|Michael Cassidy - Founder|
Michael Cassidy is the Founder of African Enterprise (AE), and has been involved in evangelism, teaching and leadership ministries since 1962, the year he launched AE with a mission to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Since then, he has led numerous missions to cities throughout Africa, as well as in other parts of the world, including Australia, Belgium, Costa Rica, Israel, Nicaragua and Panama. To further the accomplishment of AE’s mission – Evangelizing the Cities of Africa through Word and Deed in Partnership with the Church – he has established evangelistic teams in Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe and support offices in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland/Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States. Michael was named in 2012 as the Honorary Chairman of the global Lausanne Movement for world evangelization, succeeding the late Rev. Dr. John R.W. Stott in this position.
Michael has been instrumental in calling several major gatherings of church leaders, including the South African Congress on Mission and Evangelism in Durban in 1973, the Pan African Christian Leadership Assembly (PACLA) in Nairobi in 1976 and 1994 and the South African Christian Leadership Assembly (SACLA) in Pretoria in 1979 and 2003. In 1985, in the deepening polarisation of South African society, he launched the National Initiative for Reconciliation. This attracted church leaders of widely disparate denominations and races for the purpose of reconciling with one another and implementing this practice in their respective churches and communities. He was one of the leaders of the historic National Conference of Church Leaders at Rustenburg in 1990, and in 1993 chaired a Consultation on Human Rights and Religious Freedom in Pietermaritzburg. In 2009, he spearheaded the National Initiative for the Reformation of South Africa.
He has also been involved in South Africa in behind-the-scenes facilitation of initiatives which have brought together a wide spectrum of political leadership in dialogue. These efforts have been widely acknowledged as important contributions to the miraculously peaceful South African election in April 1994. In 1996, at the request of President Nelson Mandela, he and other church leaders were deeply involved in spearheading Project Ukuthula, an extensive and successful peace initiative in KwaZulu-Natal in the run-up to the province’s local government elections. Most recently, he has been involved with the Marriage Alliance of South Africa, an interdenominational Christian concern seeking to keep marriage in South Africa heterosexual and monogamous.
Michael has written numerous books, including A Witness For Ever – The Dawning of Democracy in South Africa, which recounts much of the work of some of the backstage players in the run-up to South Africa’s 1994 election, as well as a two-month devotional called Michael Cassidy’s Window on the Word. Some of his other books are: The Politics of Love, The Passing Summer, Chasing the Wind, Bursting the Wineskins, The Relationship Tangle and Where Are You Taking the World Anyway? African Harvest by Anne Coomes tells the story of both Michael Cassidy and of the African Enterprise ministry. He has most recently written Getting to the Heart of Things – Reflections on Christian Basics and What On Earth Are You Thinking for Heaven's Sake?
Michael was born in Johannesburg and grew up in Maseru, Basutholand (now Lesotho). He was educated in South Africa at the Parktown School in Johannesburg and at Michaelhouse School in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. He holds a Master of Arts in Modern and Medieval Languages from Cambridge University (1958) in England. He earned a Bachelor of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary (1963) and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Azusa Pacific University (1993), both near Los Angeles. In 1983 he was admitted to the Order of Simon of Cyrene, the highest honor accorded a layman by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International made him a Paul Harris Fellow and he received the St. Michael’s Award from Michaelhouse School in 1997. He and his wife, Carol, live in Pietermaritzburg and have three children and eight grandchildren.