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The Most Effective Form of Leadership

Leadership is hard to define. There are thousands of definitions out there and hundreds of methods. But at the end of the day, most people agree that it is about getting people somewhere (hopefully somewhere better)! For most people, this means that the leader takes followers to a destination that they choose, and they do it their way. If we take this as the common framework for leadership, then Christ-like leadership should break the mold in three specific ways:

  1. It must lead people closer to God
  2. It must lead people along God’s path/plans
  3. It must lead people God’s way

These key differences make Christ-like leadership serious business! They affect why we lead, where we lead, and how we lead. Fortunately, Jesus showed us what this different kind of leadership looks like- it’s called discipleship. And I believe that this kind of leadership has much to offer our world’s current methodology. So, based on the list above, I think discipleship has these three major implications for our leadership today:

  1. It points to God. This is why we lead. Christ-like leadership (discipleship) always brings people closer to God. Jesus discipled everyone he met- even if it was a brief encounter. He interacted with them and pointed them to truth in love. He didn’t waste any opportunity to show people the Father, whether it was a criticism, message, or miraculous sign.
  2. It is holistic. This is where we lead people to. God’s plan for mankind is complete redemption. Jesus’ interactions with people did not dismiss their basic needs. He often emphasized their spiritual need, but he also cared for physical and social needs too. Discipleship is holistic in nature because it leads to the fullness of Christ.
  3. It is relational. This is how we must lead. Discipleship requires authentic relationships. One cannot move people to God effectively without walking alongside them. The body of Christ is meant to labor together because we cannot be conformed to God’s image by ourselves. We need others.

The bottom line is that discipleship is the most effective form of leadership. We know this because that is what Christ did and the impact of his leadership has transformed generations for two thousand years!

In our culture today, which is dominated by systems and programs, we must consider whether we are compromising the leadership model of Christ. If we simply want to teach people more information, give certificates, and get the next group in the door, then our cultural methods may work. But if we want to see life-transforming results, I think discipleship is the only way.

The Win-Win Christmas Gift

Do you want to make a difference during the holidays and celebrate the season of giving? We might have the right opportunity for you! This November, we are partnering with a creative company called Doxahlogy. They don’t just make beautiful jewelry; they support the work of great artists and ministries like us.

Throughout November, twenty percent of all Doxahlogy’s online sales will go towards Leadership International. These proceeds will specifically go towards training pastors in the rural mountains of Nepal. So the more you buy, the more pastors we can train!

The church in Nepal is small but growing. Estimates show that over 90% of the country is still unreached, and historically those who are Christian have been oppressed by the Hindu majority. Since the earthquake in April, God has been moving in a great way. Many doors have opened and the church is now able to reach out and bless the broken and hurting. People’s hearts are more receptive to the gospel and churches are seeing new growth. Unfortunately, many rural pastors have no formal ministry training. They are struggling to sustain a growing church, shepherd their people, and effectively teach the Word of God.

With your help, we can answer this great need. It costs about $20 to take a pastor through our biblical leadership course. So for every $100 that you spend, you are equipping a pastor in Nepal to reach a community with the gospel! Pretty amazing right? So don’t hold back. Go ahead and shop your heart out (for friends, family, and yourself of course) at Doxahlogy.com. You’ll be getting amazing Christmas gifts and spreading the gospel in Nepal. It’s a win-win!

 

 

Life-Long Learning

Our Capetown center for Life Long Learning.

Our Capetown center for Life Long Learning.

Already we have been asked to develop continuing educational materials that we are offering in weekend or week long seminars. We do this through the gracious gifts of our African Alliance members.

Our Life-Long Learning seminars include training on:

• How the Church can be an agent of Justice in their community – IJM

• Marriage and Parenting – Precept Ministries

• Biblical Manhood – Search Ministries

• Christ Centered Leadership – Character First

• A Practical Guide to Life & Ministry – David Horner, Providence Baptist Church

• Chronological Bible Story Teaching – Serge, Kenya

• The Church’s Response to HIV/AIDS in their Communities – Choosing Hope, MAP International

• Servant Leadership, The Secret of Teams – Mark Miller, Chick-fil-A

• Building Church Leaders – Christianity Today

Thank you for your prayers and financial gifts during our first 5 Years of Leadership International. Through your support and by the Grace of God, we launched, established and are teaching faithful men & women who are teaching others, in word & deed.

Life is Fragile

Dear Friends of Leadership International, the Warrens, the Wagners, and our many partners in Africa!

I trust you had a good summer. Ours was encouraging, good times with our 3 Tennessee sons, many friends, and getting our Southern twang back! We were also able to visit with the Wagners and Pratts in Washington State, for fun and new developments in growing our donor base there & in Orlando, FL where we have family and friends and are making plans for a STORYSONG event there in Jan to raise funds to build 2 more day care centers in South Africa. Each of the 25 centers we’ve funded so far are providing a safe Christian environment for 30-40 pre-school aged children, so their single mothers can find work and this program has created almost 1000 jobs for women who were previously at home, barely surviving, trapped in poverty.

preschool_south_africa

We also dedicated a new conference center for our leadership training this month for East Africa, in Sudan, for Southern Africa, in Capetown and in Ghana for West Africa, where we took the pictures below.

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Unfortunately we didn’t get to see many of you since we traveled more than expected and mainly because Mary’s mother suffered a heart attack the day Mary arrived to visit her, only to get her to the hospital where after 2 weeks of treatment for major infections the doctors thought she was strong enough for the needed heart surgery. Ironically, the surgery was scheduled for Mary’s birthday, but her mother died the night before. We are thankful she didn’t have to go through the trauma of heart surgery, but her death was unexpected and quite a blow to the family. Please pray for Mary and her brother and sister as they grieve, and adjust. We continue to thank the Lord that Nell had made a profession of faith years ago and that Mary had the privilege of hearing that when her Mom joined a nearby church where the memorial service was held.

Mary and our sons did a great job of honoring Mary’s mother, and I preached from the book of Mark, giving all those who attended a copy of that short book of only about 40 pages, challenging them to clarify for themselves and share with others: “Who is Jesus, Why did he come, and how should we respond?”

I wrote the first three paragraphs of this message ten days ago,  along with the rest of our quarterly ministry update, which I’ll share next month. Last week, another missionary friend called to deliver the sad & shocking news of the death of an 18 year old son of another couple in our small group. We are all still stunned, hurting & praying for the family suffering this great loss. Alex was Johnny, our youngest, first friend in Kenya. They met in the second grade here in Nairobi and were fast friends for the next 10 years.

Why does God allow the death of the young & extreme suffering on families and communities of faith? These are some of the questions that come out of  the pain of Johnny’s senior class, friends and family as we weep. I don’t know the answers. Job didn’t either when he lost all his children & he even asked God, and got all his answers. Not answers completely understood because “His ways are not our ways”, and in this life we only see through a shadowy mirror, the reality of the battle against principalities and the power of evil. Eph.6

I’m currently reading a book with some men, written by another missionary to Kenya, who lost a teenage son who is buried on the campus of Rosslyn Academy where Johnny & Alex & all my sons attended.  The author says in “The Insanity of God,” that when his son died, he felt a ” crucifixion pain”. His wife called it “resurrection pain”- both unbearable, he died on Easter Sunday.

remember_alex

Like with Job or Alex”s’ family  God allowed Satan access to his most faithful & they suffer because suffering & persecution are two of God’s sharpest, but most effective tools of sanctification. Job & all of us who suffer tragedy, can stay firm in our faith. Even though Satan is the Father of Lies, and the Author of Confusion, James 4 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you, draw near to me and I will draw near to you.” We are all, “children at risk” , but with hope.

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This week is also the first anniversary of the attack on the Westgate mall here in Nairobi. I attended a memorial service last Sunday for the “Westgate families”, some of them also from our school, wearing t-shirts with pictures of their loved ones, killed by terrorists. Satan is a terrorist. My last e-mail message to you was about living a war-time lifestyle, not a life of protected peace that ignores the world where we  are called to be salt & light. Leaders around the world are fighting the physical terrorists, and we as Christian must fight the battle of the mind, Rom.12, and exercise the spiritual disciplines that are the Lord’s other tools of sanctification. Read Eph. 5 for more hope in God’s power and provision for us to resist the Devil and allow God who is greater than he who is in the world, to rule & reign in our hearts & those we love.

we_are_one

While scores of missionary families comforted our friends who just lost a son at a service in Kansas this weekend, our school and church also held a memorial service for Alex. My son Johnny shared about their friendship of more than a decade, he did a great job. Lord willing other students will move closer to the Lord and to each other, as Johnny encouraged us to do. The soccer team will start wearing “purple” arm bands-Alex favorite color, with an inscription, “Together we Trust'”. They trust in the hope of the Gospel. The banner at the Westgate memorial said, ” Kenya One”. Both groups know that together with the infusion of God’s power and our unity that reflects His love, we can live a life that reflects his Glory and enjoy the peace that surpasses understanding. We can’t do it alone. We need the Lord & each other.

It was a meaningful, yet strange, “circle of life” month as we went from the memorial services to dedicate and baptize 2 of my mother’s great-grandchildren in Orlando. Life is short, fragile, and a great gift from God to us, who has made it clear that we are sojourners; just passing through this world that is not our home. He has given his only begotten Son, who died in our place, so that we can have assurance for ourselves and others who pass from this life to the next. We have been given the free gift of eternal life, and our joy here can be full and His complete, now and forever.

Thanks for letting me grieve out loud. We are to bear one another’s burden’s. This month, we’ll be trying to move on, living a ” new normal”. No amount of understanding or 20/20 hindsight can bring back Alex or the almost 300 people who died or were injured at Westgate. Are you moving on with the Lord’s help?

Let me close with an encouraging update: Artists continue to contribute songs to our next compilation CD that we are praying that the Lord will use to raise funds to increase our ministry to orphans and other children at risk. We’ve started a KickStarter campaign to raise the funds to cover the cost of production and distribution of the CD, so please visit our Kickstarter Page HERE to make a gift so that this CD becomes a reality. Thanks to the Lord’s favor and the great work of our producer, David Mullen, we already have over 20 songs donated, many from the best know Christian artists in America.We hope this project, OrphanSong, will be an annual project to grow awareness of the 147 million orphans in the world, 43 million of which are in Africa.

CLICK HERE to view pictures and read the stories of students that you have already blessed with your gifts, provided by photographer, Bobby Neptune, and our friends at SpiroGraphics. Keep in mind that your gifts to “children at risk”, whether through the Kickstarter program, Leadership International or the STORYSONG website, will all be matched by 2 generous donors, so that 100% of the CD sales will go to care for the children we seek to serve. Make your gift with a check to Leadership International, designated for Children’s ministry, or online through Kickstarter, the LI  website, or the STORYSONG website.

Johnny, my mother, who just started her 90th year,  and I are back in Nairobi, while Mary continues to move along the estate process for her mother and visit friends and family. You can reach Mary @ 615-483-2219 or e-mail, mwafrica@gmail.com

Stay tuned next month for more amazing ministry updates from the great work that God is doing in Africa! Thanks for your partnership.

For the Kingdom,
Larry Warren
President, Leadership International-STORYSONG
Founder, African Leadership & Mocha Club
Executive Producer, OrphanSong Project

Pray for Kenya

Hello Friends,

Just a quick prayer request as the President of Kenya just returned from the Hague for 2 days of court, facing accusations of human rights abuses during the 2008 election in which more than 1000 people were killed and more than 600,000 displaced. I need to be careful what I say in this message as new measures by the government here against foreigners have been alarming and one of the possible outcomes of these hearing is “international sanctions” against the Kenyan government for lack of cooperation and withholding evidence essential to the justice process.

President Uhuru Kenyatta arriving from the  Hague

President Uhuru Kenyatta arriving from the  Hague


In a surprising TV speech to the nation and a Presidential report to the Kenyan parliament, Uhuru Kenyatta, the Supreme court appointed President, spent most of his time defending the ” National sovereignty ” of Kenya declaring this nation to be subject to only the laws of this nation. He referenced Kenya’s role in the creation of the International Crimes Court and his cooperation with the Kenyan government to provide all information requested for this investigation. He also maintained his innocence regarding all charges against him personally. Surprisingly, he ended his speech by saying he was appointing the Deputy President, Ruto, who is also facing the same charges by the ICC, to be the Acting President, while he, Kenyatta, cooperates with the ICC by attending the hearing in the Hague this week.

Raila Odinga, Former Kenyan minister speaks at Yale University.

Raila Odinga, Former Kenyan minister speaks at Yale University.

The media coverage is too vast to summarize, but it ranges from the heroic welcome Pres. Kenyatta received upon his return to Kenya and his speeches with Deputy Pres. Ruto who are traveling across the country castigating the court and describing it as a colonial tool that was being used to punish Kenyatta, just like they did to his father, former President Jomo Kenyatta who was tried and jailed by the British,-to speculation that unless Kenyatta produces the financial and telephone records demanded by the ICC that the case will either be dropped or forwarded to the International Sanctions Assembly. All pretty complicated and alarming to the people of Kenya. You and I have also been falsely accused of things we didn’t do, so I’m not assuming guilt or innocence  of either the President or his Deputy. The Prayer request is for quick justice, as the already continuing destabilization of the Kenyan government, by terrorist threat, economic oppression, student riots,  disease, and national anxiety has taken a toll.

Today the World Health organization listed Kenya in the top 20 countries most likely to face an Ebloa out break if the disease is not strictly confined to West Africa in the next 30 days. Last night I spoke with a family member of the African Director of WHO, who said, of course there is a cure to Ebola, but until the international community has the Will to intervene with the cure, rather than just heal the Westerners who can be flown back to their first world homes, the epidemic will continue. As always, money is the issue. The world is governed by the ” Golden Rule”, in power, war, food distribution & disease. He who has the Gold-Rules! This isn’t the way of Jesus. I’ll only quote one verse, “He who has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart, how can he say God’s love is in him?–(1 John 3:16-17). Is there anything we want to say and demonstrate more than that the “Love of God dwells in us”. The next verse, my paraphrase, says ” My children, don’t just talk about the needs of others, DO Something!” Write your government representatives and tell them to send the cure.Get close to the poor and share your material wealth.

Kenya needs to be healed, of political injustice, tribalism, corruption, disease and moved forward to empower the gifted and beautiful people of this nation.

As with my last message. It’s sobering to report serious issues and I want to always close with the good news of the Gospel and the un-reported , faithful, continuing acts of the Holy Spirit, in this nation and others, enabled by your prayers and support. Below are some pictures and stories of healing and redemption of students you have supported. Joseph just graduated from college with honors this weekend and during his senior year brought our attention to the desperate situation of 2 young girls from his village. As under-age teenagers, they had been promised by their parents, for a fee, to a man 3 times their age who already has other wives! You responded by not only continuing support for Joseph and many other college students we’ve supported since primary school, but also provided the support needed to rescue these 2 young girls, send them to boarding school in another city, with  the parents blessing, providing them a hopeful future.

We thank the Lord for His work among His people, in both the high and low places around the world. Pray for Kenya, as we also pray for you.

                                      

Joseph standing with our regional director Rev. Benson Mutisya at his graduation.

Joseph standing with our regional director Rev. Benson Mutisya at his graduation.

The  Samburu girls that are under our sponsorship program.

The  Samburu girls that are under our sponsorship program.

Newspaper article: Let Girls be Girls, not Child Brides.

For the Kingdom,
Larry Warren
President, Leadership International-STORYSONG
Founder, African Leadership & Mocha Club
Executive Producer, OrphanSong Project

Meet Rose Wangoi

To Honor Nell Shore

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Nell Parker Shore

November 8, 1928 – August 17, 2014

Raleigh, North Carolina

Nell Parker Shore passed away into Heaven on Sunday, August 17, 2014, at the age of 85. She was a beautiful, generous and fun-filled woman who dedicated her life to her husband and family.

Nell was born in Enfield, NC to Robert and Nellie Parker. She was a twin and the fifth of six children. Her twin sister, Dell, passed away at one month old and her parents passed away at age 9 and 11. Her brothers, Robert, John, and Charles and sister Katherine Parker (Rothrock) helped to raise her.

She graduated from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC with degrees in Literature and Education in 1949. While attending summer school at Wake Forest, Nell went on a blind date with the handsome man who would later become her husband.

Mrs. Shore was predeceased by her parents, brothers, sisters and her beloved husband of 55 years, Dr. Thomas Clinard Shore, Jr. originally from Rocky Mount, NC. He was a WWII veteran who served with the 20th Air Force in Saipan. He was a professor at NC State University and past President of NC Industrial and Vocational Arts Association.

Nell taught elementary school in Greenbelt, MD and Raleigh, NC for many years. She was a long time member of the NCSU Faculty Club, regularly attended football and basketball games, an expert at Bridge and Bridge Club member, an avid gardener and a member of the local Garden Club. She won numerous awards for her azalea, rose, and flower gardens. After retiring from teaching, she enjoyed substitute teaching and working in retail at North Hills and Crabtree Valley Malls. She was a member of Crabtree Swim and Tennis Club and spent many summers on the beach and sound of Emerald Isle, NC.

Nell was a beloved wife, mother, grandma, and great grandma. She was a talented seamstress. She enjoyed playing the piano and organ while having the family gather around to sing. Nell enjoyed the dances and parties at NCSU Faculty Club and the Elks Lodge. She travelled extensively with her husband to Africa and Europe especially enjoyed the animals on safari, and bird watching. Nell loved her family and friends and attending church.

Nell had been healthy and living independently at home until she was admitted to Rex Hospital. She was treated for heart problems and other health concerns before passing into Glory with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ two weeks later.

Left to cherish her memory are her son, Thomas Clinard Shore, III of Raleigh; daughter, Sally Shore Turner and her husband, Ron of Raleigh; and daughter, Mary Katharine Shore Warren and her husband Larry of Nairobi, Kenya and Brentwood, TN when not living in Africa on the mission field; her grandchildren, William Shore, Matt Turner, Stephanie Britt Turner Stubbs, Ed Warren, Paul Warren, Joshua Warren, John Warren; and great grandchildren, Elijah, Landon Turner, Cole Stubbs, and Ava Stubbs.

Special thanks to her wonderful neighbors, church friends, and the nurses and doctors who cared for her and her family in so many kind and thoughtful ways through the years and during this time of loss.

To honor Nell, donations can be made to Leadership International, www.leadershipintl.org/donate/ to help care for and educate at risk and orphaned children and or to help train pastors in Africa.

On Friday, August 22, 2014, the family will welcome friends at 2:00pm in the fellowship Hall of St. Giles Presbyterian Church followed by a Celebration of Life Service at 3:00pm in the main sanctuary. St. Giles is located at 5101 Oak Park Road, Raleigh, NC 27612 – 919-787-4790.

Online condolences can be made at www.MitchellatRMP.com.

Published in The News & Observer on Aug. 20, 2014

Summer 2014

From Nairobi Kenya

Summer 2014

Dear Friends of Larry and Mary and Leadership International,

Greetings from beautiful Nairobi, Kenya! Thank you so much for your prayers, phone calls and emails expressing concern for our safety and well being during these tumultuous times in Kenya and for our faithful partners in other parts of the continent. Your prayers have been answered and we are fine. We narrowly escaped the Westgate tragedy, and live just across the freeway from the Somali settlement area, where much unrest continues. We moved to this apartment last year to get away from the violent home invasions that were rampant on our street, and quit going to some public places and have restricted our travel.

But in the midst of the violence, the work for the Kingdom has not diminished. In fact the pastors and leaders are asking us for more and more leadership and Biblical training. The fields truly are ripe for harvest! John 4:35&36, “I (Jesus) tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages; even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.

” Thank you for being glad together with us! Thank you for doing your part in this Great Commission Ministry and helping to further the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus on earth today.

Below you see classes, seminars, and teacher training sessions that are meeting in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. These men and women are being strengthened and encouraged in their own personal relationship with Christ. They testify that they are becoming more the men and women of faith that they believe God wants them to be, and growing closer in their personal journey with the Lord. They are becoming better equipped to preach, teach, and edify the people in their churches and evangelize the people in their communities both in Word and Deed.

Three photos of leadership training in Kenya, Ghana, and Zimbabwe.  Also, three photos of soccer and rugby teams at New Dawn Academy

Our orphan education ministry continues supporting vulnerable, at risk and orphaned children and young adults. For many years, we’ve supported 370 orphans in Zimbabwe. The last 70 are still in high school, thanks for helping us to keep them there! We have a new partnership with the ABC Kenya school of 800 students in Nairobi. The good news is that our web-based fund-raising is growing through the work of Mark Wagner and StorySong. Lord willing we will be releasing another compilation album to raise support for children at risk, this time with several Grammy winners already offering songs and distribution deals in the works with major companies. Please pray this will all come together this year.

Last year as an outgrowth of the orphan education ministry and the schools we were involved with, we began supporting a rugby team and a boys and girls soccer team. The teams were comprised of mostly the at risk and orphaned children. The rugby team came in second place at a Kenya national tournament in Nakuru. This has been a great outlet for the kids who would not have been able to compete otherwise. They tell us “sports are only for the rich kids because we could never afford to pay the entry fees and could not buy the shoes or uniforms to be able to play!” It has given them confidence and built character that they do not have to resort to the 3 “s’s” of living in poverty, to steal, starve or self destruct.

We’ve added another ‘S’ to the poverty options: self-employment! You’ll also see below some pictures of the beneficiaries of our micro-finance program. In partnership with Kiva, the largest US based small loan program, 98% of those who we recommended for loans, paid them back on time and qualified for another larger loan.

Photos of the worship team and students at ABC Kenya.  Photos of Kiva clients and business owners

We love you and miss you and look forward to being back in the US for a few weeks and seeing you if you are available. We will be in Tennessee from about June 20th to July 20, with short visits to NC.

It is with great sadness in our hearts that our beloved friend and champion for the poor Barbara Ambrose has passed into Heaven. Her lovely daughter Ellie heard Larry speak about helping the orphans in Africa! With Barbara’s help and guidance, the wonderful ministry Ellie’s Run for Africa began. Please pray for the Ambrose family during this difficult time and in the years to come.

Please prayerfully consider making a financial gift today to Leadership International!
Thank you & Jesus Bless you.

For the Kingdom, Larry & Mary Warren

www.LeadershipIntl.org

011 254 705 640 047; PO Box 1272-00621, Nairobi Kenya
615 483-2219; 1804 Harpeth River Drive, Brentwood TN 37027

Let’s Be The People We Want To Meet!

mandela

Christmas Greetings – December 2013

Nairobi, Kenya

Nelson Mandela

On December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela died. You have been reading about the tributes to his life all week. Lord willing, our children will be reading about him in their history books. Many of you may wonder, was his life really worth all the celebration? In my opinion, it was, especially for Christians.

This month we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, even though historians say he was probably born in March or April, but the Christians under the pagan Roman Empire celebrated his birth in December when the pagans celebrated their gods, so that the Christian parties wouldn’t create persecution.

Well, I’ve now mentioned the 2 topics most of us should avoid during all the family gatherings during the holidays, politics and religion. Nelson Mandela was nobody’s savior, only Jesus is. But Mandela lived a life that will, as long as we study history, stand out as someone who not only said he forgave his enemies; he lived and acted like he did.

Do you struggle with forgiveness? I do. There is a time for righteous indignation and godly anger, but I often take that verse out of context to justify unforgiving attitudes and actions. One of the most sobering verses in the Bible is the “as you forgive, you will also be forgiven”. Even in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us of our sins, or trespasses, as we forgive those who sin against us”! That’s not what I want to pray. I want to be forgiven better than I forgive, don’t you?

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison, put there by a so-called, “Christian government”. Unfortunately the architects of apartheid were not only politicians but professors at the University of Stellenbosch, seminary professors and pastors in the Dutch Reformed Church. That is why our work in South Africa, with African pastors was so difficult. Why would a black or mixed race South African want to become a Christian if the Christian government would not allow them to vote, own property, or move freely around the country? We did work with South African pastors and still have over 600 in our training programs, but we soon shifted our work focus to minister to the youth, after Mandela was elected president, to win their hearts to Christ before they were hardened.

You’ve heard many quotes from Nelson Mandela in the press. The most important one for me is that he told the press, the day he was released from prison, that he had forgiven those who put him there for 27 years. He said he not only forgave them because he was a Christian and it is the right thing to do, but he forgave them for himself, so that he would not be imprisoned by the past. Wow!

Unforgiving attitudes are like drinking poison and hoping it will hurt those who hurt you. It only hurts us, keeps us from obeying the apostle Paul who said, “forgetting the past, I strain forward reaching out to grab hold of that for which Christ Jesus grabbed hold of me. He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it.” He will never let go, so we can cast our cares on Him, and reach forward, live and love in the present, without grudges or mentally rehearsing how others have sinned against us.

We met Mandela because he was also a man who kept his promises. While we were living in Cape Town, one of the pastors in our class in Mitchell’s Plains, a colored or mixed race area, also worked part-time as a prison chaplain to Nelson Mandela. Mandela regularly attended his Bible Studies and told him that he became a Christian as a child in a missionary school in the rural area where his father was a tribal leader among the Xhosa people. Nelson said he rarely spoke about his faith because his calling as a Christian was for political freedom. He said, “He was not an evangelist but like Jesus, came to set the captives free. Political freedom, is a justice issue and we serve a God of justice.”

One of the most difficult adjustments for Mary and I when we moved to South Africa as missionaries, in 1993, the year before Mandela was elected, was that we weren’t accepted by the blacks, because we were white, and we weren’t accepted by the whites because we were Americans. The US Government had political and economic sanctions on South Africa so we were accused of ruining their economy. That first year I went to a pastor’s conference for over 500 Zulu church leaders, the tribe most responsive to the Gospel. I was asked to sleep in a room with 5 white African farmers, strong Christians, who were actually paying for the conference. As you might guess, we spent our evenings talking about religion and politics.

They asked me why my government put economic pressure on them to give rights to the indigenous people. Maybe they should just kill them, like the US government did to the Native Americans. “History is important. Just because our founding fathers sinned doesn’t mean we should condone that in others”, I responded. It was an interesting week. The white South Africans generally told me our sanctions only caused more suffering for the blacks they hoped to help. White South African businessmen affected by sanctions simply fired their black employees. Overall, white South Africans showed Mary and I some of the greatest hospitality we have ever experienced. Last month we spent time with many of our friends there, we’ve known for over 20 years.

If you want to read fascinating history of South Africa, read Michener’s book The Covenant. Better yet read the true story of how the Lord made possible a peaceful election through the back room negotiations between a Kenyan peace maker and the Zulu King Buthelezi in Michael Cassidy’s book, A Witness Forever.

gather

Mandela not only embraced his white captors but lead the country, not ignoring the injustices, but by instituting the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”. Every night for 3 years we saw reports of South Africans of all races confessing their “political crimes” and being granted amnesty. In the years following, many who did not confess were prosecuted and imprisoned. Reconciliation requires not only repentance and forgiveness, but restitution and just punishment.

We must individually forgive, confess our own sins and make restitution with those we have wronged. I could write a long time about Nelson Mandela, because he modeled forgiveness and reconciliation. That’s what Jesus offers us.

Nelson also modeled honesty, keeping your word. Our family met Mandela because he told the chaplain we trained, ” If I ever get out of prison, I want to come to your church”, and the first year he was released, he did. The chaplain’s teacher, Alan Knowles called me on a Sunday night and said, “Mandela is coming to the church where our class meets tomorrow to see the chaplain, want to come?” Of course we did, Mary, Eddy and Paul and I listened to him talk about reconciliation, hope for the future and being people like we want to meet. I’ve met my most favorite heroes Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Billy Graham, but I’m not much like them yet……….He is still working on me.

This week is Jamhuri week in Kenya. They are celebrating 50 years of freedom from the colonialists. There are celebrations all over the country, most schools and businesses are closed. People want freedom from oppression, political, economic and spiritual. Only Jesus can set our hearts free from the guilt and death penalty of sin and restore our relationship with Him through the life and death of his Son. I wouldn’t give the life of any of my four sons for someone else, especially an enemy, but our Heavenly Father did!

Praise the Lord for the political freedom in South Africa and Kenya. Celebrate the freedom of the anniversary of the only Savior, and tell someone the reason for your peace that passes all understanding. You serve the Prince of Peace!

Nelson Mandela loved music. Last night on the news coverage of his memorial service there was a special segment on the music that was being played around the world while he was in prison. Music that ignited the cause of freedom. Nelson said that he moved to the rhythm of change and that music is the communication tool that inspires freedom or imprisonment based on the values of the song. We’ve started a new division of Leadership International called “StorySong“. It is a web-based community sharing stories of Gospel transformation in the lives of people around the world, and songs that celebrate that transformation and inspire us to keep setting the captives free. I’m sending the new StorySong compilation album to our donors and any of you can order it on their new website next month. We are selling it for only $10, the price of the school fees we pay for an orphan in Africa who has been taken in by a Christian family in a church where we trained their pastor.

Sing and tell the Gospel Story.

Merry Christmas,

Larry