pushing further ‘inland’ to reach the unreached
AIM currently has personnel serving over 20 African nations including some islands in the Indian Ocean. Our work is divided into five regions: Northern Region, Central Region, Eastern Region, and Southern Region, and Diaspora Region for Africans living around the world.
The map below shows some of our current countries of ministry.
Note that not all countries are shown for security reasons.
Creative Access Nations
We use ‘Creative Access’ to refer to nations, areas or ministries where there is great hostility towards Christianity and where traditional ‘missionary work’ is not possible. Workers, therefore, need to be ‘creative’ in how they proclaim the liberating news of Jesus Christ. In North Africa alone, 200 million people form 472 unreached people groups are unreached with the gospel. That’s 200 million people unknowingly heading for a Christ-less eternity. Workers use skills in many areas, including business, education and healthcare. Whatever you do for your ‘job’ at home, with a bit of modification you could probably do it in a creative access area.
The lost need to hear the good news of Jesus. Is God working in your heart? Are you considering working in an area where Jesus isn’t known?
The Central African Republic is a landlocked nation within the interior of the African continent. It’s divided into over 80 ethnic groups, each having its own language. In 1924, John Buyse became the first AIM mission partner to arrive in Central African Republic (CAR). In those days, the country was known as French Equatorial Africa. Two couples arrived later that year and another group arrived in early 1926. Soon after, they were working in the centres of Obo, Zemio, and Djema. Conflicts in neighbouring countries brought refugees into CAR, allowing the Gospel to be shared with them also. Since independence from French rule in 1960, AIM International in CAR has increased its scope of work. A Bible school to train pastors opened in 1970, while in Obo, a trade school was established to instruct men and women in carpentry, animal husbandry, mechanics, and nursing.
DR Congo is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa by area. With a population of over 75 million, it is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth most populated nation in Africa and the nineteenth most populated country in the world.
A small group of AIM missionaries first arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), then known as Belgian Congo, on April 20, 1912. Within a couple of years, a work was established in the town of Dungu in northern DRC, among the Zande people. They, along with many other tribes between Dungu and Mahagi Port, began hearing the Gospel for the first time. Because churches were planted and began to grow, pastors and leaders needed to be trained and so the work of Bible schools became a priority. This then led to a focus on primary and secondary schools. Medical work also developed and hospitals, health centres and medical training schools were built and staffed.
Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963. Whilst the majority religion is Christianity, Kenya’s ethnic diversity and vast countryside means there are still many unreached with the gospel.
We began work in Kenya in 1895 which led to the founding of the indigenous denominations of Africa Inland Church, Kenya (AIC, Kenya). Currently the AIC, Kenya is estimated to have approximately 5000 local congregations. The AIC Kenya is independent, self-governing and continuing to grow. There are still a number of unreached and under-discipled people groups in Kenya. Currently we are directly engaged with around 10 least-reached or unreached groups in Kenya. We are committed to take the gospel to those who have not yet heard the good news. Our goal is to work together with our national church partners as we seek to finish the task. We are also involved in numerous other kinds of ministry (medical, teaching, theological education, children’s work) which contribute to Christ-centered churches who in turn will reach out to the lost.
Lesotho is a Kingdom totally surrounded by South Africa, whom they depend on, as their biggest employer and buyer of their main natural resource – water. Lesotho is made up of highland villages, where people live in extreme poverty and few have heard the gospel. In one of these highland villages Ntate Mosoang dreamt of a man sent by God to be a missionary in his remote location in the mountains of Lesotho. Whilst waiting for the man to appear Mosoang prepared for him, building three rooms for the expected guest.
Initially AIM’s work in Lesotho was in partnership with the Lesotho Evangelical Church, working in the lowlands and training pastors through a Theological Education by Extension (TEE) programme. As work developed in Lesotho AIM realised that there are large numbers living in highland villages, still not hearing the gospel. A team was recruited in 1994 and placed in highland areas, including in the village of Ntate Mosoang. Mosoang opened his home to the new team whilst they learnt Sesotho and took their first steps in preaching.
Now, a Training in Ministry Outreach (TIMO) team is seeking to reach the shepherds of Lesotho a group who have yet to hear the good news of the gospel. AIM is also working in lowlands, seeking to share Jesus through ‘Farming God’s Way’ practices and to equip local evangelists in their work. Madagascar is the world’s fourth biggest island boasting flora and fauna that exist nowhere else on earth. 41% of the population identify with Christianity, 7% with Islam, the majority follow Traditional African Religions.
In 1979 Colin & Christine Molyneux began AIM’s work in Madagascar. Initially working with the Malagasy Bible Society the plan was for AIM mission partners to engage in farm projects that would support poor communities, and encourage Christians in these communities to share the gospel. Quickly, however, it became clear to the Molyneux’s that there was a tremendous need for evangelism and Bible teaching across all of Madagascar. Whilst many in Madagascar professed the Christian faith, few knew Christ.
Today the task continues, Madagascar is still in need of Bible teaching and there remains ten people groups who are still waiting to hear the gospel for the first time. AIM’s goal is to reach these unreached people with the good news of Christ, and to see Christ-centred churches across Madagascar, and the rest of Africa.
Since independence from Portugal in 1975 Mozambique was battered by civil war, economic woes and famine. Since peace in 1992 though, the country has developed one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
In 1975 AIM’s first attempts to begin ministry in Mozambique were thwarted. All entry was forbidden by a regime claiming to be ‘the first truly Marxist government in Africa.’ In 1985 AIM eventually entered Mozambique to find that through the war and communist years the gospel had been quietly spread by Mozambican evangelists. AIM’s work therefore supported their efforts, with AIM mission partners seeking to support the local church and to share Bible training with local pastors.
Namibia, a country in southwest Africa, is distinguished by the Namib Desert along the Atlantic Ocean coast. The majority of the Namibian population is of Bantu-speaking origin. Other ethnic groups are the Herero and Himba people, who speak a similar language, and the Damara, who speak the same “click” language as the Nama.
In 1980 AIM and Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) began a joint work in Namibia, through a team led by a South African couple, Jack & Peggy Pienaar. The work of AIM and AEF emphasised churches: planting new congregations where none had existed and nurturing leaders of established groups. This remains the vision of AIM in Namibia today, we long to see Christ-centred churches across the nation. Part of that vision means living amongst and sharing the gospel with unreached people groups, praying that one day they will come to know the Christ and become disciple-making disciples.
Since the genocide of 1994-95, restoring, restructuring and privatising the economy has been the emphasis. Rwanda has full freedom of religion with 89% of the population identifying themselves with Christianity. AIM’s work in Rwanda began relatively recently. First contacts were made in the early 2000s, and the first full term AIM personnel went to Rwanda in the mid-2000s.
Following the genocide, Rwanda’s churches found a huge gap in their leadership, both in the numbers of leaders available and in training they had received. It has been suggested that only 5% of pastors of churches in the capital, Kigali, have had a secondary school education. AIM was invited by a protestant denomination to help train pastors and began doing so through regular teaching visits. It was soon found that this need was mirrored across the whole church in Rwanda. With the help of AIM, an association of evangelical churches started the Faculté Théologique Evangélique au Rwanda (FATER) to provide training for pastors at the post-secondary level.
South Sudan became the world’s newest country on 9 July 2011. It was the outcome of the 2005 peace deal that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war. AIM’s work in Sudan began before the civil war, with our first members being invited to work in the country by the Church Mission Society (CMS) in 1949. Over the years, civil wars and restrictions placed by the government created difficult conditions. Partial and full expulsions limited the number of AIM personnel in the country and then in the early 1960’s all missionaries were expelled. In 1972 however a peace agreement between south and north Sudan enabled work to be picked up again. The peace was not as permanent as hoped and fighting resumed in the early 1980’s. All AIM members left Sudan in the late 1980’s due to escalating insecurity.
In 2004, with the decline of the war, a gradual re-entry of AIM personnel began. With the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005 the door was opened wider. AIM provides a diverse menu of skills and ministries in South Sudan including nursery, primary, and secondary education, health, literacy in mother tongue, leadership development, theological education, and church planting.
Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest nations. There is freedom of religion; Christianity makes up 54% of the population with Islam totalling 31%. AIM began work in German East Africa (later Tanganyika and now Tanzania) in 1909 following work started by the Church Missionary Society (CMS). Work began in Nassa with Emil & Marie Sywulkas starting the translation of the Bible in 1913. Their work was focussed on building a strong church led by Godly African leaders, which became one of the building blocks leading to the founding of the indigenous denomination, Africa Inland Church Tanzania. The AIC Tanzania is still an independent and self-governing church, continuing to grow. Currently the AIC Tanzania is estimated to have over 2500 congregations.
Despite the growth of the church there are still a number of unreached people groups in Tanzania. The goal is to work together with national church partners and together to finish the task.
80% of Uganda is engaged in agriculture. Under previous government regimes there were restrictions on persecuted Christians, but there is now freedom of religion.
In 1918, as a group of AIM missionaries made their way to Congo from Kenya, they were held up in Uganda waiting for one of their members to recover from severe sickness. Whilst there the Church Mission Society (CMS) asked them to help feed those facing starvation during a famine that year as CMS had a shortage of personnel. Following this, the group was then asked to stay and help reach out to the people west of the Nile. So, AIM settled in Arua and baptised the first 26 new believers. Although the church in that area got off to a slow start, 40 years later, thousands had been baptised, hundreds of churches were in existence, and Ugandan Christians were being ordained as pastors in the West Nile area. Now, in the 21st century, a 2002 census showed that approximately 80% of the country’s population said they were Christian. As a result, the work of AIM is directed towards encouraging believers to live their whole lives in a biblical way. Those who come to work with AIM in Uganda do so alongside Ugandans in many different situations, from youth work to hospital work, schools, hospitals, orphanages, businesses and farms.