Why Christians Should Care about Nelson Mandela, Justice, and Gospel Proclamation

An imperfect leader, Mandela pursued justice in a god-fearing way that should inspire us.
Why Christians Should Care about Nelson Mandela, Justice, and Gospel Proclamation
Image: Matt Dunham / AP

Editor's note: Michael Oh, executive director/CEO of the Lausanne Movement, was a member of the official delegation of Christian leaders at today's memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

Spontaneous shouts of "Tata Madiba!" in chorus of voice and body spread like waves throughout the stadium long before Nelson Mandela's memorial service even began today in South Africa.

I turned to the Archbishop of Johannesburg to ask what they were saying. "They're chanting his name, 'Father Madiba,' " he said with a smile.

Mandela was more than a hero to the South African people. He was the father of the new South Africa. Mandela defiantly resisted the oppression of apartheid that he believed should not be until it was no longer. And a new nation was born.

So why should Christians care?

We should care because God cares. God cares about race and racism. God cares about unity and division. God cares about justice and injustice.

Today is UN Human Rights Day. Some may sneer and say that non-Christians focus too much on causes like human rights because they don't understand eternal perspective. But shouldn't Christians who understand the dignity of people made in the image of God care more about human rights than others?

Nelson Mandela was an imperfect man.

Anyone who wants to find flaws in his life and put them on display will find them. But one lesson that rang deeply in my heart today was that we all have something to learn from him. Until I endure years of imprisonment, I'll at least hesitate before making him an easy target for criticism. And I only wish for myself and other Christians to live as courageous and conviction-filled a life as his, whether for ...

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