Why SIM is still in Nigeria: The Unfinished Task
The first SIM Pioneers came to Nigeria in 1893. An indigenous church, the Evangelical Churches of West Africa (now the Evangelical Church Winning all) was registered with the government in 1954. In 1976 SIM formally handed over its ministries and properties to ECWA. ECWA is now self-governing, self-propagating and self-financing. There are over 50 mainstream Christian denominations in Nigeria. At the time of the handover many SIM missionaries began to leave and serve elsewhere, especially Niger. In the late 1980s there was a saying, “Will the last person please turn off the lights.” So why are we still here? The answer in short is that the task is unfinished, and the church still wants us.
There are now more unreached people in Nigeria (because of population growth) than when the first missionaries came in 1893. The country is about 50% Christian, but the majority of Christians are in the South and West of the country. The North is predominantly Muslim. There are many people in Nigeria who have never heard the Gospel. In addition, many church-goers are nominal Christians: Christians in name, but without a living relationship with Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Indeed, some fear for the future of Christianity in Nigeria. It struggles with issues of syncretism: many church-goers are more influenced by African traditional beliefs than the Bible; many Christians are influenced by false prosperity teaching: people becoming Christians for what they can get from God. Further, almost half of the population is under 15. Many young people are disaffected. Dave O’Brien, SIM Nigeria Director in the 90s, once said: “Every new generation is an unreached people group.” We are still here because the task of evangelism and discipleship is unfinished.
It has been said that there are three stages of mission: Pioneer, Parent and Partner. There is still a need for pioneer missionaries in parts of Nigeria. But in most cases the need is for a different kind of missionary; people who can work under and alongside national Christians, not as parent but partner. People who can respect national Christians and see what the Lord is doing through sometimes imperfect national churches. Do not dismiss serving in Nigeria thinking it is a Christian country. It is not. There are more than 70 million Muslims who need to know Christ, and many Christians who need help to grow in Christ. Come and help us with the unfinished task!
Who We Are
SIM Nigeria is part of SIM International, a community of God's people who delight to worship him and are passionate about the Gospel, seeking to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ in the world.
The mission of SIM International, including SIM Nigeria, is to glorify God by planting, strengthening and partnering with churches around the world as we:
- evangelize the unreached
- minister to human need
- disciple believers into churches
- equip churches to fulfill Christ's Commission (Matthew 28:19, 20)
The glory of God in the worldwide Church is our highest vision. Through eyes of faith we see people from all nations, tribes, and languages worshiping around the throne of God. In areas where we are given responsibility, we see SIM, empowered by God, vigorously engaged in integrated ministries of:
Evangelism: We see every person—child, woman and man—having the opportunity to hear, understand and joyfully respond to the Good News and become a part of a local church fellowship.
Ministry to Human Needs: We see each person, family, church and community transformed in response to the unconditional love of God and embracing a biblical worldview.
Discipleship: We see believers growing in Christ, living in obedience to the Scriptures, and discipling others.
Partnering in Missions: We see all churches that relate to SIM empowered to fulfill their missionary potential with SIM as a catalyst, assisting them through creative, interdependent partnerships.
The motto of SIM is ‘By Prayer.' Each purpose, plan and activity of the Mission is born of prayer and committed to God in prayer.
SIM Nigeria Goals
Our overall goals in Nigeria are:
- In evangelism: to support and encourage strategic outreach to unreached people groups and children and youth.
- In ministry to human need: to support and encourage ministries of compassion.
- In discipleship: equip, develop and mentor Christian leaders and nurture lay Christians to maturity.
- In partnering in missions: to assist in equipping church leaders to develop multiplying churches. Our primary ministry partner is the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA)
Our goal with SIM personnel is to:
- develop the capacity of SIM missionaries and empower them in ministry
- provide the support services needed for all SIM missionaries and their children
SIM Nigeria Strategy
—Unreached people groups:
- Support the work of indigenous missionaries among unreached people groups. For details see below under “partnering in missions”
—Children and Youth:
- Encourage Nigerians to become committed and active in reaching and discipling youth and children (including youth pastors and sports ministers).
- Enhance the capacity of Christian teachers to provide a Christian world view and inspire children to follow Christ.
Ministry to Human Need
- Build the capacity of Nigerian health workers to minister with competence, compassion and effective evangelistic witness.
- Support the church in providing education and care for the suffering and marginalized in Nigeria, including AIDS patients, orphans and widows.
- Develop the capacity of church leaders to effectively lead the church by discipling, equipping and mobilizing church members for spiritual growth and community impact. Focus on theological education as a key method to achieve this.
- Develop the motivation and capacity of mature Christians to mentor and disciple Christians for growth.
- Facilitate the provision of good discipleship materials suited to different contexts.
Partnering in Missions
- Through theological education and other means to assist the church in the recruitment, training and support of Nigerian missionaries and church planters ministering to unreached people groups within and outside Nigeria, including Fulani and with emphasis on northern Nigeria.
- Assist in encouraging church members to become motivated and active in reaching the lost within their vicinity including youth, urban lost, and Muslims.
- Recruit missionaries with skills and character qualities that will make an appropriate contribution to the growth of the church in Nigeria.
- Develop the capacity of all missionaries to have a Kingdom influence in Nigeria and have relationships with Nigerians that produce spiritual growth.
- Provide a high quality of administration, MK education, health, and member care services to develop and sustain SIM missionaries and their children.