International Friendships, Inc.

The information on this page was last updated 5/4/2022. If you see errors or omissions, please email: [email protected]


International students often struggle with culture shock, stress, and loneliness when leaving their homes to study in the US. International Friendships, Inc. (IFI) is a national organization partnering with local churches, universities, and volunteers to provide life-changing hospitality and friendship to international students. We work strategically to make the world feel at home and extend God's love globally - right where we are.

International Friendships, Inc. (IFI) is a community organization that works in partnership with universities and Christian volunteers to promote friendship and hospitality for international students, scholars, and their families. IFI also partners with internationals through on-campus student organizations.

We seek to promote friendship and hospitality for international students. The students participating come from a variety of countries. Staff members work closely with volunteers from local churches to provide various services that address the social, cultural, and spiritual interests of international students. Our activities are open to students from all cultural and religious backgrounds.

IFI respects the role of university officials engaged in serving international students and scholars. We strive to have a high level of integrity and responsibility in our interactions with university officials and with international students and scholars. We adhere to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Statement of Ethical Principles in our ministry to international students and scholars.

Contact information

Mailing address:
International Friendships, Inc.
PO Box 933319
Columbus, OH 44193


Phone: (614) 294-2434

Email: [email protected]

Organization details

EIN: 310971249

CEO/President: Richard Mendola

Chairman: Rick Negley

Board size: 12

Founder: Phil Saksa / Mabel Bahler

Ruling year: 1980

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 08/31

Member of ECFA: Yes

Member of ECFA since: 1994


Vision: God's love extended globally in partnership with spiritually vibrant international students

1-on-1 friendships mean the world to us: Our goal is to match every international student with a local friend. No program can replace a genuine friendship.

We link arms with local churches from day one: We work closely with local churches to help mobilize their congregations into cross-cultural friendships.

We keep training so you keep learning: We are committed to providing resources and training to improve our volunteers' cultural understanding.

Mission statement

To extend life-changing hospitality and friendship to international students out of reverence for Jesus

Statement of faith

We Believe:

1. that the scriptures of the Old and New Testament are inspired by God, inerrant in the original writings, and of supreme and final authority in faith and life (2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21);

2. in one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (1 John 5:7; Genesis 1:26; Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; Luke 1:35; Isaiah 9:6; Hebrews 1:8-9);

3. that Jesus Christ was begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary and is true God and true man (John 1:1, 14, 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:16; Isaiah 9:6; Philippians 2:5-6; 1 Timothy 2:5);

4. that man was created in the image of God; that he sinned, and thereby incurred not only physical death, but also spiritual death (which is separation from God) and that all human beings are born with a sinful nature (Genesis 1:26-31, 3:1-7; Romans 5:12- 21);

5. that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice, and that all who believe in Him are justified on the grounds of His shed blood (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 16:31; Hebrews 9:22; John 1:12);

6. in the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord, in His ascension into heaven, and in His present life there for us, as High Priest and Advocate (Luke 24:36, 39; John 2:19, 20:26- 28; Philippians 3:20-21);

7. in "that blessed hope," the personal and imminent return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Acts 1:11; 1 Corinthians 11:26; Philippians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:15-5:4, 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28, 10:25, 37; 1 John 2:28, 3:2-3; Revelation 3:11; 16:15, 22:12-13, 22:20-21);

8. that all who receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby become children of God (John 1:12, 3:16; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3, 8:9, 10:9-10; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:13-14, 2:8-9; Galatians 3:26; Titus 3:5);

9. in the bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust, the everlasting blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting punishment of the lost (John 5:28-29; Acts 17:31, 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15:12; Revelation 20:12-13); and

* This Doctrinal Statement does not exhaust the extent of IFI's beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind, is the sole and final source of all

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Financial efficiency ratings

Sector: Evangelism

CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
Overall efficiency rating891 of 102134 of 41
Fund acquisition rating810 of 102432 of 41
Resource allocation rating917 of 102436 of 41
Asset utilization rating532 of 102117 of 41

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Balance sheet
Receivables, inventories, prepaids$45,286$43,586$172,519$25,862$19,114
Short-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Other current assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total current assets$1,450,431$1,298,221$991,349$1,745,354$507,291
Long-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Fixed assets$1,188,603$1,209,906$1,183,302$124,065$1,298,696
Other long-term assets$0$0$201,750$0$0
Total long-term assets$1,188,603$1,209,906$1,385,052$124,065$1,298,696
Total assets$2,639,034$2,508,127$2,376,401$1,869,419$1,805,987
Payables and accrued expenses$65,703$49,659$129,688$86,289$77,181
Other current liabilities$103,205$102,179$74,387$61,128$45,957
Total current liabilities$168,908$151,838$204,075$147,417$123,138
Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
Other long-term liabilities$0$0$0$0$0
Total long-term liabilities$238,416$276,985$285,981$0$223,095
Total liabilities$407,324$428,823$490,056$147,417$346,233
Net assets20212020201920182017
Without donor restrictions$2,215,910$2,077,574$1,538,547$1,665,251$1,454,754
With donor restrictions$16,800$1,730$347,798$56,751$5,000
Net assets$2,231,710$2,079,304$1,886,345$1,722,002$1,459,754
Revenues and expenses
Total contributions$3,196,555$3,208,359$2,814,006$2,448,412$2,077,380
Program service revenue$0$0$0$0$0
Membership dues$0$0$0$0$0
Investment income$0$0$0$0$0
Other revenue$143,100$173,242$171,264$138,234$148,727
Total other revenue$143,100$173,242$171,264$138,234$148,727
Total revenue$3,339,655$3,381,601$2,985,270$2,586,646$2,226,107
Program services$2,265,084$2,084,862$2,143,933$1,663,163$1,323,307
Management and general$618,360$523,083$390,559$394,548$315,480
Total expenses$3,186,661$2,903,321$2,820,715$2,386,769$1,939,147
Change in net assets20212020201920182017
Surplus (deficit)$152,994$478,280$164,555$199,877$286,960
Other changes in net assets$412($285,321)($212)$62,371$0
Total change in net assets$153,406$192,959$164,343$262,248$286,960


Richard MendolaCEO$125,326
Don HayesCFO$75,800
T Scott HolahanCOO$46,105

Compensation data as of: 8/31/2021

Response from ministry

No response has been provided by this ministry.

The information below was provided to MinistryWatch by the ministry itself. It was last updated 5/4/2022. To update the information below, please email: [email protected]


1972 - 1978 - A vision from the heart of God claimed the lives of one couple, Phil and Ruth-Ann Saksa, one single woman, Mabel Bahler, and one church, Covenant Baptist Church, in Columbus, Ohio, and a ministry was born.

1979 - From one church, the ministry approach of partnership with multiple churches was born, and IFI became an official non-profit organization, with Phil Saksa as General Director. IFI had 3 staff, 12 volunteers from 4 churches and was reaching about 50 international students. From inception, God gave IFI several Scriptural promises, as guiding vision to the future: Genesis 12:1-3, Psalm 87, Isaiah 61:1-4, and Zechariah 8:20-23.

1980 - 1990 - The early years were characterized by perseverance yet little fruit in ministry. With prayer, patience, and love, IFI started seeing steady number of international students become believers.

1998 - Rich Mendola becomes the Executive Director of IFI. He came to IFI with lots of enthusiasm, vision, and great international student ministry experience.

1995 - 2004 - Almost a decade of ministry growth and experience. IFI doubled in size of volunteers and consequently expanded its outreach to go on trips around the US, ethnic group ministry, International American Fellowship, children's ministry, international wives and mothers outreach, friendship partner program, English conversation club, and international worship.

2004 - The IFI vision and mission begin expanding to other cities, with Cincinnati being the first ministry location outside of Columbus, with a team of 4 staff

2008 - Pivotal year for IFI, when Rich with the staff team in Columbus revised the IFI vision, and prayerfully began to ask God for more expansion and growth. They began to dream big. Rich got the vision for IFI to become a National Training Center to equip, mobilize and send anyone who wants to serve international students.

2012 - With over 1,500 volunteers and 1,300 students being reached annually, IFI doubled its staff to aid the rapid ministry growth

2013 - IFI takes a leadership role in ISM by making their cross-cultural training available online. Two more locations outside of Columbus start up, and the number of new volunteers mobilized with IFI doubles in 5 years.

2013 - ISEED, which started informally in 1996, was formalized as an intensive year-long discipleship training for Christian international students, preparing them for ministry back home. Graduates have returned home to start house churches, serve refugees, and aid reaching other international students.

2014 - Apprenticeship program was formed, a year-long training for American believers who want to be trained in international student ministry as full-time ministry career.

2014 - IFI grew to 9 locations, expanding outside of Ohio.

2016 - In order to pass on what we've learned, IFI began work on its Startup Kit, an online training course to prepare new staff to grow their own local international student ministry.

2017 - Present - IFI's vision is being fulfilled before our very eyes. God is using international students to fulfill His mission and we get to be participate in it. Currently we have over 50 staff in 9 states, with 145 churches and 3200 volunteers mobilized. Thousands of international students are being reached, 600+ internationals are engaged in Bible study groups, and tens have returned home and are being planted all over the world for the display of God's splendor (Isaiah 60:3).

Program accomplishments


- Funding for national ministry expansion
- More volunteers to befriend, serve and equip more international students
- New staff on campuses where internationals are studying