The seeds of a vision for Josiah Venture were first sown in Germany in 1989 among a group of American youth pastors who were ministering on U.S. military bases in Western Europe. The sweeping changes that followed the removal of the Berlin Wall that year opened new doors of ministry to Central and Eastern Europe as the region became accessible for summer missions projects. Those youth pastors brought teams of youth to Hungary, and then to Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Yugoslavia. In spite of forty years of communist oppression, they found an unexpected openness to the gospel.
A new generation of young people was hungry for truth and anxious to chart a new course. Soon it became obvious that more than short-term work was necessary. In 1992, three couples made initial 10-year commitments to help local churches in Central and Eastern Europe reach young people for Christ.
By June 1993, the couples entered into strategic partnerships with Sonlife Ministries and International Teams. Sonlife gave permission to adapt their training materials to the needs of Central and Eastern Europeans, and International Teams provided the organizational infrastructure necessary to support the work. The partnership took on the name “Josiah Venture” in honor of the godly Jewish king in 2 Chronicles whose devotion to the Word of God brought revival to an entire nation while he was still in his teens.
In November of that year, the first two Josiah Venture couples moved into Czech and Poland and began learning the language and training youth leaders. By the fall of 2001, the work had outgrown the original structure, and the leadership recognized the need to open the way for expanded growth. In January of 2002, Josiah Venture was launched as its own mission organization, with administrative offices in Wheaton, Illinois. Today, Josiah Venture has partner organizations in nine countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and staff in another four countries.