Amy Nickerson | January 2017
Josiah Venture began in 1992 when three couples made initial 10-year commitments to partnering with local churches in Poland and the Czech Republic to equip young leaders to fulfill Christ’s commission. Since then, the organization has grown to around 320 full-time staff members serving in 13 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, partnering with over 400 churches on this side of the ocean, while being mobilized and supported by many more churches, schools, and individuals in the UK, USA, and Canada.
From meetings with the entire staff in a room in one of their houses to overcrowding our whole Malenovice training center at team conferences, a lot has changed over the years. Yet one thing that has stayed the same, a core value that’s absolutely central to the DNA of our ministry, is our dedication to dynamic community.
We wish every single one of you could come visit and have dinner and conversation with a JV family, spend an afternoon playing floorball with one of our Edge sports teams in Ukraine, have coffee with a pastor passionate about disciple-making in Estonia, or join a Fusion choir practice to sing with us in Bulgaria. If you haven’t, you really should experience what it’s like to do a camp dance with a bunch of energetic youth during the summer or worship with us at one of our Fall Conference evening sessions. We’d love to invite you into this dynamic community in person.
Until that happens, here are some quotes from JV staff members on the topic. Consider this our feeble attempt to help you understand a little more why dynamic community is one of our core values and what it looks like here in our lives of ministry.
Where do you experience dynamic community?
“For us, dynamic community begins where self-reliance ends. When my family and I first moved to Bulgaria, I never could have anticipated the feelings of helplessness we experienced. We came with the expectation that we would do our part to reach a nation for Christ, and yet we could barely buy bread at a grocery store!
However, this vulnerability opened us up to new experiences we couldn’t have gotten otherwise. Because of them, our perspective changed. We realized that we couldn’t single-handedly transform the local church; we’d have to start by being a part of the body. In order to optimally serve others in Bulgaria, we’d first have to humble ourselves and be served. Before we could be depended on to bear much fruit for Jesus, we’d first have to depend on others for our survival.
Being insulated from our vulnerability didn’t make us less vulnerable, it just disconnected us from people. Dynamic community isn’t a switch you get to flip off and on, it’s a lifestyle you’re immersed in --for some, by choice. For those like ourselves, by necessity. Regardless of the paths we all take to get there, it’s a journey well worth taking and a destination we don’t plan to leave for a long time.” - Matt Hagsten, Bulgaria
“One of the qualities that first drew us to Josiah Venture was the dynamic community. Even as single young adults, we saw the importance placed on caring for marriages and helping kids thrive as missionaries overseas. As interns, we experienced JV staff loving each other sacrificially, vulnerably sharing weaknesses, really praying for one another, and challenging each other to continue in faith in their walk with Jesus.
We are new missionaries in Latvia, and in our season of uprooting from the States and leaving so many relationships behind, we needed to be welcomed in as family on our team. We felt a loss of community when we moved here. It has been a blessing to have people around us who really seek to understand and support us, allowing us to come as we are, but challenging us to continue on in faith.” - Mary Dady, Latvia
“The dynamic community of the JV kids (JVK) is different from the other communities that I'm apart of. Unlike my friends in America and here in my country, the JVK really understand what it's like to live in a different culture and speak a different language. We all fit together like a puzzle. We only see one another about four times a year, and all of us look forward to seeing each other. To put it in a nutshell, the JVK are like my second family. We love one another like brothers and sisters --which we are in Christ. I am so blessed to be a part of this family.” - Hannah Hartman, JVK in the Czech Republic
“I often get to spend time with my team leader and his family or with families from my church. These times are precious, especially being single and living overseas away from my family. I get to experience the amazing gift that God gives through family. To serve, to love, to laugh, to observe, to feel safe to ask questions that are on my heart.
I also absolutely love the community I’ve experienced among my Edge soccer teams. For guys it is crucial to have a place to compete against one another, to improve skills, and to have fun. It is also a time where we have been able to have real conversations about what God says from the Bible about being a strong man.” - Marc Meland, Hungary
How do you cultivate dynamic community?
“Dynamic community does not happen occasionally or in exceptional circumstances. The community I’m a part of continues all the time, and cares about its members on a daily basis. We build our values on the basis of three pillars: community, mission, and gospel. As a group of people, we are not only creating a community that lives their lives together, but we build our beliefs on the value of the gospel, treating every day as our mission and every place we go our mission field.” - Monika Feliga, national in Poland
“We have established some core values for our team in Croatia that directly apply to dynamic community. The first is that we need to assume the best in one another. It can be easy to see the actions of someone on your team or in your church and assume the worst or assume you know why they did what they did. Instead, we talk about assuming the best and going to that individual to understand the details of what happened. When we believe the best in one another we extend grace in areas that we may otherwise be quick to judge or be jealous.” - John Hinger, Croatia
“I think one thing that fosters dynamic community is food. Seriously! There is something so bonding over sharing a meal together. My husband and I believe in this so much we named our college ministry here in Slovenia "The Table" and we serve a simple meal every Sunday evening to the students who come." - Sharon Mormance, Slovenia
“Dynamic community to me means intentionally engaging in the lives of those people that God brings into my life on a daily basis. It includes asking the question ‘What can I do during this interaction to add value to their life and build them up in Christ?’ It means being genuinely interested, asking thoughtful questions, listening well, and seeking to be aware of why God brought us together at this time.
I see living out dynamic community as a significant aspect of my ministry as Josiah Venture’s Partner Relations Director. As we seek to build real partnerships with churches, pastors, professors, donors, etc. it is my desire that they see themselves not only as givers, senders, or pray-ers, but also as members of a dynamic community.” - Gord Nickerson, USA
We know that people will see God’s love through the way we love one another. Though we are made up of nationals and internationals, males and females, adults and children, singles and families, athletes, musicians, teachers, or pastors, we are one body through Christ.
Together we stand in faith, believing that God is a relational Being who works through our dynamic community. Thanks for being a part of it.