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Reform Magazine | July 15, 2024

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A letter from... Cities of Sanctuary - Reform Magazine

A letter from… Cities of Sanctuary

Yolisa Mlalandle reports from the UK’s Cities of Sanctuary

Coming to the UK from South Africa, for the Council for World Mission’s seven-week Face to Face programme, I felt a mixture of emotions. This year, the programme was themed ‘Freedom from the Clutches of Empire: Face to face with migration and human trafficking’. On the one hand I was excited about the potential of what I would learn. On the other, I was anxious and afraid of the unknown.

During my first week in Birmingham, the anxiety grew as I became aware of the UK’s context and its response to immigration. Suddenly, many thoughts came to my mind – thoughts that are best articulated by John Bell’s hymn, ‘Inspired by love and anger’:

From those forever victims of heartless human greed,
Their cruel plight composes a litany of need
‘Where are the fruits of justice? Where are the signs of peace?
When is the day when prisoners and dreams find their release?’

… ‘When will the wrongs be righted? When will the kingdom come?
When will the world be generous to all instead of some?’

I struggled to theologise unnecessary suffering for some, suffering that could be eradicated. Why must people struggle to find sanctuary in Britain? If developing countries can build bridges for people, why is Britain building walls? I couldn’t theologise a system of continuous dominance – a system of empire – in 2017. Where is God in this? Where is human goodness? Where is the Good News of Jesus Christ? Where is the kingdom of God that is within us – one that resembles God’s intentions for humanity through Jesus Christ? …

Yolisa Mlalandle is a trainee minister for the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. To find out more about the Face to Face programme, visit


This is an extract from an article that was published in the September 2017 edition of  Reform

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