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Mandela legacy in South Africa: All races worship freely — Anti-apartheid champion’s quest for equality and justice draws praise from leaders of Churches of Christ. Page 1 lead.

Second Place, News Story, Associated Church Press

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

Bullets came flying at Alan Martin as he stepped off a Cape Town, South Africa, bus after a Wednesday night Bible study.

Martin, now dean of the College of Biblical Studies at Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City, grew up in a segregated church and faced violence and oppression during the apartheid era.

Apartheid — an Afrikaans word meaning “the state of being apart” — was a government policy of segregation and racial and economic discrimination against non-whites.

“When I became a teenager, I became aware of apartheid. I just saw the discrimination, and I saw the unfairness,” Martin said as he reflected on anti-apartheid champion Nelson Mandela, whose Dec. 5 death at age 95 drew tears and condolences worldwide.

Like admirers around the globe, the roughly 30,000 members of Churches of Christ in South Africa celebrated the legacy of Mandela, who served as the nation’s first black president from 1994 to 1999.

In today’s South Africa, Christians of all races — including blacks, whites and “coloreds,” as those of mixed races are known — can worship together freely. That’s just one legacy of the life of Mandela, who had Methodist roots and wrote in a 1975 letter, “Never forget that a saint is a sinner who keeps trying.”

This story appears in the February 2014 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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