News: Gospel choir helps Soldiers through deployment with song
Story by Spc. Daniel Schneider
BAGHDAD – The gospel choir, made up of Soldiers and Department of Defense civilians, balances their duty to United States Division – Center with expressing their faith by leading the Multi-Cultural Gospel Service in song at the Camp Liberty Division Chapel every Sunday.
Despite being in a combat environment, these Soldiers and civilians still strive to help those gathered to overcome hardships common among wartime.
“It’s a more intimate setting while in combat because you do not know what tomorrow will bring,” said Capt. Kimberly Allen, commander of Company A, Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Armored Division, and a member of the gospel service choir. “There are trials being faced—being away from family and friends—and those in Iraq are dealing with these particular issues everyday; and most are comforted through song.”
Singing has played a vital role in Allen’s life for many years.
“I’ve always enjoyed singing and have been involved in gospel choirs since college when I experienced my first gospel service at a military installation,” the Jackson, Miss., native said. “You do not have to be a professional singer to sing for your faith.”
Staff Sgt. Keyona Davis, the battalion intelligence section’s noncommissioned officer in charge and acting choir director, sang in choirs during her previous two deployments, as well as at her last duty station.
“I have a passion for singing and I prefer to use my gift to minister to others and enhance the worship experience as a whole,” said Davis, who is assigned to Company B, DSTB, 1st Armd. Div. “If it is your passion and you want to be a part of something greater than yourself, don’t hold back.”
Allen said singing can heal someone’s spirit in miraculous ways.
“Songs of all types do things to people, good or bad,” Allen pointed out. “Even the most ill-stricken or depressed people can have a huge turn around just by hearing our songs from our hearts.”
Members of the choir give up their precious personal time for the service members and civilians whose hearts they touch on a weekly basis.
“As a company commander, I have a lot on my plate,” said Allen, “but even if I come to practice in the last 20 to 30 minutes, I’m there. When I’m tired or [have] had a bad day, I’m able to put issues behind me once I [start] singing.”
Davis agrees with Allen about the importance of what they do.
“I dedicate my free time to develop this ministry along with the [other] choir members and musicians,” said Davis. “They all sacrifice their time and give the ministry their all; they are a vital part of the ministry and the service as a whole.”
These singers are inspired to express their faith through song, which comes from the chance to make a mark in people’s lives, as well as their own. They encourage others to do the same.
“Don’t sit on your gift,” said Davis, a native of Washington, D.C. “If you don’t use it, you will lose it.”
“As long as you have worship in your heart and mind, you can make a difference in somebody’s life,” Allen said. “A song can literally change someone’s life.”