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Mandela: 'probably the greatest leader of our age'

Christian leaders around the world have been paying tribute to South African President and global statesman Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday aged 95 ...

Christian leaders around the world have been paying tribute to South African President and global statesman Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday aged 95.

“Nelson Mandela has been, and will remain, an inspiration for many of us around the world involved in humanitarian work,” says Kevin Jenkins, World Vision International President.

“Mandela was probably the greatest leader of our age, a tireless, fearless advocate for the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our world, particularly children. He believed in justice, and wasn’t afraid to do what he thought it would take to achieve it.

“Many of the children we work with, and our staff, have life-changing stories to tell of meeting Madiba over the years. All talk of his great compassion, and his tireless commitment to seeking justice and change."

Christian Aid Chief executive Loretta Minghella described the late leader as "a man whose strength of vision founded a nation".
"The sufferings and injustices inflicted by apartheid could so easily have led to a reckoning in blood when majority rule was introduced," said Ms Minghella. "The fact that South Africa’s transition from pariah state to independent nation took place in relative peace was largely down to the magnanimity and moral courage of Mr Mandela.

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance, said: "We are sad to hear of the death of this great man, whose tireless dedication to equality and the dignity of all human persons has been inspirational over the decades. As evangelical Christians we believe that all are equal in the sight of God, that Jesus is good news for all members of all societies, everywhere. Our prayer is that Nelson Mandela's legacy will not be forgotten and that we will, together, continue to fight for justice, peace and hope locally, nationally and globally."

Yemi Adedeji, director of the Alliance's One People Commission, which aims to celebrate the ethnic diversity of the UK evangelical Church while promoting unity, said: "We are thankful to Nelson Mandela for his commitment to breaking down the barriers between races and fighting racial prejudice. We have come so far since his fight began in the 1950s. But we must recognise that we cannot rest on our laurels; there is still far to go. The One People Commission is passionate about promoting unity, while celebrating diversity; no longer can we divide across ethnic lines. We believe that the UK Church is better together. This belief in the togetherness of all peoples was also the heart of this inspirational man whom the world will sorely miss."
"His readiness to eschew revenge after 27 years in prison was an example to all. His calm and restraint showed the people, not just of South Africa but the world, that justice and tolerance can prevail over fear and oppression."

The Revd Ruth Gee, President of the Methodist Conference, said: “Nelson Mandela is regarded as one of the fathers of Africa. His persistent way of standing up for justice has inspired Africans and the world at large. As a leader, one of his most impressive attributes was his emphasis on peace and reconciliation in the post-apartheid regime.

“Nelson Mandela attended Methodist missionary schools during his formative years. His understanding of Christian values was reflected in his passion for social justice. Representatives from the Methodist Church in Britain who were fortunate to meet Mandela have spoken about him with admiration: he was a welcoming, gracious and charismatic leader of exceptional ability who did not hold any bitterness about what had happened to him.

"During the years of his imprisonment on Robben Island, Mandela was visited by a Methodist chaplain. He will always remain loved and honoured in our hearts.”

Photo: South Africa The Good News / [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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