The vision of the mission was born in the hearts of Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Sommerville and the first steps were taken towards its small beginning in Cleveland, Ohio. However, SEE was not officially incorporated until February 7, 1957 in the state of Indiana. At that time it became an official mission with a council of 15 members and was declared as a non-profit organization.
Miss Laura Copp joined the Sommervilles in 1957 to form the first team whose mission was to start a Baptist church in Toulouse, a city of over 300,000 inhabitants with no Gospel-preaching church. For 30 years they labored in that great harvest field and saw hundreds come to Christ. There too, they founded a Bible Institute that has trained more than 100 young people, most of whom are serving the Lord as full-time pastors, evangelists and Bible teachers in France, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Haiti, and the United States.
In 1968, five young people arrived from the United States to begin the Intensive Missionary Training (IMT) program. In the years that followed, others joined them and teams evangelized much of southwestern France, starting a number of churches. All of these churches exist today with pastors taught and trained in our Bible Institute.
In 1978, the Lord enabled SEE to begin a church in the heart of Paris, the great city of 11 million inhabitants, which is the largest metropolitan area of Europe.
For several years, the church had a fifteen minute radio program which was aired twice daily to an audience numbering between 50,000 and 75,000 people.
Then in 1981 the headquarters of the mission moved from Toulouse to Paris where the ministry of the Bible Institute and the IMT program continue.
Since then, the Paris church has helped SEE plant five new churches: one in Nice on the French Riviera, one in Lille, the fifth largest city in France, one in Somain, one in Aix-en-Provence, and a second church in Paris.
In 2012, Dr. Steve Fowler became the American Director of the mission and continued to work alongside Dr. Sommerville throughout the country of France. In May of 2020, Dr. Fowler became the international director of the mission after the passing of Dr. Sommerville. He continues working both in France and in America, leading evangelistic efforts, building up the church, training young people for ministry, recruiting students, and representing the mission.
If you are interested in the history of SEE or if you have any questions, please contact Dr. Fowler at email@example.com