Nelson Mandela through the eyes of his prison chaplain, Colin Chambers
From a video by Life Stories At Lunch
Colin Chambers was Nelson Mandela's chaplain when Nelson was imprisoned on Robben Island for a period of just over eight years.
He shares his story:
When I arrived on the island I was taken into a room in the prison and this one man came up to me shook my hand and said, "The name is Mandela, you are very welcome [here], how was the sea and how's your father?".
The name Mandela was a name that, in certain quarters, was reviled in South Africa and in other quarters revered. Very few people knew much about him except that he'd been tried and sentenced to life imprisonment. Nelson Mandela was one of those people who had a presence if he came into the room. His presence would somehow be felt - very hard to describe.
[One time] I was sharing on Joseph's part of the story of Joseph - how that when he was released from prison, he became prime minister of Egypt under Pharaoh. I thought this is not the message to give to these guys sitting here as they probably will never be released. I chatted to Nelson Mandela in his cell afterward and I said to him, "Nelson, I apologize for being insensitive for talking about somebody coming out of prison and becoming a prime minister.". Nelson replied that, "No, no. It was not insensitive and, in fact, it gives me hope.". It always seems impossible until it's done. Dismantling apartheid was impossible but somehow he achieved that together with FW de Klerk.
He said that resentment and bitterness is like you drinking poison and hoping it kills your enemy. Of course, it only destroys you. He actually repeated that when he left his last prison after 27 years - much of it in appalling conditions.
He said, "I know that if I don't leave all my unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness behind when I walk through those gates, I will be walking out into another prison of my making."
I suppose in any story of a great reconciliation, there's so many people behind the scenes that the good deed would not have happened if the people behind the scenes couldn't play their God-given part in it.
Watch this 4 min video:
What are you doing 'behind the scenes'?
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From a video by Life Stories At Lunch, 16/02/2021