Venture Teams Intl.

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Jill Hagen - Extreme Tour Fall Update

I want to update you on the incredible ministry we had this summer while out on the road with the Extreme Tour. The Extreme Tour is a faith-based non-profit organization whose mission is reach out to counter-cultural youth through music and sports.

My husband, Mike, and I were surprised when
asked to become the leaders of a portion of the Canadian tour. Our job consisted of mentoring the other bands that were on the tour (including our own), leading Bible studies and team meetings, meeting with hosts and inspiring the group to live out the mission of the Extreme Tour. In May, Mike and I flew down to Nashville to take leadership training. When we came back to Canada we started the tour in Brandon, MB and toured through all the western provinces and into the Territories. We were gone from home for two months and though we longed to sleep in our own bed, nothing could compare to the joy of doing God’s work in the lives of so many youth even if it meant sleeping on the floor of churches night after night. Thank you for all your support in encouraging us, praying for us and giving of your finances. We couldn’t have done this tour without you!

The Impact

It would be hard to tell you all the things that God was doing on the tour but there are a few highlights:
  • A youth in Drayton Valley who gave his life to Christ while connecting with the youth pastor in town after last years Extreme Tour event.
  • An older man in Brandon, MB who last year gave his life to Christ at our event passed on shortly after and is now with the Saviour.
  • Talking late into the night to a young teenage girl who is one of the only Christians in her village and giving her encouragement.
  • God opening the doors to the Northwest Territories where we got into First Nations reserves that have never had a concert like this before and seeing people moved to tears by God’s love for them.

Upcoming... Important Announcement!

I have been in full time ministry for five years and it has been amazing! I can’t believe how much God has done in my life and the lives of others. However, at this time I have decided to take a break from full time ministry this fall to have time to pray and consider what God would have for Mike and I in the future in terms of ministry. I decided to go back to teaching this September until Christmas and then we are expecting our first child at the beginning of January! Although many changes are on the horizon, I still believe that I am to continue using my musical gifts and so I am serving in church worship leading and doing occasional performances. It is with this news that I would like to thank all of you for being a part of my ministry in prayer and finances. I will no longer be on support through VTI during this season. I may choose to go back on support after January as I haven’t left VTI, but at this time, I ask that you pray and consider God’s calling for you and whether you are to be involved in the future. Thank you so much and God bless you!

Jill (Hagen) Janzen

To see the newsletter in pdf format click here.

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Last Updated on Monday, 02 December 2013 14:00

Melvin Slack Obituary

MELVIN GEORGE SLACK (August 8, 1925 – May 12, 2013)
With both sorrow and joy we announce the passing of Melvin G. Slack on May 12, 2013, to “be with Christ which is better by far.” Mel was born on August 8, 1925 near Lavoy, AB. He was our dearly loved husband, father, brother, grandfather and great-grandfather, survived by his “dear Enid,” wife of almost 61 years; sons Larry (Beth), Maurice (Wanda), Duane (Andrea), and Sharon (John) Wicker; sisters Myrtle Slack and Doris (Brian) Fargher; 13 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents G. William and S. Maude Slack, and sister Pauline.

A memorial service will be celebrated at Abundant Life Church (3325 - 49 Street SW, Calgary) on Saturday, May 18, 2013 at 1:00 PM with fellowship time to follow. Visitation is on Friday, May 17 from 11 AM – 12:30 PM also at Abundant Life Church, and a private interment thereafter.

If desired, memorial tributes may be made to Wycliffe Bible Translators or Global Outreach Mission designated for India. For online donations, contact Otherwise contact Thom’s Funeral Home (; 1-403-501-1010).

Mel had a long and distinguished career in Christian work primarily in India, but in many other countries as well. He was a visionary who profoundly impacted many Christians also working to fulfill the Lord’s prayer that our Father’s “kingdom come and will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
Last Updated on Monday, 13 May 2013 22:20

Extreme Tour

Last year I booked the first ever Canadian Extreme Tour. The Extreme Tour is a faith-based organization out of the States who seek to share the love of Christ to cross cultural youth using music and sports. I travelled along with 3 other bands through Western Canada last August. Besides putting on skate competitions and concerts for youth, we made it our focus to do everything we could to just "love" on them. Dancing with the people, playing games, doing "shout-outs" to certain individuals, we made the night all about them and not ourselves. My heart just went out to the young people we met who were thirsting for love and acceptance. What a cool opportunity to share the life-changing love of Christ!

Here we go again!

I am pleased to say that we will be back at the Canadian Extreme Tour starting in May when my husband, Michael and I will fly down to Nashville for leadership training and then we will lead a team of bands through MB, SK, AB and into the Northwest Territories. God has opened some incredible doors as I have been faithfully booking the tour and we will have the opportunity to go from small towns to cities to First Nations reserves in search of the lost and hurting. We will be on tour for June and July and absolutely covet your prayers. Many teens we will encounter are caught in addictions of all kinds. We are excited that God could use us to bring light in the darkness. This is a mission trip. No one on the team is paid to be on the team so please prayerfully consider if you can help support the tour. Michael and I will need to raise $6300 for support and another $6300 for travel expenses.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . To see the full newsletter click here.
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Last Updated on Monday, 13 May 2013 18:25

Report on Give Me Africa 2012

In 2000, Harold Cooper was invited by AIA Canada to partner with Campus Crusade for Christ Zambia (CCCZ) to assist in launching their Athletes in Action ministry. That initial invitation has grown into the establishment and development of sustainable sports ministries in South East Africa. There are now AIA ministries in Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Literally millions of people have been exposed to the gospel through sports outreach and discipleship events. During these 12 years, AIA ministry trainers and sports teams from around the world have partnered in the establishment these AIA SEA international ministries.

Training Symposium - This past December, AIA national staff from Zambia, Malawi, and South Africa joined Harold in facilitating training for over 50 participants attending the intensive 5-day AIA Sports Ministry Training Symposium hosted in Lusaka, Zambia. Many were pastors and lay leaders learning for the first time how to maximize the platform of sport to reach their communities, country and their national neighbors for Christ. Additionally there was a 4-day SEA Regional Summit Meetings for the AIA staff from those countries.

Youth Olympic Deveopment Centre - Determined to stay "in the race" the AIA regional staff  line-up on the track at the first of its kind, Youth Olympic Development Centre (see photo above). The YODC was completed in 2011 as an investment and commitment by the IOC to enable developing countries the opportunity to grow Olympic athletes from within their country. In the back-drop is the under construction 30,000 person sports stadium. It is the second of its kind to be built in Zambia. The world believes that sport makes a difference in individuals, communities and nations.

Athletes in Action believes that JESUS is the ultimate change agent! These AIA staff are world changers who have been changed by the world Maker. A YODC banner declares: “Home of tomorrow’s Olympic heroes.” These courageous AIA African staff believe, by faith, that the God who created and sustains the world will raise up tomorrow’s generation of godly heroes in their countries that will change their nations forever!

Come and Do - AIA ministry is a "Come and Do" strategy, not "Come and Listen." Wednesday of the Symposium was a "Do" day at the Campus Crusade office where the participants practiced the outreach activities that would happen on Thursday at the Chawama compound. Hundreds of children had a "play day" with our participants and then heard the gospel as presented by our trainees. For many, it was their first time to ever be a part of an outreach or to share the gospel with anyone. We know of over 115 that personally met and prayed with our trainees to receive Christ as their Saviour. The event was partnered with Campus Crusade staff members who attend the church located in Chawama. They will be providing the follow-up partnership!

There are too many wonderful stories to share in one article. To see Harold's complete report click here. We thank God for your interest, prayers and support!

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 February 2013 18:17

Partnership with Athletes in Action for Zambia

The VTI Board is excited to approve a joint missions project with Athletes in Action Canada that will see a proposed 50 athletes, coaches, sports administrators and professionals involved in ministry training in Zambia this December. For twelve years in South East Africa AIA has developed a strategic training model of equipping national sports leaders to use the platform of sport to reach their nation for Christ (see attached letter).

The event will also involve AIA staff from 5 nations (Malawi, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia) who will attend the regional AIA Summit in Lusaka, Zambia, for leadership training, strategic  ministry planning and fellowship as they consider other unreached nations in South East Africa as their mission field through sport.

This is a joint venture with VTI, AIA and River’s Edge Camp as Harold Cooper (River’s Edge Team Leader and AIA volunteer staff) is the facilitator and trainer for this ministry project. Harold has been working in South East Africa as an AIA trainer since 2000.

The attached “MPD Give Me Africa” partnership brochure outlines how you might engage with this project in assisting in the training of African nationals to be further equipped to reach their nations through sports.

A Brazilian national soccer coach once said: “There are two languages in the world, sports and music.” He was right. Everywhere people go you hear the sound of music and see people playing sports. Both are tools that are making an impact around the world.

Consider joining with us in this new possibility for Venture Teams.

In Christ, and for His glory,

Rod Bargen
Board Chairman

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 February 2013 17:58

Jill Hagen Featured on 100 Huntley Street

Jill Hagen was recently featured on 100 Huntley Street. Watch her interview with Ron & Anne (top) and listen to her sing The Price (bottom) from her album Ruined for the Ordinary.

Last Updated on Friday, 19 October 2012 14:45

Jill Hagen is Back!

We are pleased to announce that Jill Hagen, singer/songwriter, who spent several years under VTI's AIR program, is back ministering under the the AIR program. She just returned from touring Saskatchewan and Manitoba and is currently touring in California with Christian R&B artist, Martay. In order to enable her to minister full-time, please consider donating to Jill's ministry to young people through music. You can donate online or send a cheque to VTI (see Info on Donating).
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 February 2012 18:19

Receipts for 2011 Have Been Mailed!

Due to the closing of the Calgary office and moving all operations out to Discovery Lodge/River's Edge, we had a slight delay in getting the 2011 receipts out. For your information, receipts were mailed on Friday, March 16, so you should expect to receive your receipt in the mail over the next few days. If you do not receive your receipt by the end of March, please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it us or call (403) 637-2766.
Last Updated on Friday, 23 March 2012 17:02

Celebration Sunday

Rod Bargen, long-time board member for VTI, reports on Celebration Sunday:

Celebration Sunday... perhaps better described as Celebration Weekend: the River’s Edge board met during the day on Saturday, then in the evening the VTI board met, with a number of new members, who are associated with the River’s Edge Camping Association (see board page). I’ve continued to have a sense of men and women with a heart for God, and unity, as we come together under our head, Christ. It was also a time to see Mike & Michelle Joos pack up and head out from their home at Discovery Lodge to a new ministry in Ontario.

On Sunday morning many of us celebrated “THE LIFE” together in Christ as we met for fellowship, sharing from the Word, and remembering the life and death of Christ through the emblems of the wine and the bread. The afternoon was an open house for  those connected with the ministry and was attended primarily by supporters of the River’s Edge ministry. There was a celebration service at 4:00 with praise music, recounting the work of River’s Edge over the year, a brief history and overview of VTI, and a message by Lance Duncalfe, with the theme “Today we celebrate the mystery of what goes on in unseen places, yet miraculously produces limitless, life-impacting potential!” Read the full text here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 13:15

Side by Side

You have been a part of amazing moments in the history of VTI. For all of your investments and partnerships throughout the years, we are ever grateful! We want to update you on the plans that are being made to realign our ministries with River's Edge Camping Association (RECA).

First, VTI is not closing but rather realigning our ministries in partnership with River's Edge to continue the legacy of both ministries. The current assets and liabilities will initially be managed by an interim board that will decide on the organizational structure that will best benefit both ministries and comply with Canada Revenue Agency's requirements. The Leadership Team of RECA will form the ministry development and management team to realign VTI's ministries.

Second, the financial and donation side of the ministry continues to operate as VTI for now. All donations, including monthly automatic donations, will be receipted for tax purposes through the VTI charitable number and systems. As the ministry is still continuing to operate are trusting the Lord to continue to move in the hearts of His people to prayerfully sustain the ministry through their financial investment partnerships. We still need your support!

Third, Discovery Lodge Retreat & Training Centre is not closing. Though the Calgary office is now closed, Discovery Lodge will continue to host families, schools, churches and especially mission groups. The RECA Leadership Team will be seeking to promote and recruit an expanding ministry partnership that will eventually call the VTI facility their "home" for ministry training and sending events.

Team building activityFourth, River's Edge will become part of us just as we become part of them! As combined ministries, their programs, ministry events, facilities and missional opportunities will be available to all of us. We are joining forces to help River's Edge expand its focus and opportunities. We are confident that as God continues leading us into this new partnership that it is not about uniting a parcel of land but of expanding our collective global impact for generations to come.

Lastly, as in the past, we are seeking the Lord's confirmation and blessing in these decisions. We invite you to continue as a partner in impacting the world for Christ. We need to hear from everyone connected with VTI! Please complete the online response form - we want to give everyone an opportunity to join with us in creating something unique and engaging for the next generation of ministries hosted at the VTI site.

Yours, on behalf of those we serve,

Brian Rushton, Chairman of the Board

Click here to read the full update

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 February 2012 19:03

To the River's Edge and Beyond

River's Edge is the "camp up the hill" from Discovery Lodge and we have existed side-by-side for many years. Further to the board's announcement on April 29 regarding VTI's future, we are happy to report that we are in discussions with River's Edge to potentially have them operate our facility and continue to host retreats. This arrangement could potentially encompass training and sending mission teams overseas, continuing the VTI vision.

Here is a link to the website for River's Edge, a camping and retreat facility affiliated with the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada. River's Edge was established in 1998 and runs camps for all ages, including horsemanship and adventure camps.

Some of you have seen this email from River's Edge. Please note that discussions are ongoing and this email may not capture most recent events. In the meantime, VTI staff are still living on the property and managing retreats. Discovery Lodge is still open for business and you may book retreats by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or calling (403) 637-2997. Our office in Calgary closed on Monday, May 30. If you wish to get in touch with a VTI staff member, please call Discovery Lodge at (403) 637-2997 (leave a message) or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it us. You can also send mail to 3a, 3023 - 21 St NE Calgary AB T2E 7T1 and it will be forwarded to us.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2011 14:05

A New Direction

We would like to share an important message from our Board (click here to read the full message):

The Venture Teams International board is concerned about the critical cash flow situation of the organization. To move forward in integrity requires immediate action. In light of this, the board is considering our options and we have taken steps to reduce all costs, including staff, and closing our Calgary office and consolidating operations to the Water Valley training centre (Discovery Lodge). We are also considering the future of the training centre.

We recognize the many years of God ordained ministry, and the call and gifting of our staff, team members, and supporters of VTI. Please join with us in prayer and trusting God for his direction and leading for all concerned.

The board is currently in dialogue with viable established organizations, including those who share a similar vision as VTI, with the goal of exercising wise stewardship of the present ministry and assets entrusted to VTI, and to deal with the organization's present financial indebtedness.
We are limiting our activities until we have a clear direction for the future. We will update you further as decisions are made and we are able to share these.

Brian Rushton, Board Chair
on behalf of the Board of Venture Teams International

The office will remain open until the end of May. Please call us at (403) 777-2970 or toll-free 1-800-565-3818 if you would like more information or would like to discuss this message with someone. Donations will be received until the end of May. Our website will remain up indefinitely.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 12:18

Alumni News!

We have published a special Pathways newsletter which contains two pages of Alumni news and photos like the one to the left (alumni from Friends & Followers 2004-05)! Click here to access. Pathways is a newsletter for VTI friends and alumni and is emailed out 4 - 5 times a week.

Subscribe online or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it us or call 1.800.565.3818.
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 20:24

Summer In Rwanda

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word "Rwanda"? Genocide, right? But Rwanda has come a long way since the masssace of 800,000 in 1994. It is now considered a model for developing countries having achieved stability, economic growth and international integration (source: Wikipedia). But there are still scars....

Our 2010 GAP team was in Rwanda July 13  - August 3, living at the YWAM base in Kigali. They used the arts to share the love of Jesus in orphanages and schools, working with orphans, widows, street kids and prostitutes and completing various work projects. Follow their journey on their blog.

You are welcome to join us at the GAP Closing Rally on Sunday, August 8 at 10:00 a.m. (MDT) at Cremona Country Fellowship. For driving directions, go to Upcoming Events.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 13:41

Return from Costa Rica

39 team members have just returned from 12 days of ministry in Costa Rica. One team of 28 was from Heritage Christian Academy, Calgary. This is the 11th year we have taken an HCA team overseas. Mark Sorell reports: "It has been an honor and privilege to work with them. The theme of the trip was Impact with a cross over a heart. We saw God impact lives in a number of ways. It was impacting to see about 40 people make decisions to follow the Lord." To see video check out this link.
The second team was made up of 11 from Cornerstone Christian Academy, Kingman, AB. They were based out of Fortuna (Guanacaste) and Campamento Roblealto. They did physical labour and presented the gospel using the spoken word and the arts. This was the second time we have trained and helped to lead a team from CCA. Mark says, "It was a pleasure and a privilege to work with them. They had some amazing opportunities and we will hear some stories from them shortly."
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 13:43

Dancing with a Purpose

ru poster image edit.jpgChristian hip-hop troupe, Refined/Undignified, from Caronport, SK, will be "dancing with a purpose" on Friday, November 14 @ 7:00 p.m. at Foothills Alliance Church, Calgary. They seek to share God's love with teens through the medium of dance. They will be joined by Covenant Music Award nominee, Jill Hagen, and Kelsey Plowman & the Komforters. Tickets are $15 at the door (advance tickets no longer available).
Last Updated on Monday, 17 November 2008 17:07

Kelsey Plowman Kick-Off Concert

kelsey_plowman_crop.jpgKelsey Plowman, VTI Artist in Residence, is kicking off her concert year at Zion Evangelical Missionary Church, Didsbury on October 5 @ 7 PM. Tickets are $10 in advance (call the VTI office at 1-800-565-3818) and $15 at the door. Opening for her is Jill Hagen (another VTI Artist in Residence), who has recently been nominated for 3 Canadian Gospel Covenant Awards: Inspirational Song of the Year, New Artist of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year. Special guest Annika Odegard (top 14 in Canadian Idol 2007) will also be opening. Come on out and be inspired! For more information on these artists go to: jill hagen or

Band members include Ray Banman, bass (GAP 2007), Luke Ducharme, drums (F&F 02-03, Encore 03-04) and Kurt Driedger, guitar. Jill Hagen will be touring in Alberta and Saskatchewan in October and Kelsey Plowman will be touring in Alberta and Manitoba. For all upcoming concerts, go to Teams, Team Tours or click on:

Last Updated on Monday, 17 November 2008 17:07

Our Hosts Say...

We work with many wonderful hosts around the world. Our ministry would not be possible without their dedication and commitment to hosting and mentoring. Here is what several say about our teams:

I want to thank you (Jill Hagen) and the guys in the Band for coming to Elliston and Avon this month. To say that the trip was successful would be a gross understatement.  The people of both churches were very blessed by the ministry and message you all shared. The music and worship were a true blessing. I can only give God the Glory for the turnout that we saw on March 14 at the school gym in Elliston. There were over 70 people in attendance, with the bulk of those being high school and junior high school aged kids. We have heard nothing but great things about you and the band, your music, message and overall show of love and concern for the choices the kids make. Many have asked, “When are they coming back?” That is awesome!

Again thanks for the time invested here. You all were gracious guests, personable, professional and Christ like. What more could we ask for? I do hope you will keep us mind when you are thinking of coming back this way. You and the band are always welcome to come and visit us at our home. Thanks again.

Dave Carroll, Area Missionary, American Missionary Fellowship.

trees.jpg"How is the Encore Team doing? I miss them. They were so humble & cooperative. I think God really used that great spirit in many ways as well as the team's wonderful talents. I have no words to describe how much I appreciated this team."

Dwain Fowler, Pastor of Grace Brethren Church, Beaver City, Nebraska (unsolicited testimonial).

"Hi there Calgary, I'm just back from dropping the Quebec (GAP) team off at the airport. Hopefully they and all 12 pieces of luggage will arrive intact.

"What a wonderful blessing they were. We enjoyed each one personally, and as a team they were such a strength as they ministered (here) at the VBS and then at camp. I personally have the most to be thankful for, I think. I directed my first-ever camp more by necessity than choice, and it went very well, thanks to the Lord's wonderful provision with your team. Crystelle agreed to co-direct with me, and she completely took over the activities part of the program. The rest were very capable counselors and wholly involved in the program. We had a great week, and we know that kids made first time professions and we know that others who had received Christ as Saviour other years were challenged to take a new look at what that means in their lives. I know there will be eternal rewards for their efforts here.

"They were such a great bunch. Cheerful, willing, caring, TALENTED, versatile, encouraging, fun, committed. What a blessing once again this year to have a team to help with the ministry here."

Sharon Bouchard, Camp Director, Camp des Iles, near Lachute, Quebec (unsolicited testimonial)

ff66 team photo for web 2.jpgI just wanted to say thank you to the team (Friends & Followers 66) who came last Friday night, though I wasn't there, I heard great things about it. Alex, the team leader, was very helpful on the phone when I spoke to him and my volunteers told me he and the whole team did an excellent job on Friday night. Thank you again for sharing, we hope to host your team again in the future!

Megan Giesbrecht, Youth Director, City Church, Winnipeg, MB (unsolicited testimonial)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 May 2010 13:29

Nipawin College Now on Board

Nipawin Bible College is the latest college to accept transfer credits from our Friends & Followers program. Eight Bible colleges in western Canada currently accept transfer credits from our F&F program, anywhere from 18 to 45 credits, depending on the school and the student's chosen program. Our curriculum consists of 16 courses which cover areas like Bible & theology, missions & evangelism, the arts, children, youth and general audience ministries, crosscultural communication, oral communication skills, spiritual formation, leadership and team development.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 13:59

Quick Link to Applications

You can find a quick link to all the team and staff applications on our website right under the Quick Links title (left hand column, above the Pathways logo), or click here.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 February 2008 08:49

Shares Accepted

We are now set up to accept shares as a receiptable donation (through an agent). Please contact our office for more information.
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