I am not a political commentator. But I am an observer of the natural and human world. On this day when the world bids farewell to Nelson Mandela and celebrates his legacy I am thinking about the moment when he realized that hating his white oppressors would not be helpful for him or his cause. I think about that moment of transformation when forgiveness seemed to him a better path. It makes me wonder about his years at a Methodist boarding school and the ministry of the chaplain at Robben Island prison. Were these influences part of Mandela's inner transformation?
We United Methodists have a mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The forgiveness Mandela chose to offer his captors replacing the hate in his heart was truly a God moment. It was a God moment that changed history and offered real hope of liberation to people enslaved by oppressive regimes.
This was not simply an idea. It was a very real, personal transformation in the soul of Nelson Mandela. And this personal transformation led to a political one in South Africa. Mandela's legacy is certainly about his rise to the presidency of South Africa. But I like his legacy of forgiveness...his personal salvation...his soul transformation. As a person of faith this is always the starting point of any revolution, personal or political, where the kingdom of God breaks forth into our world.
Grace and Forgiveness,
To read about Peter Storey's reflection on serving as Mandela's prison chaplain and their friendship click on this link. https://divinity.duke.edu/news-media/news/mandela?nopaging=1