‘For the love of Christ compels us’


This year SIM celebrates the 125th Anniversary of the first three Pioneers reaching modern-day Nigeria and founding the Soudan Interior Mission. Events around the world are taking place to mark this important anniversary, and the Malawi celebration will take place over the weekend of 21 and 22 July.

In 1893, three young men, Walter Gowans, Thomas Kent and Rowland Bingham, landed in what is now Lagos in Nigeria to establish the Soudan Interior Mission. The oldest of the three was just 25 years old and, sadly, all three of them fell ill, Gowans with malaria and Kent with a fever. Both died of their illnesses before they were able to establish the mission. Bingham also contracted malaria and had to return to Canada but was determined to try again.

He did come back to Africa but again fell ill and had to return home. In 1902, however, on his third visit, Bingham and his team were able to establish a base some 300 miles inland from Lagos, and so the work of SIM began in earnest.

Since those humble, and difficult, beginnings, SIM has grown into a worldwide mission organisation with over 4,000 workers in over 70 countries,

From the very start, SIM has always been an interdenominational mission – Gowans was a Presbyterian, Kent was Congregational, and Bingham was a member of the Church of England who then joined the Salvation Army and later was ordained a Baptist minister. And that breadth of churchmanship is still reflected across the whole of the SIM world.

The origins of SIM’s work in Malawi date back to July 1900 when, again, three men – Edgar Faithful, Harry Rainey and Dudley Kidd – arrive in Port Harold (now known as Nsanje) to take over the work of a Mr Anderson and his mission station in Lulwe. Faithful, Rainey and Kidd may not have faced the same problems as their counterparts in the north, but their work was not without troubles.

This July, SIM Malawi will welcome SIM International Director, Dr Joshua Bogunjoko, to the country for his first visit in that capacity. He will be the keynote speaker at a special 125th Anniversary event in Blantyre and will also preach at a celebration service at AEC Chilomoni the following day.

The Blantyre event will not only look back over the history of the work of SIM but also look forward, as Dr Bogunjoko helps us to consider ‘God’s Mission’ and ‘God’s heart for the world’. Both thoughts pick up the key theme for this 125th Anniversary year – ‘For the love of Christ compels us’.

A more in-depth look at the history of the organisation and a report on the event itself will appear in the September issue of Malawi Amoto.