Looking back on 2022

We invite you to take a look back at our ministry this past year as we celebrated the 25th birthday of Josiah Venture Czech, known within the country as KAM (Christian Youth Academy).

In 2022, we worked with 123 of the 206 youth currently registered within the Evangelical Churches in the Czech Republic, in various forms and with varying intensity. KAM’s work has focused primarily on supporting young leaders and youth through personal accompaniment, programs, and various forms of training.

We consider interaction with denominations to be a key element of our ministry, which we have developed both bilaterally and through joint projects over the past year. A Youth Religiousness Survey was conducted in cooperation with KAM, Česká evangelikální aliance, and Strategický nadační fond. At a follow-up meeting with denominational representatives, we discussed what the results imply for the future direction of youth ministry in the Czech Republic. For example, an interesting finding was that 25% of young people expressed an interest in learning more about the Bible. We also got a glimpse into the current thinking of Christian youth through the How Are Czech Youth Doing survey, in which 82 youth from 8 denominations participated. A significant component of our cooperation with the denominations focuses on the areas of Education of leaders and youth.

We are honored to have participated in several denominational and inter-denominational national youth conferences such as UNITED, Kristfest, Encounter, BrodFest, and Impulse. Together, we are preparing for the 2nd annual inter-denominational youth leadership retreat, Frontline 2023.

In response to the current situation and need, there has been an increased interest among youth workers in a specialized training event on crisis intervention, mental health, and pastoral care. In the past year, our team has been able to offer this training over ten times at both the denominational and regional levels.

One of the joint inter-denominational projects completed in 2022 was the development of a website https://www.zdrojeprovedouci.cz/, a signposting of materials for youth workers. An e-learning training for new youth leaders is in the final stages of development and is being developed in collaboration with the denominational youth leadership of the country. The plan is to use it with face-to-face mentoring for new leaders by the country’s denominations or our regional Josiah Venture Czech staff. Besides serving youth leaders, we have also produced an inspirational podcast, Unfinished Business (KAM YouTube), a series of authentic interviews with guests from different denominations who speak openly about their ministry and life.

We are also now offering unique mentoring and training program for youth leaders of worship and their teams. In the past year, two churches – in Prague and Frýdlant n. Ostravicí – have undergone the year-long Worship.ko program, for a total of 5 praise teams. Additionally, we are in contact with others interested in studying the book “Worship Matters” by Bob Kauflin. In the Fall, our Worship.ko team held a weekend training event with over 65 worship leaders in attendance. At this weekend, we also invited the nation’s top worship leaders from the ’90s to symbolically pass the baton of leadership to the next generation. It was a moment not to forget! 

In 2022, we continued our individual care for young leaders, focusing on their personal development as well as the development of the youth in their local churches. We provided this ministry in 99 congregations / churches across the nation and held 355 meetings with 165 people, primarily youth leaders, team members, and church leaders. The development of these youth leaders took place either individually or in M+ groups.

At the beginning of the 2022/23 school year, around 100 young leaders and youth team members took the opportunity to attend inspirational Recharge sessions, with the theme of being “Messengers of Hope.” This event occured in 8 locations across the country with an additional two taking place in early 2023.

During the year, there were 8 Ignite Mission Weeks and an Ignite Festival training event with 200 participants. We were then able to send two teams that had participated in a Czech Ignite event to two locations in southern Norway to assist Norwegian churches with a similar outreach event.

Of the regular outreach programs we offer, nine local churches hosted a Fusion music ministry, and another nine hosted an EDGE Ultimate Frisbee sports ministry. EDGE hosted four ultimate frisbee tournaments and 5 EDGE e-gaming tournaments during the year. Additionally, a partner church in Strakonice pioneered a new experiential outreach ministry, Quest, and a second experiential club will be established in Brno early next year. We also allowed youth to “try-out” the Quest ministry as various special events and special experiential weekends throughout the year.

During the summer, we helped 12 partner churches host an outreach camp with additional support from short-term missions teams and interns from abroad. In addition, seven local youth ministries participated in our Highway Camp, a camp across the outreach ministries of EDGE (sports), Fusion (music), and Quest (experiential games).

In 2022, EXIT Tour was hosted in 7 towns and schools with follow-up programs in local churches, in Bohumín, Frýdlant n.O., Klášterec n.O., Třebíč, Plzeň, Žatec, Ostrava. The EXIT Tour has now also included Spiritual Heritage programs, thanks to which pupils and students at schools can learn about important values of life, about some of Czech’s spiritual fathers such as John Huss or Comenius, and most importantly of all, a special program on the Bible. We are also developing the concept of after-school clubs to help connect the local youth community with students and pupils in the future, either in conjunction with our existing activities in schools or independently of them.

Our “School for Life” ministry program reached nearly 9,000 pupils with prevention and spiritual programs as part of its work with school lecturers. In June 2022, the six winners of the national competition “Changing the World for the Better” were announced in the framework of the Comenius – Stories of Humanity project, in which 25 school classes and groups of young people participated (project summary video). In March, the unique project “To the Hill with Amos” was completed, commemorating the birthday of our Teacher of Nations on 25 hills across the country. At the end of October, a project with Komensky in Pilsen took place with EXIT, which included 40 project days in schools plus another 20 lessons with Komensky.

To support the teachers and lecturers, we held these critical events to help them be carriers of God’s love and truth in the school environment: Daniel Week (30 teachers, 15 from Ukraine), Schools for Life Academy (169 participants in 14 events), Lecturers Conference (45 participants), Restart Weekend (13 teachers).

In response to the war in Ukraine, we became involved in humanitarian aid to Ukrainians in early 2022. Since the beginning of the war we, in partnership with JV Poland (Fala) provided accommodation and assistance at the KAM Conference Centre in Malenovice and the H2O Conference Centre in Kiczyce, Poland for 1,887 refugees (47 buses from Ukraine). Two hundred and sixty tons of supplies, the majority of which was food, were sent to Ukraine on behalf of both organizations.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, our Yellow and Blue Fund was subsequently established to help involve young Ukrainians in local Christian communities and to financially support their participation in summer activities organized by Czech churches. Support from this fund was used by 23 churches/organizations from all over the Czech Republic for 37 summer events, to which 772 young Ukrainians participated..

At the beginning of 2022, the Conference Center in Malenovice was utilized as a transit center during the beginning stages of the war in Ukraine. During this time, over 770 refugees passed through the hotel. We provided them with short-term facilities for their emotional, physical, and spiritual survival needs. Since May, the hotel has returned to its standard mode, providing accommodation for various Christian and secular events. In June, we had an unfortunate incident when the Main Hall and the new glass terrace flooded, limiting the comfort of the summer events. Throughout the summer, remediation and refurbishment of the Main Hall took place, followed by the planned refurbishment of the boiler room. The positive impact of these interventions is new technology, better acoustics, and lighting.

At the end of the summer, a farewell to the long-time director Radek Hlavsa took place, after which Martina Lachová took over the role of hotel manager.

The overall occupancy rate of the Conference Centre in 2022 was over 47%. Looking ahead, we seek wisdom on balancing the skyrocketing admission prices with the necessary cost increases.

I am thankful for all the churches and youth we have worked with this past year. I look forward to what those partnerships will bring in 2023.

Thanks are due to our supporters for standing behind our staff, programs, and projects over the past year. I greatly appreciate your contribution to “equipping young leaders to fulfill Christ’s Commission through the local church.”