As we look back in our history, there are scores of Kiwis who crossed barriers to bring Jesus to parts of the world where he wasn’t known. Too many, even just counting SIM, to tell all their stories here.
One story involves Randal Bailey, a doctor who went with his wife Robyn to serve in Benin (and later Nigeria). In all, the family spent 16 years in Africa, and left a legacy that included large and small influences which only God knows the scope of — from healing the sick, to teaching village women how to read the scriptures, to setting the course for treating HIV/AIDS, to mentoring SIM’s current International Director and his wife when they were young doctors, Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko.
Another legacy involves George and Mary Allen, who went to South America over 100 years ago, and started the Bolivian Indian Mission, now SIM Bolivia. Their faith to cross cultural barriers and face persecution from Bible-burning priests who whipped up the locals against them, resulted in God building an evangelical church which spans that country.
Another couple, Bob and Jean King from Whanganui, rode mules up to Waka in the remote southern highlands of Ethiopia in the 1950s and worked for years with a tribe who carried on their vision after they left; even today that church sees so many new believers coming in from the traditional religion each month that finding resources to disciple them is a major challenge.
These are just three examples out of a huge a cloud of witnesses — people who served quietly day in and day out under God in many parts of the world. It’s important as we honour them, to realise that the call God laid on their hearts is still an open call. How about it? As Randal Bailey said: “I am increasingly conscious of the shortness of a lifetime and my desire is to take the opportunities now.”