Transformed by love  


“With the Christian student community, I realized that in this world I am loved. I’m not alone here.” 

For student Sophia*, this was not just a good feeling. It was life-saving. 

She had been suffering from the personal repercussions of war in the Eurasia region. Her boyfriend had left the country, her father was drafted into military service, and her mother, due to a change in personal circumstances, also moved abroad. She was devastated.  

Her loneliness further deepened because she felt so at odds with the political beliefs of those around her. Day after day, she lay in bed, often screaming into her pillow. She was diagnosed with severe depression. 

At that time, Anya*, a volunteer staff with the national student movement, invited her on a church trip to see some horses. “For the first time in months, I started to feel something – it was happiness,” Sophia recalls. As she was touched by the beauty of the animals and the friendship of the group, she felt able to engage in conversation about God. She heard how he not only saves us, but keeps going with us, coming alongside in troubled times. The darkness started to lift. 

This was a reawakening of the love Sophia had experienced a couple of years prior. At the time, a close relative was sick with cancer, and Sophia shared her distress with a Christian lecturer at the university. She offered to pray for Sophia and brought her a copy of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, which Sophia devoured. Then she invited Sophia, along with other students, to her home for meals, Bible studies, and prayer. This is when Sophia first met Anya. 

Sophia describes the quality of relationship in those gatherings: “I felt loved – they always listened to everybody and seemed to relate to the pain students were going through. They never superficially asked ‘How are you?’. They were truly interested in our answers.” 

Life-changing groups like these were widespread in this country until the pandemic and a recent war. Anya is one of two volunteers and nine staff who currently work across six cities to sustain and re-invigorate this IFES national movement. At the end of August, staff were able to train up a dozen new student leaders with their “Ambassador” program. In her university city, Anya says that their main goal is to develop relationships with the students: “We dream of reviving the traditions of student lunches and dinners.” 

And Sophia?  

“I’m still working on my emotional condition. But I know for sure: if it were not for God, prayers, and the love of that family, if it were not for the other students that I can talk to and have some fun with, I would never feel anything again. But now I do. And I’m really thankful for that.” 

Pray with us for students and staff in this Eurasia movement: 

  • Give thanks that the love of God has been felt as well as heard. Give thanks for Sophia*, Anya*, and the student ministry in this sensitive country – that in the midst of personal and national troubles, God is at work. 
  • Pray for protection and inspiration for the movement as it seeks to navigate the limitations caused by recent political events. Pray that the staff will be able to establish deep, loving relationships with students in all six cities. 
  • Pray for the student leaders who attended the “Ambassador” training – that they will be filled with all the wisdom, boldness, and love they need to be witnesses for Jesus in their universities. 

*Names changed to protect identities 

Sowing seeds on new ground

Last August, a unique opportunity catalysed pioneering student ministry in several sensitive countries in Eurasia. A team of 13 students and staff workers, selected mostly from various national movements in the region, spent two weeks in a sensitive country training students from Eurasian countries yet to establish formal national student movements.

The team led Bible studies, talks, seminars and worship sessions, and shared testimonies – all with the goal of imparting a vision for student ministry that would encourage small beginnings.  In this, they were sowing and watering the seeds of new student movements.

More than 30 young believers from these Eurasian countries took part, and the training team was deeply moved by the strength of their faith.

“We really were humbled hearing from the students here,” shared one staff worker. “Many students are first-generation believers, from broken family backgrounds. I was speechless to see how vibrant and real their faith is.”

The IFES Eurasia region contains a diverse mix of countries: some have active and growing student movements while other nations have little religious freedom and no formal student ministry. Regional training events, like this one, inspire students in their first steps towards forming student groups and reaching out to peers.

As a result of last August’s event, Christian students in one country launched an English-speaking club in the park for their friends before boldly asking the university authorities for a regular meeting room. Students in a different country committed to start studying Scripture with their friends using Uncover Bible study notes.

A student from yet another country was inspired to share the gospel with her lecturer. “I don’t want to waste time,” she said. “I will be direct and just share the gospel. I will invite my lecturer to a coffee shop, and I will talk to her about prayer. We have a very good relationship, and she believes that prayer is the key to paradise. I want to explain to her what true prayer means. I am really surprised about where my courage has come from.”

The team received many invitations to return, and local church leaders have received such positive feedback from their student attendees that they want to send more people next time. In August 2023, IFES will organise a second training team to visit this country. In addition, 10 students from this sensitive country and one from another sensitive country have already applied to participated in an IFES Eurasia student leaders formation event being held in July.

Please pray with us for students in Eurasia:

  • Pray for boldness and passion for students who attended the training and are starting to form new student groups.
  • Pray for fruit in the country that the team visited.
  • Pray for more opportunities to start Christian student groups in areas of Eurasia where there are none.
  • Pray that God will use the formation event in July and the training event in August to raise up even more young leaders who will strengthen student witness in this region.

See what God does!

The team at CICI, the national movement in Armenia, thought that Hannah* did not seem interested in Jesus. And although she wanted to come to camp after being invited, she didn’t have the money to go. Amazingly, however, God inspired someone else to generously pay for her place. “After this,” says a staff worker, “I had a strong feeling that something would happen.”

At the camp, located on the shores of the beautiful Lake Sevan, students were challenged to embrace their identity in Christ, see the world his way, and give their lives, more wholeheartedly than ever, to Jesus. Many students had powerful experiences of God. “The Holy Spirit came with power and revealed Jesus,” says Anna, the general secretary of the movement. “See what God does!”

One evening the students were using drama to explore the Bible in sketches. The staff worker was surprised to see Hannah in tears. She went over, and asked Hannah what she thought of camp. “I’ve learnt so many new things about God,” she said, “but I still have many questions.” The next day, she and a CICI volunteer prayed together. “It was amazing for Hannah”, shares the staff worker, “and she is now so hungry to know more about God and about our fellowship.”

Please pray with us for Hannah and CICI Armenia:

  • Give thanks to God for the work of the Holy Spirit at camp and pray that the students would continue to pursue Jesus while they grow as disciples.
  • Pray that Hannah and other camp participants who are still searching would find hope in Jesus. Pray for the Holy Spirit to continue working in all the students’ lives, especially those who don’t know Jesus for themselves, and those who had powerful spiritual experiences.
  • Pray for the new school year, and the start of new groups in the cities of Gyumri and Alaverdi.
  • Please pray for a blessing on CICI’s banking and accounting, as the processes are often confusing, complicated, and time consuming. The last few months have been particularly challenging.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

Thank you for supporting CICI Armenia in prayer.

If you feel led to contribute to their movement financially, you can do so here.

In the midst of the darkness (Part Two)

The war in Ukraine has impacted the work of IFES on a number of levels. In this special two-part edition of Conexión, we share first-hand accounts of how, even in the midst of the darkness of war, God is working. Here you can read perspectives from IFES students, staff, and graduates in surrounding countries affected by the war, and the role the fellowship has played in providing support. You can read Part One, which features first-hand accounts from Ukraine and Russia, here.

Vera, Poland: ‘God answers quickly and gives abundantly.’ 

For ChSA Poland staff worker Vera, the war in Ukraine initially presented her with a dilemma. When news of it came, she was attending a youth conference with some Belarusian students when the news came. One student left immediately to drive to the border and pick up friends. Vera wondered – should she also jump in the car and race down to Ukraine?  

As it turned out, she didn’t need to.  As the coming months showed, God had different plans. Vera was born in Russia, but her family relocated to Canada when she was a child. Later, Vera served with InterVarsity Canada before moving to Świdnica, Poland. This background prepared her perfectly to make a difference in the crisis that unfolded after Ukraine’s invasion.  

When Vera returned home to Świdnica from the conference, she was surprised to find Ukrainians already in her town.  Using her Canadian connections, Vera and her husband Konrad began fundraising for refugee accommodation with their church. Generous friends gave over four times what Vera requested. Consequently, they were able to open seven rooms, with an overflow space housing 25-30 people in the church hostel. There was so much money left they even rented a seven-bedroom house, which is currently a haven for 15 people.  

“The way God provided finances was really amazing,” says Vera. “The account would get close to zero, and then more funds would come from places we weren’t expecting. Similarly, while we looked into renting small apartments, I prayed for the house that I envisioned – big and empty, with light and a garden. The next day, a house exactly like this became available. We prayed specific prayers, and God answered quickly and gave abundantly.” 

As she recounts her experience, Vera emphasises the mutually fulfilling relationships she has developed with these refugees. “I’m expecting a baby and many of them have given me presents, like baby clothes. Because I speak Russian, it’s a friendly dynamic, not a ‘we’re helping you’ dynamic. We’re trying to start a little business on Etsy to create jobs.” The contribution of refugees is also significant in other ways: “It’s been incredible to see how the churches and youth groups have grown. It’s a huge gift to the church in Poland to receive so many people with different experiences. As we give to them, so too we receive a lot from our Ukrainian brothers and sisters.” 

This has also been the story for ChSA. While they’ve sent two trucks of supplies to CCX and assisted with temporary residence applications. they also emphasise that the refugees from Ukraine and elsewhere are beginning something new. In Warsaw, there are many young men from Belarus who have escaped from the risk of conscription. There, a staff worker (himself from Belarus) has been meeting with Belarusian and Russian-speaking students – including non-Christian students.  

“God is using this horrible situation to begin something in Poland,” explains Vera. “So, we need to remember why we’re doing this. A lot of people have reached their limits and they’re tired. Pray for people to come to Jesus. Pray for openness, and for vision to see the opportunities.” 

Adelina, Romania: ‘Meeting the Ukrainian people made me realise that the only solution is Jesus.’ 

Suceava, the city where Adelina is a student, is in northern Romania, close to Ukraine’s southern border. In the first week of the war, 42,000 refugees came to the city. Since then, over a million have entered Romania and, of these, around 85,000 have decided to stay. “It all began very suddenly,” Adelina remembers. “I wanted to help, but there was one big barrier. I didn’t know Ukrainian, and they didn’t know English or Romanian. What could I do? 

“I struggled a lot. I saw everybody trying to give food and clothing. But I felt they weren’t addressing the soul, the trauma people had been through.” Adelina has met many people devastated by war: “kids with no parents, single parents, and old people, with no hope and no direction.” There is one encounter that stays with her. “I met a lady who was really scared and in pain. I asked what I could do to help her. But she just looked at me with tears in her eyes and said ‘unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to help me’. My breathing stopped and I felt a pain in my chest. I felt powerless – everything felt pointless.” 

Adelina’s experience of the war has been defined by “moments of unrest, questioning, and feeling overwhelmed.” But it has made other things more certain for her. “Meeting the Ukrainian people and hearing their stories, I realise that the only solution for our lives is Jesus.” 

There have been occasions when the love and hope of Jesus shines through especially brightly. “There were some people who couldn’t explain for themselves how we were able to do so much for them, how we could open our hearts and hands for them,” Adelina says. “I can define my experience with the word ‘hope’. When nothing makes sense, when it hurts, if God is our Father there is hope in his promises no matter the circumstances.” 

Igors, Latvia: ‘There is no space for atheism in Ukraine’. 

Igors is Secretary of Staff and Team Development within IFES. Previously he was part of the IFES Europe team, and before that he was General Secretary of LKSB, the national student movement in Latvia. Since the war began, his primary involvement has been to support Ukrainian staff. However, with roughly 30,000 Ukrainian refugees in Latvia, Igors’ wife, Nora, a LKSB board member, has had a significant role in coordinating help for these displaced people.  In Riga, a group of churches have joined together as the Baltic Global Initiative. Working with a church in Chelm, Poland, near the Ukrainian border, they have coordinated deliveries, helped refugees get to Latvia, and connected them with local communities. Latvia is a relatively uncomplicated place for Ukrainians because the two nations share a Soviet heritage. Many older Latvians speak Russian and, in Riga, Ukrainian-language schools and kindergartens still operate.  

In addition to his work at IFES, Igors is involved with the Baltic Pastoral Institute (BPI). From the outset of war, BPI students have been going to Ukraine. As Igors explains, they are eager to help because “many Latvians resonate with the experience of war from our own history.” It’s been powerful. One student said that he couldn’t recall ever having a more vivid sense of God’s presence. “The closer you go in the darkness, the stronger you feel God’s presence. It’s illogical.” Similarly, a Ukrainian told Igors that “there’s no more space in Ukraine for atheism. You need to believe in hell and heaven.” 

It’s interesting, says Igors, “because you wouldn’t think that this would be the result. But if there’s no judgement, it’s hard to face the ongoing evil, and without heaven there’s no hope. It’s raised questions of good and evil. And I can almost see the whole nation going on this spiritual journey.” 

How can we pray? “Everybody is tired,” says Igors. “For Ukrainians as well, we all feel like marathon runners, facing another phase. Collectively, we need to redefine what we’re fighting for. Pray for more strength.”

Olena and Clinton, Ukraine: ‘miraculous delivery’. 

Olena, the IFES Head of Global Resource Ministries, is from Kyiv. She helped evacuate international students during the first few weeks of the war. “Some students were simply paralysed by the fact that there is a war,” she recalls. “They needed encouragement and logistical guidance. Some were stuck in basements without food or water. When their phones were charged and internet worked, I stayed in touch, assuring them that assistance is coming. God was in the middle of it all. He connected me with local pastors and representatives of international NGOs like the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM), to join forces in helping students evacuate. It was teamwork at its best.”  

For those students, the initial ordeal is over. All were evacuated safely, and as Olena adds, “miraculously.” One evacuee, named Clinton, says that his “very existence is a huge testimony. I have seen, and still see God working in my life. From the time the invasion started until now, God in his glory has made every passage smooth for me. He has showered me with his infinite love and protection, giving me the courage and strength to forge ahead.” 

This doesn’t mean that things have been easy. “It was a traumatic, lonely experience. I don’t want to think about it.” Clinton travelled for three days to the IOM office outside Kyiv, where they assisted him in getting to Poland. There, he has resumed his studies. “Pray for me, for divine protection, provision, and comfort,” he asks. “And above all, let me not depart from God’s presence. Because I understand that without him, I am empty.” 

Audrey: ‘How God saved me out of Ukraine.’ 

“On 24 February everything had to stop. I never thought I would face war. All I did was stay inside and cry, until I no longer had words to tell God.”  

Audrey is from Tanga, Tanzania, where, for three years, she was a student with TAFES, the Tanzanian national movement. She had started a medical degree at Sumy State University, very close to the Russian border with Ukraine, when the war began.  

“I was looking for transport out of Sumy and communicating with Joan, a TAFES staff member. She linked me with Olena in Poland, who kept in touch with me throughout my journey from Sumy to Poltava, Lviv, Chop, Záhony, Budapest, and, finally, to Tanzania. She always asked if I needed any support and made sure that I was safe.”  

While Olena could offer practical support, Audrey adds that “TAFES were with me in prayer until I got to Poltava on 7 March. I saw miracles through it. All I can say is thank you CCX and TAFES. Stay faithful and believe our almighty God. I hope that through my testimony people will learn the goodness of our Lord.” 

Nay: Responding like a family 

Nay, from the IFES Europe team, has played a significant role in coordinating the IFES response to this war, in Europe and beyond. “We’ve been amazed,” she says, reflecting on how people have assisted with these efforts. Nay has also called on people to unite in prayer. “We started Whatsapp prayer groups in English and French, which have 1200 people from across the world committed to sustained prayer. We’ve run weekly Instagram Live interviews, and a monthly online prayer meeting. Supporters, staff, and students have given to the emergency funds – totalling around USD 300,000.” 

As well as facilitating prayer support, Nay is coordinating pockets of hospitality across Europe. What began as informal arrangements for the friends of Ukrainian and Belarusian staff has developed into a wider, joint effort with Langham and UFM called Ukraine Connect. “It has been amazing to see how IFES has responded,” she says. “Like a family.” 

In the midst of the darkness

The war in Ukraine has impacted the work of IFES on a number of levels. In this special two-part edition of Conexión, we share first-hand accounts of how, even in the midst of the darkness of war, God is working.  Read here the perspectives of IFES students, staff, and graduates from Ukraine as well as Russia.

The second part of this post, available here, includes accounts of how the fellowship has responded more broadly to the impact of the war. 

Anna: “I’m not afraid to die” 

Anna was a student in Kyiv before the war. Originally, she comes from Lysychansk, in the Donbas region. For months, that city was on the frontline, and the fighting was so fierce that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pronounced it a “dead city.” Nonetheless, while everybody fled Lysychansk, Anna went back home to work with a small team from her church, helping those left behind. 

Though Anna initially stayed in Lysychansk, providing basic care to those who needed it, at the beginning of April the fighting came close enough to destroy the buildings surrounding her church. The team changed their approach. Positioning themselves slightly further away, they have been driving into and out of Lysychansk, and have evacuated more than 600 people from the city. 

One evacuee, an elderly woman, attempted to end her own life several times before Anna’s team finally reached her. After having the woman checked over in hospital, they found her a place to stay and shared the gospel with her.  

The team are working in very dangerous places. One day, on the journey into Lysychansk, they met an international journalist travelling by armoured vehicle in the same direction. On the return journey a few hours later, they discovered that he had been killed by shell fragments. On another occasion, the team had to hide from shelling under a bridge.  Nonetheless, when it subsided, they got back in their van and continued towards Lysychansk.  

As Lysychansk is now under Russian occupation, the team can no longer access the city. Instead, they administer humanitarian aid in other places, while still navigating the danger and taking refuge from shelling when needed. “Every time God has provided for them,” shares Marina, CCX staff who began mentoring Anna  before the war. “I was really worried about her. But when I shared my concerns, Anna said ‘I’m not afraid of anything. I know that if I die I’ll be with Jesus. God has called me to do this, and this is the mission I should fulfil.’” 

Marina: “God is working” 

It was 5am when Marina awoke to the explosions ringing through Kyiv. Her phone was full of messages from concerned friends, and the roads out of the city were already blocked with hundreds of cars. As she sat tensely with her family at breakfast, the query of her 12-year-old stepsister brought home the reality of their situation: “am I going to die?” 

“Yes.” Marina’s reply was stark. Then she explained that “whether now, or many years in the future, what’s important is whether you are saved.” In that moment, through prayers and tears, Marina’s sister accepted Jesus. Looking back, Marina can now recognise the seeds that God had sown. “In the previous month,” she explains, “[my sister] had been asking a lot about the Bible and life after death. God was definitely working in her life.” Marina’s sister has since been attending Discipleship Explored and helping with humanitarian work at church. 

Since the war began, Marina has continued her work with CCX, the student movement in Ukraine. She meets remotely with groups from Kyiv, Cherkasy, and Mykolaiv – another city on the frontline. The students in these groups have been dispersed all over Europe. Beyond working to keep pre-war student communities strong, Marina is also helping to start a new group in a university in Kyiv, establishing friendships with around 20 students. Moreover, as part of a joint initiative with ChSA, the national movement in Poland, CCX Ukraine provided boxes of Easter gifts and gospel materials to university and high school students in Kyiv. 

Far from home, Marina knew many Ukrainians were missing the opportunity to gather and worship in their own language. Forced to leave Kyiv back in February, Marina spent two months in Western Ukraine, before moving to Bucharest. She made a new, albeit temporary, home in an apartment belonging to IFES Europe staff member Heidi—a home which included a piano. This meant Marina could arrange worship nights live on Instagram. She has since spoken to an audience of 13,000 youths, at the Christival conference in Germany, about her experience of God’s work during the war.  

Marina plans to return to Kyiv at the end of July to help prepare CCX students and staff for the new academic year. While she doesn’t know whether another attack will come, her church back home is full of new people – over 100 newcomers each Sunday. There aren’t enough Christians to help them all, and the church has run out of Bibles. As Marina explains, “they are mostly older people from Mariupol, Kharkiv, and Izum – those who have lost their jobs and homes. They have nothing. But they find hope when they come to church. 

“Students have finished exams and now need clarity about whether to continue their studies at universities in Ukraine, or apply to European universities,” explains Marina. “Please pray as well for renewed strength for CCX staff, many of whom have started new lives in other cities. Pray that God will provide for their needs and give them the strength to serve others.” 

Dmitri*: “There is something more universal than politics” 

“’How do you cope, Dmitri?’ 

‘With prayer.’ 

‘Does it work?’ My colleague was incredulous. 

‘Yes,’ I replied.  

And then we had to stop talking.” 

The city where Dmitri lives is north of the Arctic Circle and quite remote. It was there that Dmitri participated in the Russian student movement at university, and there that he made his home afterward. Nonetheless, Dmitri has, since the outbreak of war, been trying to help people in Ukraine. He used his connections to find accommodation for a family from Mariupol and help them get to Norway. Twice a week, Dmitri also does translations as part of the Psalms for Ukraine project, work that is passed along to him by Kenny, a staff member at UCCF, the UK national movement. This project serves Ukrainians whose first language is Russian

Dmitri acknowledges that it is very hard to discuss the war in Russia. “I don’t have many friends with whom I can talk about such things. People just say that it’s complicated, or that we don’t have enough information, to excuse themselves from making a judgement. Lots of people are hiding their heads in the sand.”   

Unfortunately, this malaise applies to Christians too. “While local churches spoke about justice and equality at first, they are now unwilling to speak publicly,” explains Dmitri. “Being a Protestant in Russia was dangerous before, and now even more so. And at the same time, I have Christian friends in Crimea who view the war completely differently. It’s very difficult.”         

As this new reality settles in, Dmitri asks us to pray against “war fatigue.” “We need spiritual stamina to keep praying. At some point you feel like you’ve run out of words. Pray also for the healing of both nations. No matter how the war ends, we will eventually have to look each other in the eye. Most of all, pray that believers would stay active, be salt and light, sharing hope, even when it feels like there is none.” 

Next week we will publish more perspectives from those impacted from the surrounding countries, as well as expanding on the role IFES has played in supporting students and staff who have been affected.  

*Identities have been protected for security reasons. 


For this edition of Prayerline, we want to tell the story of a country in the Eurasia region. Despite continued turbulence over the last few years, and most significantly from the war in Ukraine, student ministry has continued. It hasn’t been easy; because of the fear that men will be mobilised against Ukraine, many people are leaving the country. This means that around half the national movement staff are gone. One staff worker writes that ‘people are covered with fear, hopelessness and despair. Our economy is collapsing, people are losing their jobs and prices are steeply increased.

‘I wasn’t sure whether I should leave as well. But the students haven’t left. They continue to attend our Bible studies, so I decided to stay.’ While the national movement was advised to cancel the four mission weeks planned, the students and remaining staff were still eager to proclaim the gospel in this desperate time. So, ‘we rushed to restart our planning process’, for two missions in two different cities.

Domestic and international students joined forces alongside students from other cities who came to help. One of the mission weeks went ahead even with new student leaders and a new staff worker, who were brought close together as a team. The inspiration and fervour of the students in these two cities is spreading across campuses throughout the country. Students who no longer have a staff worker were inspired to hold their own mini missions, one of which has already taken place.

According to one staff worker, ‘those left here have been feeling lost and lonely, but it is so encouraging to know we are not alone, because students and staff have been travelling across multiple cities for the three missions. We have become more united, and the gospel is more precious to us. In one city, 13 students wrote in our feedback forms that they had prayed a prayer of repentance! Twenty-seven students came to the first follow-up Bible study. One student had found us on Instagram because she was searching for events related to a meditation podcast – which happened to have the same name as our event.  So instead of a seminar on meditation, she came to our event, which was about suffering, stayed until the end and came for food with the student team. She is now meeting with a student leader for coffee and Bible study.’

The act of uniting together to proclaim the gospel to a lost world in dark days was a glimmer of resurrection hope. In fact, resurrection was at the forefront of the students’ minds. A provocative tagline, used to invite fellow students to a Bible study, read: ‘we will be resurrected, but you will not’. And God has given grace upon grace, not only to those who received Jesus for the first time, but to the student leaders themselves. ‘These three days saved me from depression’, one student said; ‘I felt so much joy during our mission week.’

Pray with us for students in this country:

  • Thank God that due to the unity and courage of students and staff, the gospel is being proclaimed and people are coming to Christ.
  • Pray that God would provide new staff workers to continue the ministry of those who have left the country, and pray for the continuing ministry in uncertain times. Pray for wisdom to minister well to students who have difficult questions about God in the wake of the war.
  • Pray for non-Christian international students who have just returned from a Bible study retreat, and for summer evangelistic camps that are currently being planned. Pray that students would respond to the call of Christ.

IFES Response to the War in Ukraine

Tim Adams helps us respond to the conflict in Ukraine
31 March 2022

Dear brothers and sisters 

In July 2019 the theme of our IFES World Assembly was “Messengers of Hope”. Seven months later the COVID-19 pandemic brought the normal rhythms of our life and ministry together to an abrupt stop. Many of us experienced – and continue to feel – a sense of loss and disorientation. The call to be messengers of hope takes on a deeper meaning and challenge. 

Two years later and another crisis fills news bulletins. The conflict and devastation in Ukraine leave us grieving and feeling helpless. It also reminds us that such suffering is an ongoing reality for millions around the world whose countries are impacted by war, oppression, poverty and natural disasters. Once again we are disorientated. There are no obvious solutions, and it is easy to lose hope. 

What Does it Mean to Put Our Hope in God at Times Like This?  

Psalms such as Psalm 42-43 reveal to us the inner journey of someone in the middle of a painful, disorientating and confusing situation. 

At the beginning of the Psalm the writer is brutally honest about the pain. He is desperate to feel connected with God again, “as the deer pants for streams of water” (Psalm 42:1). A few verses later, the writer looks back to previous joyful experiences, “how I used to go to the house of God …with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng”, which now feel distant and remote. Then there is one key phrase which the writer repeats three times (Psalm 42:5,11; 43:5): 

Why, my soul, are you downcast?  
Why so disturbed within me? 
Put your hope in God,  
for I will yet praise him,  
my Saviour and my God. 

This internal conversation reflects the confusion that we believers can feel in times of disorientation. What does it mean to put our hope in God at times like this? I love Eugene Peterson’s definition of hope in his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

“Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions…” 

In a crisis the person of hope takes time to reflect on God’s character, his faithfulness and his mercy to us, and brings that reflection into the crisis.  

It has been amazing to see this kind of hope in action over the last weeks. In these dark days for Ukraine, the faith, hope and love of the IFES fellowship has continued to shine brightly.  CCX Ukraine staff have helped hundreds of international students to get to safety, using their cars to take them to the border. Many student movements in nearby countries are giving practical support and advice, helping refugees on their journey, and offering host homes. Around the world, we have seen thousands of students and staff workers standing together in prayer, and we have received many gifts to sustain and support student ministry in the affected countries. There are so many stories of hope – and of pain. Do use the links below and on the IFES website to help you follow and respond to what is happening.  

Standing Together as Messengers of Hope 

We are currently in a challenging place. We cannot see where or how this current conflict in Eurasia will end, or what it will mean for our ministry in Ukraine and other parts of the region. What we know for sure is that God’s love for students in Eurasia is unfailing. For now we stand in prayer and practical support, doing what we can to help our brothers and sisters in crisis.  

Whatever devastation the current conflict brings to student ministry in Eurasia, as a global fellowship we stand firm in our calling to share God’s love with students there, and, with God’s help and in God’s timing, will work together to rebuild and restore what is lost.  

In our honest cries of lament for our current situations of pain and suffering, let us also be deliberate in putting our hope in God, allowing him to shape our response and lead us through. As the Psalmist reminds us, we will yet praise him, he is our Saviour and our God. 

Yours in Christ, 


Tim Adams 
IFES General Secretary 

A Message from Tim Adams, IFES General Secretary
1 March 2022

Dear brothers and sisters 

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support of the student ministry in Ukraine during this invasion. Despite the warning signs over the last three months the sudden escalation caught many by surprise. We continue to be in deep shock and distress, at the same time as trying to assist in any way we can. 

The outpouring of prayer and care for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine has been one of the few sources of light in the dark days of the last week. Amid crisis and chaos God has been present through your many messages of comfort, spontaneous online prayer meetings, financial donations and many acts of kindness and hospitality. 

If one part of the body suffers, every part suffers with it… now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 

In the last few days many staff of CCX and IFES in Ukraine have had to flee their homes. They are now displaced, and, in some cases, families have been separated. They are in shock and are traumatised. One friend describes the sense of “displacement, loss, grief, powerlessness, uncertainty”.  

We are thankful that right now they are physically OK and have been able to move to safer locations, but our hearts break for them. Please pray for them and their families, as well as for the wider CCX Ukraine community of students and graduates. Pray that God would hold them close to him, and that their faith and witness would remain strong. Some of them have shared how the conflict has led to times of prayer and conversations about faith with their non-believing family and friends. 

Although the students and staff of CCX Ukraine have been the main focus of our prayers, the war is also impacting people and ministry far beyond Ukraine.  

There is fear and uncertainty across the wider Eurasia region and in neighbouring countries, where there is student ministry. We are seeing media reports of protests in Russia against what is happening in Ukraine, despite the personal danger of expressing such views. The sanctions imposed on Russia will impact daily life for many Russians and others across the region.   

Pray too for the many Christian international students who have been leaving Ukraine. This morning I heard from a Polish member of staff who had been contacted by a pioneer staff in southern Africa and was able to arrange hospitality for international students from eSwatini arriving in Poland as refugees. I’m also hearing about students from Kenya and other places who have fled Ukraine and are being hosted and helped by IFES movements and churches in other nearby countries such as Romania and Slovakia.  

In the midst of a terrible situation these stories remind me what it means for IFES to be an international fellowship, the family of God in the student world. Let us continue to stand together in prayer for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.  

Thank you. Please keep praying.  

I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone— for kings and all those in authority—so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 

Your brother in Christ, 


Tim Adams 
IFES General Secretary 

If you would like to give to our Eurasia regional emergency fund, you can do so here. This will be used to support CCX Ukraine and local IFES staff, as well as neighbouring student movements who are serving those impacted or are impacted themselves. 

Prayer points from Sergei, the IFES Eurasia Regional Secretary

  • For the planned restart of ministry when the new academic year begins in September. 
  • For the involvement of new students – whether or not they are Christians; whether or not they were formally part of CCX – pray that new students come to faith.  
  • For the search to find new staff who will continue the work started by those now unable to continue in ministry.  
  • For strength and wisdom as staff approach their ministry work in a new environment. 

CCX Ukraine are sharing regular updates via Facebook and their email newsletter. You can read about the ways they are helping students, as well as the testimony of their General Secretary who was forced to leave his home by the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and now has had to flee again.

In many other countries, movements are mobilising practical and prayer support. Credo Sweden has interviewed a Polish student on his experiences at the Polish-Ukrainian border. IFES Europe is sharing regular updates for prayer from Ukraine and Eurasia on Facebook and Instagram, and they’ve also collated resources to help their students, staff and supporters to pray together. 

No ordinary fight

Sezim was surrounded by angels. No, really. She could see them.

Just a few moments before she had been at her wit’s end. She was studying late into the night for four different exams. But she wasn’t feeling hopeful. In her country, if you wanted a good mark, you had to bribe the professor. It was something Sezim had become really uncomfortable with since she converted to Christianity. She knew it was dishonest, but it felt impossible to go against the grain. How could she ever become a doctor if she wouldn’t play by the rules of the system? But she was convicted by the Holy Spirit. She decided she would rely on the knowledge in her brain rather than a bribe.

The last time she had refused to pay her professor, he had gotten angry. He had even tried to fail her. He told her that she could be kicked out of the university if she did not pay him. Her mother, who was not a Christian, didn’t understand either. She questioned, why can’t you be like everyone else? Still, Sezim decided she would rather honor God with her studies.

But now it was midnight. The sheer load that Sezim had to revise was exhausting. So, she had put her head down to rest. But when she opened her eyes, she saw something amazing.

An angel walked out of the wall. Then another. And another. Soon she was surrounded by huge angels. She stared up at them, but they didn’t look down at her. Instead, they looked away, like they were watching for something. Like they were guarding her. Then she heard a voice,

Sezim, don’t worry. God will protect you.

She blinked, trying to wake herself up. But she wasn’t sleeping.

The next day, Sezim took her exams. Later, she went to get her marks from the professor who had threatened her. She discovered that she had passed every single one of her courses. In fact, her scores were as high as the students who had paid a bribe. God had taken care of her.

For many students, paying bribes to professors is a normal part of academic life. Students who become Christians must decide if they will continue to pay into the system or have faith that God will carry them through their studies. Pray with us for the students who don’t want to be “just like everyone else.”

  • Pray that they will place their faith higher than what their professors or even parents want them to do.
  • Pray for the witness of students facing corruption on campus, that they will be encouraged even when it is hard.
  • Pray for Sezim, who is about to enter the medical profession. Pray that she will continue to be a light in her field.

Captivated by the Word of God

Six hours a day. Fifty-nine students. One gospel text. This is Mark Camp. 

For five days, students from Ukraine gathered in the Carpathian Mountains to explore the book of Mark. Some were skeptical about their ability to digest such a large portion of God’s Word over just a few days, but they would soon discover the richness of diving deep into a biblical text – and doing so together.  

Ukraine has seen many Mark Camps meeting at a regional level, but this was the first time that the camp had met nationally. The result surpassed the impact of all previous camps. A staff worker from Kharkiv shares, 

“Almost all the students cried, when they shared how God influenced them through this camp… I do not want to exaggerate, but I have not seen such unity and such action of the spirit at national projects until this camp. It was unbelievable! We came back transformed! For CCX Kharkiv it was a life-changing trip – we became a family.”  

Studying the text challenged the students to consider how they could align their lives more closely with God’s heart. Students repented of living like “Pharisees.” They reflected on how they could better love international students in their communities. Some realized that they needed to be baptized, and others began studying Scripture with nonbelievers after the camp finished.  

And those students who were unsure about studying the Bible for six hours a day? A staff member from Kyiv shares,  

“At the end of the camp, they could not contain their feelings at how much they had learned from the gospel of Mark. The mystery of the Kingdom of God, the parable of the sower, the authority and power of Jesus, the disciples. Students listed stories and conclusions that they remembered. Several students decided to continue reading the rest of Mark’s gospel after camp. Looking at the students, we rejoice as the Word of God changes and captivates them!” 

Praise God with us for the power of his Word and its influence on students throughout the world.  

  • Pray that the students who participated in this Mark Camp will continue to make Scripture a daily part of their lives.  
  • Pray that they will share what they learned with their friends, both Christian and non-Christian, and encourage others to join them in studying Scripture together.  
  • Thank God for the beautiful fellowship of this national Mark Camp and pray for others like it that happen around the world. 

For the Church

Movement leadership often use the IFES vision to intercede for their ministries. They pray that students would be transformed by the gospel, gathered into communities of disciples, impacting the university, society and church for Christ. However, in a sensitive country in Eurasia, impacting the church seemed impossible: local churches guard their young people carefully, to the extent that they would not allow them to study the Bible with a staff worker who is not from their church. Read the testimony of an intern who broke through this barrier, written by Paul, the general secretary: 

“When a new intern moved to our city to join the team, the pastor from her home church recommended a particular fellowship. We had been praying God would open a door to this church but had not been able to make meaningful contact with them. When Sasha decided she wanted to settle there, we arranged to meet with the pastor and explain our ministry. We had long discussions about the relationship between an inter-church organisation and the local church, discussing his fears, but we did come to some level of understanding, and the opportunity to work with some of their youth in a limited way. This was very useful as he is the most influential senior pastor in our city. So, Sasha settled in the church and became a valued member. 

One day, many months later, this pastor asked his young daughter what she was reading in her Bible. She was reading it but couldn’t remember what she read; it was just words that didn’t resonate. As a good father, this concerned him. As he asked around, he found that many people in his church read the Bible but didn’t understand it. He and his wife started to investigate this problem. Through internet searches they discovered a method called inductive Bible study, which helps people engage with and remember the text. At the next church leaders’ meeting he asked if anyone knew anything about inductive Bible study.  

Sasha, our staff worker, explained that this was the foundation of our evangelism and discipleship. The pastor then invited her to run a weekly training course for all the church leaders using 2 Timothy with the plan that small group meetings would be based on inductive Bible study. She’s now running a repeat of the course for those who didn’t attend first time, and some of the small groups are using inductive Bible study for their meetings. 

Subsequently, their pastor and several others from the church have wholeheartedly joined a training in expository preaching, run primarily for staff and students from our region, together with Langham Partnership. The Lord answered our prayers and opened the door for Sasha to impact the church for the glory of Christ!” 

IFES seeks to be a blessing both to students and the churches they are involved with. Praise God for the way he used Sasha to lead others into a deeper study of Scripture. Pray with us this week: 

  • Pray that movements like this one would find more ways to build trust with churches in order to partner with them in reaching students.  
  • Pray for more staff like Sasha who are willing to do the long-term relationship building to be raised up and encouraged.  
  • Pray that IFES students and staff would continue to leverage their influence to bless the church and the university.