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Mission Africa (formerly known as the Qua Iboe Mission and subsequently the Qua Iboe Fellowship) is an interdenominational, evangelical, Christian mission organisation. When founded in 1887, by the Irish independent missionary Samuel Bill, the organisation ministered in Nigeria. Today, it primarily works in Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Chad, while maintaining headquarters in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Its current Chief Executive is the Reverend Paul Bailie.
The roots of Mission Africa stretch back to the mid-1880s, when a group of chiefs from the Ibeno region of the Niger Delta approached the Calabar Mission of the Free Church of Scotland and asked for a missionary to work among them. The over-extended mission, unable to comply, passed on the request to Henry Grattan Guinness at his Harley Missionary Training College in London, where he circulated it. One of the college's trainees, Samuel Bill (1864-1942) from Belfast, responded energetically. In 1887, he set sail, without financial backing. The Calabar Mission could not afford him, and he started work alone at the mouth of the Qua Iboe River in December 1887, designing and constructing for himself a house, and the church at Ubenekang. Bill's lifelong friend, Archibald Bailie commenced initial efforts at establishing a support base in Belfast for the new mission, but soon left Belfast to join Bill in Nigeria.
The Qua Iboe Mission Council was formed in 1891 by representatives of the leading Belfast churches, of various denominations, to support Samuel Bill's work. Missionaries were drawn from Presbyterian, Baptist, Quaker and other backgrounds. The Mission Council continues its oversight of the Mission up to the present day.
The Qua Iboe Church (now the QIC-United Evangelical Church of Nigeria) had by 2000 founded three colleges of theology, including the Samuel Bill Theological College at Ikot Ekang, Abak (started in the 1940s), three post-primary teaching institutions including Etinan Institute (started 1915), two hospitals (at Ekpene Obom and Ochadamu, the latter known as Holley Memorial Hospital) and a printing press at Etinan, as well as numerous primary schools. Membership of the Church was at first confined to rural areas, only slowly penetrating the towns and cities. By the year 2000, the denomination had grown to over 1,000 congregations throughout Nigeria which vary in size from around 50 people to over 1,000.
The Mission changed its name from Qua Iboe Mission to Qua Iboe Fellowship in 1986, and then to Mission Africa in mid 2002. The change of name was intended to convey the broader scope of the Mission, since it is no longer confined to one area of Nigeria.
Mission Africa is governed by a Home Council, drawn from the Christian Community in Northern Ireland. Everyday running of the mission is entrusted to the Chief Executive. Mission Africa is a member of Global Connections, the UK wide missions alliance, and the Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland's mission facilitation organisation, Mission Agencies Partnership.
Mission Africa Today
The organisation's missionary efforts today are focused on theological education, cross-cultural training, church planting, medical work, responding to HIV/Aids, literature evangelism, and youth ministry. Its work, in various spheres of mission, includes:
- Chad: Mission Africa primarily concentrates upon medical work amongst the nomadic poor, but are developing work amongst girls and young women seeking to escape from prostitution. Partners in Chad include Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and Africa Inland Mission (AIM) as well as the indigenous Protestant churches.
- Burkina Faso: A concentration on church planting and rural development. Partners in Burkina are WEC International and the indigenous Protestant churches.
- Nigeria: Mission Africa is primarily partnered with the QIC-United Evangelical Church, and supplies theological lecturers to the denomination's colleges. The Mission also supplies some support staff to the QIC-UEC hospitals.
- Mission Africa also supply staff to the interdenominational Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN) and the Jos ECWA Theological Seminary (JETS) which is the main seminary of the Evangelical Church of West Africa.
- In 2006 Mission Africa and QIC-UEC commenced the STILLWATERS project, which intends to establish 1500 HIV/Aids care and councelling centres throughout Nigeria. Mision Africa is also involved in HIV/Aids alleviation work through ECWA Evangel Hospital and The Faith Alive Foundation, both of which distribute antiretroviral drugs as part of the PEPFAR programme.
- Elsewhere in Nigeria, Mission Africa is in partnership with Serving In Mission working to alleviate the suffering of street children in Jos.
- Africa Christian Textbooks, the literature distribution service that Mission Africa largely founded, supplies Christian academic books to students and pastors in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. ACTS hopes to increasingly produce books by Africans for Africans, and also to translate many books for the Christian communities in the Francophone countries.
References and Historical Studies
- Gerald H Anderson, ed., Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions (Simon and Schuster Macmillan, NY,1998).
- J.S. Corbett, "According to Plan" (Belfast: QIF, 1986).
- RJ Graham The Qua Iboe Mission 1887 - 1945 (PhD Thesis, University of Aberdeen)
- E.B. Ikpe, Qua Iboe Church of Nigeria: the first hundred years: the next jubilee (Uyo; QIC, 1987).
- W. Leach, "Century of Service in Nigeria" (Belfast: QIF, 1987).
- Robert L. McKeown, Twenty-five years in Qua Iboe: the story of a missionary effort in Nigeria (London: Marshal Morgan and Scott, 1912).
- D. O. Olayiwola "Origin, Growth and Impact of the Qua Iboe Church in Nigeria, 1887-1987" Neue Zeitschrift für Missionswissenschaft 1997, vol. 53, no1, pp. 61–68 [ISSN 0028-3495]
- Eva S. Watt, "The Quest for Souls in Qua Iboe" (London: Marshal Morgan and Scott, 1951).
- Mission Africa website
- Mission Africa Youth website
- The Qua Iboe Church (United Evangelical Church)
- Faith Alive Foundation website
- JETS website
- Still Waters website
- Africa Christian TextbookS website
- Global Connections website
- Mission Agencies Partnership website
- Africa Inland Mission International (AIM) website