Through the Archives: Expanding horizons

In the final instalment of this series, we look at how God has challenged us over our history to broaden our horizons and expand into new areas.

Pioneers from the start

George and Jane Pearse, two of our founders, originally travelled to Algeria with the aim of evangelising French soldiers posted there. All this changed one night when Jane witnessed two local Kabyle men starving to death outside their guesthouse. Despite this tragedy, she was told by a local person that their deaths affected him as little as a dead dog, such was the scale of the famine!

This greatly moved her. The great material need paralleled the great spiritual need in the nation, and the Pearses began to pray and plan for a new ministry there.

They were joined by Edward H. Glenny and two other men, one from Algeria and the other from a Syrian Druze background, and began the Kabyle Mission. Remarkably, they were believed to be the only protestant missionaries with a ministry to local people across North Africa.

Widening our focus

From those early days, the focus grew as more work began and the mission was renamed to The Mission to the Kabyles and other Berber Races. By 1900, the mission had changed its name to North Africa Mission. It had a hundred missionaries spread across the region. Even then, there was hope of expansion into new areas:

‘The vast Sahara… remains still without a solitary missionary. We pray God that soon some brethren full of faith and of the Holy Ghost may be sent to preach Christ amid the inhabitants of its palmy oases.’

One growing area was the Middle East. Although there had been some work there for many years, by the 1980s ministry was increasingly being done across the Arab world, not just in North Africa. This prompted another name change in 1987 to Arab World Ministries.

As with today, the ministry also had a focus on reaching people from the Arab world living in Europe.

Inspired to keep pioneering

As we look forward, now as part of the international family of Pioneers, it is worth noting the words of Edward Glenny in 1900 as he reflected on the turning century:

The progress of foreign mission work is perhaps the most marked feature in the closing century. At no period in the Christian era has there been such widespread preaching of the gospel as during this hundred years.

And yet, he also had a humbling challenge:

Thus far the Church has done little more than play at foreign missions. It is a ‘little England’ Church, and has been too indifferent as to the needs of the great world and the honour of His Empire, of whom we read that of the increase of His government there shall be no end.

As we have delved through our archives, we have been deeply challenged by the pioneering spirit of these trailblazers – we hope they have inspired you too!

We pray that God will continue to stir our hearts for the nations, as he did for Jane Pearse all those years ago.

Want to know more? Come and celebrate with us at our 140th anniversary celebration on Zoom on November 19th! For more information, email Chris. If you would like to hear more about the history of AWM Pioneers, check out our story or read more from the archive

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