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It all began in 1957 when Michael Cassidy felt God calling him to city evangelism in Africa. These ideas took several years to germinate and in 1961, while still a student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Michael launched the African Enterprise (AE) ministry.
During the summer of 1961, Michael and a friend set out on an exploratory visit to 31 major cities of Africa. God opened door after door during that trip and while in Liberia one afternoon Michael went for a long walk on the beach to spend time alone with the Lord. After drawing a vast outline of Africa in the sand and scrawling: ‘Claimed for Jesus Christ’ inside it, Michael paced out 50 footsteps in the sand asking the Lord that each footstep represent one year of ministry in Africa.
Perhaps no other mission agency has had the impact they have had in the cities of Africa
– John Ortberg
The following summer a fledgling African Enterprise team, made up of Michael and some of his student friends, conducted their first ever evangelistic endeavour in the city of Pietermaritzburg. The Mission to ‘Maritzburg saw many coming to know Christ as the Lord and Saviour of their lives. This confirmed to Michael that this calling was genuine and he has responded by spending the rest of his life living in obedience to this call.
After finishing their studies the small African Enterprise team returned to South Africa at the end of 1964 to launch the ministry fulltime. By 1973 the team was fully indigenous and interracial and missions proliferated around South Africa as well as the rest of Africa. The team’s ministry was able to extend into East Africa largely due to the addition, in 1970, of Bishop Festo Kivengere to the team which gave birth to teams in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and then Rwanda. Other teams developed over the years in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia.
African Enterprise exists to serve and partner with the Church in Africa to proclaim the Good News about Jesus. African Enterprise believes that evangelism must work hand in hand with discipleship, and that conversion must lead to transformed persons who in turn begin to transform the society around them.
Today African Enterprise is a partnership of approximately 300 fulltime staff members and countless volunteers and friends representing ten national teams, a Pan-African mission team, a reconciliation department, a training department and support teams in seven countries across the globe. These teams, departments, boards and individuals subscribe to the Lausanne Covenant, and have covenanted themselves to continue the mission given to AE from its inception – ‘To evangelise the cities of Africa through word and deed, in partnership with the church.’
African Enterprise has made, under God, a real contribution in South Africa
– Archbishop Desmond Tutu