During a long drive six years ago, Mike Hahn began to weep.
Working for a Christian humanitarian organization, the former youth pastor thought of a startling statistic he just heard, a number that bore into his soul: around the world, 143 million orphan children.
And he felt God pose a question — “What are you going to do about it?” — that he couldn’t get out of his mind.
Returning home to his wife, Christa Hahn, the answer wasn’t immediately clear. At first, she assured him they were already helping orphans and others in need through their work with World Help.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Fresno Bee
But Mike Hahn believed they were being called to do something else. And so, after a lot of prayer, the couple found an unlikely answer: form a choir of orphans from around the world to inspire more Americans to help children in need.
They did just that with founding His Little Feet Children’s Choir, which started touring the U.S. in 2010. The choir’s fifth group of children — 16 children, ages 6 through 12, from Ethiopia, India and Haiti — will be singing at churches in Fresno, Clovis and Visalia this week, on Wednesday, July 15, and Sunday, July 19.
They get stuck in a place where there isn’t hope.
Christa Hahn of orphans around the world
“Our hope is that everyone would do something,” says Christa Hahn of the aim of the free performances. “We are not a group of people just out to perform and have people applaud for us. We are a group of people with great purpose. We want children’s lives to be transformed.”
The goal: inspire people to adopt or foster a child, or to give time or money to help orphans or children living in poverty so they don’t become orphans. The Hahns have links on their website, hislittlefeet.org, to partner organizations that can help with all of those things.
The Hahns’ work began in the Central Valley. The pair met through First Baptist Church of Stockton, where Mike worked as a youth pastor and Christa as the church’s director of children’s performing arts and music education.
“We were both comfortable, honestly, and loved life,” Christa Hahn says of serving in Stockton.
But again, they felt a calling to other ministry.
“When God got a hold of our hearts, we knew we had to take some steps of faith and travel,” Hahn says.
She thought they’d do that for a year, then return to her hometown to resume their comfortable life in the church.
But plans changed. World Help led them to their next adventure, His Little Feet.
Now they spend their days traveling around the country with the choir and say they couldn’t be happier. The choir is named after a passage in the Bible: “How beautiful are the feet on the mountains of those who bring good news.”
They’re also motivated by this verse: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
More than 65 children have participated in their choir. Along with Ethiopia, Haiti and India, children have come from Honduras, China, South Korea and the U.S. Some lost parents to preventable disease — like the Hahns’ 9-year-old adopted son, Donaldson, from Haiti, whose mother died of Type 1 diabetes.
Be willing to be open and not let the great opportunity pass you by. Just be ready.
Christa Hahn of adoption
Others became orphans because of tribal warfare, displacement, extreme poverty or because a parent wasn’t mentally or physically fit to care for them.
Among those in this year’s choir is 8-year-old Besu of Ethiopia, an aspiring neurosurgeon “because when I was very young, I saw my biological mother struggling with mental problems and I would like to help people like her.”
Besu grew up in a valley with lots of sugarcane and cattle. He likes the food, churches and his friends, but not everything.
“What I don’t like about my country is there is a lot of children living in poverty in the street.”
Feli, 11, who wants to become a doctor, says something similar of growing up in India. While she lives in a “very beautiful” mountainous area with lots of trees, “many people are poor, and there is not enough clean water.”
Of singing for Americans in the His Little Feet choir, she says, “I really want to open their hearts for children in need.”
This year’s choir tour began in November and ends in August. Upon its completion, the group will have traveled through around 35 states, performing three times a week, on average, staying with host families along the way. The children are home-schooled and the Hahns also make time to take them to places like Sequoia National Park, Disneyland and the Grand Canyon.
Lalrinsanga, 11, of India, who wants to become an “Army officer and help others,” offers thanks.
“I am very happy that I have the opportunity to come to America and get to see God’s creation more. I will be forever grateful for all the church people who help and support this ministry. It’s all because of God and those people that I got to come to America.”
There are a lot of children in need like me around the world and they really need help and support.
Lalrinsanga, who sings in the His Little Feet Children’s Choir
The Hahns’ two daughters, Carris, 2, and Josie, 1, also live on the road with son Donaldson. He doesn’t seem to mind that in a couple years, he’ll be too old to sing in the choir.
“He says he wants to drive the bus one day,” Christa Hahn says with a laugh.
The Hahns work with Christian non-government organizations that have a “philosophy that children are coming into their care for a season, not permanently,” and only invite children to join the choir who have been deemed “physically, mentally and behaviorally fit” for such travel.
And while the Hahns advocate for adoption, they don’t facilitate adoptions for children in their choir. They leave that to licensed adoption agencies when the children return to their home countries.
There’s also a huge need for adoption in the U.S., Hahn says, with an estimated 500,000 children in the American foster care system.
Alleviating those numbers is what His Little Feet is all about.
To those considering adoption, Hahn says, “Is there room at your dinner table? Because if there is, pray and ask God.”
His Little Feet Children’s Choir performances
The children will perform familiar worship songs in English and their native languages, utilizing instruments from their home countries, in Fresno, Clovis and Visalia this week.
▪ New Harvest Church, 698 N. Minnewawa Ave., Clovis: 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 15.
▪ Woodward Park Baptist Church, 1801 E. Teague Ave., Fresno: 10:30 a.m. Sunday, July 19.
▪ GateWay Church, 1100 S. Sowell St., Visalia: 6 p.m. Sunday, July 19.