It’s a Relationship: Katka's Story
Amy Nickerson | June 2014
In 1995 Katka Vlnova was one of many young Czechs who came to an English Camp put on by Josiah Venture. Today, she serves on the Bteam, walking alongside nationals throughout JV and directing conferences and events while living in Frydlant nad Ostravici, Czech Republic. Here is a closer look at how God and Josiah Venture have played a role in her life throughout the years.
Q: What did you think of God when you were young?
A: Growing up, religion wasn’t a part of my immediate family life. Whenever we talked about the church or something related to that, it was because it was in the news. And normally when things are in the news, it’s not good.
I saw my grandparents go to church, but in my mind, it was old people’s religion. Sometimes I would even visit the Lutheran church, but I didn’t understand it. It was your typical European, beautifully-decorated church that was big and cold with a few old people inside. It meant nothing. It was more like, “Why do I have to be here? I just want to sleep in or watch TV!”
It gave me this picture of religion as just pointless. It has nothing to do with life. It’s outdated. I didn’t understand what it did for people. It piqued my curiosity, but that’s all it did.
Q: When did that change for you?
A: For me, the first time I heard something more, and it really started to make sense, was when I went to a Josiah Venture camp when I was 15. I was invited by my best friend at the time. She had gone the year before. I went for the English, like most people there.
When I showed up at camp, I was really surprised. I was shocked to see so many young people my age, normal peers, being Christians. I was really curious to see what that meant. It became obvious that this was something different than just an old, beautifully ornate church. It’s not only about a tradition that we do because our parents or grandparents did. Camp felt like the old phrase, “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” I felt like I was starting to understand what that means.
I really observed people, especially the American and Czech team. At first it seemed kind of fake to me. Everyone was so nice. Why? What was their motivation? I just saw that people were really genuine and they genuinely care for other people. That was something that spoke to me and made me more open to hearing about Jesus.
By the fourth or fifth night, the gospel was shared, and I was sitting there weeping and thinking, That’s for me! Everything just came together. That was all it took.
Q: What changed after camp was over?
A: I changed a lot. That hunger to learn more about God was pretty evident. I had so many questions that I wanted to find answers to, but for the first time in my life I felt like I belonged. Just knowing that I had God and God had me. That was the biggest thing. I felt like I belonged. I had a new identity. Knowing my identity was in Him changed a lot about how I saw myself and my other relationships.
Q: How did you get more involved with Josiah Venture after that?
That summer was 19 years ago, but I’ve gone to camp every summer since. I also got involved with JV by getting to know some of the missionaries and attending a youth group in my hometown. Dave Patty was the youth pastor at the time. I got connected with his family. I’m really thankful for that. That’s what made me really see the difference, that being a Christian isn’t just about going to church or knowing how to pray, but I got to see how it’s played out in resolving conflicts, or raising kids, or interacting with neighbors; every area of life. I was really challenged, and God’s truth was always interjecting.
Q: And what’s happening today?
Now I have Jesus, and I want to know all that I can. My relationship with Jesus and Josiah Venture are so interconnected, but it’s really true. It’s because of the ministry of JV that I got to hear about Jesus, and then through the ministry I got to grow in my faith, and now because I’m a part of that ministry I get to tell others about that. So, I feel like my whole Christian life has been connected with Josiah Venture’s ministry and vision. That’s why I continue to be a part of it.
Now, I’m full-time staff, and I still do camps and help with Fusion at my church and connect with youth. I really love JV’s vision. I believe God has given us that vision, and He’s working and we’re seeing the fruit. I don’t want to miss out on that. I want to continue to be a part of it.
Q: What can we be praying for?
In my job, I get to see the bigger picture. Now, there are so many national leaders. We are always praying for more missionaries and people to come serve overseas. But for me, it’s been exciting to see how in all these countries where there are so few Christians, people are standing up and speaking for Jesus.
Pray that they would have boldness to share Christ. With everything going on in the world, conversations I’m having with people and different things that I read about, it’s so easy to believe that people don’t want to hear the gospel and that they would reject it. But then I have a conversation with someone and share the gospel, or I hear about someone else sharing the gospel, and it’s not true. It always shocks me how easy it is to give in to fear. There are people ready to hear the gospel. A relationship with Christ is not just about religion and a set of rules. People have a distorted picture, and they need the other side of it.
Pray for more young “Josiahs.” We need people who follow Jesus in Central and Eastern Europe; people who make disciples and share the love of Christ with those around them.