1972: Mel Slack, founder of VTI, while serving with YFC Canada in India, assembles a team of five called Potter’s Clay, to do evangelism in 29 Indian cities. Three hundred are counselled for salvation.
1974: Mel, now at Global Outreach Mission, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, trains a team of four called Earthen Vessels, to do evangelism in Canada, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Mel tours Bible Colleges in Canada desiring to see more students get involved in missions. While dialoguing with Dr. Henry Hildebrand of Briercrest Bible College about how to give students practical training in addition to classroom learning, the concept of an organization focusing on team evangelism takes shape. The idea is to develop a one to two-year mission internship with a cross-cultural component built in. Mel challenges the cast of A Man Called Peter at Briercrest Bible College to use their drama skills for missions. Two cast members, Brad Julihn and Randy Benson, accept the challenge and recruit team members for Mel. These recruits become the first Friends & Followers team.
1975-76: The first Friends & Followers team, with twelve members, trains at Briercrest Bible College. Eleven are graduates of the college or Caronport High School. Five are Americans and seven are Canadians. This team chose their name to reflect their purpose and identity: “Friends” of the people and “Followers” of Jesus Christ. The team serves for one year with Global Outreach Mission, ministering in Holland, Pakistan, and India.
1977-78: Friends & Followers 2 serves with Global Outreach Mission, with three members from the first team returning.
1978: In April, Mel dialogues with Dr. Harold Antliff, a Calgary pathologist, who has a vision for professional people ministering in cross-cultural settings. In August, Team Ventures International is born. The name is drawn from their vision of seeing men and women of God doing exploits for Him - “venturing” out for God. Mel serves as president, Harold as chairman of the board, and Doug and Jhan Groom as accountant and graphic artist respectively.
1979: In February, Team Ventures received a registration number and charitable status. Seventy applications are processed with 28 approved.
1979-80: Two 14-member teams are the first to travel under the newly formed Team Ventures International. Friends & Followers 3 serves in India and Friends & Followers 4 serves in India, the Philippines and Japan.
1983: Name changed to Venture Teams International.
1987: Rev. Willie Murray, formerly of European Christian Mission, becomes President January 1.
1989: Title of Chief Executive Officer changed to Executive Director. In September, Len Lane becomes Interim Executive Director.
1990: Len Lane is named Executive Director on July 1.
1993: Len’s vision is to see high school-aged young people get a taste for evangelism and initiates discussion on starting a summer team program.
1994: July 1 the first six-week summer team, called GAP, is formed. The name GAP is chosen to reflect Ezekiel 22:30 (stand in the GAP) and Mark 16:15 (Go And Preach). After two weeks of training, the team serves in Belize for four weeks. The team consists of four ladies and one man between the ages of 17 and 21 (four Canadians and one American) and one staff member, Bruce McKay.
1996: The first 10-day Spring Breakout teams for high schoolers are inaugurated in conjunction with a Christian school and a church. Nineteen team members in three teams serve in Mexico and Belize.
1997: 20-acre facility near Cremona, Alberta, purchased for the primary use of training teams.
1998: Took possession of the Training Centre, which is also used as a retreat centre by other groups.
2000: First Nehemiah Group (construction & ministry teams for mature adults) goes to work with a converted Muslim pastor in Guyana. The team consists of five men and three ladies, headed up by Ralph and Lois Hertzsprung.
2002: Mark Sorell is appointed Executive Director in August.
2003-04: First time in its history that VTI sends out more than 100 team members in a given year.
2004: The first family-oriented team is formed, called Family adVENTURE, and serves in Tepic, Mexico during Spring Break. The team consists of family units totaling 28 team members led by VTI staff Gary & Joanne Edwards and Bruce McKay.
2005: First 4WRD team (a four-month program) is assembled. After a month of training, a team of ten serves in the Philippines with SEND International for two months.
Outdoor firepit/amphitheatre and team-building stations built at the Training Centre (material and labour donated).
2006: Since inception, over 1,200 team members have ministered on VTI teams.