Thoughts from a recovering worship leader

Auntie Ruth

March 12th, 2012 | Posted by jamie in Memories

This is Auntie Ruth. She is truly one of the most amazing women I have ever met. I first met her in 2004, when I traveled to Uganda to begin my journey with the African Children’s Choir. She is one of those truly selfless people that you’re so thankful are still in this world.

Auntie Ruth gave up her bedroom so three clueless Americans could have a comfortable, private place to sleep. When I walked into that house on my first day in Africa; exhausted, overwhelmed, and wide eyed; Auntie Ruth welcomed me with open arms. I instantly felt at home and at peace.

When I returned to Uganda three years later, I wasn’t sure if she would remember me. Lots of westerners grace the door of that house, so I thought for sure I’d have to remind her who I was.

I walked in and before I could set my bag down, she flew across the room and enveloped me in a huge hug.

Oh, my auntie has returned!”

Auntie Ruth lives and works at the training facility in Makindye, Uganda. Makindye lies on the outskirts of Kampala. The two story house comfortably sleeps about 30 people. When children are chosen to tour with the African Children’s Choir, they come to that house for several months to prepare for their tour. The children are housed, fed, and taught there. The main room serves as a school room, rehearsal space, and dining hall for the children. The space is well used.

I am convinced that Auntie Ruth makes the best chapati in Uganda. She, along with some helpers, cooks for everyone in the training facility. She cooks outdoors, over what I consider a “make shift stove.” Each meal easily takes several hours to fully prepare. No one in that house ever goes hungry (and those kids eat A LOT), and she insists that each visitor take a heaping portion, even if you insist that you’re not that hungry. Auntie Ruth makes sure you are comfortable and well cared for while you are in her care.

Auntie Ruth has come to my mind often lately. I’m not sure why, but I think it might because of her simple, yet intense faith. As I’ve struggled with all my worship struggles, I’m seeing how self absorbed I can sometimes be. I think back to when Auntie Ruth told me about her day. I wondered why she would go to bed by 8:00 most nights, if not earlier.

She told me that she awoke at 3 a.m. each morning. She had to start on breakfast by at least 5, so that it was ready for the children. What did she do with those two hours before breakfast preparation?


Two hours in prayer. I cannot fathom spending this kind of time in prayer. I get antsy after just a few minutes of prayer time, and this humble, beautiful African woman spent two whole hours each day with her Lord and Savior.

I can guarantee she’s not getting hung up on worship styles or feeling unfulfilled in her spirituality.

This is the kind of faith I long for. Yet I continually get tripped up in my own selfishness and then have no idea how to get out.

I’m so thankful for people like Auntie Ruth that have come into my life and continue to inspire me long after I’m in their presence.

Is there an “Auntie Ruth” if your life?

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  • Jim Woods

    Wow, how inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing. Obviously I know I need to be a lot more like Auntie Ruth. I’m working on finding someone who can inspire me and help me grow spiritually.

    • Jamie Kocur

      She is inspiring, even thousands of miles away. I’d like to find someone closer to home that can hold me accountable to spiritual things.

  • Marcus Smith

    Jamie, have you ever read “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis? I just got it about a week ago. Awesome book. There was one particular chapter I read in it that made me think very much about some of the things you write about here. Of course, now that I’ve had a mind to mention it, I can’t recall what it was..I do remember that it was early on in the book. Regardless, its been a good read so far… Sorry… a bit off subject..

    • Jamie Kocur

      I have read portions of it, but I don’t believe I have ever read it in it’s entirety. It’s been on my to-read list for awhile. C.S. Lewis writes some awesome stuff. I’ll make sure to check it out.