Doing work for the Africa Inland Mission can be satisfying and risky at the same time. The possibility for danger did not prevent Peter, a missionary who graduated from the Nyack Missionary Institute from establishing an interdenominational Christian union in 1899 to minister to the inner regions of Africa. Though Scott and many other members of the initial mission died of diseases they contracted in Africa, The church flourished. But the difficulties it now faces go beyond disease.
“There’s increasing danger,” said Ted of AIM’s U.S. operation, which is run out of small complex on Crooked Hill Road in Pearl River. “Two of our missionaries in Uganda last year were suddenly murdered, so they paid the ultimate price.” Warren and Donna initially farmers from United Kingdom had worked with AIM since 1996. The Petts and Isaac Jurugo, a Ugandan undergraduate, were fatally shot in March 2004 by robbers who raided the Christian agricultural training center where the Petts worked. Others too have been injured over the years, and several died in Congo in 1964. The risk of harm particularly in countries with unstable political regimes must be faced, Barnett said, and sensitizing missionaries to the danger the key aspects of the training conducted by AIM’s U.S. offices.
“We ask people, before they travel to Africa to consider the dangers, and we go through a whole series of scenarios that do occur and have happened, that involve dangers and ask them not to go until they are at peace with what the ultimate cost might be,” said Barnett, whose parents and grandparents were AIM missionaries in Kenya. Although the institution does not carry out formal recruitment, outreach through churches and speaking engagements provides exposure, and many potential candidates become interested in AIM when they tour the group’s Web site or African Safaris and Adventures safari Website, Barnett said.
Not everyone is an ideal nominee. From early on in the screening process, candidates are evaluated to learn their primary motivation for wanting to become missionaries in Africa. If they want to travel to Africa for a Kenya Tanzania Uganda safari holiday or a vacation, “Well, we support them to take that, just not with AIM,” Barnett said. Others who appear to have a more serious devotion but are not sure that they want a long-term posting in Africa are advice them to travel for about eight weeks to better assess their feelings, he said.
AIM’s missionaries concern themselves with health, education and development issues. The group’s full-time permanent missionaries, who number about 900, serve in a variety of roles: they “plant” churches, work as doctors, teach theology and community development skills, and perform AIDS outreach. They travel Canada, Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia, and work in 15 African nations. In spite of the variety of duties, they share AIM’s main Dream: to spread the word of God. The mandate is derived from the Bible’s Matthew 28: 19-20, which urges the teaching of the Gospel to all nations.