Taking the gospel to Zim leaders

Tendai Manzvanzvike Divine Appointments
\nThe African Evangelistic Enterprise Zimbabwe (AEEZ) or African Enterprise in partnership with the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Christian Council, Udasiza, Zimbabwe Catholics Bishops Conference and the Heads of Christian Denominations held the Harare Pan African Leadership Initiative for leaders drawn from various sectors of society from September 19 to 27. The event theme was “Building the Nation with Jesus”. Speakers were drawn from a number of African countries and the United States. Tendai Manzvanzvike (TM) spoke with African Enterprise’s Pan African Missions Director Songe Chibambo (SC) about the initiative and the achievements.

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TM: Give us a brief background of African Enterprise.
SC: African Enterprise is an evangelistic and international Christian organisation whose main focus is holistic evangelism. Proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ is the heartbeat of AE. It also embraces leadership development, social action, peace and reconciliation.
\nWe want to see the continent of Africa saved by the love of Jesus. As our leader and founder Dr Michael Cassidy says, “Africa is not only becoming a major global player economically, but is the fulcrum for world evangelisation.”
\nOur mission statement is “to evangelise the cities of Africa through word and deed, in partnership with the church”.

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TM: When was AE founded?
SC: African Enterprise was founded by Dr Cassidy, a South Africa national in 1962, and when he tells the story of how God led him to start this organisation, it is very fascinating. (Dr Cassidy celebrated his 80th birthday in Harare on September 24, and this week, he celebrates 60 years since he accepted Jesus as His Lord and personal Saviour).

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He tells us that Billy Graham was instrumental to his ministry and he looks up to him as his mentor, teacher, father and guardian to such an extent that some of AE’s programmes have come from the Billy Graham Association.

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He gave his life to Christ through the Billy Graham Association. God impressed upon him to start an organisation, and he wondered what name he was going to give it.

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Since he is South African, those days travelling abroad was by ship. And, I am told there was a ship called African Enterprise and that ship used to travel right round Africa with people going abroad. Dr Cassidy then felt that he needed to name the organisation African Enterprise, and there was another confirmation that came from a completely independent person. So, the organisation was birthed in 1962, and he tested his vision by addressing African ambassadors at the United Nations in New York.

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So there he was, a white South African male, at the height of the apartheid era preaching about Jesus, and he told them that God had given him a passion for Africa, not for Europe nor the United States, but Africa and asked that as ambassadors of Africa would they please give him an open door so that he could test the vision that God had given him? He did not even have money, but God provided the means for him to move around Africa to meet with leaders. But, African Enterprise was born in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal Province. Why, because the city was ready to receive the Word of God.

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This has been a major lesson for us in the organisation: that when setting up ministry, you need to connect with God’s Spirit. Ministry becomes a blessing and you don’t strive.

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TM: Is AE in every African country?
SC: We operate in 10 African countries and these include DR Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It is Pan African because as an organisation, we are involved in ministry in the whole of the continent. Africa is our mission field.

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TM: Let’s turn to the Harare Pan African Leadership Initiative (HPLI). What is it?
SC: Our goal with HPLI is to reach about 1 270 top Zimbabwean leaders with the good news of Jesus Christ. These include opinion and policy makers with a lot of power and influence over their fellow Zimbabwean citizens.
\nWe believe that if the power of the Gospel transforms these Harare leaders’ values, leadership vices such as corruption, abuse of office, syncretism, and political violence would be greatly impacted. In their place would be Godly values such as justice, peace and equality.

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TM: And why now?
SC: Why now? We passionately believe that it is the time to reach out to Zimbabwe’s leaders with the Gospel, in obedience to the Great Commission.

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TM: When I looked at your tentative programme, I saw that you had a wide array of leaders, namely youth leaders/junior parliament/council, women leaders, captains of industry, academics, the clergy, heads of denominations, the judiciary, the media, medical fraternity with the grand finale being the National Presidential Breakfast. What was the outcome?
SC: The results of the initiative were so overwhelming. Firstly, the attendance was very good in all the events. In fact, in the women’s meeting which was a highlight, we had 181 women leaders from different sectors of Harare and different strata of society. That was excellent. People made some commitments. Some made their first commitment to the Lord. This was very exciting for one of our goals was to reach out to these people so that they come to understand Christ as their LEADER. Dr Cassidy always asks: “You leaders, you exert a lot of power and influence over all of us. Who leads you?”

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TM: That’s interesting!
SC: I believe that the leaders we targeted are now realising the importance of being led by God, and being under submission unto the Lord. What amazes me is that whether I am a manager, a clerk or cleaner – all of us have similar problems. The difference is just the degree of sophistication. That’s all, because as a manager you are more exposed than the cleaner. However, the challenges are the same.
\nStill on commitments, others rededicated their lives to Christ, which is great, while others still want to know more, which is also great because at times, people don’t just make abrupt decisions. It’s a process. However, the most important thing is that even those that are in this process will reach their destination so that they can be able to acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and personal Saviour.

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That’s the bottom line that when they face challenges, they are able to call upon this higher authority who understands leadership principles better than any other person and that they access those principles and apply them in their work.

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TM: These are kingdom principles?
SC: Yes! Secondly, we want them to be a blessing in their offices.
\nWe want them to have a movement or association. As an organisation, we believe in processes. That is why our approach is training and equipping. As you saw the speakers’ list, there was someone from the United States, from Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa, DRC and Ghana, because we believe in collaboration. And, the church needs to understand that it has deprived itself of greater blessings because they want to go it alone. The time for that is over.

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If you want a church to be viable, be in partnership with others. When you involve others, they bring new dimensions that you were not exposed to.

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TM: Tell us more about the speakers you had.
SC: We had dynamic speakers like Rev Prof Eric Aseka, the Vice Chancellor of the International Leadership University in Kenya. He is an amazing and very humble man. We also had another professor from South Africa who has just been appointed president of a Methodist university in Pietermaritzburg. These are men and women who have done research, taught at the highest level, and yet they love the Lord.
\nWe also want to work in partnership with the church so that these men and women who have been touched by the gospel are integrated in the local church where they are going to discover their full potential, where they will be nurtured, mentored and fed with the Gospel. We want this to be a process of change and transformation, so that in every sphere of influence they make a difference with Jesus.

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TM: Your first meeting in Harare was in 1994 and President Mugabe attended the Presidential Breakfast meeting. Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa also attended the National Presidential Breakfast during this initiative. What is it about African Enterprise that attracts the highest echelons of power?
SC: That’s a very difficult question. But I believe that it is God’s favour. When I read the Bible, I’m amazed at how God has used ordinary men to turn the world upside down. And, ordinary men because God always looks for people that are available to do the job!
\nSecondly, African Enterprises established its foundation with the local church in 1975. We are thus building on those foundations especially the 1994 Harare Pan African City-Wide Mission. We have continued to be the prophetic voice to the nation, and to help pray for President Mugabe and also find ways to continue having the Presidential Breakfast meetings, annually if possible.

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TM: Final remarks . . .
SC: Zimbabwe has got a lot of potential. It’s amazing that it has more diplomatic missions than most SADC countries, because it is a beautiful country with beautiful people; and, the weather is superb. We believe that through God’s wisdom our leaders will embrace God because the Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
\nAnd this does not only apply to political leaders, but to the captains of industry, the judiciary, the clergy, etc. We all need God’s wisdom, and once we do that, the Bible also says, righteousness exalts a nation, and righteousness is right living.

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Finally, I want to thank the Government of Zimbabwe for creating an environment that is open to preaching the Gospel. That’s a huge plus because in some countries, they don’t have this kind of freedom. There are restrictions, but here, the door is wide open. It’s my wish that the church will capitalise on that effectively, so that they can be able to build this country to its greater glory.
\nGod can, you can, and together we can reach the leaders of this great country.

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Feedback: tendai.manzvanzvike@zimpapers.co.zw