"Madiba, Madiba, Madiba" "Tata, Tata"
The cries have grown increasingly incessant over the last three weeks in Johannesburg, South Africa. They come from crowds of well-wishers gathered outside the hospital where Nelson Mandela, now 94, is in critical condition. There are round-the-clock prayer vigils all over the country interceding for his return to health.
"Madiba" is Mandela’s clan name from his tribal group. "Tata" is the equivalent of "daddy" and Mandela is affectionately regarded by many as the father of his nation. Born in 1918, Mandela spent the first 9 years of his life in an obscure village in poverty until his father died. He was adopted by a local chieftain, who mentored him as his own son, sending him to school and university, and grooming him for a high tribal position.
As an adult, Mandela used his training as a lawyer to get involved in political action against apartheid in South Africa. Eventually he was imprisoned on accusations of treason and sabotage and given a life sentence in 1963. He spent the next 27 years of his life in prison where he became an international symbol of the struggle against the racial apartheid policies of the South African government. He was released in 1990 and elected the first black president in 1994 in South Africa’s first democratic national election.
He retired from politics in 1999, but has continued to remain active in humanitarian efforts such as women’s equality, eradication of AIDs, and promotion of world peace. His birthday in 2009 was declared "Mandela Day" as an annual international event to celebrate his legacy. The day is meant to remind citizens worldwide to give back the way that Mandela has throughout his lifetime. The official statement reads, "Mr. Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity. All we’re asking is that everyone gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting your chosen charity or serving your local community."
Mandela was mentored by a tribal chieftain and gave back by mentoring a nation. Last week, I asked you to think about who’s been mentoring you because we have all had a number of mentors in our lives, people who took a chance on us, educated us, gave us an opportunity and believed in us. My question this week is "Are you giving back?"
You may never mentor a nation, but you have opportunities to mentor someone. It might be helping that new employee at work learn their new position, or the new union apprentice learn the skills of the trade. Maybe it’s teaching the kid next door who doesn’t have a dad, how to use power tools. Maybe it’s coaching the Little League team or volunteering at the local senior citizens center. If you are a parent or grandparent you have a multitude of mentoring opportunities with your children and grandchildren.
Giving back not only enriches the lives of those you touch, it fulfills you as well. Father God freely gives to us and instructs us to be people who not only receive, but also give back. He states in Matthew 10:8, "… freely you have received, freely give." He reminds us that we can give back to those around us by observing the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." (Luke 6:31)
Start looking for opportunities to give back and see if it doesn’t change the world around you for the better.
Please join us this Sunday at 9:00 AM or 11:00 AM. We are continuing our series on Spiritual Parenting, and my sermon this week is "How to Be a Spiritual Parent."