Tributes have been paid to SIM UK's oldest retired missionary Joe Mooney, who has died, aged 102.
Having accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour at the age of 16, Joe experienced God’s call to be a missionary in Africa, just three years later,
After completing the course at the Bible Training institute (BTI) in Glasgow, Joe applied to SIM, having been introduced to the mission by Alex Stewart.
In May 1940, he set sail for west Africa and celebrated his 23rd birthday on board. When he arrived at Minna Language School in Nigeria, Joe was given a warm welcome by Alex and Winnie Stewart.
After completing his language study, Joe then immersed himself in the church-planting ministry. This involved several weeks’ absence as he trekked through 'the bush' to reach villages and preach the gospel where there was no Christian witness.
On returning from his first furlough, Joe married Margaret Jameson, from North Shields, whom he had previously met at BTI. Initially, they were posted to a Leper settlement near Sokoto, in the Muslim north of the country, but later, they were assigned to a new ministry in Angwa Takwa, amongst animistic peoples.
It was a very isolated and primitive area - 50 miles from the nearest white person and like all pioneering work, it was not easy. However, Joe and Margaret rejoiced to see people come out of darkness into the light of Jesus Christ.
During their eight years there, the couple's two children Gordon and Eileen were born and the children’s presence opened many a door for the gospel.
For their final tour of service with SIM, they were posted to Kaltungo, east of Jos, where there was a large church with 40 associated out-stations, as well as a dispensary, a large primary school and a mission hospital and teacher training college nearby.
In addition to other duties, Joe was elected to the position of District Superintendent, which involved the support and supervision of the work of 33 missionaries in their various stations scattered throughout the area.
After 20 years of service in Africa, Joe returned to Northern Ireland, where he trained for the Presbyterian ministry and served the Lord in Grange at a country parish until he retired after 21 years in 1982.
On retirement, he moved to Belfast and joined St John’s as pastoral assistant and also became part of the SIM Irish Council. His son Gordon has lived in Canada for many years and his daughter Eileen lived close to the sheltered accommodation Joe moved to, after Margaret was called to “higher service” in 2009.
Even in his later years, Joe was always encouraging missionaries serving with SIM from Ireland through his emails and prayer. He celebrated his 100th birthday in 2017 and his kindness and warm sense of humour, together with his devotion and faithfulness to Christ, will long be remembered.
SIM Ireland Director
Thank God for Joe's faithful service as a great evangelist and prayer warrior.
Please remember Joe's daughter Eileen (and family) who had been supporting him in recent days and his son Gordon, flying over from Canada to be at the funeral on Friday, March 6.