International Friendship Ministries (IFM) began in Columbia, SC in 1981, in fulfillment of the vision of an international student from India, Raj Aluri. Having experienced the unique needs of a foreign born student studying in the USA, Raj knew firsthand the importance of linking local residents with international students.
On October 31, 1981, he hosted a meal in his small apartment for several fellow students. Soon American families he had met at church were offering their homes for these weekly gatherings. By the fall semester, a more permanent venue was found in downtown Columbia. Then in January of 1983, these dinners were moved to the newly built Education Building of Columbia Evangelical Church, strategically located next to the campus of the University of South Carolina. The church still hosts IFM’s weekly dinners and classes.
In July 2001, IFM completed the purchase of its office and headquarters building, located at 610 Pickens Street - just a few blocks away from the site of its dinners and only three blocks from the student center of USC.
Over the years IFM has begun satellite ministries in several locations in South Carolina, as well as in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Currently we have staff members and branch ministries in Orlando, FL (begun 2001) and in Bloomington, IN (begun 2003).