New African Enterprise Centre for Urban Mission and Evangelism in South Africa

If you were to take:

  • The scholarly evangelical theological witness of John Stott, Edward Carnell and James Packer
     
  • The strategic vision of Billy Graham for mass evangelism
  • The apologetic tradition of Francis Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis and E. Stanley Jones
  • The search for justice of Martin Luther King
  • The passion for peace of Albert Luthuli
  • The reforming zeal of William Wilberforce
  • The spirit of African ministry of Festo Kivengere

…and you brought those influences, in some measure, to fruition in one man, it might look very much like Michael Cassidy.


Michael Cassidy, founder of African
Enterprise, had a vision for an
evangelism training center.

Cassidy and the Lead-up to a New Urban Centre
Cassidy is an enduring source of leadership in the Lausanne Movement and has played a major part in the locating and early leadership of organising the Lausanne III World Congress on Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa, in October 2010. On the African continent Cassidy’s influence has extended to many City Evangelism Missions conducted through the many African Enterprise (AE) teams that span the continent.

He has also profoundly impacted the way in which the Church in Africa, and more specifically South Africa, advances and applies the gospel in the two Pan African Christian Leadership Assemblies (PACLA) in 1976 and 1992, and the two South Africa Christian Leadership Assemblies (SACLA) in 1979 and 2003.

Cassidy is founder of African Enterprise (AE) and is recognised in Christian communities for his evangelistic preaching, teaching and his stand for ethical righteousness in society and his struggle for justice in the face of oppression. He has authored over a dozen books and is known for the way in which his message touches both the mind and heart. 

As Cassidy completes close to fifty years as a follower of Christ, he is passing the baton of international leadership to Stephen Lungu of Malawi, and of South African leadership to Greg Smerdon, the newly-appointed South African team leader of AE. A large part of Cassidy’s energies are now being directed toward the new Centre for Urban Mission and Evangelism in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
 

The Centre for Urban Mission and Evangelism
The centre will extend the ministry legacy of Cassidy and the evangelical tradition of the Lausanne Movement in a number of ways:

  1. Urban. Africa is expected to outstrip all other continents in urbanisation in the next decade.

  2. Laypeople. Cassidy is himself a non-ordained layman and hopes that lay people will find a new and massive role in the ministry of transforming cities.
  3. Mission and evangelism. The parochial fixations of local congregations should give way to the teaching of a vital mission theology and praxis that wins people to Christ and releases grace into society.
  4. The recovery of a Judeo-Christian worldview. Secular and other philosophical answers to humanity’s needs lead to ethical confusion and human enslavement. Biblical truth needs to be recovered and reasserted.

The methodology being used is varied, with the following building blocks representing the preliminary start-up approach:

  • A volunteer faculty. Teachers and lecturers from South Africa, Africa and the wider world are being encouraged to use this facility as a point of contact with South African and other African students and church leaders.

  • Strategic alliances and partnerships. Several organisations have already expressed interest in partnership with the new venture. These include: The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, The Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, The Cove, The Third Millennium Project, The Redeemer Church Planting Centre in New York, Fuller Seminary, Trinity Western Seminary in British Columbia and The Wilberforce Centre in Cambridge. In Africa, links will hopefully be developed with Daystar University in Nairobi and Nairobi Evangelical Seminary. In Ghana, Dr. Kwame Bedioko’s Theological Institute has already had input. The proposed North African Theological Institute in Alexandria and several South African theological training institutions are other exciting ventures with which the AE Learning Centre will partner.
  • Formal theological education brokerage. Cassidy’s years of ministry have yielded an enormous amount of material that will also be put into courses that can be used for credit in theological training institutions around the world. This valuable deposit needs to be multiplied. However, the Learning Centre also has an interest in providing a conduit to students in Africa for graduate and post-graduate studies initiated from other institutions. The Centre has a growing capacity to house a short-term intensive type of student body or provide residential quarters for seminaries in overseas countries in the fulfilment of residential requirements.
  • Informal training and conferences. Two to seven-day conferences are being designed around the four primary themes to bring lay and clergy leadership up to speed on issues or provide an ongoing basis for ministry renewal and revival.
  • Adventure youth camps. The 16-30-year-old age group will have a special emphasis as this generation will guide Africa to its post-colonial destiny. To assist with this, an adventure camp environment will be created in the 125 hectare wooded site owned by AE. 

AE is also planning to build a large training facility with auditorium, library, media centre and classrooms to apply the vision and further the legacy of Cassidy and Festo Kivengere of Uganda, who shared the leadership of AE in Africa. Anyone seeking to network or encourage the growth of the new ministry initiative of Cassidy should contact:

The A.E. Centre for Mission and Evangelism
P.O. Box 13140, Cascades, 3202, South Africa
Phone: 27 33 347 1911
Fax: 27 33 347 1915
Email: aesa@ae.org.za


John V. Tooke is program director for the African Enterprise Leadership Training Center.