• Treehaven Group
  • Treehaven Building
    Treehaven, South Africa
  • Ray
  • Corrymeela

Tag: Friends In The West

Escape from the Rwandan Genocide. Alex’s story Part Three

By John Callister

Alex was grateful for the friendship of the chaperones who had become part of his life. He enjoyed finding out about them because their lives and upbringings were were very different from his. Each one had a unique, interesting story. They came from countries like Canada, America, England and Ireland. Spending so much time together meant that both the children in the choir and the chaperones had become like one big family. 

Alex knew that the chaperones’ motivation came from their Christian faith, and that their lives were a genuine expression of God’s love. They weren’t doing it for money since most of them had very little, and each one had had to raise their own financial support from family and friends. It was a long time since Alex had felt so loved and cared for. But that didn’t mean that all was well with him.

Having gone through the trauma of the Rwandan genocide, there were things that Alex hadn’t been able to talk about.  But because of the trust that had been built up with his chaperones, very gradually he began to open up to them about the fears and the heartache he was living with.

They were understanding, and encouraged him to turn to Jesus Christ and ask for his help to deal with the issues he was struggling with. As he did, he found himself being able to focus on the good – the miracles that he knew he had experienced in his life. He knew that God had preserved his life and had opened up the door for him to join the African Children’s Choir.

As he thanked God for what he had done, the healing process he had longed for, began.  
In Alex’s own words, “Those chaperones today are my mentors because God use them in such a powerful way to remind me I was loved and I was cared for, and it’s so beautiful. And I’m so grateful that God opened the door for me to join the African Children’s Choir, because at a time when I was vulnerable, he used the African Children’s Choir to remind me of his love. When I was looking for something to hold on to the African Children’s Choir introduced me to a greater love a greater hope that is found in Jesus Christ alone and that is why I’m able to be here today.” 

Interview filmed by Peter Wooding ASSIST News


People like Alex, and other members and former members of the African Children’s Choir, have stories of forgiveness and testimonies of God’s goodness in times of hardship. At a time when the world needs some good news more than ever before, we want to get these stories out to those who need it most. Please pray for Alex and others who have a message of hope to share, that the right avenues and doors for sharing will open. It would be a great encouragement to Alex to know that you have been touched by his message. If you have, would you take the time to drop him a line or two and let him know. You can reach him by email at info@friendsinthewest.com

Thank you.


Tonight @ 8.00pm (British Standard Time). Ray Barnett, interviewed about his life, work and vision for the future.

Ray Barnett, Founder of Friends In The West and The African Children’s Choir

It’s Ray Barnett’s 80th today!


Ray Barnett, March 2016, during a visit to his birthplace at Portstewart in Northern Ireland.

Today, Monday 26 September, 2016, Ray Barnett, founder of Friends In The West and the African Children’s Choir, celebrates his 80th birthday. The occasion is tinged with sadness, however, since just over three weeks ago, on 2nd September, Ray’s wife of more than 50 years, passed into the presence of the Lord.

Most people have long retired by their 80th birthday. Throughout his life, however, Ray has always prayed for ‘vision’ in line with God’s will. He firmly believes the Bible verse from Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision the people perish”.

The desire to be part of God’s answer to the problems that exist in this world have given Ray a ‘drive’ that is extraordinary by normal standards. Ray began with Friends In The West, helping Christians who had been imprisoned for their faith behind what was then called the ‘Iron Curtain’.

His vision to help led to trips to Africa when Christians were suffering and being slaughtered under the dictator, Idi Amin. He had a God-given vision to help the many thousands of African children who had been orphaned as a result of what became known as the Uganda Holocaust. This led to the formation of the very first African Children’s Choir in 1984.

More than thirty years later, choirs continue to tour today and the organisation can look back on incredible achievements. The African Children’s Choir, facilitated by parent organisation Music For Life, has provided an education for more than 52,000 children throughout Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. It has also directly impacted the lives of thousands of other vulnerable African children through music therapy and life skills training camps, Music For life centres, and container shipments of food, clothing and supplies.

Over the years, Ray has personally signed on as legal guardian to more than a thousand children who have gone through the Choir program and have been fully supported by the organization to adulthood. With the support and love of the Music For Life staff and Daddy Ray, as he as affectionately called, many of the Choir children have earned their college degrees and have gone on to become doctors, attorneys, engineers, pastors, church leaders, journalists, teachers and relief workers in Africa—realizing Ray’s full-circle vision of “Helping Africa’s most vulnerable children today, so they can help Africa tomorrow.”

Ray is now looking at ways to help Christians in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East who are facing imprisonment, torture and death by beheading because of their faith. Friends in the West has also embarked on a new project, currently being piloted in South Africa, that provides youth mentoring and leadership training. The program complements the work Friends in the West is already involved in, adding another dimension to its work of raising awareness of Christians under threat, and encouraging prayer and practical support for the persecuted and displaced.

Would you pray for Ray at this difficult time as he copes with bereavement along with other challenges that he’s facing? Would you go a step further and send him a message of encouragement? Maybe you have a Bible verse or other words of comfort. Even if you don’t know Ray personally, it would be lovely to know that people out there ‘care’ enough to get in touch.


[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]

Below you can view Esther Rantzen’s, ‘Hearts of Gold’ programme featuring Ray barnett, founder of the African Children’s Choir.

How The African Children’s Choir was formed


View on Amazon amzn.to/1NDh1qj

Chibok Kidnapped Girls – One Year On

It’s one year ago today, 14 April, since 276 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok in north-eastern Nigeria by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. Although a number managed to escape, it’s believed that 219 girls are still in captivity.

The abduction of the girls sparked global outrage. As well as a mass following on social media, the #bringbackourgirls campaign has received support from high profile international politicians and celebrities.

Ceremonies are due to be staged today in various cities around the world to mark the anniversary and appeal for more to be done to find the girls. A procession is being held in the capital, Abuja, with 219 girls taking part to represent each missing girl.


According to an Amnesty International report, Boko Haram has abducted at least 2000 women and girls since the start of 2014, forcing them into sexual slavery and in some cases they have been trained to use bombs and shoot guns and have even been forced to carry out attacks on their own villages. In some cases it is suspected that children as young as ten years old have been used by Boko Haram to carry out suicide bombing attacks.

Friends In The West founder and CEO, Ray Barnett, has today made a fresh appeal to the Christian community to pray. We understand the pain that the relatives and friends of the girls are going through and so we’re careful not to come out with glib statements or to marginalise the suffering that some are going through. But we must do what is ‘right’ in God’s eyes, even if we don’t understand or even when the circumstances make us feel like giving up.

1 Peter 3:12 tells us:

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

Things may not have happened as quickly as we would have liked, but that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. And it doesn’t change the fact that God is a ‘just’ God and ultimately good will triumph over evil.

Time and time again in my life I have encountered situations that looked hopeless, particularly in relation to Christians being imprisoned for their faith or facing suffering in some way. Sometimes it was almost at the point when we were ready to give up, but as we earnestly prayed, miracles took place and very negative situations were turned around and we rejoiced and gave thanks to God who answers prayer.

So let’s keep on praying. Let’s keep on believing. To those who are suffering – there are many more people who love you, pray for you and want to bless you than those who want to harm you. God will be with you in your pain if you look to Him and His ears will be attentive to your prayer.

To Christians worldwide – please pray that the Chibok girls will be soon be reunited with their families and that all their relatives and friends will know God’s peace and comfort as they face this challenge. Please pray for the new government in Nigeria, that the country will experience reconciliation between Christians and Muslims and that peace and prosperity will be theirs.

Thank you and God Bless!

Ray Barnett