The history of AIM has been characterized by efforts to reach out to Africa's unreached, and the Lord has sovereignly established many churches in Africa among those peoples. While celebrating what he has done over the past 120 years, AIM's current objective represents an overwhelming challenge that will only be met in God's grace and power. The remaining 1,008 African unreached people groups (UPGs), representing roughly 316 million people, are in desperate need of the waters of life.
By God's grace, AIM intends to engage more fully with these UPGs, prioritizing the unengaged. By God's grace, AIM intends to partner with current and new churches to raise a great force of Gospel workers throughout Africa and the African Diaspora. By God's grace, AIM intends to strengthen the church by equipping it's leaders. AIM will focus on Jesus Christ, His glory, His church, and His grace.
We must strive to return to our first love, seeking an ever-deepening relationship with Him and an ever-deepening knowledge of His Word and His ways. We must grow in grace and truth, abide in Jesus, and seek Him for grace, guidance, strength, wisdom, and fruitfulness. All of our efforts must be rooted in prayer. As we abide in Jesus, we will always aim to seek His grace and power for AIM's Vision 2020.
Late in 2011, Africa Inland Mission's OFM team heard a calling from God. They were challenged to create a piece of media that would stir the heart of the African church towards greater involvement in missions. The African church is inspiring in so many ways - its vitality, size and diversity, but in terms of mission, it's been called a 'sleeping giant.' The OFM team wanted to help Africa become a major force for world missions. They didn't want to make a movie. They wanted to start a movement."
After researching their audience, OFM quickly realized that because Africans come from a rich oral storytelling background, long-form drama was likely the most effective way to teach and touch the hearts of Africans. However, for the teams entire existence up to that point, they had focused on producing short documentaries - nothing over twenty minutes long and nothing with a full cast of scripted characters. Producing a full length film would be a daunting undertaking.
In May 2012, at the National Theater in downtown Nairobi, OFM organized a casting call and hundreds of aspiring actors showed up for the auditions. The highlight of that day was when, just outside the theater, an OFM teammate led a man to Christ. Even before the cameras started to roll, The Distant Boat (as the movie was later named), was reaping a harvest.
Filming began that autumn and wrapped in mid-December. The film tells the story of Max, a young Kenyan businessman who takes a business trip to the Kenyan costal region. As his trip takes an unexpected turn, Max has to rely on the help of a Muslim family. Eventually, his journey leads him to a crossroads: to continue living his comfortable city life or to obey the call to missions. Production was crazy, but the OFM team clung to the resolve that they were taking part not in something they were creating, but in something God was doing and that they were just being obedient. That conviction kept them sane and energetic despite the exhausting circumstances.
In November of 2013, two years after the inception of the film, The Distant Boat screened in a local Nairobi theater and at a large church conference that hosted about three hundred pastors and church leaders from across the country. Every church returned home with a copy of the movie and a renewed vigor to raise up missionaries within their own congregations. It felt like the beginning of something big, like things were changing. And as Kenyans say, "slowly, slowly," the movement started to take shape.
Shortly after the film's release, it appeared in a handful of international film festivals, including a prestigious one in Zanzibar, where Islam is the sole religion. Because The Distant Boat had high production quality and treated the Muslim characters with respect, the island was willing to screen a story that encourages people to reach out to their Muslim neighbors. That in itself was a miracle. In attendance at the festival was a representative of Ethiopian Airlines, who, after watching The Distant Boat, wanted to celebrate this well-done African story and decided to offer the film on their flights!
Incredible things are still happening with this film, and, to be honest, we do not even know the full effects of its reach. What we do know is that our hope in joining this OFM team is to continue to offer ways to help Africans reach Africans for Christ. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ and we want to come alongside them as they make disciples. If long-form drama is one of the best ways to do that, then we're happy to play a part in movie making magic!