Celebrating with Hope

1 Corinthians 16 v22

2022 will be the Diamond Jubilee of the evangelistic ministry of African Enterprise on the African continent. We shall neither merely celebrate the memory of beginnings nor the passage of time. Our celebration is God’s achievements through His servants ever since 1962.

Celebration is written in God’s plan for us. God commanded various celebrations to mark His work for them and to rededicate to God’s mission. Each milestone helped Israel to look ahead with renewed faith in God. The Feasts were His story.

AE began with a godly vision in the heart of our brother, Michael Cassidy, during a period of isolation for South Africa. It grew to envelope another international (African) evangelist, Bishop Festo Kivengere, a child of the East African Revival, and already fired up for the Gospel of Christ.

The vision may have appeared unpromising initially, but by God’s hand it has resulted in an ever-expanding national reach in Africa. AE has had a footprint in the four corners on this beloved continent, with ten offices so far and growing.

Yet AE was not founded to open offices but for outreach to build the church of Christ indelibly in Africa. AE’s vision is the more strategic when we consider the phenomenal growth of the church on the continent; it is positioned for mission until the return of our Christ.

We bow in thanksgiving to God for the six decades. We thank God for our generals both deceased and living that have carried the inextinguishable torch of the Gospel, each coming before Jesus with a harvest of disciples. We look with hope to the victorious and glorious return of our Savior to reclaim all His creation. Amen, our LORD come, Maranatha!

A Response of Praise in All Circumstances

There is a popular quote often found on bookmarks and posters, “Faith makes all things possible. Hope makes all things work. Love makes all things beautiful. May you be blessed with all three!” A quote obviously originating from that wonderful verse, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13, NIV) When we truly believe that God is sovereign, and that all things are possible through Him, there must naturally burst out from us a spontaneous response of praise and thanksgiving. However, isn’t it hard in life’s journey to always be praising and worshiping God, or is it?

Paul, especially in his latter years, lived a life that none of us would voluntarily choose to follow. In a prison that was probably cold, dark, and cramped, not knowing whether each new day would be the last of his earthly life, we read in several of the Pauline letters the terrible conditions that Paul experienced as Christ’s ambassador. Yet, even in these terrible situations, Paul’s response is one of rejoicing, praise and thanksgiving. From his prison cell in Rome. Paul writes, ““Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV).

Would you and I respond like that today, always giving thanks for everything—no matter the circumstances! Praise, joy, and thanksgiving for Paul was not a once-a-week celebration, but a surrendered life that daily worshiped a God who had transformed his life, and made him joyful in every situation. Praise and thanksgiving to God for all His blessings should be one of the most distinctive characteristics of the authentic Christian. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this IS God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:16, NIV).

Rejoicing in God’s Faithfulness

Lamentations 3:22 to 24 states, “The Lord’s loving kindness indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I have hope in Him”.  Again in 2 Timothy 2:13, we read that “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.”

In the 60years of our being as an evangelistic ministry, only God knows how many times we have been faithless in various aspects of our being and in ministering to evangelize the continent of Africa in partnership with the Church. But all that notwithstanding, the Lord has remained faithful to us in all our endeavors. We therefore, have every cause to adhere to what the Psalmist says in Psalm 50:14a, thus, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving” for the he says in verse 23 that, “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; and to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.”

Yes, thanksgiving is an act of sacrifice and so we are encouraged in Hebrews 13:15, thus, “Through Him (Jesus) then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

Over the period of 60years, we have seen millions come into the salvation knowledge of the Lord and saved, not only on the continent of Africa, but throughout the world where the Lord opened doors for us. We have observed God’s faithful servants serve diligently in the preaching of the gospel and passed on the button to following generations. We have been witnesses of many generous donors who have donated to enable the work progress from various support offices. We have also observed with delight many lives transformed through our social work done in the spirit of our mission’s statement that says “Evangelizing the Cities of Africa through word and deed in partnership with the Church.”

For these causes and many other reasons, it is incumbent on us to sing with the Psalmist from Psalm 136 thus, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Give thanks to the God of gods, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (VV1-3).

Finally, let us endeavor to enter His gates, as admonished by the Psalmist in Psalm 100 verse 4, with Thanksgiving, and His courts with praise, giving thanks to Him and blessing His name in anticipation of another 60 years of glorious ministry, if our Lord Jesus should tarry.

Psalm 65:1-8; Reflections on Praise and Thanksgiving

Psalm 65:1-8b ESV

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions.  Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.

Oftentimes we come to God to ask, to invite Him to act on our behalf, to seek His forgiveness of our sins, and receive various things that come from God because of His grace and generosity. It is important to learn to regularly come to Him with a focus of praise and thanksgiving.

Verse 1 reminds us that we owe God praise and thanksgiving. Whenever we remember His greatness and His goodness to us, in the same breath, we should ask ourselves, ‘when was the last time I voluntarily and intentionally gave God praise?

Verse 2 reminds us that God answers prayer. We thank Him for every answered prayer for healing and protection in the pandemic, for sustenance and provision in times of scarcity, for forgiveness of sin – that Jesus died as a sacrifice for our sins, for all time.

Verse 4 highlights that God draws us into a close relationship with Him. We are His sons and daughters, we are co-workers with Him and joint-heirs with His Son, Jesus calls us His friends. On top of all that, He inhabits us in the person of the Holy Spirit. That God in all His holiness would choose to draw sinners to Him in redemptive love, we praise Him and give thanks to Him.

Verse 5 reminds us that He is the God of our salvation, the hope of the ends of the earth. He has opened the eyes of our hearts to know that Jesus is the answer the world needs.  As African Enterprise over the last 60 years, He has given us spiritual gifts and countless opportunities to proclaim the Gospel by word and deed. He has graciously used us to draw many to Himself.

Verse 7-8 reminds us that God can handle anything that comes our way, including raging sea. He therefore remains our confidence as we minister reconciliation in difficult situations. He will continue to be a Rock of refuge from the storm

God’s Faithfulness in Forgiveness

Exodus 34: 6b -7a “I am the Lord. The Lord is a God who shows mercy and is kind. The Lord doesn’t become angry quickly. The Lord has great love and faithfulness. The Lord is kind to thousands of people. The Lord forgives people for wrong and sin and turning against him. (Int. Children’s Bible)

Reflecting on 60 years of African Enterprise, I remember hearing Bishop Festo Kivengere speak when I was a teenager in England. “Walking in the light” was the message of the man with a very dark skin, reminding those with white skins, that all our hearts were black – all needed to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus to purify us from all sin and be able to have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7).

Festo came to Melbourne with Michael Cassidy in 1978, and with my husband Malcolm, I went to the first African Enterprise meeting, beginning our prayer commitment to AE.

The Lord revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai is the One preached for sixty years in AE. As we begin this Gold Anniversary year, God’s faithfulness to forgive is my point for praise.

“But if we freely admit our sins when his light uncovers them, he will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and he will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 The Passion Translation).

May we allow His light to search and cleanse our hearts, so that we may be reconciled to one another and able to demonstrate Jesus by His and our love on display together in deed and word.

One of Festo’s favourite stories reminds us of how good the Lord is at fixing us:

“One day a little girl sat watching her mother working in the kitchen. She asked her mummy, ‘What does God do all day long?’ For a while the mother was stumped, but then she said, ‘Darling, I’ll tell you what God does all day long. He spends his whole day mending broken things.'”

A New Dawn: 3 Key Thoughts to Consider

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honour me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen… [Isaiah 43: 18-20]

On 1st January 2022 when we woke up, the World did look the same. In much of the Continent of Africa, the abundant sun rose from the East. But there is something that will not be the same. I believe that God seems to be telling us that we can start afresh and that the resurrection message is real in our lives. For this he deserves our praise and thanksgiving. Beloved, as we journey through 2022 do allow me to share some three key thoughts for reflection:

  1. There comes a time of letting go of the past which may no longer be useful. One of the things many families are discovering is how to deal with clutter and trash that we no longer need to keep. Slowly we realize that we are actually hoarding wealth that could easily benefit others around us. We don’t even have time to rest and reflect.
  2. There comes a time when we need to open our eyes to see and thank God for some of the new things that he is doing in our midst. Some of these may include new work situation from home as we adapt to the new norm. It may be about the need for us to adapt to our retirement lives. To some of us it may well be to do with living without a regular salary due to loss of job.
  3. We need to embrace the newness that come with the change. We shall experience some freshness and vitality. There is a feeling of a fresh start. There is rejoicing even for the animals. Creation too will rejoice as we minimize destruction of our environment. We cannot afford to miss out on the sweet aroma that God wants us to experience. It is time to praise Him!