A Salvation Army band plays "Abide With Me" outside Nelson Mandela's home

General André Cox has paid tribute to Nelson Mandela in a letter to the family of the former South African President. He explained that his years spent in Africa had given him "a sense of the measure of Madiba's life and influence."

"So many have already spoken eloquently or written lucidly," wrote the General. "I would simply wish to salute a great man – one whose character was nourished by hope, expressed through forgiveness, and testified to through reconciliation."

He concluded: "I pray that you would each know the Father of compassion and God of all comfort drawing so very near to you. During this Advent season, may you each experience fully the peace of the Christ child."

The General and Commissioner Silvia Cox spent four years as leaders of The Salvation Army's Southern Africa Territory. As The Salvation Army's first Africa-born world leader it is appropriate that he should pay tribute to the man who has been called the greatest-ever African.

Commissioner William Langa (Territorial Commander, Southern Africa Territory) said in a statement: "Mr. Mandela's immeasurable contribution to South Africa cannot be overstated. His commitment to helping the poor and vulnerable, and his pursuit of reconciliation in our divided society was a shining example to those of us who serve the Lord Jesus Christ through The Salvation Army. Salvationists throughout the world have recognized his statesmanship and moral leadership. May his soul rest in peace in the everlasting arms of Christ."

Full text of General Cox's letter:

General André Cox's letter to Nelson Mandela's family

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