Our history


IFES was founded in 1947 when leaders from ten Christian student movements met at Harvard University in the United States. Their dream was to see a clear witness to the Lord Jesus established in every university in the world. That commitment is still at the heart of IFES ministry and is the basis of our Living Stones vision.

For more than 60 years, IFES has seen God at work in remarkable ways. He has grown global student ministry through the faithful work of many hands in the Fellowship and many friends who share in this ministry with us.

Past, present and future

Plans were laid in the 1930s for what was to become the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES). As World War II ended, preparations began for a meeting in Oxford in 1946. As a draft constitution was being completed, members of the student group in China, the most recently formed and also the largest of the movements, sent a telegram confirming their interest in forming a world movement. Minutes of the 1946 meeting call this a 'striking confirmation' that their plans were in accordance with God's will.

At this meeting it was agreed that leaders, including student representatives of the ten established movements, would come together in Harvard University the following year for the formal institution of IFES. The largest of those ten movements was the China Inter Varsity Fellowship.

Gathering at Harvard University in the United States in 1947 were men and women of vision and with a passion for Christ's glory. They yearned for his name to be honoured in the world's seats of learning and influence. Their one big dream was to see a clear witness to the Lord Jesus established in every university in the world. On behalf of their national movements they covenanted to work and pray for this. That commitment is still at the heart of affiliation to IFES.

There are still countries yet to be pioneered; there are still campuses in many countries which need to be re-pioneered; and there are generations of students yet to be born. If we remain faithful to our calling, the end will come only when the Lord Jesus Christ returns.


Prayerline:  A weekly snapshot of the IFES world to inspire your prayers.

Conexión: Global conversations about faith, study, leadership and mission in our online magazine.
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Word & World: Theological conversations about the world students live in.
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