African Enterprise’s Greatest Hits – Eternity News
With the work of African Enterprise (AE) celebrating 60 years of service to Christ this year, African Team Leaders are preparing an intensive series of mission outreach events in the 12 African countries in which they are based.
During this time we recognize several leaders whose ministry has truly shaped the lives of so many in Australia and around the world. As we celebrate some of the highlights of ministry, we continue to plan for the next 60 years of evangelism with all the strength and endurance to which God has called us.
AE is a unique partnership ministry, led by team leaders on independent boards, supported by people in Australia, New Zealand and around the world, to evangelize the cities of Africa in word and deed in partnership with the church.
On average, it reaches over one million people each year in many languages spoken in Africa and mobilizes thousands of volunteers and churches to proclaim the gospel at citywide events each year. Its “layered evangelism” system allows it to reach people from all walks of life, with outreach campaigns and events to bring people together to hear the word of God. Each year, the ministry expects to see approximately 10% of those affected make a decision to follow Jesus and complete a decision card that will be tracked by participating churches.
Michael Cassidy founded African Enterprise Ministry in 1962 when as a young student at Fuller Theological Seminary in California, he was convinced that mission in Africa was his calling. Through huge leaps of faith he raised funds to meet with several African leaders in 1961 to solidify his goals and chart the way to begin his first missionary journey to Pietermaritzburg in South Africa in August 1962 with a core group evangelical friends. This outreach was so successful in bridging racial divides and attracting large audiences for two weeks that it led to the creation of African Enterprise.
The model of “layered evangelism” was established, and its impact on all levels of society during mission evangelism has caused the model to continue today. AE’s mission to evangelize the cities of Africa in word and deed in partnership with the church was established at these beginnings.
For Michael, some of the ministry’s highlights include brokering peace agreements to end apartheid in South Africa and enabling a smooth transition of power to Nelson Mandela in 1994.
“If ever AE South Africa had a better time, the 1994 South African elections probably did,” he said.
Very few white Americans have grasped the depth of pain inflicted on their fellow African Americans by racial discrimination and injustice.
Other highlights of the ministry include the establishment of the Pan-African and South African Assemblies of Leaders (PACLA and SACLA) in the 1970s, which brought together leaders from across Africa. In the case of South African churches coming together across racial lines, it triggered the first major rift in the armor of South Africa’s old apartheid system.
The Promise Keepers Rally in Chicago in 1996 was the culmination of Michael’s personal preaching. More than 70,000 people attended the rally, and Michael found that very few white Americans grasped the depth of pain inflicted on their fellow African Americans by racial discrimination and injustice.
“I shared the South African experience, and there was huge emotion when I made the call,” says Michael. “Some 14,000 men responded, rushing to the front and falling in the face. No one had ever seen anything like it. To God be the glory.”
Those who succeed Michael as leaders of EI have ensured the longevity of the ministry. “My heart is blessed with deep peace as I witness this development and know that God has his hand in everything. Praise his name!
Upon retirement, Michael continues to work as a writer and remains on the board of AE South Africa. His books The Church Jesus Prayed For and his memoirs Footprints in the African sand,”are highlights for me because of the message that each book brings,” he says.
When Festo Kivengere joined AE as co-leader with Michael in 1970, it was a transformative moment as the work became truly pan-African. Festo and Michael began preaching as a duo, which led to a powerful testimony about the importance of reconciliation.
The impact of Festo Kivengere’s ministry across the world is still felt today. He was one of the best known and most effective evangelists Africa has ever had. He was also a bishop, pastor, humanitarian worker and refugee who touched the lives of millions.
At 19, Festo was a qualified teacher but had become an agnostic. At the time, Africa was being swept away by the East African revival, but Festo thought it was just fanaticism. He took a teaching job at a mission school, but it was his niece’s declaration that he would come to the Lord that changed everything.
Festo would later describe this moment as “the sky opening, and before me was Jesus”. Following his conversion, Festo’s shared his testimony everywhere he went. He met his wife Mera, a fellow teacher, and they continued their ministry together.
In 1972 Festo was asked to co-direct African Enterprise with founder Michael Cassidy. His many accomplishments through AE include the introduction of a school feeding program, water well projects, ministries for widows and orphans, and free vaccinations.
Her book, I Love Idi Amin, is the result of the dramatic transformation God brought about through Festo’s pain and suffering.
In 1973, Festo helped bring the Durban Congress together for the first time with church leaders from across South Africa, which led to the creation of the previously mentioned SACLA.
When a dear friend of Festo was murdered by Idi Amin in 1977, Festo was forced into exile. Meanwhile, he confronts his bitterness towards his persecutors. His book, I love Idi Amin, was the result of the dramatic transformation God brought about through Festo’s pain and suffering. He learned to find peace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ’s work of reconciliation.
“Peace is not automatic. It is a gift by the grace of God. It comes when hearts are exposed to the love of Christ. But it always costs something. For the love of Christ was manifested through suffering and those who experience this love can never put it into practice without some cost,” Bishop Festo Kivengere said.
Stephen Lungu, who took over Michael Cassidy’s role as team leader in 2006, won the hearts of many who heard of his conversion story told in his Out of the dark shadows autobiography. The Spirit of God worked mightily in his life to preach day and night to the poor, to criminals and to the public in the streets, squats and ultimately around the world as CEO of African Enterprise International.
The position Stephen achieved as an international evangelist was a far cry from living under a bridge and running with a criminal element called the Black Shadows. He attempted to disrupt a church service with rocks and petrol bombs, but was interrupted upon hearing the message from the pulpit on the passage “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23) and on the grace of the Lord Jesus, who became poor for our sake so that through his poverty he might attain the riches of eternal life (2 Cor 8:9)
The drastic change in him led him to confess his sins to the police, be mentored by a pastor, learn to read and write, and ultimately reconcile with the parents who abandoned him. He continued to learn from godly men how to be an effective evangelist, relying on his zeal for the Lord, which eventually led to him being “sent to all nations” to proclaim the gospel of Jesus- Christ.
After his retirement from ministry, Stephen’s life was cut short in early 2021 by COVID-19 in Malawi, leaving his widow Rachel and the AE family to mourn his departure to God.
AE’s work is characterized by its boldness and adaptability to the challenges of Africa’s social and environmental conditions. We also recognize the many leaders who have sacrificed so much for the cause, including those who have been martyred on the ground. COVID-19 is the latest of many challenges we face on mission, including election violence, civil war, ethnic cleansing, disease and food insecurity. Throughout these challenges, AE is adapting to the conditions, and during this pandemic we have introduced door-to-door evangelism and media outreach to increase the footprint of the gospel in cities across Africa. We recognize today’s new generation of leaders who will serve as catalysts for effective and holistic mission in Africa. We appreciate all the prayers and support that help make AE an effective ministry today, thanks to all of our past and future leaders and supporters.
For more information visit africanenterprise.org.au
Ben Campbell is ending his role as CEO of African Enterprise at the end of this month.