A Short history of SIM


Since 1893, SIM missionaries have travelled the world to fulfil the Great Commission.

Interdenominational from the start ... Walter Gowans was a Presbyterian, as were George and Mary Allen (who worked in South America—see below). Thomas Kent was Congregational. Rowland Bingham was a member of the Church of England, then joined the Salvation Army and later was ordained a Baptist minister.

In deciding the mission should be interdenominational SIM founder Rowland Bingham stated: “He is blind who does not recognise that in other denominations are some of the best saints that God and grace have made.”

The Pioneers: The three youngmen who were determinedto bring the Gospel to the African interior

The Sudan Interior Mission began when three dedicated young men landed at Lagos, in what is now Nigeria. The oldest was only 25. But each man wanted to establish a Christian witness among the 60 million people living and dying without Christ in subSaharan Africa - what was then known as the Soudan. Unable to interest established missions - most of which said reaching the Soudan was impossible - the three set out, following God alone.

As was common in the nineteenth century, all three came down with malaria. Walter Gowans of Toronto, Canada, and Thomas Kent of Buffalo, New York, respectively died of dysentery and fever. The only person who went into the Soudan with Gowans and Kent and survived the journey was their Liberian ‘cook’ Tom Coffee. The third, English-born Rowland Bingham, returned to his home in Canada, still determined. Bingham made a second attempt to reach the Soudan, but once again came down with the fever and had to return home. Unable to return to Africa himself, Bingham sent out a third team. In 1902, the party successfully established a base 300 miles inland. From this base, the work of SIM began in Africa.

Trial to triumph – growing stronger

In 1893, off the southern tip of India, the Ceylon and India General Mission (CIGM) began work among Ceylon's Singhalese Buddhists and Tamil Hindus. From that island the work begun by B. Davidson, D. Gardner, W. Mallis, and G. Wilson, all Englishmen, expanded into South India, later reaching across the subcontinent and eventually to the Philippines.

Also in 1893, Charles Reeves and M.E. Gavin left their homes in Australia. A Eurasian Christian from Poona, India, had come to Australia in search of missionaries to work in his home area. Reeves and Gavin answered the challenge and set sail under the name Poona and Indian Village Mission (PIVM).

In 1909 New Zealander George Allan landed in Bolivia to minister to the Quechua Indians. Allan's Bolivian Indian Mission grew in the years that followed to become the Andes Evangelical Mission (AEM). In 1968, CIGM and PIVM joined to become the International Christian Fellowship (ICF).

In the 1980s, AEM, ICF, and SIM merged to become what was then known as SIM International.

Global reach:  Sports Friends is a modern SIM-wide partner which introduces young people to God’s Kingdom through sports ministry and Bible-based teaching. The national flags represent the teams the girls ‘played for’ at a netball camp in Malawi

In 1998 Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) merged with SIM—AEF had officially begun its work in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1889, as Cape General Mission which became known as the South Africa General Mission under the leadership of Andrew Murray, Martha Osborne, Spencer Walton, and George Howe. Starting from  urban South Africa, missionary efforts spread into many of the other countries and people groups of southern Africa.

The most recent addition occurred in 2016 when Middle East Christian Fellowship (MECO) joined hands with SIM. MECO was formed in 1976, as a result of mergers with the Lebanon Evangelical Mission established in 1860, Middle East General Mission founded in 1898, and the Arabic Literature Mission founded in 1905.

SIM Today

SIM numbers close to 4,000 workers, drawn from more than 50 denominations and 70 nationalities. SIM now serves in over 70 countries worldwide.