Interserve is one of the oldest international, interdenominational, overseas-focused agencies in existence. We began in 1852 in South Asia to care for the poor and marginalized in such a way that they could encounter Jesus and experience the life that He wanted for them. The vision God gave to our founders is still alive.
Jesus shapes our mission
Jesus’ incarnation shapes the way we live.
We seek to live in communities for extended periods of time, learning their languages and adapting to their cultures while letting them experience the difference that the presence of the Lord makes in our lives.
Jesus’ cross shapes the way we work.
We work in areas where we do not have the power to control events and make things happen. Nonetheless, Jesus uses our lives, our work, and our relationships. Through these He enables us to be living expressions of His love and truth, directing people to Himself. They change and flourish as they encounter and follow Him.
Jesus’ resurrection shapes our confidence.
By following Jesus we change the way tomorrow looks for these individuals, for their communities, and for the world.
What Makes Interserve Different
Interserve is an international organization with 14 national councils and over 800 cross-cultural workers – whom we refer to as Partners. An International Leadership ensures the development of the fellowship’s purpose, vision, direction, standard and systems. Each entity is responsible to implement these on behalf of the whole fellowship, developing them in ways that are contextually appropriate.
We celebrate the diversity that exists in the Body of Christ and welcome the distinctives that each denomination brings to our fellowship. We welcome a rich diversity of cultures, providing opportunity for growth and learning. We also affirm that women and men share in the full range of ministry and leadership roles.
We believe that mission is our participation at God’s invitation and command in God’s goal to redeem God’s creation. Therefore, our participation is wholistic, embracing the whole context of the individuals and communities we serve.
Our Partners work in the heartlands of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. These are areas where roughly ninety percent of the world’s unreached peoples live and only three percent of Christian workers serve. Since these contexts are significantly different from ours, we emphasize that long-term, career service is the best way to effectively serve the peoples of these areas and glorify God.
Being and making disciples cannot be separated from each other. Therefore, we are committed to the personal growth and development of our Partners. In addition, we are committed to seeing the transformation of individuals and communities in our areas of service through their encounter and ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ. Since this transformation begins and expands at the relational level, it is natural that the sharing of our gifts, knowledge, experience, and walk with Christ take place in the context of our interpersonal relationships.
Extension of the Church
Local bodies of believers, here and abroad, are God’s vehicles for mission. For churches in the USA, Interserve acts as a facilitator and extension of their involvement in worldwide service. While abroad, Partners identify with and support the development of local churches in their areas of service.
The History of Interserve
Interserve’s roots go back to the early 19th century as a movement of Christian women from around the world. Inspired by the love of Jesus, and with the desire to do what they could to bring about his promise of fullness of life, women set up educational and healthcare initiatives to serve the women and children they met who lacked access to education or healthcare.
In 1852 the Calcutta Normal School was inaugurated, followed by several hospitals across India which existed to serve all those in need. Other forms of service were initiated including community development programs, caring for people with leprosy, plague relief, and caring for orphans, reflecting our organizational commitment to whole-life ministry.
For the first hundred years of its life Interserve was an organization run solely by women who came not just from India and Britain but also New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and Ireland.
Interserve later merged with a like-minded organization based in the USA-founded by women in 1860-and Interservers now come from many more countries including Korea, Brazil, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. In 1952 Interserve decided to allow men to join. Interserve’s ministry has expanded to include peoples from the Asia and Arab World living elsewhere in the world, a trend that started in 1960s UK among immigrants from South Asia.
Much has changed since those early days, but our core desire remains the same. Motivated by the love of Christ, serving in partnership with the global church and using the skills, passions and abilities that God gave us, we seek to see lives and communities transformed through encounter with Jesus Christ.