Hope Restored to a Community!

by Rev Henry Bello, Pastor ECWA, MD USA, District Heights, Maryland | Communities in the Asso, Fadan Kagoma in Nigeria are delighted that they can receive life-saving medicines that make them self-reliant.

A dream that started around October 2017 materialized today in the scenic village of Asso in Fadan Kagoma.  A dream that got its inspiration from the suffering,  neglect and man’s hatred to another because of religious differences,  gave birth to the most sincerest imaginable to those that have almost given up on hope.

Mr. Seth Thomas in the scenic village of Asso in Fadan Kagoma, Nigeria

Mr. Seth Thomas in the scenic village of Asso in Fadan Kagoma, Nigeria

The Kpok Gwong, amidst dancing and jubilation turbaned Mr. Seth as theh gwong - meaning helper of Kagoma.

The Kpok Gwong, amidst dancing and jubilation turbaned Mr. Seth as theh gwong – meaning helper of Kagoma.

Mr. Seth Thomas,  then 17 years only, accompanied his father, Mr. Mervyn Thomas, the  CEO, CSW UK and Rev. Yunusa Nmadu,  CEO,  CSWN to Asso after the deadly Fulani attack on the village that took the lives of 12 young people.

Mr. Seth saw a young boy walking around with a bullet still lodged in his legs and the wound badly infected.  He asked why and was told that the nearest hospital is dozens of kilometers away.  That 17yr old asked the cost of a standard clinic with doctors quarters and was told it’s 50,000  pounds. He went back to England and decided to raise the money.  He wrote letters,  spoke to people,  pleaded and a lot more, and through the grace of God and encouragement from Luke 18;27 he persevered and was able to raise the money.

Today,  that standard clinic with doctors quarters was dedicated and handed over to Rev Nmadu of CSWN who handed it to the ECWA president,  who in turn handed the clinic to the community of Asso, Nigeria.

A clinic with doctors quarters was dedicated and handed over to Rev Nmadu of CSWN who handed it to the ECWA president.

A clinic with doctors quarters was dedicated and handed over to Rev Nmadu of CSWN who handed it to the ECWA president.

In appreciation,  the Kpok Gwong, amidst dancing and jubilation turbaned Mr. Seth as theh gwong – meaning helper of Kagoma.
A dream materialized in the scenic village of Asso in Fadan Kagoma, Nigeria

A dream materialized in the scenic village of Asso in Fadan Kagoma, Nigeria

Nelson Mandela: The Human Side of the Icon

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world (image: courtesy of Nelson Mandela Foundation, ANC leadership © Louise Gubb).

Living the Legacy, Explore the Life of Nelson Mandela

Rolihlahla Mandela was born into the Madiba clan in the village of Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape, on 18 July 1918. His mother was Nonqaphi Nosekeni and his father was Nkosi Mphakanyiswa Gadla Mandela, principal counsellor to the Acting King of the Thembu people, Jongintaba Dalindyebo. In 1930, when he was 12 years old, his father died and the young Rolihlahla became a ward of Jongintaba at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni1.

Nelson Mandela is one of the most inspiring and iconic figures of our age. Now, after a lifetime of taking pen to paper to record thoughts and events, hardships and victories, he has opened his personal archive, which offers an unprecedented insight into his remarkable life through his new book Conversations with Myself.

Conversations With Myself gives readers access to the private man behind the public figure: from letters written in the darkest hours of Mandela’s twenty-seven years of imprisonment to the draft of an unfinished sequel to Long Walk to Freedom. Here he is making notes and even doodling during meetings, or recording troubled dreams on the desk calendar of his cell on Robben Island; writing journals while on the run during the anti-apartheid struggles in the early 1960s, or conversing with friends in almost seventy hours of recorded conversations. In these pages he is neither an icon nor a saint; here he is like you and me.

An intimate journey from the first stirrings of his political conscience to his galvanizing role on the world stage, Conversations With Myself is a rare chance to spend time with Nelson Mandela the man, in his own voice: direct, clear, private. Introduced with a foreword by US President Barack Obama, Conversations with Myself allows for the first time unhindered insight into the human side of the icon.

Hearing the elders’ stories of his ancestors’ valour during the wars of resistance, he dreamed also of making his own contribution to the freedom struggle of his people.

He attended primary school in Qunu where his teacher, Miss Mdingane, gave him the name Nelson, in accordance with the custom of giving all schoolchildren “Christian” names.

He completed his Junior Certificate at Clarkebury Boarding Institute and went on to Healdtown, a Wesleyan secondary school of some repute, where he matriculated.

Mandela began his studies for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University College of Fort Hare but did not complete the degree there as he was expelled for joining in a student protest.

On his return to the Great Place at Mqhekezweni the King was furious and said if he didn’t return to Fort Hare he would arrange wives for him and his cousin Justice. They ran away to Johannesburg instead, arriving there in 1941. There he worked as a mine security officer and after meeting Walter Sisulu, an estate agent, he was introduced to Lazer Sidelsky. He then did his articles through a firm of attorneys – Witkin, Eidelman and Sidelsky.

He completed his BA through the University of South Africa and went back to Fort Hare for his graduation in 1943.

Nelson Mandela (top row, second from left) on the steps of Wits University. (Image- © Wits University Archives)

Nelson Mandela (top row, second from left) on the steps of Wits University. (Image- © Wits University Archives)

Meanwhile, he began studying for an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand. By his own admission he was a poor student and left the university in 1952 without graduating. He only started studying again through the University of London after his imprisonment in 1962 but also did not complete that degree.

In 1989, while in the last months of his imprisonment, he obtained an LLB through the University of South Africa. He graduated in absentia at a ceremony in Cape Town.

Entering politics

Mandela, while increasingly politically involved from 1942, only joined the African National Congress in 1944 when he helped to form the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).

In 1944 he married Walter Sisulu’s cousin, Evelyn Mase, a nurse. They had two sons, Madiba Thembekile “Thembi” and Makgatho, and two daughters both called Makaziwe, the first of whom died in infancy. He and his wife divorced in 1958.

Mandela rose through the ranks of the ANCYL and through its efforts, the ANC adopted a more radical mass-based policy, the Programme of Action, in 1949.

Nelson Mandela on the roof of Kholvad House in 1953. (Image- © Herbert Shore, courtesy of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation)

Nelson Mandela on the roof of Kholvad House in 1953. (Image- © Herbert Shore, courtesy of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation)

In 1952 he was chosen as the National Volunteer-in-Chief of the Defiance Campaign with Maulvi Cachalia as his deputy. This campaign of civil disobedience against six unjust laws was a joint programme between the ANC and the South African Indian Congress. He and 19 others were charged under the Suppression of Communism Act for their part in the campaign and sentenced to nine months of hard labour, suspended for two years.

A two-year diploma in law on top of his BA allowed Mandela to practise law, and in August 1952 he and Oliver Tambo established South Africa’s first black law firm, Mandela & Tambo.

At the end of 1952 he was banned for the first time. As a restricted person he was only permitted to watch in secret as the Freedom Charter was adopted in Kliptown on 26 June 1955.

The Treason Trial

Mandela was arrested in a countrywide police swoop on 5 December 1955, which led to the 1956 Treason Trial. Men and women of all races found themselves in the dock in the marathon trial that only ended when the last 28 accused, including Mandela, were acquitted on 29 March 1961.

On 21 March 1960 police killed 69 unarmed people in a protest in Sharpeville against the pass laws. This led to the country’s first state of emergency and the banning of the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) on 8 April. Mandela and his colleagues in the Treason Trial were among thousands detained during the state of emergency.

During the trial Mandela married a social worker, Winnie Madikizela, on 14 June 1958. They had two daughters, Zenani and Zindziswa. The couple divorced in 1996.

Days before the end of the Treason Trial, Mandela travelled to Pietermaritzburg to speak at the All-in Africa Conference, which resolved that he should write to Prime Minister Verwoerd requesting a national convention on a non-racial constitution, and to warn that should he not agree there would be a national strike against South Africa becoming a republic. After he and his colleagues were acquitted in the Treason Trial, Mandela went underground and began planning a national strike for 29, 30 and 31 March.

In the face of massive mobilisation of state security the strike was called off early. In June 1961 he was asked to lead the armed struggle and helped to establish Umkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation), which launched on 16 December 1961 with a series of explosions.

Madiba travelled with his Ethiopian passport. (Image: © National Archives of South Africa)

Madiba travelled with his Ethiopian passport. (Image: © National Archives of South Africa)

On 11 January 1962, using the adopted name David Motsamayi, Mandela secretly left South Africa. He travelled around Africa and visited England to gain support for the armed struggle. He received military training in Morocco and Ethiopia and returned to South Africa in July 1962. He was arrested in a police roadblock outside Howick on 5 August while returning from KwaZulu-Natal, where he had briefed ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli about his trip.

He was charged with leaving the country without a permit and inciting workers to strike. He was convicted and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, which he began serving at the Pretoria Local Prison. On 27 May 1963 he was transferred to Robben Island and returned to Pretoria on 12 June. Within a month police raided Liliesleaf, a secret hideout in Rivonia, Johannesburg, used by ANC and Communist Party activists, and several of his comrades were arrested.

On 9 October 1963 Mandela joined 10 others on trial for sabotage in what became known as the Rivonia Trial. While facing the death penalty his words to the court at the end of his famous “Speech from the Dock” on 20 April 1964 became immortalised:

I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

Speech from the Dock quote by Nelson Mandela on 20 April 1964

On 11 June 1964 Mandela and seven other accused, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Denis Goldberg, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni, were convicted and the next day were sentenced to life imprisonment. Goldberg was sent to Pretoria Prison because he was white, while the others went to Robben Island.

Mandela’s mother died in 1968 and his eldest son, Thembi, in 1969. He was not allowed to attend their funerals.

On 31 March 1982 Mandela was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town with Sisulu, Mhlaba and Mlangeni. Kathrada joined them in October. When he returned to the prison in November 1985 after prostate surgery, Mandela was held alone. Justice Minister Kobie Coetsee visited him in hospital. Later Mandela initiated talks about an ultimate meeting between the apartheid government and the ANC.

A picture captured during a rare visit from his comrades at Victor Verster Prison. (Image- © National Archives of South Africa)

A picture captured during a rare visit from his comrades at Victor Verster Prison. (Image- © National Archives of South Africa)

Release from prison

On 12 August 1988 he was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. After more than three months in two hospitals he was transferred on 7 December 1988 to a house at Victor Verster Prison near Paarl where he spent his last 14 months of imprisonment. He was released from its gates on Sunday 11 February 1990, nine days after the unbanning of the ANC and the PAC and nearly four months after the release of his remaining Rivonia comrades. Throughout his imprisonment he had rejected at least three conditional offers of release.

Mandela immersed himself in official talks to end white minority rule and in 1991 was elected ANC President to replace his ailing friend, Oliver Tambo. In 1993 he and President FW de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize and on 27 April 1994 he voted for the first time in his life.


On 10 May 1994 he was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected President. On his 80th birthday in 1998 he married Graça Machel, his third wife.

True to his promise, Mandela stepped down in 1999 after one term as President. He continued to work with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund he set up in 1995 and established the Nelson Mandela Foundation and The Mandela Rhodes Foundation.

In April 2007 his grandson, Mandla Mandela, was installed as head of the Mvezo Traditional Council at a ceremony at the Mvezo Great Place.

Nelson Mandela never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and learning. Despite terrible provocation, he never answered racism with racism. His life is an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived; and to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation.

He died at his home in Johannesburg on 5 December 2013.

1. Nelson Mandela’s father died in 1930 when Mandela was 12 and his mother died in 1968 when he was in prison. While the autobiography Long Walk to Freedom says his father died when he was nine, historical evidence shows it must have been later, most likely 1930. In fact, the original Long Walk to Freedom manuscript (written on Robben Island) states the year as 1930, when he was 12.

The Mercy of Intolerance

by Regis Nicoll | Thankfully, the love of Jesus was not the poison of tolerance, but the medicine of intolerance. (Images: Detail from a painting by Pedro Berruguete of Saint Dominic presiding over an auto-da-fé, c.1495).

Some years ago, I told a friend that I had visited a local evangelical church. Unhesitatingly, he remarked, “Oh, you mean that homophobic church!”

While such remarks reveal a lack of understanding about Church teachings, I can see why some people make them. It’s because of something I call “selective tolerance.”

While Christians are known for their high regard for Scripture, their acceptance of certain behaviors at odds with that standard has not gone unnoticed. As Anglican cleric Robert Hart has noted, “[Christians] have become more and more accepting of sexual relations that fall far below Christian belief in chastity, to the point where many churches accept unmarried couples, as long as they are not homosexual.”

Sadly, selective tolerance encompasses much more than acquiescence toward heterosexual immorality. Moral silence on various forms of self-indulgence, pride, gluttony and other “socially acceptable” sins has allowed Christians to remain in a spiritual orbit overlapping that of their secular neighbors, while the moral voice of the Church has dampened to a murmur.

How did it come to this?

The Supreme Virtue
One factor is the desire to measure ourselves by looking around rather than up. We believe that a loving God would not condemn a majority of mankind to eternal destruction; so, we set our sights on the righteous midpoint—or maybe just a smidgeon above it.

Instead of looking to Jesus to become holy as he is holy, we look to our neighbor. If our sins are not too different than his, we can chill. If they are, we can either work ourselves up to the moral mean or assuage ourselves by what is legally permissible. In fact, civil law has been an effective tool in “defining deviancy down.”

Within a generation after Roe v. Wade, the number of abortions increased 30 percent. During the same timeframe, “no-fault” legislation helped skyrocket the divorce rate by a factor of two, affecting nearly half of all marriages. The de-criminalization of homosexual sodomy and the legalization of same-sex “marriage” and assisted suicide continue the tradition of normalizing what were once considered deviant behaviors.

Another factor is cynicism. As noted by George Barna and others, belief in unchanging moral truth is held by a waning number of Christians. I’ve had Christians tell me that Jesus lovingly accepted everyone and wasn’t too particular about moral absolutes. It is a strange argument regarding someone who claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life.

However, the rejection of absolutes is never absolute. As the acid of cynicism dissolves the obelisk of objective truth into relativistic rubble, one spire remains: tolerance—the supreme virtue in a “live and let live” world that keeps seven billion “sovereigns” from mutual destruction.

An Insidious Ruse
Tolerance means that any biblical passage can be trumped by sincerity and goodness. As long as a person is sincere and lives an otherwise upright life, his lifestyle choices should be free from criticism or correction. Through this moral lens, even “loving neighbor as self” takes on a twisted shape.

Since I would be uncomfortable—yeah, offended—if someone pointed out my faults, I’ll not point out those of my neighbor. By relieving myself of that rather unpleasant task, I avoid mutual awkwardness and discomfort, and I fulfill half of the great commandment to boot! It is a deception more beguiling than the one that charmed Eve.

When Eve took the fruit, it wasn’t because she rationalized that, in some contrived way, she was fulfilling God’s command; she violated it because she rationalized that God’s command was unreasonable. In the modern ruse, you can do what Eve couldn’t: reject God’s commands and fulfill his moral standard at the same time. All ya need is love; and that’s spelled:

T-O-L-E-R-A-N-C-E. But the truth is another matter.

Tolerating the sin of a brother for fear that a disapproving word might offend, is like the physician who neglects to correct a 300-lb. patient about his lifestyle—it may look like compassion, but it is selfish indifference, if not outright cowardice. What’s more—it’s hazardous. As Robert Hart warned, “Replacing the mercy of disapproval with tolerance is replacing medicine with poison.”

Thankfully, the love of Jesus was not the poison of tolerance, but the medicine of intolerance.

An Intolerant Messiah
The popular felt-board depiction of Jesus as a soft-spoken story-teller—bordering on the effeminate—with a wide grin and open arms, welcoming all into his inner circle with nary a discouraging word couldn’t be further off the mark.

Jesus began his public ministry with the call to “Repent!” From there he launched into a lengthy exposition of attitudes and behaviors identified with kingdom living: he exhorted an adulterous woman to leave her life of sin; he disqualified a rich, young man for his self-sufficiency; he instructed his disciples to rebuke sinful brothers; he nearly started a riot in a violent outburst at the temple; and he was even boorish enough to criticize the religious beliefs of a woman who was merely trying to draw a jug of water.

To those who had supplanted the word of God with the traditions of men (like today’s prophets of tolerance), his words were stinging, even hurtful. In one discourse, Jesus delivered seven scathing shock treatments, each beginning with “Woe!” and followed by a moral indictment.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus never skirted wrong-headed beliefs or behaviors. He addressed them head on to the point of rudeness according to our modern sensibilities. But his corrections were never meant to crush or condemn; they were intended to awaken his audience to the truth that gives life.

Even Jesus’s rebuke of the Pharisees was driven not by anger, but anguish over their spiritual condition. At the end of his sevenfold indictment, he grieves, “How often have I longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

To generate introspection, Jesus often told parables. One concerned a wedding feast.

The Wrong Attire
A king threw a banquet in celebration of his son’s wedding. It was staged as a gala event, complete with clothes provided by the king to all attendees. Astonishingly, all of the invited guests refused to come. So the royal invitation was given out in the streets and alleys. Once the banquet hall was filled and the festivities set to begin, the king noticed something out of place: a man dressed in his own garb. Incensed over the man’s disregard for the graciously provided attire, the king had the man removed from the royal premises. The story has haunting similarities to the Genesis narrative.

Adam and Eve were guests in the royal residence of Eden. Everything needed for the good life was generously given them, including beautifully adorned bodies, fearfully and wonderfully made. Then they ate the fruit.

Hoping to conceal their guilt, Adam and Eve hurriedly covered themselves with fig leaves. But their plan unraveled as their newly sewn garments didn’t match the setting. They were in deep trouble. They had violated a decree punishable by death, they were found out with no credible defense, and were face-to-face with their Judge.

The King had three choices: he could execute the sentence immediately, demonstrating his justice; he could commute the sentence and demonstrate his mercy; or he could grant a temporary stay and demonstrate merciful justice. He chose the latter.

Fig Leaf Religion
After expelling Adam and Eve from the garden, God removed their hand-made attire and covered them with the skins of animals. Their coverings would be a constant reminder of the blood shed for them. More significantly, it prefigured the sacrificial system that reached its culmination and fulfillment at the Cross.

Fig leaves, on the other hand, came to represent man-made constructions to cover up faults and defects—like the “fig leaf” of tolerance.

Masked behind an ever-affirming face that looks like love, tolerance is neither compassion nor charity but, as Dorothy Sayers put it, “a sin which believes nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and only remains alive because there is nothing it would die for.”

The thread of Scripture is clear: It was not the apathy of tolerance, but the mercy of intolerance that led to the ultimate revelation of divine love—the Incarnation. Like our Lord and Savior, let us courageously and lovingly impart a correcting word to those who are being marginalized by poor choices and wrong-headed thinking.

Regis NicollRegis Nicoll is a retired nuclear engineer and a fellow of the Colson Center who writes commentary on faith and culture. His new book is titled Why There Is a God: And Why It Matters.