Thankful for Thirty
Nov 20, 2023 | 8 min read | Gwynne Gardner
We have been celebrating the 30-year milestone of Josiah Venture all month long with various stories, videos, and social media posts that remind us of God’s goodness and provision for all of these years. With Thanksgiving around the corner, it is also that time of year when we naturally lean into thankfulness and gratitude. We sure have a lot to thank the Lord for, so to further the celebration, here is a list of 30 things we are grateful for and want to remember as we look back and see God’s faithful hand over the last three decades of ministry.
1. We are thankful for the one vision that inspired this whole venture. "A movement of God among the youth of Central and Eastern Europe that finds its home in the local church and transforms society."
2. We are grateful for the first two couples, Dave and Connie Patty and Dan and Laura Hash, who stepped out in obedience and followed the call to move to the Czech Republic and Poland.
3. We praise God for the Bride of Christ, the local church. Everything we do must cause her to prosper. Leaders transformed into the image of Christ will transform the world around them.
4. It's incredible to look back and see 30 years of God's faithfulness through our four active evangelistic highways of music (Fusion), Language (camps ministry), Schools (EXIT), and Sports (EDGE)!
5. Our five core values: the bold faith we see modeled in the book of Acts, a dynamic community that functions as the body of Christ, excellence that draws attention to God, the kind of integrity that permeates unseen corners, and the empowering of indigenous leaders to reach their own people.
6. We believe a week at camp can truly change a young person's life. The first summer camp was in 1994. Since then, there have been 1,985 evangelistic summer camps, the gospel has been shared with over 106,000 young people, and there have been 8,350 professions of faith. Praise God!
7. Our team is now actively partnering with over 750 churches across the region to reach the next generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
8. 2008 marked the year of the first EXIT Tour, where the gospel is declared in schools. In 2022, there were 20 events in which over 8,150 people heard the gospel.
9. In 2009, the first Fusion launched in the Czech Republic. Currently, 27 Fusions are functioning in various countries, and six are in the pipeline to launch.
10. In the Czech Republic in 1998, an old hotel called Malenovice was purchased in the mountains of northern Moravia and renovated into a first-class training center with 110 beds, meeting rooms, translation equipment, and sports fields. Ongoing training of JV staff occurs in this facility, and a wide range of conferences and training events serve the entire region.
11. In 2011, Camp and Conference Center h2o in southern Poland opened its doors for summer and winter camps, conferences, leadership-training programs, and retreats. As one of Poland's few year-round Christian camp facilities, h2o has an excellent platform for training the next generation of leaders.
12. We have experienced the joy of partnering with short-term workers. There have been 11,521 short-term workers since the beginning. If you are among that number, thank you!
13. We also praise his name during the trials and suffering that life brings. Jesus is with us, and he sees our battles and heartache. We do not walk alone.
14. The first EDGE sports training event was in 2014, and there are now 86 EDGE teams in various countries.
15. We currently have over 5,400 followers on our Instagram account. This is one of the ways we bring awareness to God’s movement in this region. Follow along for some amazing content!
16. Our organization has grown from the initial two countries to 16. We are so thankful for the people, ministries, and local churches represented in these countries.
17. Every major spiritual movement in history has been fueled by passionate, persistent prayer. In January 2017, the Josiah Venture Online Prayer Room went live. Thank you for joining us in prayer!
18. Over the years, there have been 1,382 different training events with a total of 86,339 participants.
19. In 2019, ForMission College partnered with Josiah Venture’s Higher Education department to open a campus dedicated to equipping students from Central and Eastern Europe. Their vision is to encourage and equip Christians to transform the world through missional presence and action. The first graduating class received their diplomas in November 2022.
20. We are thankful for all our staff members who serve from our mobilizing countries of the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. These teams serve the Josiah Venture family by providing access to care, support, and resources. We have incredible people serving the wider JV family in several important categories: HR, finances, and partner relations.
21. April 6, 2021, was the day our podcast, “Josiah Venture Stories,” launched. This podcast is about sharing life-changing stories from on-the-ground missionaries and the local people they work with to inspire and fuel the movement of God in Central and Eastern Europe.
22. In 2022, we developed “Share,” a new program to equip young people to communicate their faith. This seven-week small group experience is accompanied by a mobile phone app to help youth pray for their lost friends and take the next steps in communicating the good news.
23. We are thankful for the mission of Josiah Venture: To equip young leaders to fulfill Christ’s commission through the local church.
24. We continue to be thankful for our team in Ukraine and for the ways they have clung to Jesus since the war escalated on February 24, 2022. This war has produced an abundance of suffering and loss, and we will continue to stand with Ukraine, pray for peace, and be grateful to our good God in all circumstances."
25. The international office team exists to serve, empower, and equip all 16 JV countries by developing systems resources and offering support.
26. We get our name from the Biblical King Josiah. By the time he was 26, God had used him to bring revival to the land, rebuild the house of God, and restore the Word of God to its central place (2 Chr. 34). Central and Eastern Europe desperately needs its own Josiahs, young men and women who lead the way spiritually, as this young king did. We are thankful for the young Josiahs whom God has already raised up, and we believe he is raising up more.
27. We are thankful for every JV team member personally involved in regular small group or one-on-one discipleship in their local context.
28. We are grateful to the eight individuals who comprise the Josiah Venture Ambassador team. This A-Team is a unique group of highly mobile, part-time staff who work to advance the JV vision through encouragement and special projects.
29. We are thankful for you! We thank each person who has prayed, given financially, gone on a short-term mission trip, or served as an intern. You have helped fuel this movement.
30. For all the ways that the Lord grows our faith on a daily basis as he reaches with his light into the darkest circumstances and brings salvation and growth to people of this generation.
And now we look forward to the next 30 years. We will continue to carry on this vision, this movement of God, with a renewed commitment, and we invite you to join us. What do you believe God for, and what could he do through you over the next 30 years that lay ahead?
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