Entering a time of transition


New beginnings: Mike and Jacky Hammond soon will be travelling back to Australis to  explore a new season of ministry

SIM Malawi is entering a stage of transition as Mike Hammond hands over the leadership reins to the newly appointrd Country Director, Peter Ong (we will hear from him about his new role in the next issue of Malawi Amoto). Here, Mike reflects on his time in Malawi and as Country Director and looks ahead to the next phase of his life and ministry

Mike and Jaky Hammond, with their two sons, Joshua and Christopher (both now back in Australia), arrived in Malawi in 2005 to develop fully the HOPE for AIDS ministry for SIM Malawi.  In 2015 he was appointed to the role of Country Director and has guided the mission for the last six years.

Malawi Amoto asked Mike to reflect on his time as Country Director and what advice he might pass on to Peter as he assumes the mantle.

Why have you decided to stand down now?

After much prayer, we feel it is time to move on and leave the leadership of the team in younger hands. There are many contributing reasons, but the main one is so that we can be more available for our elderly mums (difficult since they are on opposite sides of the world), aged 89 and 85 respectively. Both are well at the moment but slowing down. Jacky and I  have just one sibling each and they have been the main point of call for our parents since we came here to Malawi in 2005. We would dearly love to be able to support them more in the future.

Mike’s Prayer Points

Please pray

that we will finish well and hand over well to Peter as new director, even though I know everything won’t be solved in the next 6-8 weeks.

that we might be able to get back to Australia in time for us to quarantine for two weeks ahead of our son Joshua’s wedding at the end of March.

that SIM Malawi will continue to be a channel of hope and grace in a broken world.

My initial term as director finished last year, we didn’t feel we had the strength or energy to continue in the role for another five years, and also the work that we originally came to do with HOPE for AIDS has been winding down for some time and becoming more and more integrated into the ministry of our partner church.

And of course we miss our two adult sons who are now making their own big decisions in the world, and so want to be available for them too.

How do you think the SIM Malawi you are leaving is different from when you were appointed Country Director?

I think that the main difference is that the mission-focused and outward-looking vision is now more clearly seen in our on-the-ground ministries.

This is the result of faithful ministry and vision by those who went before me who had sown the seeds which were then watered by others, and now in the last five years we are really starting to see the fruit in the areas of ministry among the Yao, mobilising the church for outreach and mission, and youth and children’s ministry. I also include the Church itself in this greater outward-looking stance.

We are also less reliant on missionaries from overseas and now have several Malawian ministry workers/employees who have stepped into leadership roles in their ministries.

Goat distribution Providing goats to vulnerable families has been a recent success in the HOPE for AIDS work

Additionally, we have sent missionaries from SIM Malawi and are actively engaging with others who are interested.

That also brings challenges for mobilising resources, as missionaries from other countries are often able to draw on resources from those countries, but missionaries and ministry workers from within Malawi cannot do so to the same extent. That will be a big challenge to continue to grow ministry in a sustainable way, especially if COVID continues to impact global travel. But it is a good challenge.

I think the ground is prepared for even greater involvement of local believers in the ministry of SIM Malawi.

What are some of your highlights from your time as Country Director?

God has been working in my life – I am not the same believer that arrived in Malawi 2005 and I thank God for his grace towards me, the growth he has wrought in me, and that he has sustained me in this role.

First missionaries sent by SIM Malawi: The Makhutcha family being commissioned before the parents and youngest child were sent as missionaries to Mozambique

Seeing fruit in ministry is always a highlight. At an individual level, seeing people grasp the relevance of Scripture and recognise that God is actually wanting to speak into their lives here and now. Seeing the HOPE for AIDS programmes becoming more integrated into the Church. Seeing the first Malawian to be on team with SIM Malawi and seeing the traditional missionary step aside for the Malawian ministry worker.

I have also very much enjoyed my interactions with the other directors in our region of Southern Africa, and with others globally, through opportunities to attend Global Assembly and other directors’ gatherings. I really felt that GA2018 was a wonderful celebration of joy and so that was a highlight, celebrating 125 years of SIM ministry throughout the world.

What will you miss most as you leave SIM Malawi?

We will, of course, miss close friends. It has been our experience in ministry both in UK and Australia, and now Malawi, that to share ministry has always meant making life-long friends with some wonderful people. We already miss colleagues who have left, and we will miss others whom we are leaving behind.

We will miss the more relaxed lifestyle here, the slower pace of life (though life does seem particularly busy at the moment!), the lower level of consumerism, the beautiful scenery, the wonder of God’s creation in birds and animals and lake and mountains. I already miss the ‘a capella’ singing in church. We will be sad not to say full goodbyes to many people because of time constraints and COVID.

Friends and ColleaguesThe SIM Malawi team at the 2019 Spiritual Life Conference—the latest to be held because of Covid-19

What advice will you give to Pete as he takes over as Country Director?

Be humble, pray, get to know the team and our partners well, pray, put yourself out for them. Listen. Faithfully serve God each new day.

Pray for discernment. Remember that in everything you do, do it s unto the Lord. Be prepared for times of loneliness and misunderstanding and even misrepresentation.

Lean on God. Be willing to “wash the feet of those with whom you serve”. And above all pray. I wish I had prayed more for each and every team member, for each and every ministry, for each and every co-worker. We can do that wherever we are. Prayer knows no boundaries. And I commit to continuing to pray for Peter and the team as I move aside.

What is next for you and Jacky as you leave SIM Malawi?

That is unknown – of course we will be on home assignment for the first six months or so. We would love to stay involved with the SIM team worldwide.

Many fields need people to come and stand in for directors or administrators or personnel co-ordinators while they are on home assignment. COVID has also taught us that there is much more that can be done remotely, though I am still a firm believer in personal contact.

SIM Australia is getting more involved in ministries at home to refugees and other immigrants. Australia is a very multi-cultural place – the world is there on our doorstep and I am sure our mission experiences here in Malawi will not be wasted.