Nov 8, 2023 | 4 min read | Dave Patty
It is never easy to step into the unknown.
Some memories are so unique that they occupy their own special place in your mind. On November 9, 1993, Dan and Laura Hash, along with my wife, Connie and our two small children loaded up two packed cars to make a long, one-way drive from Germany to the northeastern corner of the Czech Republic. I had preceded them two days earlier, following a truck with our household goods.
Crossing the border was like taking a trip to the past, since not much had changed since the fall of communism four years earlier. Though it was early fall, some valleys were already full of coal smoke from the local furnaces—a distinct smell that I remember to this day.
Dan and Laura were headed to a city just across the border in Poland. Together we formed a small team of four that was the beginning of Josiah Venture. Each of us had experienced God’s call to help churches in emerging post-communist nations to reach young people with the gospel. We were high on enthusiasm and low on experience—full of faith, but not quite sure what to do next.
Our first staff meeting was in the middle of boxes and furniture—piled in one room of our new (old) house while the other rooms waited for fresh concrete to be poured over the cracked floors. Our three-year-old son snapped the picture as he tried to hold the heavy camera, and we leaned down to make sure we got in the frame.
A third couple, Ken and Andrea Pitcher, joined us three months later. Together, we began to learn the language, serve in three small local churches, and try to understand how to reach lost young people. I took up teaching English in a high school in our city to build relationships with teenagers, and in the summer of 1994, we held our first English camp for students from the school.
For most of the young people, it was the first time they heard anything about faith in God, and none responded to the gospel at the camp. Afterwards, however, we started a youth group in our home, and 60 came to the first meeting. Over time they began to put their trust in Christ, grow in their faith, and become a part of our local church.
God was moving in similar ways through the rest of our team, and, the next year, we started to train youth leaders and assist more churches with innovative camps and programs designed to reach unbelieving youth. The work was slow and challenging, but the mustard seed of God’s movement began to grow.
This month marks the 30th anniversary of that uncertain journey into the unknown. From the initial team of four in Czech and Poland, Josiah Venture has grown to over 360 full-time staff in 16 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. We have shared the gospel with over 106,000 young people in summer camps and led 1,382 training events for youth leaders with over 86,000 participants. Our team is now actively partnering with over 700 churches across the region to reach the next generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The future is still unknown. We do know that there are millions of young people who haven’t yet heard the Good News. Even more, we know the faithfulness of our Lord and Savior who continues to use our uncertain steps of faith.
Thank you for joining us on the journey,
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