Nelson Mandela's death: Christian reactions

A framed portrait of former president Nelson Mandela and flowers are placed outside Mandela's Johannesburg home Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 after the freedom fighter passed away Thursday night after a long illness.(AP)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: "God was so good to us in South Africa by giving us Nelson Mandela to be our President at a crucial moment in our history. He inspired us to walk the path of forgiveness and reconciliation and so South Africa did not go up in flames. Thank you God, for this wonderful gift who became a moral colossus, a global icon of forgiveness and reconciliation. May he rest in peace and rise in glory."

Reverend Moss Ntlha, General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa said: "Madiba is considered by many as the father of the nation. He modelled firm confrontation with evil and injustice, and magnanimity in his triumph over those who sought his destruction. His passing calls to mind the prophetic tradition of Micah that says: "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)."

Reverend Aiah Foday-Khabenje, the General Secretary of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa, said: "The life of Madiba is yet another proof and reminder about the origin, nature and commonality of the human species; created in the image of God with ability to reflect some of God's attributes though vainly because of finitude, fallenness with feet of clay; regardless of race or geographical location. Heartfelt condolences to immediate family members and the people of South Africa. May his exemplary leadership inspire African leaders"

In a telegram to South African President Jacob Zuma, Pope Francis praised "the steadfast commitment shown by Nelson Mandela in promoting the human dignity of all the nation's citizens and in forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth".

"I pray that the late president's example will inspire generations of South Africans to put justice and the common good at the forefront of their political aspirations," he said.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, has offered his prayers for friends and family, as well as the nation of South Africa.

"The death of President Nelson Mandela was announced in memorable words by president Zuma. South Africa has lost its greatest citizen and its father. Nelson Mandela, fighting to the end, is freed to be with his God in joy and reward for his great service and sacrifice. We pray for his family, for his friends and for his country. We are challenged to show the same degree of humanity, of courage and of generosity."

The Right Reverend Lorna Hood, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland said: "Nelson Mandela was a towering figure of the 20th century whose strength, courage and determination are only matched by his grace and ability to forgive.

" He will forever be remembered not only for the end of apartheid in South Africa but the manner in which the change was accomplished.

"Emerging from prison after 27-years in Robben Island, without bitterness or a call for revenge, he led by example believing that the only hope for his country was the reconciliation of all people regardless of their colour or creed.

 "Nelson Mandela is the epitome of a man who has never given up hope but believes wholeheartedly that no injustice can last forever and that evil will not have the last word."

The Reverend Ruth Gee, President of the Methodist Conference, said: "Nelson Mandela is regarded as one of the fathers of Africa. His persistent way of standing up for justice has inspired Africans and the world at large. As a leader, one of his most impressive attributes was his emphasis on peace and reconciliation in the post-apartheid regime.

"Nelson Mandela attended Methodist missionary schools during his formative years. His understanding of Christian values was reflected in his passion for social justice. Representatives from the Methodist Church in Britain who were fortunate to meet Mandela have spoken about him with admiration: he was a welcoming, gracious and charismatic leader of exceptional ability who did not hold any bitterness about what had happened to him. During the years of his imprisonment on Robben Island, Mandela was visited by a Methodist chaplain. He will always remain loved and honoured in our hearts."

Roy Crowder was the Africa Secretary for the Methodist Church in Britain from 1999 to 2009. He lived in Cape Town from 1983 to 1999, where he worked as a lecturer at University of the Western Cape, and met Nelson Mandela three times.

He said: "As the crisis in South Africa deepened in the late eighties it became clear that Government was negotiating with the ANC. The newspapers still could not print Nelson Mandela's picture but they discussed his future role intensely. No one could have lived up to the expectations that were built up in that frantic period. But miraculously Mandela did! He grew to be the global political leader without feet of clay, which was exactly what his supporters had projected during the Free Mandela campaign. He even risked alienating those supporters by donning the Springbok rugby jersey and having tea with Betsie Verwoerd, the widow of man who jailed him. Such iconic actions instilled a spirit of unity into the politics of a tragically divided country."

World Vision International President Kevin Jenkins said Nelson Mandela will always be an "inspiration" for those involved in humanitarian work.

"Mandela was probably the greatest leader of our age, a tireless, fearless advocate for the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our world, particularly children. He believed in justice, and wasn't afraid to do what
he thought it would take to achieve it.

"Mandela's death is, of course, most keenly felt in his home country, and we join with South Africans in sending our condolences to his family, and in mourning his loss.

"Many of the children we work with, and our staff, have life-changing stories to tell of meeting Madiba over the years. All talk of his great compassion, and his tireless commitment to seeking justice and change."

"He knew when to get his hands dirty and when to be diplomatic. He made the world better for countless millions of children. What better legacy is there than that?"

Christian Aid Chief executive Loretta Minghella described the late leader as a "man whose strength of vision founded a nation".

"The sufferings and injustices inflicted by apartheid could so easily have led to a reckoning in blood when majority rule was introduced.

"The fact that South Africa's transition from pariah state to independent nation took place in relative peace was largely down to the magnanimity and moral courage of Mr Mandela.

"His readiness to eschew revenge after 27 years in prison was an example to all. His calm and restraint showed the people, not just of South Africa but the world, that justice and tolerance can prevail over fear and oppression.

"He was that rare creature, a person of immense power who used his energies and influence for the good of all. He will be sorely missed."

Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance: "We are sad to hear of the death of this great man, whose tireless dedication to equality and the dignity of all human persons has been inspirational over the decades.

"As evangelical Christians we believe that all are equal in the sight of God, that Jesus is good news for all members of all societies, everywhere. Our prayer is that Nelson Mandela's legacy will not be forgotten and that we will, together, continue to fight for justice, peace and hope locally, nationally and globally."

Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance, said: "Nelson Mandela stands out among world politicians because, although he suffered greatly for justice, he never forgot mercy.

"With his political leadership characterised by humility, dignity and integrity, he has left a legacy to the Republic of South Africa of reconciliation and hope for a better future. He reminds us all of our obligation to speak truth to power and to demand government for the good of all."

Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary-General of the World Evangelical Alliance said: "The world has lost a great leader. Nelson Mandela was a model of courage, vision and personal sacrifice. Today more than ever we need this kind of leadership. May the memory of Nelson Mandela inspire a new generation of such leaders around the world."

Dr Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference said: "Nelson Mandela's life embodied the idea of prophetic activism with an unquenchable thirst for justice. His struggle for equality brought down one of the final strongholds of segregation and subsequently empowered an entire continent to overcome by doing justice and loving mercy. His life inspired us while his humble demeanor will continue to move us towards a more just and loving world."