Poland (MNN) — Today, hundreds of delegates from 154 countries will meet in Krakow, Poland, not to discuss politics or finances, but to discuss Jesus.
Three or four student and leader delegates from each of 150 student movements in the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) meet every four years as part of the week-long World Assembly.
IFES was founded in 1947 as a way to gather student ministries together into one world mission. The IFES Web site says of its founders, "Their one big dream was to see a clear witness to the Lord Jesus established in every university in the world."
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is just one of the dozens of student movements involved in IFES and represented at the World Assembly this week.
Bob Grahmann is the director of InterVarsity’s Link ministry. Previously, he held the position of director of the IFES Eurasia Institute for Staff Development and Training in Kiev, Ukraine. Grahmann is attending the Assembly as a U.S. delegate for InterVarsity.
Grahmann says this year's Assembly will serve four main purposes. "The number one thing is just inspiration," says Grahmann. "Everybody comes back more fired up to do evangelism and share the Gospel at their university campus."
Secondly, the World Assembly serves as a place for hundreds of world ministry leaders to share ideas of what's worked, what hasn't, and what their experience has been over the last four years.
""Everybody goes home with new ideas and strategies for ministry and evangelism on their campuses," explains Grahmann. "So the end result of this World Assembly will be more, and better, and deeper, and more effective evangelism to students in universities around the world."
This year, one of those shared ideas is the special focus on Biblical teaching for university students. "We're trying to develop improved methods of teaching young people around the world how to study the Bible, because we think that's the most important thing. If they can learn to study the Scripture, they can defend themselves against the cults and false religions, and they can grow deeper in their relationship to Jesus."
Grahmann will be leading many of the seminars on methods of Biblical teaching.
The World Assembly's last two purposes are to consider major world issues–such as AIDS or preaching to closed areas–from an evangelistic angle, and to talk details about practical IFES-related decisions.
Ultimately, this week will serve as an opportunity for student leaders from all over to share and fellowship. Many of these leaders attended the recent Lausanne conference in South Africa and will go on to inspire generations of students toward the Gospel.
Grahmann feels it's an invaluable experience for America's InterVarsity. He mentions that it's good for U.S. leaders to meet with student leaders from other nations who have been persecuted or imprisoned for their work with university students.
Grahmann says the main prayer for the Assembly this year is that they'll learn "how to effectively share the Gospel with this generation of young people who are at university campuses around the world," especially since, he adds, "the leaders of all the nations of the world come from the university."