Missionaries say SIM encourages, supports their work

08/09/2014 5:05 PM

08/09/2014 8:51 PM

Missionaries Lynn and Sylvia Haines of Fort Mill, S.C., said SIM, the Charlotte-based Christian organization that is supporting Nancy and David Writebol during the current Ebola crisis, shows “love and concern” for all its missionaries in the field.

“They just work from the positive to encourage; they’re just there for you,” said Sylvia Haines, 69. “They encourage you in using your gifts and talents. It’s not a controlling attitude but a teamwork attitude.”

The Haineses have been missionaries with SIM since 1995, after spending 17 years in Indonesia through another missionary group. In 1995, they became part of a team that helped launch SIM’s Ethnic Focus Ministry, which has started churches for immigrants in Charlotte and other parts of the country.

In that ministry, they taught English as a second language to immigrants and helped “lead them to Christ. … The whole objective of the cross-cultural ministry is to enfold the people into the American church,” said Lynn Haines, 70.

After five years in the cross-cultural ministry, Lynn Haines suggested a new mission in Southeast Asia to train Christians in the area to start small businesses so they can support themselves. SIM agreed to sponsor the mission, and Lynn Haines now travels back and forth to Southeast Asia, where his team has trained 80 “church planters.”

“Business has always been my gift,” said Lynn Haines, who was a State Farm insurance agent in Iowa before he and his wife were “called to ministry in 1974.”

“SIM is very open to ideas in different countries and how to reach out to the people in the country,” said Lynn Haines, noting that in June 2013 SIM elected an international director from Nigeria, the first such director from a non-Western country. Haines said many SIM missionaries also come from diverse backgrounds. “It’s not just American missionaries.”

The Haineses praised SIM for its “ability to adapt to whatever the situation is, just like this emerging crisis with Ebola. They take good care of us. Nancy Writebol would be a perfect example of that.”

‘They care about their own’

The Harding family of Charlotte also praises SIM, which first sent them to Ethiopia in 1954. Three generations and 60 years later, family members are still spread across southern Africa, and several still work with SIM.

“They care about their own,” said Bill Harding IV, “and they will go to great lengths to see about the needs of their missionaries.”

Bill Harding IV was 3 when his parents went to Africa. Now he’s a special national representative of SIM. The family’s contributions have included everything from schools and hospitals to AIDS-prevention projects and clean-water efforts.

In 1999, the organization arranged Harding’s medical evacuation to Israel when he started bleeding after an intestinal operation in Ethiopia.

During a family trip to dedicate the Harding Memorial Bible School two years ago, Harding, his father, Bill III, and his twin brother, Joe, were invited to meet with former Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Harding said Zenawi credited missionary efforts by SIM and others for helping modernize the country.

Harding said he played a role in arranging for the Writebols to join SIM. The Writebols were members of Bill Harding’s Sunday school class at Calvary Church for more than 20 years, and they remain close friends.

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