Military Ministries International (MMI) was set up in 1974 by a young Captain in the British Army (Royal Engineers), Geoff Skippage. Called ACCTS (The Association for Christian Conferences, Teaching and Service), it took its name and inspiration from ACCTS USA, founded in 1972 by a much-decorated American WW2 Infantry officer, Cleo Buxton. It was not until 2001 that the UK Trustees decided to adopt the working name of ACCTS Military Ministries International which in turn became Military Ministries International (MMI) in 2010.
Geoff developed a formidable network of military Christian contacts across Africa and Europe, organising conferences and ethics seminars that have been the bread and butter of MMI ever since. These conferences, hosted by a Military Christian Fellowship or theological institution, would focus on the realities of applying the Christian faith to the profession of arms. Specialist speakers would be invited from within the host nation or as international guests. The conference would always include a programme of Bible teaching by a renowned local theologian.
In 1997, a retired Army General and recently ordained minister, Rev. Ian Durie, was invited to become chairman of the ACCTS MMI Executive Council as the first step in the development of the ministry. As a non-stipendiary Assistant Minster at St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, London, Ian had 10% of his time allocated to his MMI responsibilities. In 1999 another retired Army officer, Mike Paterson, was appointed Home Director to work alongside Geoff, now Operations Director, to develop a sound administrative base to enable the field ministry.
Following Geoff’s departure from MMI in 1999, a significant expansion of the work was undertaken. Two part-time Field Directors covering Africa (Rev. Simon Farmer) and Europe (Homfray Vines) were established in 2000, followed shortly after this by the appointment of Michael Piper, a retired Naval officer, as honorary Field Director (South Asia). In 2002, Richard Sandy, on retiring from the British Army, accepted the honorary appointment of Field Director (Middle East), in recognition of his unique experience during 3 years as the UK Defence Attaché to Jordan. And in 2003, Sue Millard, a young former RAF officer, was invited to become the MMI Prayer Coordinator, another honorary position, to help provide a deep prayer foundation for the work. MMI has been blessed to have had General The Lord Dannatt as its Patron for many years of its existence.
MMI is one of the three Principal Support Organisations (PSO) of the worldwide Association of Military Christian Fellowships (AMCF – https://www.amcf-int.org/), which exists to see the growth, numerically as well as spiritually, of MCFs in the armed forces of every nation of the world. Our two sister PSOs are ACCTS USA (www.accts.org) and the Military Support Organisation (MSO – established in 2002, http://mso.or.kr/). Of the 195 countries of the world, currently MCFs have been established in 150. MMI has supported AMCF in prayer and planning of global events since its history, including every World Conference (which happen every ten years) since 1984.
The tragic death of Ian Durie whilst on a MMI mission in Romania in 2005 led to Homfray Vines taking over the running of the organisation, whilst also retaining his passion for ministry amongst the military of Africa. MMI was by now well established in support to military Christians across Europe, in the Middle East, South Asia and throughout Africa; the mission of helping military Christians follow Jesus Christ in armed forces around the world, being broadened and deepened. We have had the joy of significant engagement with the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic NGO Apostolate Militaire Internationale (AMI) in Europe over the establishment of military Chaplaincies and fellowships, and the teaching of military ethics. We engage in missionary journeys to encourage and teach nascent MCFs throughout India; make ‘under the radar’ visits to serving and retired military Christian brothers and sisters across the Middle east region, including holding the occasional conference in a neutral country for fellowship and prayer; and we enable conferences, adventure retreats, Bible teaching, prayer conventions and interaction with military Chaplains throughout Africa. MMI seeks to do everything it can to collaborate with all individuals and organisations that name and affirm Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, to reach out to the serving military of the nations to enable them to grow to maturity in their faith. Our prayer is that they will then witness and teach their fellows in their own armed forces and provide an enhanced Christian ethical backbone to both military service and, in some cases, national behaviour. Our vision poses the exciting question, “What might God do if every military Christian had someone to stand with?”
Much of this work was supervised by Colonel (Retd) Jos McCabe, who assumed the leadership of MMI as its Chief Executive/Team Leader (CE/TL) in 2007. He, like Homfray before hi, remained actively engaged in Africa as its interim Regional Team Leader (RTL) but the appointment of Homfray Vines (following completion of his master’s degree at All Nations Christian College) as RTL for East and Southern Africa in August 2008 reduced Jos McCabe’s Africa responsibilities to West and Francophone Africa.
In 2010 Rainer Thorun announced his retirement as RTL (Europe) and, after advertising and interview, Grozdan Stoevski, an evangelical pastor and former army officer from Sofia, Bulgaria, was appointed his successor with effect from January 2011. Also, in that year 3 new regional staff members were appointed; Cdr (Rev) Mike Terry RN(Retd), Maj (Retd) Mark Hibbert-Hingston both working in Europe and Col Samuel Cóias from Portugal who joined the Africa team to work in the Portuguese speaking countries in Africa. In March 2014 Homfray Vines stepped down as RTL (East and Southern Africa) and Jos McCabe again assumed responsibility for all of Africa. However, at the same time 2 additional staff members for Africa were appointed, Max Mupondi (a former Warrant Officer in the Zimbabwe Air Force to East and Southern Africa) and Eddy Amponsah (a Ghana-born former British Army soldier to West Africa).
In September 2014 Chris West died from the brain tumour that had manifest itself during his ministry trip to India the previous year and Paddy Hughes assumed his responsibilities as RTL (South Asia). Thus, by the start of the financial year 2014-15 MMI staff consisted of 6 Directors (CE/TL, 3 RTLs, Prayer Coordinator & Secretary), 7 regional team members and a financial and administrative secretary. This small team is supported by volunteers, including Trustees, who enable and often participate in MMI activities in many different ways. The start of 2015 saw Lt Col (Retd) Eric Mandille (a French Army officer) join the MMI Africa team as Staff member for Francophone Africa, bringing a wide diversity of skills and experience. In the middle of the year Mike Paterson reached the end of his MMI service and the post of Executive Secretary was split in three to cover Communications, Finance and general executive secretarial duties. Sue Millard, Alan Whiting and Jos McCabe took on these responsibilities with some adjustment to Jos’ Africa responsibilities. Mark Hibbert-Hingston was appointed Executive Secretary in April 2016, on a 20 hrs per week contract, while remaining a member of the European team. Longstanding Europe team member and former RTL, Rainer Thorun sadly died in post in early 2017.
McCabe stood down in August 2017, having completed 10 years in post. The incumbent chair of trustees, Maj Gen (Retd) Roddy Porter MBE felt led by the Lord to stand down in this role and apply for the CE/TL position. Trustees confirmed his calling and appointed him to assume the role from April 2018. Homfray assumed the role of chair of trustees for a limited time in his stead, with Revd Mark Chester as Vice Chair. MMI spent much of 2018 and 2019 waiting on the Lord, reflecting and praying around a sense of God wanting to do a new thing with and amongst us, based on a detailed reflection on Isaiah 43:18-19. Times of strategic prayer and discussion have taken MMI into 2020 with a renewed sense of commitment, mission and hope in the Lord and an undying belief that God wishes to use us to fulfil His purposes in the armed forces of the world; and that in some areas that will involve significant engagement in reconciliation work and peace-making. It is perhaps, therefore significant that, in 2020, Canon Andrew White joined the team as its second Patron.
MMI is seeking to develop its work in cooperation with key co-workers in the regions to which we are called. The Europe team has been bolstered by the arrival of Dražen Hržanek, a former Croatian soldier in the Bosnia Wars of the 1990’s. In India, MMI works closely with an evangelical pastor who has dedicated his life to making Christian disciples in the Indian military. In Africa, MMI works closely with a number of Chaplains and with co-workers in South Africa, Cameroon, Mozambique, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Ghana. In the Middle East, MMI has the privilege of strategic contacts in many countries where it is at best inadvisable, at worst life-threatening to declare faith in Jesus. God is at work even here and we are excited about what He is doing in these regions of the world.
We yearn to be more closely yoked with Jesus Christ in ministering to the military there. Our prayer is that Jesus would continue to send us to the armed forces of the nations to make disciples.