"Will you seek a life of self-glory and applause in the entertainment world, or will you dedicate your life to My service?" Standing on the steps of the opera house, Peter Cameron Scott heard the voice as clearly as if God had taken a man's form.
In that moment, he made a fateful decision. He would obey God. His decision laid him in a grave in Africa at the age of twenty-nine. By then he had already buried his brother John, all alone in Africa. Was it worth it?
Peter was born in Scotland (where he once attended a Dwight L. Moody evangelistic meeting and was deeply moved by the singing). His family moved to Pennsylvania when he was a young man. Christians, they refused to allow him to enter the field of opera. Instead, at twenty-two, he joined the Christian Alliance Training Institute in New York. This was one of the works founded by A. B. Simpson, which became part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Peter was too impatient to finish the course. Africans were dying without knowledge of Christ. He gathered seven eager young men and they sailed for the Congo. Peter's brother soon joined him. Before many months, with his own hands, Peter buried him. John had contracted one of the dreaded diseases of the Congo.
It was evident to Peter that he would have to leave Africa himself or die, he was so sick with malaria. He went to England to recover. There he read about the mission work of others. Weak and depressed, he did not see how he could return to Africa. Kneeling before the tomb of David Livingstone in Westminster Abbey, he read these words:
Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring.
He rose with renewed determination and hope. He returned to America and founded the Africa Inland Mission. When he went back to Africa, it was with a new team. On this day, October 17, 1895, the men landed at Mombasa, Kenya. Peter did not know it, but he had less than fourteen months left to live.
He pressed inland to plant missions and share the gospel. His efforts were heroic. However, few Africans turned to Christ. Peter contracted deadly blackwater fever. He died on December 8, 1896.
After his death, his teammates also died one by one. Others came to replace them, some carrying their supplies in coffins! Such dedication eventually opened the hearts of the Africans. In time, several African nations became largely Christian. Kenya is one of those. With less than 1% Christians in 1900, it is 79% Christian today. Peter Cameron Scott helped plant the seeds for that church growth.
- Africa Inland Mission. "History." http://www.aim-us.org/about_AIM/history/history.asp
- "Africa Inland Mission, International - Collection 81." http://www.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/GUIDES/081.htm#3
- Anderson, D. We Felt Like Grasshoppers. Crossway Books, 1994, pp. 17-22.
- Anderson, G. ed., Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1998.
- Baur, John. 2000 Years of Christianity in Africa Nairobi, Kenya: Paulines Publications Africa, 1994, p. 256.
- "Explosion of Christianity in Africa: An Unprecedented Spread of the Faith." Glimpses #151. [statistics] Worcester, PA: Christian History Institute. 2002.
- "History Of Scott Theological College." http://www.scott.ac.ke/history.htm
- MacPhail, Bryn. "Recovering a Passion for Missions." http://www.reformedtheology.ca/missions.
- Moreau, A. Scott ed., Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2000).
- Richardson, K. Garden of Miracles (Africa Inland Church, 1968), pp. 21-36.
- Shaw, Mark. The Kingdom of God in Africa (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1996), pp. 192, 217.
- "Scott, Peter Cameron." (www.gospelcom.net/dacb/stories/kenya/scott_ petercameron.html)
- Taylor, S. Earl. The Price of Africa. (Young People's Missionary Movement, 1902), source of the picture.
- Tucker, Ruth. From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983.
- Various internet articles.
Last updated June, 2007.