The Generosity of Nelson Mandela
I have no idea if Nelson Mandela was a philanthropist, but I do know he was generous. How else do you explain someone who embraced his former captors – the ones who literally kept him in prison and the ones who by the laws they upheld figuratively imprisoned him and his people?
It’s been less than a week since the expected, yet dramatic announcement was made that Mandela “had departed.” I suppose after nearly six days of non-stop talk about Mandela, media-fatigue has now set in. But the generosity of Mandela and the Gospel’s influence on his life should not be soon forgotten.
Though we may like to think of him as a saint, Mandela was a real person. And real people go to school. And, real people are often influenced by their faith. Unknown to many, Methodism played a role in Mandela’s life - he was educated and influenced by Clarkebury and Healdtown Methodist boarding schools in South Africa that provided him with a Christian liberal arts education.
According to the United Methodist New Service, “the anti-apartheid champion was mentored by Methodist preachers and educators and formed a bond with a Methodist chaplain while in prison…As president of South Africa, he worked with church leaders in shaping a new nation and eventually married Graça Machel, a United Methodist, widow of the former president of Mozambique and an advocate for women’s and children’s rights.”
In Bishop Desmond Tutu’s tribute to the faith of Mandela, Tutu stated:
“He preached a gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation. He showed in his own character, and inspired in others, many of God’s attributes:
• a desire for justice
• forgiveness and
• reconciliationHe was not only an amazing gift to humankind, he made South Africans and Africans feel good about being who we are. He made us walk tall. God be praised.”
Our congregations continually need to hear about the heroes and heroines of the faith who have made an indelible mark for good in our world. Generosity in all its forms needs to be celebrated to remind us of what God has called us to be and do. Thank you, Nelson Mandela for helping us to walk a little taller, for reminding us to stand for justice, and for your incredible gift of generosity. Yes, may God be praised.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise nearly $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.