Logos Ministries International (LMI) was founded in 1977 by Thomas and Yvonne McClean; a newly married couple living in Belfast who felt called by God to serve in mission. It was born out of the Worldwide convention, which is an annual missionary convention that has been held in Bangor, Northern Ireland since 1937. Thomas and Yvonne both had an interest in mission and it was because of this that they attended the convention in the seventies while they were dating. At the convention of 1976, after being challenged by the various meetings that they attended, Dr Eric Moore (a missionary with HCJB) prayed with the young couple that God would guide them as they sought the Lord’s will for their lives.
In June 1977 Thomas and Yvonne were married, and on their honeymoon they dedicated their lives for God’s service. Six weeks later they attended the 1977 Worldwide convention and were challenged once more about serving God. It was at the convention that year that Thomas and Yvonne felt God’s clear direction to start weekly missionary meetings in their home so that young people could come to hear missionaries present the challenge of mission and speak about their work. Their vision was that through this the young people would be inspired to pray for and support mission and that some would commit to missionary service.
Whilst looking round the exhibition stand at the 1977 convention they mentioned their desire to start weekly missionary meetings to a lady on the AIM (Africa Inland Mission- now known as AIM International) stand and she told them that an AIM missionary was coming home in a number of weeks. By faith Thomas and Yvonne booked the missionary to speak at their first meeting; eight young people attended. This marked the beginning of YEMF Youth Evangelical Missionary Fellowship. (In 1994 YEMF was changed to Logos Ministries and subsequently in 2003 International was added to reflect the growth of the ministry and its sphere of influence.)
In September 1977 Thomas and Yvonne sent out the first prayer letter from YEMF to share with others the vision of encouraging young people to get involved in mission and supporting missionary work through mission projects. Over time the number of young people that attended the weekly missionary meetings in their home grew and more and more young people were being challenged to play their part in mission. At YEMF weekends the need for young people to dedicate themselves for missionary service was presented and many responded to God’s call at these events.
Thomas and Yvonne’s own call to mission service was compounded by their first visit to Africa in 1979 with AIM. Over three months they travelled 5,000 miles visiting eight AIM mission stations and six different tribes, which enabled them to see mission work first hand. During this trip their eyes were opened to the work of missionaries seeking to spread the Gospel and the national church. On their return they spoke about the need to be involved in mission and raised money to sponsor projects in the areas they had visited. Other mission trips to Portugal, Holland and the Azore Islands also made a lasting impression upon their lives. In 1981 Thomas left his job as a manager in a builders and suppliers hardware store and Yvonne left the civil service to step out in faith and go into full-time ministry with YEMF.
Through faith, prayer and the generous giving of people’s time and resources LMI’s first mission office was opened in 1982 at 147 Albertbridge Road, Belfast. Pastor Francisco Corello (a Portugese pastor whom Thomas & Yvonne had worked with in Portugal and the Azore Islands) opened the building and it became the hub of the organisation’s work for the next twenty years.
Shortly after the headquarters was set up in Belfast the first Evangelism Training Course was held in the office, and it marked the launch of the Summer Outreach Programme. In the years that followed many young people joined the summer outreach teams whose aim was to engage in evangelism at agricultural shows and fairs with the aid of a mobile literature unit, from which evangelistic literature was distributed and Christian books were sold.
In the early eighties, ten students (one from Germany, three from Kenya and six from Northern Ireland) benefitted from the In-service Discipleship and Missionary Training Programme which was held at the mission headquarters. What a time of blessing the students experienced as they sat under some of Ulster’s finest Bible teachers. The students also gained practical experience by speaking in church meetings in Northern Ireland while they attended the programme. Over time it became apparent that the best way to continue in the training of nationals was through distance learning as it is more cost effective to train them in their own communities.
In 1984 Thomas and Yvonne made a return visit to Kenya to work directly with the national church and during this trip they were challenged again by the need for solid Bible teaching to assist the spiritual growth of local believers. It was not long after this trip that Rev Bob Munn, who had been a lecturer for thirty years at the European Bible Institute in France, made available to them Bible courses that he had created during his teaching career. These courses constituted the first YEMF Bible Teaching Ministry materials and were a means by which the mission could help the national church.
In the 1990s text books and question and answer assignments were introduced to the Bible Teaching Ministry and this led to the setting up of the various study programmes that LMI offer. The Student Sponsorship Scheme was launched to enable people from developing countries who could speak English and wanted to study God’s word, to do so free of charge through student sponsorship.
In 1989 an opportunity opened up for a YEMF team to go into a local school for one week of evangelism. At the time it was thought that this would be a one-off event, but this was the start of a youth and schools ministry that continues today. This aspect of the ministry has had an amazing impact on many young lives in Northern Ireland. Thousands of young people have been in contact with our various schools outreach teams over the years. This work also extended to England, the Republic of Ireland and other overseas countries.
Motivating for mission is another aspect of the work that has been greatly used by God. In the early days, ‘Going Places for God’ conferences were organised and the Mobile Missionary Exhibition became a special feature at different mission events. (Forty missions and fifteen bible colleges were involved in the exhibition.) In addition when Thomas & Yvonne went to share about the work in different churches and to encourage people to pray for and support the ministry, they also challenged individuals to get involved in mission. Today this area of the ministry is known as LMI’s Mission Awareness Programme as teams go to churches and youth groups to present the challenge of mission.
Since the millennia the overseas ministry has grown significantly. The millennial year was pivotal in the mission’s history as Thomas and Yvonne attended Amsterdam 2000, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s conference for church and mission leaders. At the conference Thomas & Yvonne made many connections with national church leaders and God used this to provide opportunities for what is known today as LMI’s Overseas Ministry Programme. Trips to Northern, Central and Eastren Europe, USA, Canada, Haiti, India, Andaman Islands, Indonesia, Philippines, East Asia and different parts of Africa were undertaken in the preceding years, some through contacts made at Amsterdam 2000 and some as the result of other doors of opportunity opening.
Assisting the national church practically became a focus once more of LMI’s ministry in 2004 after a trip to the Andaman Islands. The team that went to the islands saw how an evangelist needed a means of transport to carry out her work more effectively. After the tsunami that devastated the region on 26th December, just a few weeks after the team’s return, LMI began the process of fundraising to assist the local church with relief efforts. Today, LMI has different Overseas Mission Projects in both Asia and Africa to assist local churches in various ways.
In 2006 LMI moved to its current office in Bellsbridge Office Park, Ladas Drive, which was purchased solely through donations received from individuals, churches and Christian trusts.
Today LMI is having an impact around the world. Every aspect of the ministry has grown, however, mission awareness has remained an integral part of the work. Our motto remains the same; we want the world to know Jesus.