Annual report 2019-2020

A review of IFES ministry 2019-2020

A Word from Jamil Chabouh  

Dear brothers and sisters  

A thousand brothers and sisters from more than 160 countries meeting together in one place, singing God’s praises, opening his Word, learning from one another, weeping together for our broken world. In many ways that picture of our global fellowship at the IFES World Assembly 2019 stands in stark contrast to the present reality of isolation, disruption and grief caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

And yet it is not all different. As an IFES family we remain united in Christ as we cry out to God for his mercy and his grace. We have the same calling to shine the light of the gospel in the university. Students around the world are standing together, bringing their creativity and initiative as they serve their communities with determination and love.   

We press on. Our vision for the university is unchanged, but we are living in a changed world.   

“This virus is very contagious. So is panic, fear, anxiety, discouragement. But also calm, peace, trust, grace, love, and kindness. We must choose wisely what we want to spread around us.” 

Jamil Chabouh · IFES Acting General Secretary  

In the face of the restrictions imposed on us by COVID-19, we have seen a generation of students retain their passion for the gospel. Their willingness to keep in touch with one another has been supported by a fantastic creativity to maintain Bible studies, prayer meetings, training, and mutual support.  They have been able to create new ways of delivering our ministry.  

It is this student energy that we want to capture in our strategic planning for the coming ten years. The process began at World Assembly with the input of our national movements and senior staff. We have continued to work to understand the context of our global ministry and the priorities we need to focus on as we look ahead. By God’s grace, we will appoint a new IFES General Secretary this year, who will lead the IFES Fellowship into this time.     

So, dear friends, I invite you to read the stories in this annual report, to rejoice in God’s grace and blessings to IFES and to pray for his continued help as we bring a message of hope and deliverance to the current student generation. Pray for our students and staff that we will grow in our communion with one another and with the Lord. May we all fix our eyes on the one who never changes.    

Your brother in Christ, 

Jamil Chabouh  
IFES Acting General Secretary  

Vision and mission

Our vision is to see students built into communities of disciples, transformed by the gospel and impacting the university, the church and society for the glory of Christ. 

IFES shapes lives and develops student leaders all around the world. We support locally led student movements in over 170 different countries. We are committed to seeing a student witness established in every university in the world.

Our Focus 


IFES seeks to equip students in effective witness: to encourage them to initiate spiritual conversations, to hold evangelistic Bible studies and events, and to live lives of grace that point others to Jesus. We provide training, funding and materials to strengthen evangelism and to enable movements to share ideas and resources.


IFES has student fellowships in over 160 countries. But there are still thousands of university campuses around the globe without any Christian witness. We believe that every student should have the opportunity to hear about Jesus. IFES continues to pioneer new student ministries in unreached campuses, cities and countries.

Leadership Development

Through student groups, national movements and regional events, IFES invests in student leaders all over the world. We want to see students grow into lifelong disciples of Christ, and to become leaders of integrity and vision. IFES supports its graduates as they move into the workplace, church leadership and society.

Strengthening and Supporting National Movements

We believe the most effective way to see gospel impact is through indigenously led national movements. IFES regional teams provide training and resources to enable national movements to flourish. Global ministry programs work alongside regional teams to help movements engage with Scripture, develop wise governance and develop local partnerships.

Engaging the University

The university is where people engage with the big questions. IFES seeks to empower and equip students, faculty and researchers to join and re-orient conversations across the academic world. Through regional consultations, resources, grants, e-learning, mentoring, and research, national movements are equipped to help students think biblically and live distinctively, missionally and incarnationally.

Global Initiatives

International Student Ministry

The rising number of international students around the world means that international student ministry has become a focus in national and regional training, planning and ministry. One encouraging story was that of a student from the Middle East who moved to Eurasia to study. He heard the gospel and became a Christian through the IFES movement. This group in Eurasia was specifically for international students and was funded by an IFES Breaking New Ground grant.

As this significant global trend affords opportunities for reaching the unreached, international student ministry will continue to be a growing focus for IFES regions and national movements in 2020. This will be important as we adapt to the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


At World Assembly 2019, we celebrated 12 new member movements who became affiliated to IFES. Each one of these movements is the fruit of pioneering efforts over many years. Pioneering ministry continues in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as well as in South Asia, the South Pacific, Francophone Africa, Eurasia, English- and Portuguese-speaking Africa (EPSA) and East Asia.

In Equatorial Guinea, English- and Portuguese- speaking Africa (EPSA): Aida Banyuls, a graduate of GBU Spain, moved to Equatorial Guinea in 2019 to work with the local Christian students to pioneer a national movement. Local churches have been supportive, and a group of students have begun meeting together to pray and read the Bible. They would like to get permission from the university to meet officially as a group on campus and are planning to start a Bible study for seekers in the near future.

In Dutch St Maarten, Caribbean: Monique Rollings, a graduate of JSS Suriname, is now working to pioneer a student movement in Dutch St Maarten, a small island in the Caribbean. Churches are many, but collaboration between them is rare, and schools are reluctant to allow Christian groups to meet on campus.

The South Pacific pioneering group gathers together at World Assembly 2019


The end of 2019 saw 3,000 students, graduates and staff gather in Germany for the IFES Europe student evangelism conference, Revive. 68 countries were represented, including delegates from places like Israel, Guatemala and The Gambia.

Though coming from very different contexts, the conference brought together students longing for God to revive their hearts, their universities and their region. Bible teaching and small group time focused on Acts 1-5. Seminars gave students and graduates the opportunity to explore big questions of faith, evangelism and apologetics. During the conference, students raised money for the first student missions conference in the IFES region of South Asia, happening in 2021.

“God gave me a new vision for my ministry (leading the local VBG group in Switzerland), and for my professional life, and for me personally… It was MASSIVE! and it still continues in my everyday life, God revealing himself to me in a way I never experienced before.”

“Revive set my heart on fire and I want every young Christian to experience the same fire I have now in my heart for Jesus.”

Global Leadership Initiative

The second cohort of the Global Leadership Initiative is underway with 21 young leaders from all eleven IFES regions. The program seeks to invest in the next generation of young leaders in IFES. This cohort first met together in December 2018 in Malaysia. Following the conference, each participant met with their mentor monthly via Skype throughout 2019. The students also had the opportunity to share valuable time in person with their mentors at the World Assembly. Mentoring is a crucial part of the program. One participant shared her experience:

“Being mentored as part of the GLI program has helped me see ministry challenges in a different light. Rather than shying away from them, I have been encouraged to use my strengths to find solutions and to lead my team from a place of joy and confidence.”


In March 2020 the cohort met in Ukraine for their second gathering, before the coronavirus pandemic was widespread. Further gatherings will be online until it is safe to meet again in person.

Members of the first cohort of the Global Leadership Initiative at their first meeting in Oxford.

Indigenous Support Development (ISD)

The ISD program continues to gain momentum across the globe through the launch of its e-learning course, “Introduction to Indigenous Support Development,” in September 2019 (in English and French). Twenty leaders from 13 countries took part in the English speaking-cohort, and 25 leaders from Francophone Africa enrolled in the French course. The course materials will be released in Spanish, Russian and Portuguese during 2020.

In 2019, ISD training and coaching was conducted with the movements in Bolivia, The Gambia, Fiji, Ukraine, Rwanda and two movements in Eurasia.

“After the workshop, the number of student donors in [one] city has doubled, to God be the glory.”

CCU, Bolivia

PSFC Fiji was the first national movement to take ISD training in the South Pacific. During the training, they held their biggest fundraising event ever in which more than 100 guests gave generously to support the ongoing ministry among students.

ISD training during the Institute of Staff Training and Development in Jos, Nigeria

East Asia Graduate Conference

In August 2019, the East Asia Graduate Conference took place in Tokyo and was attended by 370 graduates from 16 movements across the region. Participants were encouraged through times of fellowship, Bible teaching and hearing stories of how graduate ministry is advancing in different contexts around East Asia. The conference focused on the graduates’ role as ambassadors of reconciliation in the workplace and beyond. In a context of extremely high pressure for graduates, long working hours and, in many places, corruption, investing in graduate ministry in East Asia will continue to be of great value in the years to come.

Governance Development

Since this program began seven years ago, 128 IFES movements have now received initial governance training. Over the last three years, the Governance Development team has returned to 72 of those movements for follow-up visits. By providing resources tailored to the needs of each individual board, these follow-up visits have helped to ensure the success of each movement’s board.

The board of TAFES Tanzania received follow-up training in May 2019. One participant reflected:

“The training will help me not only in TAFES but even in my private engagement in the NGO where I work and my business.”

The coaching program launched in 2018 has been well-received by the four national movements currently taking part: Gabon, Burundi, Uruguay, and El Salvador.

Other highlights of the Governance Development year included the training of new trainers, which took place in Rwanda in February. There are now over 30 multi-lingual trainers in all regions of IFES who provide in-country training and assist in board coaching. Training is conducted in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

The board of the national movement in eSwatini after governance training

World Assembly

In July 2019, students, staff, volunteers and key stakeholders from IFES gathered in South Africa for World Assembly. The quadrennial global gathering saw more than 1,000 participants coming together from 167 national movements all over the world.

World Assembly focused on our role as messengers of hope in the world’s universities. We spent time together worshipping, studying God’s Word and thinking about our response to current issues in higher education. We met as a General Committee, welcomed new movements, elected new Board members and a new Chair. And we encouraged one another, enjoying opportunities for fellowship, networking and learning in a culturally rich and diverse environment.


IFES Regional Leadership

IFES regional secretaries provide mentoring, supervision, and training for staff and students. They connect national movements and share ideas, expertise, challenges, and encouragement across their regions. They represent their region to IFES, helping us respond to the diverse and ever-changing cultures and contexts of the world’s universities.

The Board

The IFES Board is composed of a chair, a treasurer, and thirteen other voting members from around the world, two of whom are student representatives. It is responsible for ensuring IFES doctrinal integrity and for policy making. The Board is appointed by the General Committee.


IFES invests in regional teams and global ministry programs to support national movements as they carry out our shared vision of vibrant student ministry across the globe. These resources  provide training and resources for national movements to equip strong leaders, grow local financial support, expand to new cities and campuses, develop critical organizational infrastructure, and reach students with the hope of the gospel.

Our administrative services continue to provide quality support for our global and regional programs and help ministries increase in overall efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, the 2019 World Assembly was an important investment in the community of our global fellowship, helping grow relationships among our 160 affiliated national movements. A significant portion of IFES program income comes in at the end our fiscal year to be used for the following year’s projects. The financial report reflects our combined operations based on the audited financial statements for IFES-UK and IFES/USA as well as the independently examined financial statements for IFES-Switzerland. The Ministry Expenditure analysis presented is categorized with our international audience in mind. The financial statements used for this report from the three IFES entities based in the UK, USA, and Switzerland are available upon request.

IFES/USA is an accredited member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and a Valued Partner with GuideStar Exchange. In the UK, IFES is registered with the Fundraising Regulator.


IFES is grateful for the donations of partners like you that have allowed us to continue to support student ministry in all parts of the world, under God’s blessing. As an expression of our Christian faith, we are committed to maintaining a high level of financial accountability and responsible stewardship of your generous gifts.

Partner with us

When you partner with us, you join a global effort to bring the gospel to students. Together we can do more to see student ministry thrive around the world. 


Our efforts are meaningless unless prayer is at the center. Join us as we ask God to move in the hearts of students around the world. Sign up to read stories that will inspire your prayers for IFES. Invite your friends or church members to share our vision by hosting a monthly IFES prayer meeting.


We want more people to be part of IFES’ mission and we need partners like you to help. Keep up with the latest from IFES by signing up for Conexión and share our stories and updates with your network. You can also connect with us on social media and share our posts with your friends and family.


We are thankful for financial partners like you who allow us to continue our work through generous giving. Your regular gifts directly impact our efforts and allow us to plan for the future. Make a one-time donation or set up monthly giving. Consider adding IFES to your estate or legacy planning.

We are driven by the power of the gospel to unite students around the world. We look forward to the day when every nation will be gathered together. Until then, we thank you for praying, connecting, and giving with us as we continue the mission.

Young pioneers gather at World Assembly 2019

Further reports

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