Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the BIOGRAPHICAL Genre (12/04/14)
TITLE: Marching to the Heart of Africa
By Jack Taylor
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He was born in Scotland, raised in Philadelphia, buried in Africa at the age of 29. In the few days he spent giving his life to Africa, Peter Cameron Scott planted the seeds of what would become one of the largest mission agencies in the world.
As with many youth, Scott’s vision was bigger than the belief of his audience. At 23 years of age he began serving in the French Congo. A near fatal illness forced him to rest in Britain where he developed his dream of a network of mission stations that would extend like an arrow from the east coast into the heart of Africa. The stations would form a line against the surging growth of Islam flowing down from the north of Africa. No church would embrace his vision.
Scott was driven by the power of a single Bible verse, “You are not your own, you are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19,20). The verse was more like a haunting than a friend. It drove him. Finally, his passion won over his sister Margaret and six other friends. The Philadelphia Missionary Council was formed and on August 17, 1895 the African Inland Mission became a reality when the first 8 missionaries left home.
The five men and three women were chosen because of their commitment and character rather than any specific training. Other recruits would be chosen and sent on the same basis. The Pennsylvania Bible Institute, under Dr. Charles Hurlbert, supplied many of the early volunteers for the mission.
The dream of a network of mission stations almost died before it was birthed. Like Jonah, Scott tried to run toward an alternative option for his life. He loved music and was on his way to a tryout when the Spirit of God challenged him on the direction of his life. Unlike Jonah, he yielded to the challenge and enrolled in a missionary training college to prepare for his life of service.
The dream was again seriously impacted in 1890. He started his missionary endeavors by sailing to Africa’s west coast under the International Missionary Alliance. His brother John joined him but soon died of a tropical disease. Peter himself fell ill and waited for God’s healing in Scotland. He returned to the United States to challenge his friends with the reality of the battle for souls on the dark continent. He had tasted the price of spiritual combat.
Missionaries from Canada and the United States joined the group during the first year and expanded it to 15. Four stations in Kenya were planned in the villages of Nzaui, Sakai, Kilungu and Kangundo. Scott’s parents and his sister, Ina joined him in Kenya. Houses and medical clinics were established.
By December 1896, 14 months after landing in Zanzibar, Peter Cameron Scott was dead from blackwater fever. He had driven himself to work hard in harsh conditions. There were more missionary graves than new births and the heroic dream almost died with its founding party. Only one missionary survived to keep the heartbeat of Scott’s dream alive.
Missionaries began to arrive with their personal items packed in coffins. They knew the price paid by their founder and would not flinch from the cost. Dr. Charles Hurlbert took over the charge of the team and established headquarters at Kijabe, Kenya in 1903. The Rift Valley Academy, a one hundred and ten year old missionary school for 500 missionary students, stands as a witness to the enduring witness of Africa Inland Mission’s founder. Scott Theological College trains future African pastors and church leaders and stands as a lighthouse of the original dream.
Ten years after its founding there were 31 missionaries serving on 7 mission stations in Kenya, Tanzania and the Congo. By 1971 there were over one and a half million converts forming the heart of what would become the Africa Inland Church.
The heartbeat of the mission is to still send missionaries to the unreached peoples of Africa. Now pilots, teachers, doctors, mechanics, agriculturalists, language specialists, computer technicians, accountants, youth workers, community developers and church planters all work together to build Christ-centered churches among all African peoples. Over 1,000 missionaries are now expanding the work begun by Scott over a century ago. A seed planted is blooming.
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