Lecturer describes the effects of love in politics

Christ’s love can have monumental effects in politics, an evangelist and peacemaker shared Monday, Oct. 1. Michael Cassidy is a political activist, author and founder of African Enterprise, an evangelical reconciliation ministry that has been crucial in healing post-apartheid South Africa. By following God’s will and listening to his urging, African Enterprise was formed, Cassidy said.

AE has been reaching Africa through leadership training, evangelism, reconciliation and community development in Africa for 50 years, according to africanenterprise.org.

The nature of the ministry was influenced through Cassidy’s experiences in America during the civil rights movement, as well as the extreme segregation in South Africa during apartheid, Cassidy said.

Cassidy came to embrace the messages of Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the messages of evangelist of Billy Graham, he said.

“I came to the conclusion that the love ethic has huge political implications,” Cassidy said.

With that in mind, Cassidy began his movement to evangelize Africa and promote change through godly leadership. AE went to different political groups during the apartheid struggle and prayed with politicians from the far left and far right, Cassidy said.

Ninety South African politicians over six different weekends experienced a retreat at AE where they shared their autobiographies, told their visions for the new South Africa and heard the enemy humanized, Cassidy said.

“It’s a very powerful thing when you hear someone’s story,” Cassidy said. “You have to understand who they are and why they think the way they do.”

That is a foundation, but still is not enough. One can love individuals but that love must also go further into structures in order to bring social and political change, Cassidy said. Justice is love built into structures, he said.

Godly governance can result in major transformations of entire countries, according to AE’s website.

On April 27, 1994, elections were held in South Africa that marked the end of apartheid. Ten days prior, a prayer rally had been called because a surge of hostility between political parties threatened the lives of a million people, Cassidy said.

The Jesus Peace Rally was called in order to pray for a peaceful way forward through the first democratic elections, he said. Twenty-five thousand people attended the rally. Several of the main politicians from the various parties met in a VIP lounge of the stadium where the rally was held and came to an agreement about a way forward, he said.

Two days after the rally, those leaders announced that they would cooperate, thus avoiding an outbreak of violence, Cassidy said. The election was held over three days, and there were virtually no reports of violence anywhere in the country. It was a miracle, he said.

The United States needs love in its structures just as much as South Africa does, Cassidy said. He said he feels America needs an assembly of Christian leaders and visionaries across the nation who will speak to the social issues.

“I would love to see an American political system that has prayer as part of the system of government. I understand realistically today, that is hard,” sophomore Rachel Gerig said.

AE trains leaders by equipping pastors and citizens to think biblically and live out their faith in their place of work and influence, according to ,a href="http://africanenterprise.org/">africanenterprise.org.

Some of AE’s ideas and principles directly relate to Whitworth’s mission to “Honor God, follow Christ, and serve humanity.”

“Cassidy’s model of leadership meshes well with Whitworth’s inclusive and ecumenical approach,” said Gordon Jackson, professor of communication studies.

Gerig said students can demonstrate leadership at Whitworth even in small ways. She suggested talking to ASWU senators or participating in class as ways to do so. Sometimes, leadership starts simply with friendship, she said.

Cassidy encouraged students to seek God’s plan for their life and enter into it. God is faithful, he said.

“Whatever it is he has for you, He wants to lead you into it,” Cassidy said. “If I look back on 58 years of Christian experience, my testimony is to the faithfulness of God. He has stood by me.”

Kendra Stubbs Staff Writer   

Contact Kendra Stubbs at kstubbs15@my.whitworth.edu.