Win VIP passes to meet Bob Goff!

We are very excited to have Bob Goff as the keynote speaker at the 2014 Venture Gala. Not because he’s a New York Times bestselling author, or even because he founded Restore International, an organization that Venture has partnered with for the last two years on the Love Does Tour to help bring hope to children in Africa.

We’re excited to have Bob at the Venture Gala this year because he inspires everyone he interacts with to live life simply loving people. 

And now you have the chance to get up-close and personal with the man himself. If you register for the 2014 Venture Gala within the next 72 hours you will be entered into a drawing to win two passes to an exclusive VIP party with Bob Goff! 

Register for the Venture Gala by 8:00 AM on Sunday, September 21 for your chance to win.

To get more Venture Gala information and register for the event, click here.

Bob Goff at the 2014 Venture Gala! from Venture Expeditions on Vimeo.

 

Prayer and Fasting – September 2

By Ryan Skoog, President & Co-founder of Venture Expeditions

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Prayer Request

For the past year we have petitioned God to give us the Government clearance to get a container of meals directly into Burma to help displaced refugees. This month, we have received all of the necessary approvals and will try for the first time to move a shipment of food directly across the border. Please pray we are able to get food and the Gospel through to many refugees.

On October 3rd, hundreds of people will hear the Venture story at our annual Gala. Please pray that God will be glorified and that we will all respond as he leads us.

Prayer

O Lord my God,
Teach my heart this day where and how to see you,
Where and how to find you.
You have made me and remade me,

And you have bestowed on me
All the good things I possess,

And still I do not know you.
I have not yet done that
For which I was made.
Teach me to seek you,
For I cannot seek you
Unless you teach me,
Or find you
Unless you show yourself to me.

Let me seek you in my desire,
Let me desire you in my seeking.
Let me find you by loving you,
Let me love you when I find you.

- Saint Anselm

Scripture

Most every morning of my adult life I’ve prayed the prayers in Ephesians for my family, friends, and vulnerable and unreached people. Putting someone’s name in these prayers every day has been specially meaningful and powerful for me and many others. Try praying through this prayer several times today, putting in the names of people you know, and refugees you don’t know.

Ephesians 3:16-21

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

 

 

Fulfilling More Than Physical Needs

Reflecting on Venture’s theme of “biblical justice” in Thailand

By Rebekah Jacobson

I first remember hearing the term “biblical justice” with Venture Expeditions. Of course, I had heard about justice itself many times before and I was familiar with various non-profits whose purposes were to establish justice for people.

However, the act of justice is incomplete if it only strives to do good for others. Justice needs to be more than philanthropy; otherwise its influence is only temporary.

Justice needs to be biblical, as described in Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

Jesus quoted this at the beginning of his ministry, and because we, as Christians, are called to be imitators of Christ, then we are called to be advocates of biblical justice.

The Gospel must be shared alongside acts of justice in order for an eternal impact to be made. This is biblical justice.

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Ryan Skoog stated it well at a Venture Expeditions meeting last spring before I came to Thailand: “Justice without God is just giving people a smoother ride to hell.”

This sounds harsh, but it is reality. Biblical justice is the only way that ensures that both the physical needs and spiritual needs of others are met.

The last core theme of Venture Expeditions is biblical justice. In my previous three blogs, I wrote about Venture’s model of physical sacrifice in community with Christ. This is the means of Venture’s work, and the product of these elements is to establish biblical justice.

In Thailand, there are two main outputs of biblical justice: the HOSEA Center and the feeding program along the Thai-Burmese border.

The HOSEA Center is Venture’s human development foundation located about 10 miles outside of Chiang Mai. The center hosts an after-school program during the week for children to learn English, and on Saturdays, the volunteers at the center teach Bible lessons to the children.

Education is one goal of the center, but more importantly is the goal of sharing the Gospel with every child that walks through its doors. By learning English, the children have greater job opportunities, which give them a brighter future.

However, English-speaking skills will eventually simmer. It is the Gospel that will change the children’s lives by giving them hope for the future, because in Buddhism, hope is nonexistent. Buddhists are very individualistic, and they do things simply to gain merit towards a better life once they are reincarnated.

It is so crucial that the Gospel is communicated to the children at the HOSEA Center. Currently, there are eight Christian children who attend the center regularly. These children are being discipled by mentors and each other, and some of them would like to be missionaries and pastors someday.

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The feeding program along the Thai-Burmese border is a project that Venture operates with FMSC (Feed My Starving Children). A ministry in a town near the border stores the packaged meals and then distributes them to a refugee camp six times each year.

These meals provide physical nourishment to the refugees. Because the refugees do not have I.D. cards, they do not receive sufficient income. Sometimes feeding their family is a challenge, so the FMSC meals help with this.

One lady thanked the Venture team at a meal distribution site this summer: “We are very happy to receive this food and we thank God for bringing friends here.”

In addition to handing out FMSC meals, however, the program seeks to share the Gospel with the recipients of the meals as well. The ministry workers as well as short-term teams, like Venture’s team over the summer, host services to share the Gospel with the refugees.

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It is so important that nourishment is spiritual as well as physical. If the Gospel is not being shared along with the distribution of food, then only physical hunger is relieved. The spiritual hunger still aches inside.

Biblical justice is the reason that Venture Expeditions exists. Venture doesn’t just help people for people’s sake, but they help people to glorify God. They want the kingdom of God to be established on earth, and in order to do this, injustice must be eliminated and the Gospel must be spread.

Prayer and Fasting – August 5

By Ryan Skoog, President & Co-founder of Venture Expeditions

Closing Prayer

One of our board members came back from a Thailand trip visiting Venture Projects with a simple phrase that would not leave her, It’s time to Re-Emphasize and Re-Organize prayer efforts.  When our board heard this it spurred an exciting conversation:

What if there was a day that the entire Venture Community, staff, board, missionaries, alumni, and local participants set aside to fast and pray for each other and our friends overseas?

Starting today, we are going to do just that, a community-wide day set aside for prayer, scripture and fasting.  One teacher calls the ancient practice of fasting a time of “starving ourselves of this world, and feasting on God.”

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST
This fast could not start at a more needed time. I just received and urgent prayer request from one of our partners:
One of the safe houses for children rescued from child soldiering and trafficking is now being persecuted by the local officials who are demanding bribes. Please pray for God’s protection on these precious children who have already been through so much.

GENERAL PRAYER REQUEST
Please pray for our Board, Staff, Missionaries, Community, Alumni, Participants, and their families

PRAYER
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we awake to eternal life.

— St. Francis of Assisi

SCRIPTURE
As a child, I have clear memories of my father reading and praying through Psalm 91 almost every morning for over ten years. One of the prayers that I have been praying lately is this, “God hide us. Keep us hidden in your grace from the evils of this world, the evils in me, and the evil one.”  Please pray through this Psalm for our Venture community:

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

2014 Tour Photoblog #7

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Keeping Christ In The First Place

Reflecting on Venture’s theme of “with Christ” in Thailand

By Rebekah Jacobson

In my last two blogs, I shared about Venture Expeditions’ themes of physical sacrifice and community and how they look in Thailand. The Venture community here has sacrificed their comfortable life in America to be obedient to God in Thailand, and they work together because community sustains and builds the Kingdom of God.

The act of sacrifice and the gathering of community are important themes in our lives as Christian, but there’s one act that trumps all others. In fact, it is the act that must be incorporated if the others are to remain.

That act is building a foundation in Christ. I like to call this act “abiding,” as the LIVE|DEAD journal describes it. Abiding simply involves spending time in the Bible and in prayer. It is the fountain from which our strength, joy, wisdom and love flows so we can be fruitful in our acts of service.

According to the Halvorson’s, a Venture couple living in Thailand, “the more we understand [Christ’s] worthiness and character, the more natural it becomes to involve him in everything.”

Yet, knowing Christ only comes by abiding in him.

John 15:4 says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

In Thailand, abiding needs to take the first place in the missionaries’ lives if they are to share the Gospel, make disciples and bring biblical justice to this land.

As a missionary, it can be difficult to keep Christ at the center of your life. That sounds blasphemous, but the reality is that the lives of missionaries are incredibly busy. Most of the Venture missionaries in Thailand start their work early in the morning and sometimes don’t finish until late at night.

The life of a missionary is not your typical 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. job with a one-hour lunch break thrown in the middle. The Venture missionaries here navigate from one meeting or class to the next, and some of them also teach English and attend Thai language school. Two of the couples also have babies and must take care of them, among everything else that fills their days. Throw in Skype meetings with friends, family, and supporters back home and building relationships in the Chiang Mai community, and their days are filled from sunrise to sunset.

Despite their busy lives, the Venture missionaries have made it a priority to keep Christ at the center of their days. They are busy, but they know they cannot operate to their fullest ability if they leave Christ out.

There’s an analogy that describes this really well. Picture that every person holds a cup. As Christians, if we are pouring out the love of Christ onto others, then this means that our cups need to be overflowing. But, in order for this to happen, our cups need to be replenished constantly, otherwise the overflowing will stop.

Jesus is the one who replenishes us. In John 4, he is described as the one who gives living water. He fills our cups over the brim so we can pour out onto others, but this only happens when we abide in him.

The Venture missionaries here are holding their cups out to the living water, even though it requires sacrifice sometimes. Abiding in Jesus sometimes means turning down requests to get involved in another ministry or spend time with someone.

The important thing is that Christ remains at the center of their lives. Not only is he worthy of being glorified, but he is the fountain from which all of their ministry flows.

2014 Tour Photoblog #6

 

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Diversity That Blossoms From One Heart

Reflecting on Venture’s theme of “community” in Thailand

By Rebekah Jacobson

Community is so essential in the Body of Christ. Without it, unity cannot exist, which hinders the growth of the Church.

The church in Acts gives us a beautiful description of community in Christ. These people worshipped together, prayed together, ate together, and served together. Their lives were interconnected for the sole purpose of glorifying God and sharing the Gospel.

What sets the church in Acts apart from many other communities of believers is that the community operated out of one heart and one vision. The people were unified together to do the work of Christ.

A lady at a prayer meeting I met last week gave a metaphor that describes the impact of community so well. She said individual believers are like fireflies that go out into the world on their own and flicker their light in the dark. Yet, when the fireflies come together in a jar, the light is so much brighter because their light feeds off of each other. Also, their light doesn’t fade away like it did when they were each on their own.

The jar of fireflies’ metaphor emphasizes that when believers come together, their impact strengthens. They can go out on their own and be effective for a while, but eventually their wick will run dry. Community sustains us as Christians, and more importantly, builds the Kingdom of God.

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In addition to physical sacrifice, community is another theme that Venture Expeditions focuses on.

In America, Venture has built a strong community of staff, tour participants, alumni and donors who all partner together to support Venture’s work. However, in Thailand, the community looks a little different.

Firstly, the community here is smaller than the community in America. Currently, there are three full-time Venture missionary couples living in the Chiang Mai area, along with Pae, a Karen-Thai who coordinates the HOSEA Center.

The Venture community also changes a lot. Although there is currently five long-term staff here, the Venture community receives short-term volunteers from time to time. These short-term volunteers can be helpful, but the Venture community would like to expand its base of long-term workers here. Longevity is so important when building relationships in ministry, especially if it involves learning a new language.

Secondly, the community here is involved with a variety of different ministries. Not only do Venture Expeditions missionaries work at the HOSEA Center and with the Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) feeding project on the Thai-Burmese border, but they also work with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and at Grace International School (GIS).

I want to dispel the popular belief that to be apart of the Venture community in Thailand means to only teach English and the Bible to village kids. Although Venture’s initial presence in Thailand was at the HOSEA Center, it is expanding its territory into other ministries. It’s all about being obedient to what God calls you to – no more and no less.

Although the Venture community in Thailand is small now, it is diverse. What draws the people here together is Venture’s passion for biblical justice, and they actively want to be part of fulfilling that, whether it be through distributing meals to refugees on the Thai-Burmese border or discipling missionary kids at an international school.

Like one of the Venture missionaries said here, the Venture community strives to live within a “Jesus culture” here. They don’t want to conform to American culture or even the Thai culture that surrounds them, but a culture whose identity is found in the Body of Christ, which includes every tribe, every tongue, and every nation.

The Venture community in Thailand is still growing and being shaped, but the hearts behind are eager to see the future of it. They agree that prayer and discipleship are the two means that will cause the community to flourish.

Please pray against disunity in the Thailand Venture community and pray for more discipleship within the ministries that the Thailand Venture community is working in.

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