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When I was a boy the ANC was a terrorist organisation, fighting for justice for black people in South Africa but using bombs to kill and maim people in order to get across their message. Nelson Mandela was a freedom fighter and a leading member of this group. He was subsequently captured and jailed as a terrorist, serving 27 years.

As I write, Mandela, now an elderly man is seriously ill in hospital, probably in the final stages of his life. As the first black President, he is a hero to the people of his country where apartheid has been abolished.

Only God can judge him and his actions and I pray that it is a merciful judgement.

In our secular society, it is very rare to hear a politician asking for prayers following an incident, they are careful to avoid any reference to religion. Usually we hear phrases that praise those involved for their ‘brave actions’ or ‘we keep them in our thoughts’, but in this instance President Zuma has asked the whole country to pray for their national hero.

In the UK following the tragic death of the off-duty soldier Lee Rigby, those who came to his aid or challenged the perpetrators have been described in the media as the ‘Woolwich Angels’ (Daily Mirror 16 June 2013).

It appears that despite the actions of the vociferous Secular Society, God is still alive in the world and in some corners of the British media. Yes, we need to pray for Nelson Mandela, to be thankful that he was prepared to stand up against the evils of apartheid but we also need to pray for the leaders of Western society that rather than pander to the minority, they return to the Christian values on which our country was built.

We should also pray for Edward Snowden, who is also a hero in the eyes of some, villain in the eyes of others, for we all have two sides to our character. What we must not do is judge, that is for God alone.

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