Cassidy Accepts Award and Reflects on Time at Fuller
Fuller's Alumni of the Year Michael Cassidy
Michael Cassidy, founder of evangelism organization African
Enterprise, was honored at the annual Festival of Beginnings chapel service as Fuller’s
Distinguished Alumnus of 2012.
Cassidy, who lives in South Africa, was in Pasadena to
celebrate his 50th class reunion and to receive the award, which he
said was a humbling experience.
“I was completely overwhelmed and I felt completely undeserving,
because I know so many of the things my other classmates have done,” Cassidy
said of his feelings when he first heard of the award.
But it was also “a great affirmation,” he said, of the work
he had done since graduating from Fuller in the 1960s.
Born in Johannesburg and educated at Michaelhouse, Cambridge
University and Fuller Seminary, Cassidy went on to facilitate conversations that
promoted reconciliation and political change in South Africa, which culminated
in peaceful first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994.
He also conducted many missions across Africa and around the
world and was recently named honorary chairman of the Lausanne Movement for
World Evangelisation, succeeding John Stott, the massively influential
evangelist who helped define the global evangelical movement in the 20th
Cassidy said his experience at Fuller Seminary has stayed
with him throughout his life and ministry.
“It was a determinative experience and a completely formative
time in my life,” he said, noting that it was here that he learned the basics of
evangelical and biblical faith.
Cassidy credits Fuller for teaching him how to work out the
“horizontal dimensions of the gospel” in society and to the neighbor – lessons
he believes gave him the framework to work on apartheid and bring the gospel
not just to hearts and minds, but also to political and institutional
His evangelism ministry, African Enterprise, which operates
in 10 countries in Africa, is a “child of Fuller,” Cassidy said. He started the
organization while still a seminary student with the help of Charles E. Fuller
As he would tell it, Cassidy had first felt the call to do
city evangelism in Africa, while at a Billy Graham Crusade in New York in 1957.
When he got to Fuller, he knew he wanted to start something, but had relegated
this dream to after graduation. A classmate, knowing Cassidy’s aspirations,
encouraged him to start the work right away. Cassidy considered it, but wasn’t
quite convicted yet. Until one day, Charles Fuller called.
“[Fuller] said he felt an unusual leading to help some students,”
Cassidy recalled. Fuller then gave the young Cassidy full use of his personal
offices and secretarial staff, gave him a list of names of knowledgeable people
to be on the board of his organization and helped him to get listed as a
It was this
experience that gave Cassidy the confidence that God was leading.
Several Fuller professors also left a lasting impression
on Cassidy, who credited Edward John Carnell for showing him the “possibility to
hold truly biblical and evangelical faith without negative, pejorative and
narrow outworkings”; Geoffrey Bromiley for bringing an understanding of church
history and the implications for the modern church; and Clarence Roddy, his
homiletics professor, who Cassidy vividly remembers would always passionately
exclaim, “Preach the Word!”
Cassidy’s ministry has included preaching, teaching and
writing. His newest book – a decades long passion project on John 17 called
“The Church Jesus Prayed For” – will be published in England in November and
will be released in the U.S. in January.
“I’d be surprised if other than my memoirs, I ever write anything
that will be more of a legacy statement of my own theological understandings
than this book on the church Jesus prayed for,” Cassidy said.
And lately, Cassidy has felt a passion for mentoring younger
leaders. When asked what words of wisdom he could impart to current Fuller
students, Cassidy had this to offer: “The first is to deepen constantly in your
own personal and private devotional life, because if you sustain a regular
devotional life and an ordered system of prayer and Bible reading, you are
going to be hooking up to the Lord. That’s the biggest thing because you’re
meant to be a man or woman of God.”
And when that spiritual, personal life with Jesus Christ and
the Holy Spirit has been cultivated, “Seek out what is God’s primary will for your
life and seek it out until you get it,” Cassidy urged.
“The thing I would covet for all Fuller Seminary students is
to find God’s will for their lives and to press on through it until they’ve
found it. When you’ve found his will and you’ve found your place in the
kingdom, then your gifts can be used to maximum effect.”