SIM has a rich history of founders who journeyed to difficult places to share the gospel. In Africa, Asia, and South America, these pioneers formed mission organizations committed to reaching people who had never known the love of Christ. They met people’s needs, shared the good news of Jesus, and built and strengthened the Church in various countries around the world.
Over the years, these organizations discovered they shared a similar passion, and joined under the single banner of SIM. Today, we continue the legacy they started to Respond to Need, Proclaim the Gospel, and Equip the Church.
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 Allen and Mary Stirling read it and felt God calling them to ministry. 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.
Mission in Africa
The South African General Mission (SAGM) 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. SAGM and SEAGM merged in 1894. Because their ministry had spread into other African countries, they changed their name to Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) in 1965.
Sudan 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 died of the 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 500 miles inland at Patigi in 1902. From there, the work of SIM began in Africa.
Mission in Asia-Pacific
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).
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. Our official name around the world today is simply SIM.