In this May 15, 2004 file photo, former South African President Nelson Mandela lifts the World Cup trophy in Zurich, Switzerland, after FIFA's executive committee announced that South Africa would host the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament. Mandela was pivotal in helping the country win the right to host the tournament. South Africa's President Jacob Zuma said, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, that Mandela has died. He was 95. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)

Imprisoned for 27 years because he fought to be equal and free, a man can become bitter, even angry at his jailers and the oppressors they represent. But as Nelson Mandela recalled “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

For the Mandela family, their loss is personal, but it is a loss shared by a world that has been touched by the quiet strength and fearless determination of Nelson Mandela. While we mourn with them and the people of South Africa, we also celebrate with them the life of a great man.

God blesses us with the precious gift of life. What we do with that gift is the legacy we leave behind.

And what a legacy Mandela has left for us.

He empowered generations of South Africans not just to dream but to do. His vision of equality became a reality for them and a galvanizing force for change for the rest of us.

Today, South Africa stands taller because it stands on the shoulders of Nelson Mandela.

It is freer because he never wavered in his core belief in the advancement of equality and freedom for its people.

And it is richer because he believed in its possibilities. As Mandela once said “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”

Well done good and faithful servant. Rest in peace Madiba.