Sr. Pastor Robert Kennedy and
his wife Mrs. Kennedy.
Pastor Kennedy's Biography
Assistant Pastor Joseph Thelusca
Pastor Thelusca's Biography
From the Pastor's Heart
The Legacy of a Leader
The passing of President Nelson Mandela, has brought the world into sober reflection for the last few days. Just about every media outlet has given attention to Mandela’s contributions to the socio-political life of South Africa and the world at large. Leaders from more than 90 countries, including President Obama, past presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, were present at the memorial service in the large stadium in Johannesburg. Next to the reflections on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the 50th anniversary speech of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr of the March on Washington DC, this is the most sober reflection that I have heard on any life for a very long time.
Most noteworthy for me, is that Mandela has been described as a quiet, gentle, humble, compassionate, kind, loving, inspirational bridge builder, who gave up a life of privilege to lead the way with those who were fighting against apartheid in South Africa. As part of his early strategy, he resorted to sabotage and violence; and along with others, was put in jail on Robin’s Island for 27 years. He was released from jail on February 11, 1990 and within four years (April 10, 1994) became the president of South Africa. While in jail he studied the lives of Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others who practiced love, forgiveness, and nonviolence. As a result of his study, he made a commitment that the path he would to follow to the future was that of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. Although some around him would not agree, he followed his commitment and forced the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa; one of the greatest tragedies of history anyone on earth has known. His influence and legacy to the world will be spoken of for many decades to come.
Of course, as we approach the Christmas season, we need to keep in mind the contributions of Nelson Mandela in the process of world peace, but at the same time, give serious thought to the life of Jesus who was the greatest peacemaker this world has ever known. Jesus said of himself, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27). The Apostle Paul said of him, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,” (Ephesians 2:14).
My real point in this reflection is to call us to take the lives of a great leader like Nelson Mandela, and the greatest life ever known to humankind, that of Jesus, to create our models of peace. Therefore, we can dismiss every temptation to rage and resentment, and every invitation to division and violence. Just as at the memorial service of Mandela, President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro found a way to shake hands, so we, with our diverse political philosophies and persuasions, need to open a path to peace.
These are those who have criticized President Obama for shaking the hands of President Raul Castro, but I wish to point them to the words of Jesus, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48).
Last Modified: Wednesday December 11, 2013