Nelson Mandela was dearly loved throughout the world and his legacy is celebrated during the month of July each year. The famous activist, turned President became a symbol of freedom, forgiveness and reconciliation between people of all cultures, races, languages etc.
When he died on 5 December 2013 his funeral was a global event and he was mourned by people of all different backgrounds in South Africa and across the globe. The world celebrated the 100th anniversary of his birth in 2018 and his birthday on 18th July is now known as Mandela Day, a time to consider all we have learnt about putting past division aside and the ongoing need to trust God to give us hope for the future.
He spoke with conviction, revealing that God had been working on a divinely destined leader’s heart even though he was in prison and the unknown prophet (can’t remember his name) even dared to name this coming leader as Nelson Mandela.
At the time ‘Madiba’, as he came to be known affectionately by millions of South Africans, both black and white, was still in prison. It was at the height of the apartheid era and forbidden to quote or even publish a photograph of the ANC leader. So, as you can imagine, the service ended with an air of uncertainly if not some embarrassment…
And yet that is exactly what happened. Amazing how God revealed this to encourage His people in South Africa in advance and how faithful He was to fulfil this prophecy, transcending politics and the injustices of the past.
I remember another very special service at Rhema Randburg about 15 years later when President Mandela came to visit the Church as the guest of Pastor Ray McCauley. He stood on the very same platform where Elisha Mashingwane had had his feet washed and he did his signature ‘elbow’ victory dance.
I will never forget the beautiful picture of Pastor Lyndie McCauley walking hand-in-hand with this man of immense destiny, who became “everybody’s president” and how the 6,000 member crowd erupted. It was an atmosphere filled with much jubilation, hope and expectancy.
Of course, not everything Nelson Mandela did was perfect, some would question his politics, or stand on policies such as abortion, yet in the final analysis South Africa’s first black President had a complete turnaround when it came to hating his enemies and I believe this was God-inspired.
He ultimately turned his back on terror and violence to embrace peace and forgiveness. So on Mandela day, this 18th July, I, as a writer who captures the stories of people who have overcome great obstacles by faith, I join with the global community in paying tribute to “this great icon”. He literally put his life on the line and God used him as a life-line for the nation of South Africa, bringing forgiveness and reconciliation and transformation.