The vision to evangelize the cities in Africa is key and we must ensure it does not die. This is the call by the President of Malawi, His Excellency Rev. Dr. Lazarus Chakwera.
Speaking when he met a delegation from African Enterprise, the President said he felt led to lead in a public platform, a call that was received differently by different people. “I felt led to this public platform (the presidency), and at times, people didn’t understand or others did, and others would pray for me,” he said.
In his remarks about the importance of engaging leaders in Africa for ownership and perpetuity of God’s mission, Rev. Dr. Chakwera highlighted on the need to be keen to work towards the Africa God wants.
“The Africa we want is about pursuing policies toward self-reliance etc – but rarely do we ask ourselves: What is the Africa God wants? Too many times, we are pursuing our agenda and not God’s agenda. When all is said and done, as we serve people and seek God’s will for them, God’s will is for their freedom, not oppression. The oppression of people is caused by sin,” emphasized President Chakwera.
The President also recounted how he encountered African Enterprise and worked closely with the organization. He remembered reading about Michael Cassidy’s great vision in the 70s, and in 1991 he was in ministry with African Enterprise. Dr. Chakwera remembered and paid tribute to the late Stephen Lungu, the immediate former International Team Leader, who also served earlier as AE Malawi’s Team Leader.
“Sometimes we honor people when they are dead – but for Lungu, God’s military honor was accorded. Sometimes you wonder about God’s ways of doing things and you remember he is God,” said the President as he encouraged the AE team to do what they’ve got to do while they have the time.
On behalf of the International Board, AE International Team Leader Rev. Dr. Stephen Mbogo invited His Excellency to AE 60th Anniversary Grand Celebration where the President is expected to be the Guest Speaker. The celebration is scheduled for Friday 2nd September 2022 in Lusaka, Zambia.
While confirming his participation, President Chakwera emphasized that: “It would be a wonderful opportunity to affirm AE’s ministry across the nations over the past 60 years. Urbanization is the next big thing and we must plan ahead; work together as a foundation – with all churches to put Africa on a path of transformation.”
The AE delegation that met with the Malawian President consisted of top leadership, including Rev. Dr. Stephen Mbogo, Rev Rangford Chokotho, Mrs Evelyn Itimu, Dr. Lutangu Lubasi, Dr. Cornelius Huwa, Esther Chengo and Salome Mumbi.
In March 1974, the historic South African Congress on Mission and Evangelism took place in Durban. This gathering, the first of its kind drew together 800 leaders from all races and from most denominations in the South African Church to confer together for 10 days. To this congress AE invited several East African leaders, most notably Dr John Gatu, a Presbyterian leader from Kenya, and also Rev John Mpaayei, General Secretary of the East African Bible Society.
These Brethren were so struck by what they saw in Durban and by its huge impact that they were ready for the suggestion from Michael of a Pan African Christian Leadership Assembly drawing Christian leaders from all the countries of Africa. The vision took hold and brought forth the Pan African Christian Leadership assembly in Nairobi in December 1976. Again there were 800 delegates drawn from 49 out of Africa’s 51 Countries, and from every conceivable denomination. PACLA established a network of relationships across Africa which survives mainly in the next generation even to this day.
By a miracle of God’s grace some 70 delegates from South Africa secured visas at the very last moment to travel to Kenya for PACLA. In the time for national meetings, the South African group had tremendous internal struggles, having carried with them from South Africa all the problems convulsing the country at the time. But at PACLA some marvelous reconciliations took place and the newly united group of South African leaders returned to South Africa ready to be inspired by Professor David Bosch and Michael Cassidy for a South African counterpart to PACLA.
This finally came forth in 1979 with David Bosch as the Chairman and Michael as the Programme Chairman. Some 5000 delegates met in Pretoria and the revolutionary chemistry of encounter brought forth a transforming network of relationships which contributed significantly to the final ending of apartheid. A key in this was the person of Professor Johan Heyns, a Dutch Reformed leader who became moderator of the NGK (DRC) He was deeply challenged by PACLA and in many ways racially transformed. The PACLA experience led him to set up a commission in the NGK to establish whether apartheid could be biblically and theologically justified. The consequences were monumental.
At the General Synod of 1985 it was recognized and accepted that “Apartheid is a Sin and a Heresy.” Michael believes that this finally put the skids under the apartheid government more effectively than economic sanctions, cultural boycotts and sporting isolation. After PACLA Dr. Piet Koornhoff, then minister of Plural/ Bantu Affairs, who had in fact opposed PACLA, said “This is the Miracle South Africa needs.”