In 1976, the people of Covenant Baptist Church decided to formalize their vision for reaching the internationals at OSU who were searching for truth and longed for friendship with Americans.  Mabel Bahler was a key person in this thrust, leading the ministry for almost three years.  She became the face of International Friendships Inc. (IFI) in those first years.

Mabel was a farm girl from Indiana, one of nine children of devout parents.  She stepped out of her church’s traditional expectations for young women by going to Bible school after high school and venturing into the world as a single woman.  For many years, Mabel taught English as a second language (ESL) part-time in inner-city elementary schools in Columbus, Ohio.  Her diligently cultivated faith in God, great good humor, ready hospitality, and comfort with people unlike herself suited her perfectly for this special work of God.  She was also adept at recruiting others to join her work with international students and families.  She made sharing her adventures with God so attractive that few said no!

Mabel exemplified selfless living by renting a large house within walking distance of OSU and subletting rooms to international women.  Sharing the kitchen with them gave her many opportunities to step into their lives, love them like a mom, and learn to cook their foods.  She listened to them, prayed with them, taught them the Bible and American culture, challenged, and encouraged them.  Some of them decided to follow Jesus before leaving her home; others turned to follow Him later.  She left a strong impression on all her housemates—and their future families!