Pioneer Missionary Rev. Arthur Lewis ended his most productive earthly life at age 89.
Arthur Roland Lewis was born in Kingsley, Cheshire, England. When he was 8 years old his family moved to Solihull. By age 19 Arthur Lewis was convinced that he was called to be a missionary. He studied at Oxford University where his lecturers included J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
Ordained at the youngest possible age, he joined the Church of England’s University Mission to Central Africa and in 1947 began his half century of missionary service on this continent.
Rev. Arthur Lewis spent 11 years serving at various mission stations in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) and on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. He quickly learned the local language, Swahili. Rev. Lewis managed to preach fluently in Swahili without the need of an interpreter.
In 1958 Arthur Lewis married Gladys and moved to Rhodesia. Their first appointment to St. Faith’s Mission in Rusape proved to be something of a nightmare. While the mission had once been very successful, social work and the attached farm had come to take over and the Gospel work was side-lined. Rev. Lewis soon discovered that the farm was also used as a front for a communist revolutionary movement. After much hard work and a determined struggle, Arthur Lewis was able to re-establish the Church and Mission as a dynamic Christian enterprise. Amidst all the trauma of St. Faith’s Mission, their first child, Margaret Faith was born.
In 1960 Arthur and Gladys Lewis moved to St. Peter’s Mission, Mandea, in the Honde River Valley, on Rhodesia’s Eastern Frontier with Mozambique. Based over 100 km from the nearest town Umtali, with only one very inadequate winding gravel track in and out of the sweltering valley, Arthur Lewis achieved a solid and lasting work amongst the Shona people. For many of the local tribesmen the Lewis’ were the only whites that they had seen.
Over the next 9 years Arthur Lewis built up St. Peters Mission and planted 14 outstations. The church built by Arthur Lewis was octagonal, strongly built of steel, brick and concrete, including the pews.
It had a large white cross on the top and was built to be as near to indestructible as possible. Despite all the war that raged across the Honde River Valley, St. Peters Mission still stands. It was during their service at St. Peters Mission in Mandea that their son Anthony Peter was born.
Battling the W.C.C.
It was Rev. Arthur Lewis who first exposed the insidious spread of liberation theology and the devious work of the World Council of Churches in using church funds to advance communist terrorist movements. His book, Christian Terror, created a sensation as it documented how missionaries, pastors and other Christians were being brutally murdered in Rhodesia by Robert Mugabe’s ZANU terrorists and Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU who were the recipients of generous World Council of Churches funding. As a result even Readers Digest picked up the scandalous story and the Salvation Army and Baptists withdrew from membership with the WCC in protest.
Rhodesia Christian Group
To help mobilize prayer and action on behalf of Christians suffering on the frontline of the battle for Christian civilisation, against the advance of Soviet and Red Chinese backed communism, Rev. Arthur Lewis launched the Rhodesia Christian Group. His regular RCG letters provided a unique insight to the war in Rhodesia and the strategies being employed by the marxists to destroy this vibrant Christian civilisation.
In 1969 the Lewis’s were given responsibility for the Chapel of St. Catherine’s in Inyanga in the Eastern Highlands and for a congregation at Rusape.
Arthur Lewis’s courage in using his writing and speaking skills to expose the duplicity and treachery of the liberation theologians and the World Council of Churches made him a major voice for Rhodesia. In 1976 he was elected to the Rhodesian Senate and the Church of England granted him temporary leave to accept this responsibility.
After the betrayal of Rhodesia in 1980 the Lewis’s moved to South Africa and he was assigned to a congregation in Phalaborwa.
Rev. Arthur Lewis was the first person to become an Honorary Member of Frontline Fellowship. It was in 1983, shortly after the launch of our Mission in 1982, that I approached him with the request for him to join our Board.
Father Arthur Lewis was also a Founder Member of United Christian Action which later became the Christian Action Network. For over 27 years Rev. Arthur Lewis has been an encouragement, frequently communicating, correcting, rebuking and advising us as to how we could be more effective in serving suffering Christians and advancing the Kingdom of God in Africa.
In 1987, after a half century of missionary service in Africa, the Lewis’ “retired” to England. There Rev. Lewis assisted in the parish of St. Alphege and continued to write for the Rhodesia Christian Group.
A Living Legacy
Arthur Lewis has many spiritual children throughout Africa and we praise God that, despite the treachery of politicians, God’s work is advancing, God’s people are standing firm and the Church of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is growing in both depth and extent throughout Southern and Central Africa. We praise God for the faithful decades of service invested in God’s Kingdom in Africa by Rev. Arthur Lewis.
Faithful to the Scriptural command he is one who preached the Word, in season and out of season, convincing, rebuking, exhorting, with all long- suffering and teaching, being watchful in all things, enduring afflictions, doing the work of an evangelist and fulfilling his ministry (2 Timothy 4: 2-5).
Along with the Apostle Paul, Arthur Lewis can say at the end of his long and productive life: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the Faith.” 2 Timothy 4: 7.
For the fulfillment of the Great Commission.