Revenge. Retribution. Rivers of blood.
“Great anxiety existed in the sub-Saharan African region as the first multiracial elections were approaching in South Africa,” says Gordon Fort, a veteran missionary to Africa who now serves as IMB’s senior vice president for prayer mobilization and training. “President F.W. de Klerk, in conjunction with Nelson Mandela, had led in a courageous movement to abolish apartheid. [But] great fear existed that after the elections, a bloodbath of revenge would ensue. When it became clear that Nelson Mandela and the ANC [African National Congress] party had won the election, in the midst of the celebrations the clear, calm voice of the new president set a new tone calling for forgiveness and reconciliation.
“While tackling the daunting task of dismantling institutionalized racism, poverty and inequality, [Mandela] gave a clarion call to national unity and religious freedom. This atmosphere led to a season of opportunity for the church and its missionary representatives to advance the Gospel, engage new people groups and play a part in the healing of the deep rifts within the nation. President Mandela was among the first to invite and welcome the role of the church in the new nation he was seeking to build. After retirement from the presidency, he continued to provide leadership and an example of statesmanship that allowed the church to flourish.”