For the love of Christ compels us

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As part of the world-wide celebrations for the 125th Anniversary of the founding of SIM, SIM Malawi held a weekend of events to mark this milestone. Dr Joshua Bogunjoko, SIM’s International Director, was the special guest for the events.

Headline:  One of the hand-painted banners produced by SIM Malawi for the event weeken

Two days of celebrations were held over the weekend of 21 and 22 July 2018 in Blantyre to mark the 125th Anniversary of SIM. On Saturday 21 July around 100 pastors, missionaries and mission partners from across Malawi attended a full day event at the Serendib Conference Centre, while on Sunday 22 July pastors and lay leaders from the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC) – SIM Malawi’s partner church - joined SIM Malawi missionaries and the congregation of AEC Chilomoni for a service to commemorate this milestone.

Over the weekend Dr Bogunjoko told guests that while we were celebrating 125 years of SIM, a number of the organisations that make up SIM today are, in fact, older than that figure. But that it was 125 years since three young men, Thomas Kent, Walter Gowans and Roland Bingham. from North America first set foot in Nigeria to set up the Soudan Interior Mission.

He spoke of their determination and courage in the face of many obstacles to their getting to Africa. Mission Agencies in the USA and England had rejected their applications to join them because they felt what they wanted to do was too dangerous, too expensive and had little chance of success. So, compelled by the love of Christ (the headline for this year of celebration) they set up their own organisation and came to Africa.

Key Speakers:  Dr Bogunjoko (left) and Mike Hammond (third left) with the speakers from SIM Malawi who introduced the five Focus Areas

Even when they arrived in Nigeria, a senior Methodist missionary tried to put them off by saying it would take at least three generations – their children’s children – before anyone had any hope of going into the Soudan and win souls for Christ.

Despite all of these setbacks and barriers which had to be overcome they persevered with their mission. But still it was not without cost. Bingham, Gowans and Kent arrived ini Nigeria in 1893 but it was not until 1901 that the first convert to Christianity was baptised, Indeed the history of SIM shows that in the first seven years of SIM’s life, there were more missionary graves than baptised believers associated with the mission.

“There were two things in the lives of these three young men that could not be conquered,” Dr Bogunjoko said.

“Two things in their lives no barrier could stop.

“One was their love for Jesus. The other was their love for dying souls. 

“They had given themselves to Jesus for the dying souls across the African region in which they wanted to work. Nothing was going to stop them. They were compelled by a barrier crossing love.”

In addition to Dr Bogunjoko’s talks on the Saturday, SIM Malawi missionaries and partners in the work outlined how the host organisation was working in five key ministry areas: Pursue the Unreached, Build the Church, Reach Children and Youth, Impact the HIV/AIDS Crisis and Advance Mission.

There were also video presentations looking at SIM at 125, SIM in Africa and reflections of some SIM Malawi missionaries who had been serving here for more than ten years looking at their work and how things had changed in the country over their time here.

Prayer for the Church: Mike Hammond and Joshua Bogunjoko praying for the AEC at the Chilomoni Service

At the Sunday service, Dr Bogunjoko returned to the idea of overcoming barriers when he spoke from 2 Corinthians 5:1-21 under the title of ‘Compelled by a barrier crossing love.” He reiterated the story of SIM’s three Pioneers and the trials and tribulations they faced to bring the Good News of Christ to an area of Africa which they hoped would spread from Senegal to Ethiopia. It took great determination to set up the mission, Kent and Gowans died of fever within a year of arriving and the third Pioneer, Bingham, had to return to Canada three times suffering from fever before, on his fourth attempt he, and a group of fellow missionaries finally established a base in the interior of the country.

Today, from that difficult beginning, SIM now serves in over 70 countries and has over 4,000 workers.

The Chilomoni congregation also heard from SIM Malawi Country Director, Mike Hammond and the Deputy General Secretary of the AEC, Revd Christopher Mwalweni about the partnership that has built up over 100 years between the two organisations,

Mike outlined how the first group of missionaries who arrived with South Africa General Mission started to gather a group of believers around them and how this group of believers were to founders of what today is the Africa Evangelical Church.

He spoke about how the early missionaries worked in healthcare, mentioning the Chididi and Lulwe Clinics which are still run by the church to this day. They moved into education opening a number of primary schools and a School for the Blind, all in the Lower Shire area.

After Malawi gained Independence in 1964, the church and mission were registered as the Africa Evangelical Church and the Africa Evangelical Felowship respectively and both were founder members of the Evangelical Association of Malawi. It was not until 2002 that SIM was registered in Malawi after it took over the work of AEF a few years earlier.

“By this time SIM and AEC were working together in areas of church planting, youth ministry, children’s ministry, discipleship, Bible college training, health care and Chichewa Christian literature development.

“At that time, the mission and the church recognised the need for a combined response to the growing concern because of the spread of HIV & AIDS. HOPE for AIDS was born and together we commenced ministry to those affected by HIV.

“This is still true to this day, supplemented by trainings in Muslim ministry, sports ministry and mobilising the church for mission, and the church remains the major partner for the ministry of SIM in Malawi,” he said.

Short films shown at the events celebrating SIM@125, SIM in Africa and Memories of SIM Malawi, AEF and SAGM missionaries are available here

 

Podcasts of Dr Bogunjoko’s keynote talks and his Sunday sermon can be heard here  

 

A PDF of the 125th Anniversary Souvenir Brochure can be found here

 

 

 


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