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Mark's Gospel

HERO DAY: Enoch Sontonga

Week: Mark's Gospel

  • P.R.A.Y
  • Pause
  • Rejoice
  • Reflect
  • Ask
  • Yes
Bella Chris
With Bella and Chris
Welcome to Lectio For Families. Today is a Hero Day, and so we’re taking a break from our usual pattern today to pray a little differently. On Hero Days we pause to celebrate and learn from the life of someone who followed Jesus in a really inspiring way. Today we are thanking God for the extraordinary example of Enoch Sontonga, a hero of creativity.


We start by pausing and taking a deep breath:

In and out.

In and out.

We remember that God is here, and so together we prepare ourselves to be with God.


Prayer of Welcome

Creator God, who formed us from dust, breathe in us again. We’re ready for the new things that You want to show us and say to us and even create through us today.


Bible Reading

Enoch Sontonga was born in South Africa around the year 1873 and he was a talented musician and songwriter. Let’s begin by REFLECTING on one of King David’s Psalms, which is all about music and singing!

Read by Bella
Psalm 96:1-4
Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord and praise his name;
every day tell how he saves us.
Tell the nations of his glory;
tell all peoples the miracles he does,
because the Lord is great; he should be praised at all times.

Psalm 96:1-4a (NCV)

Enoch Sontonga certainly sang new songs to the Lord – and one of his songs went on to have an extraordinary impact, which he didn’t expect at all. It was called Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, which means ‘God Bless Africa’, and Enoch originally wrote it for a school choir to sing. Here’s how it begins.

God bless Africa;
May her strength rise high up;
Hear our prayers and bless us.
Descend, O Spirit,
Descend, O Holy Spirit.*

At the time Enoch wrote this song, his country – in fact the whole continent of Africa – was suffering a lot. Other countries, mostly European ones, had taken control of parts of Africa and its resources, which meant that many African people were experiencing all kinds of pain and injustice. Enoch’s song – asking God to bless Africa and send the Holy Spirit upon it – inspired the African people who were longing to be free.

Enoch died only a few years after he wrote the song but its popularity continued to grow. Other writers added new verses to it; verses asking God to bring freedom to the whole continent. Soon, versions of the song were being sung all over Africa, giving people a way to pray for God’s help as they sought their freedom. Enoch had no idea that his simple song, written for kids at school, would go on to inspire millions of people to seek God’s love for an entire continent.

Let’s pause and talk about today’s question which is: If we were to write a song, what would it be about?

  • PAUSE the audio player now


ASK Prayers

God used Enoch Sontonga’s creative gifts to inspire millions of people. Let’s ASK God to use our imaginations and our talents as well.

Creator God, we ASK You to use each of our creative gifts to share Your love to others – whether that’s in big ways that reach whole nations or small ways that reach just one person.

  • OPTIONAL: PAUSE the audio player now and pray

Do we know anybody who writes songs… or maybe someone who wants to start? Lets ASK God to help them.

Creator God, we ASK You to inspire songwriters to create beautiful music and inspiring words. Help them to get their songs heard – in church or on the radio or on the internet – so that people who need hope and comfort can receive it.

  • OPTIONAL: PAUSE the audio player now and pray


Enoch used his song as a way to pray for where he lived. Let’s use the words of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica to pray for wherever we live. We’ll say the first words ‘God Bless…’ together, and then leave a pause to shout out the name of wherever we live. Okay? Let’s go!

God bless… where we live.
May her strength rise high up;
Hear our prayers and bless us.
Descend, O Spirit,
Descend, O Holy Spirit.*


YES Prayer

And now, let’s say YES to God together.

Creator God, we say YES to using our creative gifts like Enoch Sontonga did. May the art or music, stories or games that we create lead people to trust in You.


Closing Prayer

Let’s put a hand on our heart.
Father God, fill us with Your love. Help us to love You, and everything that You’ve made.

Let’s point to our eyes.
Lord Jesus, help us to see You, and to see others the way that You see them too.

Let’s point to our ears.
Holy Spirit, help us to hear You, and give us courage to do what You say.

*Translated from the Xhosa.


Your Memory Verse

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Bella is 13 years old and lives in Buckinghamshire, England, with her mum, dad and cocker spaniel Summer. She loves art, performing and Jesus!



Chris lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two boys. He works for 24-7 Prayer Australia and Red Church and is also a professional musician. When he’s not working or drumming Chris enjoys going on long hikes in the mountains with his boys and playing table tennis.

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