A Part of Building the Kingdom
Amy Nickerson | September 2017
Unlike many missions organizations, Josiah Venture doesn’t have a lot of staff members in our mobilizing countries. Go to the States, the UK, or Canada and you won’t find large JV offices with a bunch of employees working on the administrative, financial, or HR side of things. We are intentionally set up to do most of our work on the ground in Central and Eastern Europe and keep as much of our resources going directly to the local ministries as possible.
If you do happen to visit us in one of our sending countries though, what you’ll find are people who are just as passionate about and connected to the movement of God here as the rest of us. To give you an idea of how true that is, allow me to introduce you to three of our American office staff members: Theresa Kerns, director of HR; Sarah Bertrand, HR Coordinator and Office Administrator; and Mike Sullivan, Mobilizer.
Not Just A Job
All three have worked with JV since the early 2000s, though Mike first served in Slovakia and the Czech Republic before moving Stateside in 2011. And when asked to describe their jobs, Theresa right away says, “This is not just a job, but a ministry. That helps us view the things we need to do in a whole different light.”
She explains, “I’m part of building the Kingdom of God. I’m not just here to crunch numbers or take care of paperwork… I am being a part of seeing a movement of God in Central and Eastern Europe. That’s what gives me the vision to keep going.”
Sarah agrees, saying that part of what she loves most about working with JV is that it feeds her passion for the gospel. “There’s a common fire here that is why we get up and are able to have joy in the morning.”
Each of them have personal reasons to care about this movement.
Mike says that one of his first missions trips was a short-term team trip to help put on an English camp in Slovakia. “My mom was born in Prague. She was 9 months old when she came to America, so growing up I heard about Czechoslovakia. She’s the one that started initiating that idea of what life was like over there and always wanted me to go over to see what it was all about.” On his trip was when God called Mike into cross-cultural ministry.
For Theresa, she says she cares that JV works with youth. “I came to know Christ when I was 19. I’m one of those statistics. The age, to me, influences a great deal of my heart. I know this is a crucial age and we’re developing leaders for the future, not only in the communities, but in the churches.”
And Sarah says that the connection to the local church, which is a key part of our organization’s vision, was a huge draw for her and her husband when they were deciding whether to be involved.
While all citing different reasons they love JV, one common thread in why they continue to work with us is the relational aspect of what they do. You might think that each of their roles would be mostly task-oriented and behind the scenes, and although their skillsets make them great at those parts of their positions, each of them also often get to connect with the rest of the JV family.
On their side of the ocean, they all help with new missionary orientation and get to work closely with MITs (Missionaries In Training) before they move overseas --the last group is pictured in the banner photo above. Often Sarah, Theresa, and Mike are some of the first JV faces our new missionaries ever get to meet.
Besides this, because we keep our mobilizing offices small, our staff members get to travel multiple times a year to the European side of the ocean. Between trips it can be a challenge to stay connected, what with the time differences and the growing amount of staff members, but Sarah says it’s worth the effort.
“I would say that I underestimated, when I started working with JV, how much it would effect my whole life, my personal life. How I matured as a human being just because of the character and quality and caliber of the people I get to work with.… There’s a whole other level of blessings and benefits that came from being a part of the JV family and culture.”
And Mike says that traveling to connect with JV members other places and seeing what God is doing at conferences or on country visits is one of his favorite things about his work.
“I love seeing the fruits from our labor. Especially when you see discipleship actually working. When you see a kid come to camp who is a non-believer, who eventually becomes a believer, who gets involved in the youth group, who then becomes part of the leadership team, and eventually becomes the leader —for me, that’s fruit and that’s discipleship.”
So if you do ever visit one of our mobilizing country offices, you’ll have the privilege of meeting some of our favorite people. People who make important things happen, like recruiting, training, and getting staff members to Central and Eastern Europe, and caring for them while they are there. But also, people we know, love, and are happy to work alongside as we build the Kingdom of God together.
When you think of the JV mobilizing offices this Fall, please pray for wisdom and direction for Mike, Sarah, Theresa and other staff members like them who are working hard to enable the missionaries here to do their jobs well. Pray also, that as we expand more into Canada and the UK that God would help us navigate new country systems and find the right people to join us in our work. And as always, pray that God would continue to provide the resources we need in order to serve His movement here among the youth.