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“If I didn’t forgive them, I would never be free”

Yesterday was the eighth anniversary of the passing of Nelson Mandela. As remembrances came across my computer screen, I was reminded of a visit to Zimbabwe some years ago where I had the privilege of hearing him speak. Robert Mugabe was also on the platform that day and I remember being struck by the great difference in the receptions afforded the two men. While Mugabe was greeted with polite (faint) applause, the room filled with ululations and other expressions of appreciation and admiration as Mandela stepped to the podium.Mandela, on that day, praised the missionaries who had been so influential in his walk with Christ and he insisted he would not have been the man he was if not for his faith. I pray that followers of Christ who are reading this today might honor Mandela (and, more importantly, the God he served), by celebrating what Christ has done for us and by working each day for justice, peace, forgiveness, and righteousness wherever the Lord calls us.

Mandela famously said, “I knew, as I walked from prison, if I didn’t forgive them, I would never be free.”

If there is anyone reading this today who has not met Jesus, I pray you might take note of how a walk with Christ may transform your life as it did Mandela’s. I pray you might invite Jesus into your life, celebrate your first Christmas with great joy, and know the all-surpassing peace of the Lord all your days.

Image: Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science.