Josiah Venture Fall Conference 2017

The JV Fall Conference 2017 was one of the busiest 9 days of my life. I keep asking myself why? It was “just another trip to Czech”, for we make several trips to eastern Czechia (new name for their country!) every year. Same old, same old. But this time it wasn’t. We were leading master classes, Ben was helping MCs, we had national, international, local team meetings squeezed in between typical conference schedules. Then we are just scrambling to get in a cup of coffee with old friends from JV who we don’t get to see very often. In a sea of almost 400 people, that is a challenging job. In a team of 38 from Ukraine who came, that is a hard job. Needless to say, I was glad when that whirlwind was over. It was a huge blessing to be with our greater JV team that week, and here are some big pieces of the 9 days, in photo form:

We praise God for Ben’s mom flying out to spend quality time with the kiddos and get to know their 2017-2018 schedule. They were both sick for some of the time, so we are blessed that Kathy has a hang of Lviv and is confident to make it through the 9 days.

One of the reasons why we are in Czech for so long is because of pre-pre-pre, pre-pre, and pre-meetings. Ben has the pre-pre-pre and pre-pre and pre-meetings with his country coaching and country council meetings. Mine are here, with the international camps representatives from each country. Although I do less and less with camps, from a strategic perspective I still attend these meetings.

Yulia, one of our dear friends and staff members, was selected by Dave Patty, the president of Josiah Venture, to share a testimony of one of our core focuses over the past few years, which has been “From the Harvest to the Harvest”. This means equipping young people quickly to be ready to share Christ with friends. Yulia is part of a four-generation chain of girls who are making disciples who are making more disciples and growing in love with Christ.

This is a fraction of the 38 of us who came to conference to represent Ukraine. Each year right after the conference is over we do some sort of team building together. This year it was bowling. Our bus driver (in his late 50s) bowled for the first time. We rented this little Czech place out, ate fried cheese and french fries, and had a great afternoon after our heads were FULL to the brim with information about How to Teach Like Jesus, our theme.

Maybe you recognize Michael Faithchild (and Junior is somewhere in the way back on drums) – this was our EXIT Tour band who blessed us 10000-fold back in the winter for our first official Exit Tour (preventative program and rap concert in schools). They came back to sing at the JV Fall Conference and get many of us excited about their next appearance in Eastern Europe for our fall EXIT Tour!! Look out, Lviv!

Here is Team Ukraine (38 of us, plus two Norwegian guests and Dave Patty, sitting on the table up in the front) up on floor 3 of Malenovice Hotel in Czech. We always do 24-hours of Ukraine-specific training together right after Fall Conference. We all look so forward to it. We raised the heat on the importance of evangelistic opportunities with their youth, where teens don’t have to be Christians and have it all together to come safely into our midst. Here we are talking about Adaptive Leadership, based on Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky’s book “Leadership on the Line”. Wow, Dave teaches this material in an incredible way that gives us Biblical perspective and hope when leadership problems do not have a technical solution.

Here Dave Patty is granting the Ukraine EDGE (sports leagues doing discipleship) team leaders the award for “Indigenous Empowerment” because of the ways they are equipping tons of coaches across Ukraine to use floorball for discipleship means for guys, ages 13-18. Andriy, Tomasz, and Andriy, we are so proud of your steady faithfulness. God is blessing this ministry thoroughly. (And we are seeing some great interest coming out of Moldova, so you can pray for our team’s work spreading there, too. Who knows what God wants to do for those who are willing to humbly obey and step out in great faith.)

Getting 38 people back into Ukraine with TERRIBLE border lines, on top of all the EXIT Tour professional equipment that was purchased for our organization…it’s a giant puzzle. This time around, the guards did not even open the doors to the vans where the equipment was stored. We appreciate God’s grace to get us in without customs issues.

Everyone loves international worship times, as we sing to our great God in Ukrainian, Latvian, Estonian, English, Czech, Slovak, Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian, German, Serbian, Polish, Bulgarian, and Romanian. Always a taste of heaven.

And we end with this blessed group of individuals who, together, form Josiah Venture Ukraine (also known as Epokha here in Ukraine.) God knows how important team/friends/co-workers/co-laborers in Christ are to weary workers in the harvest fields.

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