Nelson Mandela: A Tribute
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is truly an icon and a symbol of reconciliation. The church of God has benefited immensely from his struggle for freedom because even though South Africa was said to be a Christian country, it was still divided along racial lines.
This meant that the church was not able to demonstrate the unity the Lord Jesus Christ advocated and prayed for. The worship of the Lord as a tenet of faith was confined to one’s race and/or homeland. Mandela had very strong Christian beliefs as a product of an education that was in the hands of the church and hence his roots in the Methodist church.
The church also takes its hat off to him for his leadership and stance in the reconciliation process. Had it not been for his leadership and the Christian beliefs that influenced him in this process, this nation could easily have been plunged into deep conflict and possible civil war.
He is the first black politician to serve as President of South Africa and the first elected in a fully representative, multiracial election. This means the majority of South Africans had confidence in his leadership due to their belief in his values and principles and political ideals.
He is set apart from many, if not all, African leaders who have led their people into freedom. He was not corrupt, nor was he greedy. He demonstrated this by volunteering to pay tax from his income, even though the law exempted him. He also refused the temptation to hold on to power when he did not accept a second term as President.
He had a lot of respect for spiritual leaders and this was demonstrated by his taking a rebuke by Bishop Desmond Tutu for his casual relationship with Graca Machel, and his decision to marry her in order set a good example as a statesman.
Mandela’s life has been an inspiration to all, we will always cherish his values such as forgiveness, democracy and equality. We are truly and forever grateful to God for such a man.
By Rev Chris Dikana, General Secretary of the Baptist Convention of South Africa.
This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission
and is used with permission