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A critical examination of the contribution of African Enterprise's evangelism and social action toward religious and social transformation in Pietermaritzburg, from 1962 to 2015.

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The thesis critically evaluates African Enterprise’s work of evangelism and social action towards religious and social transformation in Pietermaritzburg from its inception in 1962 to 2015. AE’s founder, Michael Cassidy’s parents, had a European origin. The thesis traces personalities and factors that shaped Michael Cassidy’s formative years, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and the Lausanne Congress. Their theologies have had a vital influence on African Enterprise’s theology. The study highlights that BGEA has not entirely positively impacted AE because they tended to prioritise evangelism over social action. Missiologically speaking, the study shows that there cannot be any dichotomy between the two because they complement each other. The study argues that AE would be more effective had AE contextualised to deal with social challenges in PMB. Thus, the fruit of Christian love, evangelism and social action could have thrived in PMB who live in a community. This thesis argues that AE failed because it did not integrate the Biblical principles of proclamation and Diakonia (social praxis). Despite the initial successes it experienced in the past, the most kairos critical challenge of social justice remains unaddressed. Lack of social action in the form of diaconal has militated against processes of social transformation in PMB. The qualitative research study used in-depth interviews and questionnaires to draw data from the 14 participants interviewed, including AE’s founder. Data were coded using the NVivo programme to ascertain the main themes before the data analysis. The thesis’s key findings revealed that AE failed to be an effective catalyst in its mission in PMB. Therefore, AE has become irrelevant and ineffectual in its work to effect transformational change in PMB. The study proposes that AE change from its Western and non-African strategies and methodology to a context-based approach. The thesis recommends that the AE’s leadership and Board rebrand and change in light of its context for purposes of engendering a relevant response to the felt needs of PMB’s people. Secondly, the thesis recommends a deconstruction of warped operating mindsets that do not appreciate African traditions and customs that form the context of the intended audience.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.