They stood together on the stage: the pioneers of new movements alongside those who had supported them. It was a beautiful picture of gospel partnership. How had it all begun? We listened to our brothers and sisters tell their stories of struggle and sacrifice. We listened to their triumphs and tragedies. We listened to them speak of the faithfulness of a God who had used them in their weakness. We listened as tears ran down our faces.
13 movements affiliated to IFES at World Assembly 2019. Read on to find out how student work began in three of them.
Two former students of KGK Japan arrived in Cambodia. The country and its people still wore the scars of the devastating civil war years of the 1970s. The two graduates were praying that God would start a student movement in this beautiful, broken land. Through setbacks and trials, the movement slowly began to grow. In 2012, the first full-time local staff worker was appointed, Chamroeun. He was a young man with a deep love for His people and a passion to see Jesus known in the university. He was preparing to become the first general secretary of the movement.
But it was not to be. Chamroeun died in a tragic accident, going home to glory in 2017. The movement was, once more, on its knees. Why, God? Must we endure even more pain and heartache? For the staff and students, these were dark days.
Though the pain of Chamroeun’s death is still raw, those involved with SONOKO Cambodia testify to God’s comfort and faithfulness through this tragedy. They have not stopped speaking of the hope they have in Jesus. A hope that goes beyond the grave.
There are currently around 40 students involved in the movement, with groups in Phnom Penh and Siem Riep, and plans to pioneer a group in a third city.
IS/IVCF Cayman Islands
There was no student work at all happening when Tomy and Brianna arrived back in Brianna’s homeland, the Cayman Islands. But God was at work. Tomy was welcomed warmly by the local churches. They were more than willing to work together to see Christian fellowships established in schools and universities across the country. Tomy spent time meeting up with local Christians, sharing his plans to pioneer. An evangelical student movement? Yes, that sounds familiar! Time after time he found himself meeting with graduates who had been involved themselves with other IFES movements while studying overseas – in Jamaica, the Philippines, Barbados, Guyana, the US!
Seeds which had been planted years before, many miles away, were now bearing fruit in this unexpected way. Thanks to the support of these IFES graduates and local churches, the movement grew quickly. Today it is working in one university and six secondary schools.
MFES Myanmar affiliated to IFES at World Assembly in 2019. But it was not an easy journey to get to that point. Former IFES South Asia Regional Secretary KP, had been looking for opportunities to start a student movement in Myanmar for some time. He planned to meet a local Christian worker, Sawm Thang, at World Assembly 2015 in Mexico, to discuss starting a new ministry. Sadly, KP passed away just before World Assembly. Sawm travelled to Mexico anyway hoping that he would find somebody else to talk with regarding the pioneering plans. But he was denied entry at immigration and was detained for two weeks, without any way of contacting his family.
Remarkably, Sawm did not lose his vision for student ministry. On his return, he met regularly with students to pray for their country and to study the Bible. Momentum grew. Howard Spencer, one of the IFES governance development trainers, provided training for potential board members. The movement was formally established in October 2016.
Today there are around 120 students involved in MFES in three regions.