The African Children’s Choir Founder reveals his remarkable story


Ray Barnett, who overcame incredible obstacles in his own life before launching the world-renowned African Children’s

Book Cover

Choir back in 1984, is on a mission to inspire the next generation of Christian pioneers through his autobiography ‘Don’t Tell Me It Can’t Be Done.’

The book tells the heart-breaking story of how as a young boy he struggled to find his way through immense poverty, family secrecy, learning difficulties and war-time suffering that gripped his life in Northern Ireland.

But it was his dramatic conversion as a young teenager that turned his life around:

“When I became a Christian at the age of 13, I was inspired by the ministry of David Livingstone. But the first time I attempted to preach I fainted.  The next day I read in the Bible that with God nothing is impossible. So, I never let anything stop me for pursuing my dream to help others because I always believed God could do anything.  I want to encourage people through this book that with prayer and action they can accomplish anything in their life.”

The book begins in a very tense moment in Ray’s life in 1987 when he was meeting with a notorious leader of Hezbollah while seeking to negotiate the release of hostages in Lebanon.

This dangerous work was part of Ray’s Christian human rights organisation he’d established in 1972 called Friends In The West. Through this organisation, he was able to coordinate many vital aid missions and secure the release of countless persecuted and imprisoned believers throughout the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa.

In 1984 while seeing the extreme famine and conflict devastating millions of children in Africa, Ray was inspired to launch the African Children’s Choir. He stepped out in faith to do what no one had ever attempted before – even his closest friends told him it couldn’t be done. His vision was to take a group of these deprived and orphaned African children, train them to sing as a choir, then physically transport them to countries like the US and Canada to perform concerts and share their stories in churches.

The African Children’s Choir through Music for Life has now educated over 52,000 children in seven African countries.  Hundreds of thousands of lives have been impacted by Music for Life’s international relief and development programmes over the last 30 years.

Ray concluded by reflecting on the legacy of launching the choir 35 years ago and how he hopes his story will inspire the next generation of young people to overcome their own obstacles in life:

“Many of those founding choir members are now doing great work across Africa and beyond as doctors, lawyers, teachers and UN workers.  I hope this book will inspire many more African children to fulfill their God-given potential and never give up on their dreams.”


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Peter Wooding
Peter Wooding is Senior Editor at Assist News Service and an award-winning radio, TV, and print journalist. Peter has worked as news editor at UCB Radio in the UK, and has reported from countries around the world including Israel, India, Russia, Serbia, South Sudan, Ukraine and Mozambique. Continuing his father Dan's legacy, Peter now leads the global expansion of ANS. He is also the London Bureau Chief for the Global News Alliance, Media and PR Officer for Leading The Way UK and UK Director for Mercy Projects. Peter lives in North Wales, UK, with his wife, Sharon, and their three daughters, Sarah, Anna and Abigail.