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Tributes for Nelson Mandela

Tributes have poured in for Nelson Mandela, who has died aged 95.

A lawyer, activist and political prisoner for 27 years, Mr Mandela became the first black President of South Africa and one of the world’s most respected statesmen. 

MandelaThe Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said, ‘It’s hard to imagine someone in our lifetime who has had such a significant impact on the world stage in terms of justice and leadership. His love for his people was always so evident, and his life embodied giving himself to others.

‘He inspired a generation, not just in South Africa but throughout the world by the way he stood for forgiveness and reconciliation and building a new nation.

‘We join the whole world in giving thanks for his remarkable life, as well as praying for his family and his nation at their time of loss.’

The Revd Wale Hudson Roberts, Racial Justice Networker for the Baptist Union of Great Britain, emphasized his leadership qualities. ‘Nelson Mandela embodied the suffering servant, in so much as he was unequivocally committed to seeing justice in South Africa and beyond, and that nearly cost him his life.

‘He was an exemplary leader in all respects.’

The Revd Dr Neville Callam, General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, said the world has lost 'a remarkable emancipator'.

'As a citizen of Jamaica, the first country in the world to impose a trade embargo against apartheid South Africa -- that was in 1957, when my country was still a colony of Britain -- as one who was privileged to serve on the team of United Nations observers at the 1994 elections, when Mandela was elected as South African president, and as general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, which fosters respect for human dignity and celebrates contributions made by all who work tirelessly for the triumph of peace with justice, I offer praise and thanks to God for the gift to humankind that President Mandela was.

'With the passing of this great man, the world has lost a remarkable emancipator. Mandela blazed a trail of respect for human dignity and human rights.

'We cannot afford to forget the unbounded passion for freedom, the relentless striving for justice and the unshakeable commitment to peaceful human coexistence that Mandela exhibited. Let us take time to ponder the legacy of this great world leader and let us be prepared, whatever the cost, to devote our lives to loving our neighbors, forgiving our enemies, and pursuing all that makes for justice and peace in our communities.

'May God give strength to Mandela's family members and to the people of South Africa in this moment of incalculable loss.'


Elsewhere the Evangelical Alliance, representing more than two million evangelical Christians in the UK, said Mr Mandela was an example to the world - and the Church - of the equality, dignity and unity of all people and a reminder of the importance of speaking truth to power.

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.’

Christian Aid was a consistent opponent of the apartheid system, and its 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.

‘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.

‘He was that rare creature, a person of immense power who used his energies and influence for the good of all. He will be sorely missed.’

Related: South Africa is forever grateful to God for its iconic leader, says General Secretary of the Baptist Convention of South Africa

Baptist Times, 06/12/2013
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