The Common Good
November 2004

A Lion Lays Down

by Rose Marie Berger, Mark Betz | November 2004

Beyers Naude

South African anti-

South African anti-apartheid leader Beyers Naudé died Sept. 7 in Johannesburg at age 89. Named by Nelson Mandela as a "true son of Africa," Naudé was one of the only prominent Dutch Reformed ministers who actively led Afrikaners against apartheid. In 1963 he was forced to resign his position in the Dutch Reformed Church because of his anti-apartheid position. When, with Naudé’s support, the World Council of Churches issued a statement rejecting apartheid, the Dutch Reformed Church removed itself from the council. Naudé founded the Christian Institute, an ecumenical organization that sought to unite Christians of all ethnic groups, denominations, and languages in South Africa and was the editor of the institute’s magazine Pro Veritate. He served as a member of the African National Congress. He succeeded Desmond Tutu as general secretary of the South African Council of Churches in 1985. From 1977 to 1984, he was officially banned in South Africa.

Wayne Cowan, longtime editor of Christianity & Crisis magazine and a friend of Naudé, told Sojourners, "Beyers told me that in the first week of the banning he and his wife Ilse prayed every day that they would not hate those who did this to them." When Naudé celebrated his 80th birthday, Mandela told the gathering, "Beyers Naudé became an outcast amongst the Afrikaners, amongst many whites, and amongst the church that he loved. Such is the price that prophets are required to pay… His life is a shining beacon to all South Africans—both black and white."

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