How a Devastating Realization Led to a Radical Change in My Life

How a Devasting Realization Led Me to a Radical Change in My Life
25 May 2015

I’m in awe of how God turned a night I felt rejected, alone, unloved, and misunderstood, into something that would result in a radical change in my life. I had come to the realization that the Harlequin romance ending I had imagined for myself with a man I had been pining for wasn’t going to happen after all. At the time, I had thought I was in love with him, but realized he didn't feel the same way as he talked nonstop about another woman he was interested in. As I cried my heart out that night—an ugly, gut-wrenching cry—I had no idea that years later God would show me how He truly could “Turn all things into good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) 

It was in that moment that my Zion Daughter music ministry began as a test of faith. I just didn't realize it at the time…

Almost 15 years after that night, a prophetic message came through my prayer group leader during one of our fellowship meetings. He had instructed us to step out on faith and use the gifts God had given us in a much bigger way than we ever had before. Even though it was a general message, I felt that still, small voice letting me know that the message had been meant for me, and that it had to do with my love of singing.

My love for music was fostered by my parents and Sr. Edna Dolan (the nun who helped my mother through school and was like a grandmother to me) during our religious education classes in Uganda. We would sing and play our traditional drums to songs that expressed our joy of being loved by Jesus and the delights of walking in the light of God. I would sing those songs with my sister as we walked the seven miles home from school—it somehow made for an easier trek home.

Fame, the famous 80s television seriesI learned to appreciate all types of music by listening to everything from legendary African artists like Franco and Oliver Ngoma, to world renown artists like Michael Jackson, Abba, Diana Ross and Air Supply. Like most kids my age, I daydreamed about being famous and commanding the stage while singing along to the theme song from the hit TV show Fame. Some of you can probably even remember as I do, dancing in front of your TV with the Solid Gold dancers as they counted down the Top 10 with Marilyn McCoo.  

In my early twenties I was given an opportunity to perform with my sisters in a group called Kayaga of Africa with its founder, Doris Namu Lwanga. It seemed like my dreams were coming true as we performed in venues around the U.S. like the Kennedy Center and World Bank. All I can say is, I’m  grateful that God didn’t answer that prayer to be famous back then because He knew it would have led me further away from Him.

God took His time in showing this truth as I came to realize that, because I didn’t like myself and had low self-esteem, I wanted to become famous so people would like me.

Things with Kayaga of Africa didn’t work out, and once the group dissolved so did my dreams of “living forever” through fame. Part of me was now forced to search for an identity and a deeper meaning to life. If whatever I was searching wasn’t going to be found in fame, where else could I look for the answers?

Mbuutu of Uganda at the African Diaspora Inaugural Ball 2009

During this time, a couple of friends told me about something called the Alpha Course.  When I found out that The Alpha Course was created as a way to share the basics of the Christian faith, my first instinct was that as a cradle Christian, this would probably not be of any real value to me. After all, I'd had religious instruction as a child and went to Church almost every Sunday. I knew that there was a God, who came in the form of Man to die for my sins, so what else was there for me to learn?

Though I didn’t think I would gain anything out of the course, I was desperate enough to give it a try—and I'm so glad I did. During Holy Spirit weekend, which takes place towards the end of the 10-week Alpha Course, I had what I can only call a Divine encounter which led to the biggest “Aha moment” I'd ever had. As I experienced the overwhelming love of God envelope every part of my being, I knew that I had found the answer I had been looking for.

By the time we left that weekend I was convinced of two things. The first was that God loved me unconditionally and was the only One who could love me that way every moment of every day.

The second was that, if I now had experienced God’s very real love for me, how could I not love myself as I was, as He had created me?

God filled the hole in my heart that I had wanted to fill with fame. A hole that had been created by years of being bullied, not feeling like I was enough, and going through my share of heartaches. The Alpha Course changed my life to the point that when I heard that still, small voice that day during our Prayer meeting, I knew God was leading me to a radical change in my life. As it was, He had led me to discover Gospel music which is what I needed in order to grow in my Christian walk. God would later use that same music to help me uplift others. (Watch the video below for a clip from my debut to see how this vision came to life.)

Have you ever felt that there was something missing in your life?  What did you use to fill that void? 

Bless the Lord Zion Daughter Live With Mbuutu of Uganda


Mary Kiganda

Mary Kiganda created Zion Daughter music ministry for the purpose of producing and sharing Gospel and inspirational music. She is a native-born Ugandan with mixed Rwandese heritage raised in America. Her musical influences vary from Contemporary Gospel to African, Rhythm and Blues, Classical, Jazz, Rock and Reggae. She has been in the performing arts industry over 20 years ago through Kayaga of Africa and more recently with Mbuutu of Uganda. Over the years, she has used her gift to evangelize through music while celebrating her cultural heritage with various choirs at numerous events in the Washington, D.C. Metro area. Through her Zion Daughter music ministry, she wants to encourage others to grow in the love, knowledge and the fear of God through music.


  1. […] of you who have read my recent blog posts regarding the radical change in my life that was a result of rejection and overcoming obstacles to step out in faith are getting […]

  2. Amen Mary thanks for sharing your wonderful story! Your amazing talent has blessed me may God continue to bless you as you bless us!

  3. Mary! This was very inspiring. Amazing message girlfriend!

  4. Great and inspiring article, Mary! Thanks for sharing a bit of your journey with us. I have to check out the Alpha Course, which I never heard of till now.

    • Thanks Shonda! Please take time to see if they offer it where you ate and once you sign up inbox me and let me know when you start so I can be praying for you. If possible take it with your hubby as it would lead to great conversation and even better a great journey to share together.

  5. what an inspiration , may the Good God , continue to show you his ways and how best to use the gifts he has given you.

  6. Hi Kita, thanks and I do have to say if you are feeling a void in your life often that's the way the Spirit of God will reveal to us that all we're longing for can only be found in him.

  7. This is so inspiring, but it is how God works.  When you find yourself on the floor and are sure that there is no way out, he makes a way for you, one that is greater than you could have ever imagined…My husband always reminds me, he never puts more on you than you can bear.

  8. I think I'm missing out on knowing exactly what my purpose is. Truthfully I think God had revealed it to me, but I'm just too scared to make the move

    • Hi Jemimah,

      I believe we have to understand that leaving out one's purpose does not mean it's going to be easy but often means that we have to face our fears head on, keep our eyes on Jesus and walk on water.  The wonderful thing is that even if we falter and take our eyes off Him like Peter did, He's always there to pick us and continue helping on the journey.

  9. Wow, this was so inspiring Mary! Funny enough, I was just telling a friend about the Alpha Course but couldn't remember if that was the name. I'm so glad you decided to go and that it was beneficial for you. Keep walking in your light and your gift. 

  10. This was amazing, I finally watched Black Girls Rock today and the FLOTUS said when we are uncomfortable is when things are really happening. It seems that was the case for you and it worked in your favor. One of my biggest struggles is not knowing my purpose. It frustrates me because I feel like I'm missing out only I'm not sure what it is I'm missing out on.

    Like you I need to put myself out there to get uncomfortable and hope that all things are revealed. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Michelette,

      From what I've seen and heard from others as well, we have to step out in faith in order to live out our purpose.  I strongly encourage you to read  The Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren and Whose Shoes Are You Wearing by Christine St. Vil and Julian Kiganda.  They give great insight into seeking out one's purpose and "doing it afraid"

  11. I am glad you gave it a try this is interesting. I have always been intrigued by music and the different elements of it. I always feel there is a void in my life and I don't know what it is as of yet but when I do I hope to fill it up and use it as a way to get myself together.

    • Hi Kita, thanks and I do have to say if you are feeling a void in your life often that's the way the Spirit of God will reveal to us that all we're longing for can only be found in him.

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