What is a rescuer?—Capetown City Hall

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HEY, IT’S RASOOL BERRY,
AND I’M HERE AT CITY HALL IN CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, HOME OF THE NEWLY-MINTED
NELSON MANDELA STATUE, REFLECTING ON WHAT
MANDELA’S LEGACY CAN TEACH US ABOUT
THE NATURE OF A RESCUER. THE ESSENCE OF A RESCUER
IS SOMEONE WHO’S WILLING TO PUT
THEMSELVES ON THE LINE FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS. WE THINK OF FIREFIGHTERS
OR LIFEGUARDS OR OTHER FIRST RESPONDERS
WHO PUT THEMSELVES AT RISK FOR THE SAKE OF
OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES. NELSON MANDELA IS ROUTINELY
AND UNIVERSALLY RECOGNIZED AS A RESCUER OF THE
NATION OF SOUTH AFRICA. WHEN IT WAS BEING
TORN APART BY APARTHEID, A RACIST SYSTEM THAT OPPRESSED THE MAJORITY OF
THE PEOPLE IN ITS NATION, MANDELA ROSE UP AND USED
HIS SKILLS AND ABILITY AS A LAWYER AND AN
ORGANIZER TO MAKE CHANGE. BUT IN 1963, HE FOUND
HIMSELF ARRESTED AND IN THE TRIAL OF HIS LIFE, WHERE THE POSSIBLE OUTCOME
WAS THE DEATH PENALTY. IN THAT TRIAL, HE STOOD UP
AND GAVE THIS SPEECH. HE SAID, “DURING MY LIFETIME, “I HAVE FOUGHT AGAINST
WHITE DOMINATION, “AND I HAVE FOUGHT
AGAINST BLACK DOMINATION.” HE SAID, “I CHERISH THE IDEALS “OF A DEMOCRATIC
AND FREE SOCIETY. “IT IS IDEALS THAT I AM
WILLING TO LIVE FOR “AND HOPEFULLY ACHIEVE,
BUT IF NEED BE, “AN IDEAL FOR WHICH
I AM PREPARED TO DIE.” WELL, MANDELA ENDED UP BEING
SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON, BUT HIS WORDS REMIND ME OF WHAT JESUS TOLD HIS
DISCIPLES IN MATTHEW 20:28. HE SAID THAT,
“THE GREAT AMONG YOU “SHOULD BE THE SERVANT TO ALL, “FOR THE SON OF MAN DID
NOT COME TO BE SERVED, “BUT TO SERVE AND TO GIVE HIS
LIFE AS A RANSOM FOR MANY.” JESUS TAUGHT TRUE
GREATNESS WAS MEANT IN US BEING RESCUERS
AND WILLINGLY PUTTING OURSELVES
IN HARM’S WAY FOR OTHERS. BUT IT’S NOT A MESSAGE
THAT HE JUST TAUGHT, BUT IT WAS ONE THAT HE LIVED OUT BY WILLINGLY GIVING HIS
LIFE AS A RANSOM FOR OTHERS. MANDELA SERVED
27 YEARS IN PRISON, AND AS THE APARTHEID REGIME
WAS COMING TO A CLOSE, HE WAS FREED.
ALL OF A SUDDEN, THE FORMER PRISONER
WAS NOW THE PRESIDENT, AND THE WORLD WATCHED
TO SEE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN. WOULD HE EXACT REVENGE
AND RETRIBUTION ON THOSE WHO HAD TAKEN
SO MUCH OF HIS LIFE? INSTEAD, HE CAST A VISION
FOR A RAINBOW NATION, A PLACE WHERE THERE COULD
TRULY BE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND HARMONY AMONG
EVERYONE WHO LIVED THERE. BECAUSE OF THAT, WE NOW HAVE
THE MODERN DAY SOUTH AFRICA, A PLACE WHERE THERE IS A SENSE
OF GROWTH AND RESTORATION. WE ARE CALLED AS FOLLOWERS OF
CHRIST TO ALSO BE RESCUERS, AND THE CHALLENGE IS WILL WE, LIKE MANDELA, BE WILLING
TO LIVE FOR THESE IDEALS, AND LIKE CHRIST,
BE WILLING TO DIE FOR THEM. IF SO, THEN WE WILL
FULFILL OUR RESCUE MISSION. (MUSIC)

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