wonders whether youths are safe in such religious groups. In different locations, reports are not scarce that a particular female choir member has been impregnated by another choir member.
Yafet Bottoman from Lilongwe says he stopped her 16-year-old daughter from attending church choir when he was alerted that the daughter was going out with the choirmaster.
Bottoman explains: “I was disappointed when I heard that my daughter always remained behind with the choirmaster when they knocked off from the choir meeting. When I quizzed her, she accepted and apologised for her actions. I felt bad because the choirmaster was the one who convinced me to let my daughter join the choir.”
Indeed, when some choir members knock off, they turn into lovers by chatting under trees and dark corners. The good voice they earlier used for singing for God is later used for romantic talk. The hands they earlier raised up and down in praise of their God are later used for caressing each other. God forbid!
Bottoman continues complaining that her daughter also engaged in gossiping, a practice which usually attracted quarrels with her fellow choir members.
Susan Hauya agrees that youths’ behaviour in some choirs and praise teams leaves a lot to be desired. Hauya, who was a choir member for about 10 years, says her experience in the choir revealed that some members, especially youths, attend choirs for social purposes.
“Not all choir members are there to praise and sing for God. I have been a team leader for Chigumula CCAP Praise Team in Blantyre; therefore, I know what happens in choirs. For example, when you have a good voice, some men propose love to you. They start by appreciating your voice then a love proposal follows,” she reveals.
Hauya withdrew her choir membership because some men within the choir were proposing love to her.
She adds: “There were a lot of things which made me quit. Some of the disappointments included consistent love proposals from male members. That was taking God for granted, so I quit. Since that time, I have never joined any choir.”
Hauya’s story shows that sometimes people abuse the choir platform as they regard it as a meeting place for other missions such as hunting for lovers.
Definitely, when the audience discovers these sinister motives, they undermine the message in the choir’s songs.
In his poem titled Kukwaya, secular-cum-gospel poet Hudson Chamasowa, says the choir is just a forum where some people hide so that they can be doing immoral behaviour and go scot-free.
Chamasowa recites: “Mwatipeza kuno kukwaya / Kutsinananatsinanana, kugirigishana,kulumanalumana ndiwo maziko a kwaya / Zochita za kukwayatu sikuyimba kokha/ Banja lili apolo lidayambira kukwaya/ Mwana ali apoyo anabadwira kukwaya / Msungwana ali ndi pathupi uja kukwaya / Akugubuduzika ndi nthenda aja gwero lake kukwaya komweko / Kukwaya malo obisalira.”
Hauya echoes Chamasowa’s poem, saying some of her fellow choir members who found love within the choir ended up impregnating each other or tying the knot.
Reverend Haswell Banda of Area 47 Assemblies of God in Lilongwe says there are many factors that make choir members behave immorally, one of which he says is peer pressure. “The problem is that some choir members have more friends outside the church so they emulate unholy practices from those friends and bring them into the choir. Many choir members are not spiritually strong,” says Banda.
He also says church leaders are sometimes to blame because their preaching lacks power to enlighten youths spiritually.
He clarifies that point: “Every week, pastors in churches preach, but youths such as choir or praise team members continue engaging in immoralities. This just shows that there is need to adjust upwards the way we preach. We may be preaching the gospel that lacks the power of
God. In the Bible, Paul says: ‘Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a matter of talk but power’. Therefore, let pastors put power in their preaching. Through that, we will be able to rescue youths such as choir members from immoralities.”