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Desmond Tutu at Harvard

The Rev. Desmond Tutu, Bishop of South Africa

In his book, The Good Life, Peter Gomes, former chaplain at Harvard, describes the response of Harvard students when famous individuals were invited to speak at the university. Here's my summary of a portion of his account.

"When Desmond Tutu spoke at Harvard some years ago, a crowd of epic proportions at crowded in to hear him.

He whipped the students into a rhetorical frenzy by repeating the question: “What is the greatest thing you can do for my people in South Africa?”

Finally he gave his answer: “Pray for us.”

Not what the secular and politically savvy crowd expected! They were not “into” prayer as a method for political progress.

With mouths agape, the archbishop taught that prayer, especially for one’s enemies, was the most powerful weapon in the world. He said that, surrounded as he was every day by symbols of hatred and oppression, it was reassuring to him that everywhere around the world an invisible army of the faithful were praying for him.

God heard those prayers. It kept both Tutu and his people moving forward.

Here was no ordinary dispenser of good cheer and righteous strategy, but a man of action whose motivating force was prayer. Tutu fought hopelessness with hope in God."

Today, in the midst of enormous danger and suffering around the world, let us claim that hope in God through faith in Jesus Christ. It is only then that we can experience hope as an anchor in turbulent times. It is only then that we enjoy "the good life", even profound joy.

Paul W. Swets

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