One day, I found an old book, written by a missionary, Ruth Schaffer. It tells the story of Ruth, and her husband Roy, going to Kenya in the early 1900s, bound for the then-unreached Maasai people. Reading their story, I am struck by the commitment, courage, and sheer audacity of the Schaffer family. And I wonder, would anybody in AIM, myself included, even think of allowing such a risky journey today, much less bless it and send them off?
But this is 2020, not 1910. Africa is different. The world is different. The church is different. The Maasai are reached. Some things remain the same. The Great Commission is the same. Our call is the same. All we do is still focussed on Jesus Christ. Ultimately, it is not really about AIM or about missionaries or about you and me. It is about the Father, redeeming, loving, and calling the lost.
What has changed in 125 years? Transportation, communication, finance, healthcare. Churches, mission agencies, governments. Mission structures, models, and strategies. Huge, vibrant churches in every country of Sub-Saharan Africa. Decline of the church in many traditional AIM mobilising countries. It has all changed and will likely continue to change. Missionaries from the early 1900s would not recognise much about the AIM of 2020. And today’s missionaries might not recognise the AIM of 2050. Or even 2030. But the essential things do not change. Because, ultimately, Jesus does not change.
There are still almost 1,000 African unreached people groups, mostly in the Sahel, North and West Africa. May Jesus find us faithful, even for the next 125 years. Or until he returns.
Luke Herrin, AIM’s International Director