Day 29 - Marching in the Light of Christ

When I was at secondary school, I and some of my schoolmates went on a retreat with a group of young German Lutherans. We went to a retreat centre in East London and on one of the days we were joined by the then Bishop of Stepney.

He was incredibly charismatic, full of enthusiasm and energy. He told us that being a Christian shouldn’t be a burden but should bring joy and light to your life. He was originally from Africa, and he taught us the original Zulu words to ‘We are marching in the light of Christ’. All these years later, I can still remember the words - ‘Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos’. It’s a lovely uplifting song, that can be sung like a mantra, rather like a Taizé chant, and has a vibrant African feel to it. 

It’s the type of song that is easy to sing unaccompanied. So, there we were, a group of British Christians, together with a group of German Christians, singing a song composed by African Christians. It was a lovely moment of different cultures and traditions joining together in fellowship – a moment when I could really feel part of the worldwide family of God. Religion has so often caused division and hurt in this world. But it can also unite people.

Perhaps this moment influenced later decisions in my life as today I’m privileged to work directly with Christians from other countries and denominations, thanks to my job at Embrace the Middle East. 

And the charismatic Bishop of Stepney? Well, he was none other than John Sentamu and went on to become Archbishop of York.

Beth Amphlett

Charles B. S. Nkosi (South African, 1949–), Zionists, 1979. Watercolor on paper. Source: Christliche Kunst in Afrika, p. 260.

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