My experience with Nelson Mandela came later than it should have. I was in 6th grade when he was released from prison. I don’t remember being aware of what was going on. I wasn’t much of a news watcher as a teenager, and even in college I knew who Nelson was, but had little interest in or knowledge of the South African president.
My awareness of world events grew as my walk with Jesus grew. As Jesus changed my heart, I became more concerned with human rights and equality, more aware of such damaging issues as poverty, disease, injustice, oppression, war. Along the journey, Nelson Mandela’s name continued to pop up as an active leader against injustice and inequality. often grouped among other peace/equality leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., William Wilberforce, Gandhi, and even Jesus Christ.
The more I learn about Nelson Mandela the more inspired I become. Nelson achieved more in the fight against injustice in his country than many of us have in our own lives while free. He believed so adamantly in equality and human rights that he was willing to die for it if necessary.
Today, I stumbled onto this article that looks at memorable quotes from sermons preached across South Africa today that honored Nelson Mandela. Many of them speak of her courage, his compassion. And one word pops up that tugs my heart when I read it: legacy.
— “We felt it important that we should have a day where all of us as South Africans can come together and pray for our first democratic president and reflect on his legacy. But it is also to pray for our nation … to pray that we not forget some of the values he fought for … Mandela distinguished himself for good things and good things only.” — President Jacob Zuma, speaking at the Bryanston Methodist Church in Johannesburg.
That legacy, one I feel I ignored most of my young life, is one that inspires me now. Nelson Mandela left behind a legacy of love and grace. Encouraging forgiveness of enemies, reconciliation instead of retribution, hope instead of war.
Mandela said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” [Tweet that] The more I learn about Nelson Mandela, the more I know my prayers from now on will be filled with requests for God to grow my heart and my head in order to spread love and grace to everyone, to forgive instead of fight, to live a life of reconciliation and compassion for others that is boundless and relentless.
Thank you Nelson Mandela for your legacy.