Reach the Nations at Your Doorstep!
God is on the move in Canada and through our local ministries as we send students across the world as leaders and Christian disciples. Many students go home to places where they are the only “Jesus” people will see, the only “Bible” they will read. International Student Ministries Canada staff, volunteers and supporters continue working to serve and send these students home knowing their Creator. ISMC’s vision is to empower international students to impact the world through Jesus Christ. This is accomplished through friendship partner programs or Bible discussions. Our ultimate goal is to see international students become fully devoted followers of Jesus, ministering to those God places in their lives, whether in Canada or their home country.
1983 to 1990
International Student Ministries Canada grew out of an international student ministry active in the US. International Students Incorporated (ISI) had been reaching international students in the States since 1953. In 1983, when a Canadian couple, Eric and Sharon Mills, were accepted by ISI, they stayed in Alberta to serve. Margaret Bowman was also accepted and served in her home area of Guelph/Waterloo. Ken and Agnes White, ISI headquarters staff, moved to Calgary in 1984 to set up the Canadian office and establish the ministry. Within a year, the mission received its Canada Revenue Agency registration and in September 1985, Rob and Betty Marvin came from Indiana as ISMC’s first field directors.
As ISMC developed, the board of trustees grew and more staff came on board. By 1988, 17 ISMC field staff worked in six cities. Early in 1989, the board welcomed former Prairie Bible Institute President Paul Maxwell as the first Canadian president. When the Marvins returned to the States, Paul invited Nick Gawryletz to join the mission as field director. Paul brought great leadership experience to ISMC, recruiting and directing the home office and field ministry teams to evangelize and disciple international students.
1998 to 2012
In 1998, the national office was moved to Three Hills, Alberta. When Paul Maxwell retired in 2003, Paul Workentine took on the work. By April 2012, 86 career and associate staff served with ISMC in 23 locations across Canada from Victoria, B.C. to Ottawa, Ontario.
2013 to 2020
Sensing a new season for ISMC, Paul and the board recruited Dr. Yaw Perbi to begin his duties as the President of ISMC. The ministry of ISMC had expanded into Quebec and the Maritimes, and Yaw served from Montreal with a focus and passion to see ISMC involved in raising the next generation of effective leaders, in keeping with ISMC’s vision and mission. Since 2013, new workers in Montreal and the Maritimes have joined, and the work of ISMC has stretched from sea to sea.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most ISMC activities as Canada went into lockdown and borders closed, restricting new international students from coming into the country. Local ISMC groups pivoted to supporting international students in new ways, whether by hosting Zoom meetings or providing spiritual, emotional and physical support to students still in Canada. The move to more virtual gatherings also opened new opportunities for ISMC staff to reconnect with returnees and graduated students and to learn the stories of their faith journey.
2021 to now...
In November 2020, Yaw informed ISMC that he would be wrapping up his tenure as president to focus on a new role as Global Ambassador for international student ministry. After much prayer, the board appointed Rev. Jakob Koch to this leadership role during the virtual staff conference of June 2021. Having served in many transitional roles throughout his ministry, Jakob has a passion for helping ISMC transition to its next phase of ministry in light of the changing realities on our campuses and in Canada. Believing that God is raising up a new generation to do His work in a new way, Jakob is excited to mentor younger leaders within ISMC. He looks forward to supporting both new and former styles of ministry that have a deep impact on international students and, through them, the world they will lead. Jakob will be serving from Hamilton, ON.
Staff and volunteers
Cities across Canada
Campuses in Canada
ISMC's national leadership team ministers to students by bringing awareness of and mobilizing God's people to reach out to international students.
Staff are Christ followers from many cultures and backgrounds, yet they share a common desire to share the gospel with international students.
ISMC is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of individuals with solid ministry and corporate world experience.