WHO WE ARE
Into-Africa has grown far beyond its purely missionary roots to become an international non-profit, Gospel-centered, humanitarian organization with chartered affiliates in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Namibia, and, soon, Tanzania.
Into-Africa was birthed out of a harrowing, yet highly successful, church planting effort begun by Alvin Smith in 1989 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, under the auspices of The Door World Outreach Inc., based in Tucson, Arizona. The gospel found fertile soil and took hold, and a powerful movement was created in West Africa. To date, over 80 indigenous congregations have been established throughout the region.
Under national leadership, gospel workers are trained and new churches are planted yearly during the annual conference held in Freetown. Workers from the Freetown church have ventured outside the region into the nations of Burundi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic of Congo, and even as far as France and Belgium.
Though the gospel prospered, Pastor Smith felt that much more was needed. The desperate poverty and dangerous chaos that reigned in the nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia during the 1980s and ‘90s convinced him that an expansion of ministries was necessary to enable the resilience and longevity of the churches. His guiding vision was to ensure that discipleship and church planting continued, but he recognized that there were also immediate and material needs to be met.
Sierra Leone is consistently ranked one of the poorest nations in the world, among the highest for infant mortality and among the lowest for literacy and life expectancy. Clearly, Christian compassion demanded that the hungry be fed, the sick treated, and the poor educated, enabled, and elevated to self-sufficiency. The result of such incarnational ministry is more than relieving the plight of suffering people. These efforts are also vital to holding hard-won ground in nations and communities, and retaining the precious fruit of souls won to Christ.
Vision and Mission
Into-Africa, germinated and nourished in desperate prayer, driven by these burdens and convictions, began as a means whereby these needs could be met. Into-Africa would serve to expand the ability of the church to fulfill its mission and vision to Africa and its people.
With beginnings as simple as sending a small container of clothing and shoes donated by Pastor Smith's home congregation in Tucson, Into-Africa's scope and capability have expanded as God has blessed the work over the years. Into-Africa now installs clean water wells, builds churches and school facilities, conducts medical clinics across several nations in Africa, and awards scholarships to students both in Africa and abroad.
By funding these projects, Into-Africa is changing lives, strengthening communities, and impacting nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a compassionate and sustainable way.
Having survived bouts of tropical diseases and welcoming both daughters while living in Freetown, Pastor Smith and his family understand firsthand the enormous medical challenges facing the people of the region, and Sierra Leone in particular.
While visiting the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica, California, Pastor Smith met Dr. Veronica Lazarus, a medical doctor originally from Nigeria. Moved by Pastor Smith's ministry reports, she expressed a burden to do something for the people of Sierra Leone and, in 1990, she organized the first small-scale medical mission to Freetown. The clinic was a resounding success and became the forerunner of what has evolved into the Lighthouse Medical Mission.
Lighthouse Medical Mission is operated under the direction of Dr. Bob Hamilton of Santa Monica, and made possible through contributions of its sponsors and by direct support of the Santa Monica Lighthouse Church. These medical teams have been a source of blessing to thousands of people and have garnered great favor with local and national governments in several African countries.
The Lighthouse Medical Mission and Into-Africa Medical Mission teams work with local medical professionals, when possible, and with local people, helping to improve health care and build communities. The strategy is to provide multi-purpose facilities that can serve as clinics, conduct medical mission teams, and award scholarships to individuals who demonstrate a commitment to serve their communities and nations. Eventually, the goal is to install locally staffed clinics that can serve the needs of the local community.
Into-Africa realizes that cooperation is crucial for fruitful and sustainable endeavors. The partnership dynamic is more than financial support, it also means increased faith and blessing upon those who give. Not only are communities and nations powerfully impacted for the Gospel but our partners are always blessed beyond their expectations.
Whether it’s a pastor who challenges his congregation to send him to minister in Africa, individuals who personally give to support a specific project, or others who participate in an impact or medical team, partnership is a synergy of faith and gospel enthusiasm that draws a resounding ‘amen’ from heaven.
Into-Africa actively seeks partners led by God to support this truly effective outreach into the nations of Africa. The needs are great but the opportunities abound for pastors, faithful believers, business professionals, corporate charities, and learning institutions that wish to share in the eternal fruit issuing from this ministry.