History of SIM
Mission in Africa
The Cape General Mission (CGM) was founded by Martha Osborn, Spencer Walton, and Andrew Murray in 1889. Murray, a well-known author who founded a university and a seminary, always considered missions “the chief end of the church.” After Martha Osborn married George Howe, they formed the South East Africa General Mission (SEAGM) in 1891. CGM and SEAGM merged in 1894, forming the South Africa General Mission. Because their ministry had spread into other African countries, they changed their name to Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) in 1965.
Soudan Interior Mission (SIM) began in 1893. Canadians Walter Gowans, Roland Bingham, and American Thomas Kent had a vision to evangelize the 60 million unreached people of sub-Saharan Africa. Unable to interest established missions—most of which said reaching the Soudan was impossible—the three set out alone.
Malaria overtook all three. Gowans and Kent, respectively died of dysentery fever in 1894, and Bingham returned to Canada. On his second attempt, he caught malaria again and was forced to go back home. Unable to return to Africa, Bingham sent out a third team. They successfully established a base 225 miles (364 km) inland at Patigi in 1902. From there, the work of SIM began in Africa.
Mission in Asia
In 1892, the Ceylon and India General Mission (CIGM) was founded. A year later, they began work among Ceylon’s Singhalese Buddhists and Tamil Hindus. The mission founded by Scottish businessman Benjamin Davidson expanded from Ceylon into South India. Eventually CIGM’s ministry reached across the subcontinent and to the Philippines.
Also in 1893, Charles F. Reeve and E.W. McGavin left their homes in Australia for India. They were influenced by a Eurasian Christian who went to Australia in search of missionaries for his home area and by J. Hudson Taylor. Reeve and McGavin answered the challenge and set sail under the name Poona and Indian Village Mission (PIVM).
In 1968, these two India/Asian organizations merged to become the International Christian Fellowship (ICF).
Mission in South America
In 1893 British Keswick evangelists visited South America and published a report called South America: The Neglected Continent. New Zealanders George Allan and Mary Stirling read it and felt God calling them. In 1907, they founded the Bolivian Indian Mission (BIM). The newly-weds sailed to Bolivia two years later to minister to the Quechua Indians. Allan’s BIM grew in the years that followed to become the Andes Evangelical Mission (AEM) in 1965.
Serving in Mission Together
In the 1980s, AEM, ICF, and SIM joined forces to become SIM, which then stood for the “Society for International Ministries.” AEF joined with SIM in 1998. In 2000, SIM adopted the trade name (or slogan) “Serving In Mission,” for English-speaking countries, but our official name around the world today is simply SIM.
- Download a SIM history chart
- Download a more detailed SIM history written by Harold Fuller
- Download a history of SIM’s first 100 years in the 1993 Centenial Edition of SIM Now [4.5 MB]
- Read past SIM publications from the SIM Archives
Above photo: “Baptism of the deaf mute [Wawa] by Mr. Ogilvie,” of the Sudan Interior Mission, on December 1, 1929, at Miango, Nigeria. Photographer unknown. Oglivie wrote, in 1954: “We had always used two sets of steps to baptize. Those who were to be baptized going to the other side of the stream, which for illustrative value represented the old life. When baptized they came out of the river on the other side representing new life.” Note that Krada, the young man with the white t-shirt standing slightly behind and to the right of Wawa, is the next in line to be baptized.