Best wishes for 2014 for you and your friends and family! Yesterday I saw the film Mandela. After the first 5 min I braced myself saying “I’m not going to enjoy this” but I was wrong. It was so insightful and such an inspiration. It is historically accurate and very well told. It spans about 75 years of his life and it 120 min long so it had to leave a great deal out. It spoke to me about my call and my purpose. We are never too old – we all have time on our side! It is a story of great grace and great endurance in the face of the worst of humanity.
In addition this email is to:
– Introduce you to my developing website:
The Good Way and The Daniel Plan will become the focus of my work in the next few years. The day before Christmas I got the book with the title “The Daniel Plan”. I cannot recommend it more highly. It is a book for everyone who cares about their health, the health of their family and neighbour. It is written in the context of America but the principals of Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends are universal. It is available in most book shops and on Amazon. I will share more about my plans for both The Good Way and The Daniel Plan in a week or two.
– Share a TED Talk link: Boyd Varty: What I learned from Nelson Mandela
Reflection on the time I witnessed Nelson Mandela’s authority:
In 1990 when Nelson Mandela was released unconditionally South Africans did not know what to expect. He had been tried and found guilty for treason for plotting to plant bombs in 1963. I was only 11 years old at the time. The punishment permitted for treason was death by hanging and by the Grace of God (for all of us) he and those accused with him were given the next sentence, life in imprisonment. For most of my life news about him was banned so we knew very little except that he was a terrorist who was accused and found to be guilty by his own admission. I too thought he was a terrorist. I am ashamed to say that in the 1980’s I initially refused to sign a petition to have him released even though I considered myself a anti- apartheid supporter.
South Africa of the 1970’s was bad. It got worse in the 1980s. In 1990 when he was released we wondered if Mandela would lead a co-ordinated a revolution. The judgement of history was hanging over all of us but especially the white races. We deserved severe punishment for the injustice and violence we had inflicted on our fellow citizens.
In about 1993 I went to a political meeting on the campus of the University of Pretoria where Nelson Mandela was the main speaker. I was not sure what to expect. During question time one bitter black man after another stood up and said that Mandela’s call for forgiveness and reconciliation was not the right response to the vicious apartheid government. These hot-heads said “You are selling your own people out” and “we want revenge” and “nothing good has ever come from forgiveness and reconciliation”.
Then Mandela spoke. He opened his large soft hands in a gesture that was submissive and accepting. His hands seemed to say “I understand and I want to serve and not rule over you or overrule you … ”. He said very quietly “You have made me the leader of the ANC. If you don’t like the direction I am taking get yourself voted as leader and take my place.” One by one the hot-heads seemed to cool off and were silenced. Nobody else had suffered as much as he had. He had forgiven. He was going to lead in the direction he believed was the way to peace for all.
The young communists and comrades had power. They even put burning tires around the neck of people suspected of being informers. The communists and comrades had power but Nelson Mandela had authority. Real authority. His first speech he made after his release he said to the nation “I am your servant”. South Africa because a picture of grace. The judgement of history we deserved did not happen. It was and is beautiful to be part of it.
What lies before us as a nation in 2014?
Today I recognise great injustice taking place not too different from the apartheid times. Many of the rich and powerful (consisting of blacks now and not only whites as in the past) seem to turn a blind eye to the needs and suffering of the large majority who are poor. Poverty is endemic and seems to be getting worse. Unemployment is at about 25%. The health service for some state patients is excellent but for the large majority it is not good. Staff shortages, medication shortages long waiting lists for most operations and almost no patient education can take place.
For those of us who have medical aids (in the US it is called medical insurance) health services are excellent. It is expensive. I know of retired people who pay over half of their monthly pension so they can get the medical care they feel they need – because they think that not to have it is considered a death sentence of a very painful sort. All civil servants belong to GEMS – Government Employees Medical Scheme. I hope and pray that our civil servants remember that they are “servants”. Mandela’s death has reminded every one of us about “servant leadership”. So they are as in the past part of the rich and powerful.
Mandela’s work is not done but his death has reminded us all of this. I heard at a memorial service in Mamelodi that Mandela said that what nearly killed him on Robin Island was not hearing the sound of children. The memory of his life and his great sacrifice have reached into our hearts. Please pray for South Africa as you did in the apartheid days.
I wish you a blessed Christmas. Thank you for your friendship. I so appreciate it.
ps The James1:27 Trust is an organisation that in it’s own quite way is taking care of probably the most vulnerable of our society – orphaned children (mostly) from the ravages of HIV, poverty and terrible social conditions. How we care or don’t care for orphans will determine if they will become violent and criminals or citizens that are able to live out the purpose God planned for them. Please consider supporting this trust. It is a such a privilege to be involved with that they are doing and plan to do.
pps The information I have for you may or may not be correct. If you want to stay in touch and remain on my emailing list please can you confirm this by going to the form that will come up. It would be good to know where you are from but it is not essential.