"Times have changed. The sky is red and lowering. Are we aware of these signs in the African sky? Let is not be said of us, as of the Pharisees and Sadducees, 'You can discern the face of the sky, but can you not discern the signs of the times'" From Ed Schuit's talk to the annual meeting of the United States home council of the Africa Inland Mission, September 6, 1958.
In 1958, Africa was in the midst of historic changes. Politically,
the governments of European colonial governments which had ruled most of the
continent for most of the last two centuries and more were going or already
gone. In terms of church history, Africa was in the middle of an incredible
mass conversion to Christian belief. In 1900 there were 10 million Christians
in Africa of all denominations, 9 percent of the total population. In 2000,
there were 360 million, making up 46 percent of the all the people in the continent.
A new era in the global story of Christianity had begun.
The human agents of of the growth of African Christianity had been hundreds of indigenous Christian movements and foreign mission agencies. And one among the latter had been the Africa Inland Mission (AIM), founded in the United States by Peter Cameron Scott in 1895. The first party of five missionaries had been almost entirely wiped out by disease, including Scott, but the members and supporters of the mission in America and Europe (joined later by supporters in Africa and Oceania) had persisted. By 1958, there were AIM mission stations were scattered through Kenya, the Congo, Tanzania, French Equatorial Africa and others parts of east Africa. And the congregations founded by these missionaries had formed and were forming Africa Inland Church (AIC) denominations in different countries. These African institutions, too, were on the verge of independence from Western control.
On this page are links to voices from that turning point era. They are selections from the recordings of AIM's annual meeting for United States staff, board members, and supporters, held September 4-7, 1958 at America's Keswick Conference Grounds on the coast of New Jersey, in the United States. Every year, the American staff and supporters of the mission gathered to pray, encourage, make decisions, conduct business, and plan.
The audio files on this page consists of portions of tape recordings which includes the reports of missionaries from different countries given to this group of supporters. The complete tapes of T280 and T281, are in Collection 81, the Records of Africa Inland Mission International. They can be listened to in the Archives Reading Room, along with the other tapes in the collection.
Note: The photos below are all from the scrapbooks of Stanley Kline. Kline (1911-1999) kept scrapbooks with photos and clippings of almost all of his fellow AIM missionaries, arranged alphabetically.
|Talk by missionary James Bisset on Kenya. (16 minutes) Part of Bisset's talk was lost when the reel of tape containing the first half was flipped over to record the second half.|
|Talk by missionary Margaret Clapper on the Pygmy people of the Congo. (22 1/2 minutes)|
|Talk by missionary Richard Shumaker on schools in Tanganyika (later Tanzania) (19 minutes)|
|Prayer by former president of mission, Howard W. Ferrin, for the work of AIM (4 1/2 minutes)|
|Talk by missionary Dr. Arthur Barnett about AIM's medical work . (24 minutes)|
|Talk by missionary William Stier about the African church and the training of African evangelists and pastors. (21 1/2 minutes) There is a brief gap in the recording during which part of Stier's talk was lost.|
|Talk by missionary Edward Schuit on the impact of changing conditions in Africa on the work of the mission and the relationship between the AIM and the AIC. (25 1/2 minutes)|