On December 4, 1893, three young men landed at Lagos in Nigeria and founded the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM), scarcely knowing how God would use their lives to transform generations of others worldwide.
Come read about some of the major turning points in our history and see what the Lord has done!
Walter Gowans, Roland Bingham and Thomas Kent had a vision – compelled by love to share the news of Jesus Christ with the 60 million unreached people of the Sudan in sub-Saharan Africa. Rejected by established mission agencies of the time, they set out alone.
In 1894, Gowans and Kent died from malaria and Bingham was forced to go back home to Canada to recover. His attempt to return to Nigeria also ended in malaria, but with his vision and faith undeterred, he sent other Christians. They landed in 1902 and travelled inland, establishing a base in Patigi – 450km from Lagos. Bingham continued to support the Soudan Interior Mission mission team, supporting them in prayer, finance and through sharing their stories. In 1918, Bingham was appointed SIM’s General Director.
For the love of Christ compels us2 Corinthians 5:14
Our pioneering history
One thread of our historical tapestry starts in 1860 with the formation of the British Syrian Schools Association, which set up schools across the Levant for women’s education. Nearly a century later, in 1959, it became known as the Lebanon Evangelical Mission, before merging in 1976 with the Arabic Literature Mission and the Middle East General Mission to form the Middle East Christian Outreach. For 156 years, Christian workers have served communities across the Levant, North Africa and on the eastern Mediterranean islands.
More threads pick up in the 1890s across Africa and Asia. In 1889, Andrew Murray – a Dutch Reformed minister whose writings described missions ‘the chief end of the church’ – Martha Howe (nee Osborn) and Spencer Walton formed the South African General Mission (SAGM), which merged with the South East Africa General Mission (SEAGM) in 1894. This gradually broadened their ministries to other nations further north, and they became known as the Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF).
Across the ocean, the Ceylon and India General Mission (CIGM) had also begun in 1893, after a Scottish pearl trader called Benjamin Davidson started working among Buddhists and Hindus in Sri Lanka. Exactly ten years later, a Christian convert from Poona travelled to Australia, searching for mission workers to help him share the gospel in his home region. Charles Reeves and M.E. Gavin answered the call, and in 1893 the Poona and Indian Village Mission (PIVM) was born. As the ministries grew and workers began serving across South India and the Philippines, both CIGM and PIVM joined together in 1968 to become the International Christian Fellowship (ICF).
A little later, two newly-weds from the New Zealand arrived in Bolivia in 1907 to minister to the Quechua. George and Mary Allen set up the Bolivian Indian Mission (BIM) in the mountain town of San Pedro de Buena Vista and by 1966, the couple’s mission agency employed more than 60 people and had been renamed the Andes Evangelical Mission (AEM).
“It is said that God has closed the door to the Soudan. Beloved! God closes no door to the gospel. It is not God, it is the enemy who closes the door. With God no door is closed.”Walter Gowans, 1893
Serving In Mission (SIM)
Today, SIM exists as a partnership of all these disparate mission organisations – from Africa to Asia, from the Indian subcontinent to South America, from Europe to the Middle East.
In the 1982, SIM merged with the Andes Evangelical Mission (itself formed out of agencies dating back to 1889) in South America, and then the International Christian Fellowship of South Asia (1989). The partnership grew even further when the African Evangelical Fellowship joined in 1998.
More recently, in 2016, the UK and Ireland branches of Middle East Christian Outreach also joined SIM.
Our ministries and workers – prayerfully dependent on God – continue to fulfil our founders’ pioneering vision to and to a world that desperately needs to hear it.