This morning when I woke up, I learnt that Nelson Mandela had passed away. As a white, Afrikaner South-African, I had grown up during apartheid, had witnessed the transition into democracy and had witnessed the way in which a country on the verge of anarchy, war and fear was able to move towards a peace, collaboration, stability and growth.
All of this miraculous transition is only due to our almighty God’s incredible grace and mercy. But God uses people to do His work on earth and I believe that if people say “no” to God, we prevent His Will and His miracles from happening.
When listening to the many tributes on the radio this morning on my way to work, it struck me that Mandela was an ordinary man, who did not say “no” to God’s whispers. He seemed to be able to rise above situations, keep the long-term vision in sight, while probably disregarding his own personal feelings. Many instances were told where he calmed people down during tense moments, filled with vengeful thoughts and emotions. He had the ability to forgive, to try to understand others, to lead and to inspire.
Our country seems quite shocked at hearing the news of his imminent death. At an age of 95 everyone probably expected this, after his long sickbed, but I think we are actually mourning the loss of an ordinary man- hero.
The reality is that we need heroes. I don’t mean flying, supernaturally strong, square-jawed guys with capes and perfect teeth. I mean everyday human beings who are able to inspire, love, live as role-models and leave a legacy. We need leaders. Not necessarily with official titles, but normal, ordinary people in society who lead us, who serve as examples of how we should live and how we could be. Who think differently. Who are not afraid to speak out against what’s wrong in the world. Who are willing to change things that are not right.
Let the legacy of Nelson Mandela teach us to become the heroes that we can be. Making a difference in each of our own small corners of the world. To make a difference, to leave a legacy. To listen to the whispers of God….and to obey them!