In Johannesburg, South Africa, “the largest funeral since Winston Churchill’s, perhaps the largest ever,” was predicted for this past Tuesday. Like aspects of Nelson Mandela’s life, certain events dampened what could have been.

However, nothing should diminish the brilliance of Mr. Mandela’s star. He gave the light of freedom to his nation by leading in the struggle against apartheid. Millions of South Africans, separated by race, became one because of Nelson Mandela.

Where did it come from? From where did his fire burn? It may be a little explored fact that as a youth Mr. Mandela was taught the Scriptures. His mother, Nosekeni Fanny, was a devout believer, insisting her seven year-old son attend Christian school. Later, Nelson was sent to live with another family. According to one biographer, “As Mandela attended church services every Sunday with his guardians, Christianity became a significant part of his life.”

With his foundation anchored to the rock of Christ, Nelson Mandela’s house was prepared to weather the storms and floods that would come later. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of India’s Independence, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of America’s civil rights movement, all got their impetus from the same source as Mr. Mandela (i.e. the teachings of Christ).

Like those just mentioned, Peter and John’s boldness was remarkable. They were uneducated, ordinary men (Acts 4:13), yet their argument confounded their Jewish accusers. The conclusion that was drawn was that Peter and John had been with Jesus. Time spent with The Master made the difference.

By most accounts, Nelson Mandela was not a great orator. He did not use fancy words, but spoke in power. In matters of social justice, human dignity and racial reconciliation, Mr. Mandela reflected the mind of Christ. His early years spent with Jesus made the difference.

Courage, not just words, moves heroes into the battle. Gains are not made by avoiding the conflict, but by overcoming the enemy. There was no peace to be made with apartheid, it had to be faced head on and soundly defeated. There is no peace with the kingdom of darkness. To destroy Satan’s power, it takes Spirit-filled warriors like Peter (Acts 4:8), men as wise, bold and fearless as—well, Jesus.

What are we waiting for? What’s the alternative? Might I suggest a prayer for warriors from Acts 4:23-31? No need to change a word, but you may want to sit down when the room begins to shake.

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