George Ogalo, IFES Chief Operating Officer, on ‘thriving together’

A new year is an opportunity to refresh and restart. For IFES, this will mean the launch of a fresh start that has been long anticipated: the new strategic plan, Thriving Together. Intended to shape IFES ministry until 2030, Thriving Together focuses on four key areas: thriving in witness, thriving in whole-life commitment, thriving on new ground, and thriving into the future.  

George Ogalo is no stranger to developing organisational strategy. Before becoming IFES Chief Operating Officer in June, George was National Director of FOCUS, Kenya’s IFES-affiliated national movement, and he has been involved in FOCUS’s strategy processes. With IFES, he will be a key player in implementing Thriving Together, so to mark the New Year, we sat down with him to discuss how it will refocus IFES ministry in 2022 and beyond.  

A strategy requires envisioning and re-envisioning – taking stock of the past, examining present realities, and discerning how God is leading into the future. George characterises it as ‘really a learning process … when it is authentic, with real listening and openness, the outcome is always a surprise.’  

He has experienced the transformation a good strategy can bring. In the 2016-20 strategy for FOCUS Kenya, one of the main priorities was to recapture the idea that the gospel counts both for individual faith and community change. As a result, this concept flowed into the mainstream of ministry, defining student activities. George remarks that ‘it was wonderful to see that by having a new priority well embedded into the strategic plan, it breathed into the whole life of our work.’  

So how can this potential be captured for IFES? First, George stresses that the strategy acknowledges where we are coming from: a growing fellowship, more diverse, with more national movements and student groups than ever before. But we are not growing for the sake of it, but towards the mission of students reached for Christ. This new IFES context is met with a new student context, not least in that the pandemic occurred during the middle of strategy development work. This undercurrent has, George says, also reinforced the need to regroup. Other factors, such as climate crisis, globalisation, the internet, and student mental health continue to compound the pandemic. Our new strategy speaks into these contexts, looking inwards and onwards, with a fresh call to keep going, and keep going together. 

With all this in mind, George’s New Year message to the fellowship is a reminder that ‘the sovereign God is in control of his world. As we buy into the IFES strategic plan locally, nationally and globally, we should not lose sight of God’s purpose. We are simply joining him in this mission. I wish every student, staff, graduate and supporter a fruitful 2022’. 

Pray for every aspect of the IFES fellowship, for each national movement, and each student in 2022: 

  • Pray that the strategy would foster greater collaboration at all levels, with innovation and creativity for each context. 
  • Pray that the strategy will inspire national movements to identify with its aspirations and develop them in their own strategies. 
  • Pray that this new strategy will produce eternal, God-glorifying change right across the IFES fellowship, bringing us closer to the vision of seeing every student reached for Christ. 
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