30 October 2020 // Articles & Stories

Going to the hard places

Connected to prayer

This article was first featured alongside our Prayer Diary in November 2020. You can download the November 2020 prayer points here or sign-up to receive future editions by post or email.

As Miriam Butcher looks back, she’s able to acknowledge God’s faithfulness, goodness and grace as she has celebrated AIM’s 75, 100 and now 125 anniversaries.  

As a young Bible student at the time of the 75 celebration, I was impressed by what the Lord had done through AIM. There were many churches which the Lord had established through the work of the mission. Many people who had come to know Jesus through those churches, are now fulfilling the Great Commission to go and preach the gospel and make disciples. By the 75 anniversary, AIM was working in Kenya, Tanzania, Central African Republic (CAR), Uganda and DR Congo. 

My desire was to go to an unreached people group, and in 1975 the mission was in the process of taking the gospel to areas which had not yet been reached. It is with great joy that I have seen this work expanding over the years, as the Lord has challenged AIM, along with other missions, to go further afield in Africa to reach those areas which need to hear the good news. I do praise God for those people from all over the world that he has set aside for this task. 

Beginning in 1975, AIM’s work on the Indian Ocean Islands was initially interrupted by violence, following several of the Islands’ declarations of independence from France. This led to a withdrawal of French aid and aid workers. In desperate need of health workers, AIM was welcomed by Island leaders into these majority Muslim areas, as it sent skilled staff to work in Island hospitals. Open evangelism remains difficult, as Christianity on the Islands is often viewed with hostility and in some cases outlawed by the Islamic rulers. Local Christians face persecution and rejection for their faith. Evangelism work on the Islands today is carried out alongside other occupations, with opportunities to serve ranging from English teaching to nursing and community healthcare.

The Lord took me to a little group of Indian Ocean Islands. Initially there were two of us working there and ministry was slow to start, partly due to political instability. But the Lord kept us there and the work expanded until at one time there were as many as 25 missionaries. Today these islands still need our prayers as our missionaries serving there continue to face particular trials. Tropical illnesses, as well as struggles to find adequate schooling for children, mean the Islands are not an easy place to serve. Despite the issues, we have seen the Lord working, particularly through local believers who, regardless of the risk of persecution for their faith, reach out to fellow Islanders.  

Making the Word accessible

AIM missionaries on the Islands have worked faithfully on Bible translation and in literacy projects over the years. I will never forget one incident when we visited a lady to take her a copy of the newly printed New Testament in her language. The delight on her face as she realised that she was able to read this book was memorable. The Jesus film too has been translated and is used to reach many on the Islands.  

Yet, despite the efforts of AIM and other missions, there remain more than 1,000 people groups in Africa who are still waiting to hear the good news of Jesus. Could you be part of the next generation of workers that God is calling to this task?