The Top 10 Reasons I Love JV
Amy Nickerson | April 2017
I’ll just say this up front, if you’re looking for factual statistics and an unbiased, outsider opinion on Josiah Venture as an organization, this is not that.
I absolutely love Josiah Venture. I can’t help it. After all, the organization has been a part of my DNA since 1997 when my parents stepped out in bold faith and moved my family of five halfway around the world to Poland. I was nine then. Countless summer camps, trips around Europe, and two internships later, I’m a full-time staff member, committed to communicating the story God is telling through JV with all of you. I wholeheartedly believe it’s one worth telling. And so, I feel like I would be doing you an injustice if I didn’t at least try to explain on here why I deeply care about this organization and why I think you should too.
Here are the first of my top 10 reasons for loving JV. Check back next week for the continuation.
1) JV is about Central and Eastern Europe. While many missions organizations are doing great things in other places around the world, Europe is a mission field most have neglected. Communism brought drab cement buildings, graffiti swastikas, and empty stares of strangers on the streets. Ornate cathedrals that once housed the vibrant faith of these nations, nations that not too long ago shaped our own churches, were left behind and forgotten. Walk down the cobblestone roads of this region today, and you can still see the obvious effects of that fear-filled era. But Dave and Connie Patty, and other JV staff members, saw an opportunity over 20 years ago to bring the hope of Christ back into this place after the Berlin Wall fell. The open doors we are seeing in ministry currently are a direct result of God working in this unique area of the world for so many years and I, for one, am grateful to be here.
2) JV is about youth ministry. If you are a teenager in Central or Eastern Europe today there is less than a 1% chance that you have a personal relationship with Christ. Yet most Christians decide to follow God in their youth. Young people are the future leaders of their countries and are capable of being used by God in huge ways in their families, schools, and cities right now. We know this and believe it --that there are many young King Josiahs that God wants to use to transform this continent and bring society back to Him. The passion among JV staff members to reach the 99% is contagious, and their love for young leaders inspired me when I was a kid and continues to do so on a daily basis.
3) JV is about the local church. Josiah Venture is not a parachurch organization. Instead, we seek to effectively build up the Bride of Christ by partnering with the local church. Sometimes those churches are united and welcoming, healthy and thriving communities. We rejoice with them when this is the case. Other times, they sadly aren’t, and we pray that God would transform them. Either way, we do nothing without the invitation and involvement of these local congregations. JV staff members (many of whom are nationals themselves) work closely with national Christians in their areas, encouraging and challenging them to step up in leadership and serve within the body of Christ where God has placed them.
4) JV is about evangelism. This summer, like many summers before this, evangelistic camps will be taking place throughout JV’s 13 countries. We are currently gearing up to have around 110 summer interns who will work closely with short-term church teams and local European churches to put on around 130 English, music, and sports camps. We’re praying that because of this work, at least 850 non-believing young people would put their faith in Christ and that many more would grow in their understanding of who God is and how He loves them, wherever they are on life’s journey. I have personally seen this transformation happen before. I can easily recall the skeptical brows and pain-filled remarks of students I know who didn’t understand the power of the cross when I first met them at a JV camp. But I can also think about the bright eyes and joyful laughs of the same students, who after attending camp, are passionate about sharing the message of the cross and who I now get to serve alongside. God’s love is meant to be shared and we want to tell everyone about His good news, because it changes everything.
5) JV is about discipleship. JV has a focus on evangelism, for sure. However, we also invest a lot of time and energy into follow-up: what happens after people meet Christ. Josiah Venture is about walking with people long-term and equipping young Christians with potential in order that they may become mature leaders in their homes, churches, and countries, capable of making disciples who make disciples, just as Jesus Himself commanded us. This takes place in the ordinary moments of life, while sitting around tables eating good food or spending time in the gym doing crossfit together. It happens on the field, at the desk, and in our training centers. As someone who has been shaped my whole life by having solid, grace-filled believers leaning in and engaging with me, I can’t stress enough the value of discipleship. Intentionality and years of faithful steps towards God is what brings lasting change.
I could go on, but that’s where I’ll leave it for now. Come back and visit next week to see the last of my top 10 reasons for loving JV.