GBM has been serving local churches in world mission for over 150 years. We began as the Strict Baptist Mission, founded in 1861 by a small group of London Strict Baptist churches with a heart for the needs of India. At first we merely sent out funds to support Anglo-Indian workers. The work was done in Tamil, and Baptist churches began to be planted across Tamil Nadu.
A special day of prayer on 19 November 1894 led to the sending of our first two missionaries, Samuel Hutchinson and Ernest Booth. From there the work in India grew steadily, and spread from what was then Madras into several regions of Tamil Nadu. Churches were planted, schools were built, medical work was a vital part of what was done, and a pioneering work was begun by Jesse and Evelyn Brand among the animistic tribes who lived on the Kolli hills. Alongside the SBM, the gloriously named Ladies Zenana Auxiliary was a women’s ministry that reached out as women to women in a culture where the sexes were commonly separated.
After Indian independence, the work began to be vested into the hands of Indian leadership. In 1967, Mrs Gandhi announced severe limitations on missionary visas, and the Mission found a new vision for its work, going ‘Into all the world.’ A new Mission Centre was built in Abingdon, with a suite of studios for our growing radio ministry, and workers were sent to serve in Spain, France, Belgium, the Philippines, Austria, Colombia and Kenya. The missionary workforce doubled to about sixty missionaries, and then in 1989 the Iron Curtain came down, opening up opportunities in Eastern Europe.
Today GBM is a Mission working on four continents, in ministries of evangelism and church planting, training leaders, Bible translation, partnering with national pastors and churches, reaching the poor through holistic gospel mission, and connecting with a much larger audience through radio.
For a more in depth look at the history of GBM you can read ‘Grace to the Nations’ by John McDonald.
Watch Jim Sayers tell the story of GBM’s birth and development: