2016 ANNUAL REPORT
EXPAND... As I write this, I’m in Thailand where we received news that our Refugee Feeding Program is now reaching the Rohingyas, a Muslim people group who are victims of genocide. It is very dangerous to bring aid to them. As you read this, Christians are risking their lives to provide food and share the Gospel. Just a three-hour flight away from me, we were honored to help rescue girls from being sold by their parents into slavery. One of the girls made a commitment to follow Jesus this year. The change in her life was so dramatic. Her father was also changed. Just a year ago he was going to sell her, now he has become a Christian. The Gospel has reached the oppressed and the oppressor. The Gospel invites us into a heroic kind of love. Scripture says Jesus completely
Ryan Skoog President
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
emptied himself, carrying a cross a half mile to the peak of Calvary to save us. Then Jesus invites us to join him – and wow, the Venture community has joined Him brilliantly this year! •
Thousands of participants have logged over 108,000 miles this year. Many gave sacrificially, even changing their lifestyle, to raise a total of $3.25 million.
We celebrated our 10,000,000th meal to war refugees.
One hundred kids in India joined over a thousand people in the US for our LizzyStrong Run, to raise funds to stop human trafficking.
This has been the greatest year of impact we have ever had because of the personal sacrifice, prayers, generosity, and energy invested by our community. •
People are using their birthdays to do heroic challenges, like running 30 miles in one day, to fight trafficking or provide refugee meals.
- 1 CORINTHIANS 3:6-7
Parents are getting their kids involved, and young kids are getting their parents involved in the work that God is doing through Venture.
Churches are putting on runs, selling coffee to give the proceeds, and hosting teams across the country, as tangible ways to care for the most vulnerable.
We feel all that’s happened through Venture so far has only been the first mile… and we can’t wait to see what God has in store for mile two!
2 | LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
WHAT'S INSIDE MISSION STATEMENT �������������������������������������������������������� 4-5 TOUGH THINGS, TOUGH PLACES ����������������������������6-10 Tough Things ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 6 Tough Places �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������7 30 For Freedom ������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8 The Untouchables ��������������������������������������������������������������������������� 9 Colorado Run ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������10 Battle for Burma �������������������������������������������������������������������������������11
FROM A VISION TO MOVEMENT ����������������������������� 14-15 DEVELOPING FUTURE CHRISTIAN LEADERS ����������������������������������������������������� 16-17 FINANCIALS ������������������������������������������������������������������������� 18-21 Stewardship Principles ������������������������������������������������������������������18 5 Year Growth, Donors, Board �����������������������������������������������������19 Balance Sheet �������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 20 Income Statement ��������������������������������������������������������������������������21
THANK YOU ������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 22
Cover photo and table of contents photo by Matt Lien.
MILES FOR MISSION ������������������������������������������������������� 12-13
TABLE OF CONTENTS Miles | 3
WE SPEND OUR GREATEST ENERGY ON THE WORLDâ€™S GREATEST NEEDS AS AN ACTIVE RESPONSE TO THE GOSPEL.
Photo by Melody Skoog.
TOUGH THINGS The idea of doing tough things for people in tough places is not new. We stole it from Jesus. He did the toughest thing. He passionately endured a cross for all of us. And we were in the toughest place of all before Christ's sacrifice. We were completely separated from God, life, beauty, peace, and grace. Then Jesus invited us to join him on the cross, and sacrifice our time, our energy, our creativity, and literally â€œspend our soul on behalf of the oppressed.â€?
There is beauty and joy on the other side of sacrifice unlike anything this world has ever created. This is a little-known secret of life. For some, running one mile is a sacrifice. For others, sacrifice is biking thousands. At Venture, we do tough things for others. This is the common denominator for all of our programs. This year we reached an incredible landmark. We celebrated the delivery of our 10,000,000th meal to hungry refugees. We are thankful to God for every mile logged, and every dollar given, that made those meals possible.
6 | TOUGH THINGS
Written by Ryan Skoog. Photo provided by Elizabeth Hutto.
A life that follows Jesus, is a life of passion. And passion does not do casual things. Passion is derived from the Greek word Pathos meaning to suffer-with, or sacrifice for someone. One of the last inspiring actions on earth is when a person sacrifices to help someone in need.
FOR PEOPLE IN...
TOUGH PLACES Jesus was drawn to what he called “the least.” The oppressed, forgotten, poor and hopeless were his focus. Least Reached – people groups who have never heard the Gospel� Least Resourced – the war refugee, the traﬃcked, the enslaved, the child soldier, and the oppressed� They are in the toughest places, completely separated from safety, hope, food, shelter, education, health, and most tragically the love of God� But when the love of God reaches the toughest of places, it is often the most beautiful�
This combination of tough things for tough places is especially powerful because everyone is changed�
UNREACHED PEOPLE GROUPS
LESS THAN 2% CHRISTIAN
TRAFFICKED CHILD SOLDIERS OPPRESSED
Written by Ryan Skoog. Photo provided by Matt Lien.
It shows the world just who our God is, the God who goes where it's worst to bring healing, hope, and life�
TOUGH PLACES | 7
#30FORFREEDOM By Tiﬀany Livingston
When God asked Brent Silkey, We only need to do our part, and we Cities joined Levi in the Minnesota a Minnesota local, to do some- can help find a solution to stopping this chapter of 30 for Freedom. horrible thing,” Silkey said. thing tough, Brent responded. “Every 30 seconds someone becomes a victim of human trafficking,” states F.R.E.E. International on its website.
30 for Freedom raised over $81,000 in its first year, 2016. Forty-eight of his friends, stretching across six states, united to run 30 miles. An additional 75 people ran a 5k version.
Brent heard this statistic and describes God's beckoning, “God ignited something deep within my heart: to run 30 miles on my 30th birthday with 30 friends and raise $30,000 to rescue people out of sex trafficking. I couldn’t ignore it.”
“I was blown away by God through this event. So many communities came together to join our mission: to see sex trafficking eliminated in our lifetime,” Brent said emphatically.
“There are so many things that people can do, but sometimes we get paralyzed because the problem is so big.
Levi was an inspiration at age six. He felt compelled to participate and completed the 5K. Elementary to college age students from around the Twin
Brent's most memorable and meaningful interaction during the event was when a young female volunteer found him after the run. With tears in her eyes, she said she was once trafficked but is now free. What a perfect ending to the day and a perfect reason to continue what God started in his heart. Brent’s goals for the 30 for Freedom in 2017 is to have 1,000 runners and raise $250,000 to rescue victims from sex trafficking and find holistic restoration in Christ. When asked about the future of 30 for Freedom, Brent smiles and says, “We wont stop running until everyone is free!”
“I was blown away by God through this event. So many communities came together to join our mission: to see sex trafficking eliminated in our lifetime.”
Photo by Brent Silkey
- BRENT SILKEY | 30 For Freedom
8 | TOUGH THINGS
Photo by Melody Skoog.
THE UNTOUCHABLES By Paul Hurckman
Nepal is the 19th poorest country in the world. Poverty in Nepal is intensified by the historic, societal Hindu caste system.
shared Ryan Skoog, President of Venture, on a recent trip to Nepal. “You are no longer Hannah Badi. You are Hanna Christ, because you are in His family and His caste.”
Dalit is the lowest caste of the four main Hindu castes. The Badi people are the lowest, and most marginalized, of the 30 sub-castes of the Dalit. They are known as the Untouchables.
“Can this be true?” Hanna replied as she looked up with possibility and hope.
A person's caste is important to a Hindu. It is a person's last name, their identity, and their destiny. It defines a person more than their gender, culture, color, or neighborhood.
God is opening doors in Nepal to share this “truest of truths” through relationships with several key pastors, national leaders and organizations. God is calling Venture to play a significant role in responding to this extreme injustice. This year Venture worked with Lighthouse Foundation Nepal, 3 Angels, and The Leadership Training Center to rescue girls, build patrol stations and safe-houses, and provide education and food. Venture also helped plant
A Badi's fate is to be born into a life of extreme poverty, without education, health care, and social status. Most Badi girls are forced to sell their bodies to earn a living from a very young age. Rescued Badi girls tell horrific stories. They are sold for as little as $90. They are beaten, tortured, electrocuted, and raped as many as 40 times a day. Words like injustice, and crisis, are not strong enough to describe a Badi girl's reality. But there is hope. “The Gospel teaches your last name is no longer Badi.”
“Yes, it is the truest truth in the world,” explained Ryan.
churches, and train church leaders, to share the Hope of Christ to the most vulnerable. Venture's first nutrition and water facility is in the works. It will address overall nutrition and health and provide stability in the community. This is the first phase of an overall farm and church program. Communities will soon have a place to nourish the body and soul, mitigating the root causes of trafficking. The miles logged and monies raised through our grassroots efforts, like 30 for Freedom, OK200, and Lizzystrong, help fund these projects. We would not be able to respond to this dire need, with the hope of Christ without the sacrificial giving of time, effort, money, and prayer of our local participants and generous donors.
THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIP We celebrate the impact of our partner, Lighthouse Foundation Nepal.
Badi Girls Rescued
TOUGH PLACES | 9
COLORADO RUN By Jessica Abt
“It’s gonna be 90 degrees today,” someone yelled out to the team. We all smiled even though we knew it would be unbearably hot and tiresome. As I slathered on more sunscreen, I thought to myself, “This is what adventure is made of.” This trip was proving to be much hotter than we originally expected; eastern Colorado is a massive, sparse desert. The day had been going fairly well until we were forced to wait much longer than we had anticipated for our support vehicle. Miraculously, there was a lone, massive, beautiful tree at our resting location. It was the only tree as far as the eye could see.
As we settled into the shade, our teammate Mickey began to share her story with us. She told us about how she was born in Burma, but had to flee with her family after her father was killed. She lived in cramped indoor conditions for nearly a year, waiting to be granted entry into the United States. She told us what it was like to move to Minnesota as a child without knowing any English. Mickey had eagerly jumped at the chance to join the running tour in an effort to support her Karen and Burmese refugee friends still living in Southeast Asia. We all listened intently, shocked and humbled by her bravery and vulnerability. Her story brought us into an even closer community as we grieved her suffering and then celebrated the out-
come; our team was solidified into a compassionate family. We were all so thankful that every piece of that day came together perfectly. That lone tree was perfectly placed in this desert for us to lean even deeper into an understanding of our purpose and community with each other. Mickey’s life story put a face to the far away people that united us all for this run. More than half of those runners are once again joining the 2017 team to run across a state to raise funds, raise awareness, and create a community of discipleship – spreading Jesus’ story of sacrifice and love.
“Mickey began to share her story with us: She told us about how she was born in Burma, but she had to flee with her family after her father was killed.”
Photo by Jessica Abt.
- JESS ABT | Tour Director
10 | TOUGH THINGS
BATTLE FOR BURMA
Picture from child in refugee village.
TOUGH PLACES By Aaron Smith
Burma, also known as Myanmar, is home to the longest running civil war in the world. Since 1948 ethnic Burmese have been fighting various ethnic minority groups for control of trade routes through Burma. “Burma has a poor human rights record, but its record on child soldiers is the worst in the world,” said Jo Becker, advocacy director of the Children's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch in a report called My Gun was as Tall as Me: Child Soldiers in Burma. Additional war crimes like rape, torture, and use of land-mines have been documented for decades by groups like the United Nations and Free Burma Rangers. The war has left millions displaced around Southeast Asia. Currently 650,000 are living in Internally Displaced People Camps (IDP Camps), 120,000 are living in Refugee Camps in Thailand, 938,000 are stateless with no official rights, and 2-3 million are migrant workers in neighboring countries – many are discriminated against and working for less than a living wage. The military currently remains the most
powerful institution in Burma with little accountability to the elected civilian-led government. In 2016 the Burma military was accused of genocide against the Rohingyas in news sources like BBC and CNN.
in 2012 when it delivered the first container of Feed My Starving Children meals (272,000) to war-affected areas. Since then Venture has delivered 3.2 million meals and feeds 10,000 people a day.
Many of the war regions of Burma are subject to extreme poverty leaving people in desperate need. Stateless people and refugees in neighboring countries are at the mercy of aid organizations for food, clothing, healthcare, education and sanitation.
Venture battles to not only feed the bellies of hungry people, but also for the souls of the 94% primarily Buddhist population. Venture does this by sharing the Gospel in every village that food is distributed, as well as integrating Christian teaching into its Mobile Teacher program – an initiative to provide an education to displaced children.
The ongoing war has contributed to the human trafficking problem around the world. “Burma is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and sex,” reports CIA.gov in the World Fact Book on Burma. Venture entered in the battle for Burma
“It means so much to me that Venture is helping refugees by providing food, education and discipleship. God is always good,” said Mickey Paw who ran across Colorado with 30 others because her family experienced first hand the tough things happening in Burma.
FOOD PROGRAM AT A GLANCE We celebrate the impact of our partnership with Feed My Starving Children.
Receiving Meals Daily
TOUGH PLACES | 11
FOOD SECURITY Photo by Jeï¬€ Mitchell.
R MISSIONS 108,000
TOTAL MILES LOGGED
EXPEDITIONS Love Does PaciямБc NW Across America Colorado Run Epic West
FROM A VISION TO A MOVEMENT OF GOD By Melody Skoog
In 1987, I had a dramatic vision in one of my prayer Myanmar involving the Karen people. The seed was planted. times. It had many stages, but it started with a globe and later I saw a road from the United States to Around that time Aaron and Ryan started the early stages of Venture. Venture started going all over America, teams of China, then another from the United States to Asia. The vision ended with a hand that pointed at the United States that began to draw many lines all over the country, crisscrossing the map. I had no idea what this all meant, but the vision was a seed planted. Fast forward through a decade full of starting a new family company, founding a non-profit called AFC in 1991, and leading many missions trips. A great number of which were to help the underground church in China. God grew us in our knowledge of Him and His work worldwide. Then in 1997, to my surprise, God clearly directed me to go back to college â€“ at age 50! The first year back in school was a blur. It was humbling and frustrating, but I made it to my senior year, and to my senior project. Through a series of circumstances, I had received an invite to teach in a Bible School in Myanmar. So, for my senior project, we researched the internal tribal conflicts in
14 | FROM VISION TO MOVEMENT
runners and cyclists crisscrossing the country. Thatâ€™s when I remembered my vision! I began to see all the pieces God had put together. I began to understand the road to North Asia and to Southwest Asia, and most of all, the routing drawn all over the United States. I marveled! Around that time we merged AFC with Venture, creating the beautiful partnership of miles and missions. When Tim and I had a chance to visit a friend who was working with Karen refugees, we jumped at it. The seeds of my senior project began to spring to life. Ryan joined us as we visited the refugee camps along the Thailand-Myanmar border. The dire needs of this war zone, refugee area were dramatic. Upon returning home, Ryan took a leap of faith and showed up unannounced to Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) where he found out they had been praying for years to get food to the refugees of Burma. A partnership was born. The floodgates of heaven opened. We started feeding the
Photo by Sara Aho. refugees in Thailand and now have multiple warehouses along the border with wonderful Karen Christians working to see that their people get FMSC food, education and most important, the Gospel. Then the doors opened to get FMSC food into Myanmar. I'll never forget the joy of watching that first truck of food come across the border from Thailand. Now we have a distribution center in the south and in the north through which we get food to IDP (internally displaced people) camps and orphanages, even Rohingya people. The nationals who faith-
fully oversee the distribution are from the church and Bible School in which I taught for so many years! Today, we are amazed at the thousands of wonderful people who sacrificially give time, log miles, and generously support the work of Venture in Southeast Asia. Through their efforts, 10,000 refugees and vulnerable individuals are fed daily, children are being educated, and the hope of Christ is being revealed in new ways. The seed of my senior project has now grown into a beautiful movement of God. And all I can say is "look what God has done!"
â€œToday, we are amazed at the thousands of wonderful people who sacrificially give time, log miles, and generously support the work of Venture in Southeast Asia. Through their efforts, 10,000 refugees and vulnerable individuals are fed daily.â€? MELODY SKOOG | Venture Mama
FROM VISION TO MOVEMENT | 15
DEVELOPING FUTURE CHRISTIAN LEADERS By Aaron Smith
Photo by Sara Aho.
Aung Saejiang represents the work that God is doing through Venture in Southeast Asia. Her family fled a tribal area in Myanmar, when she was a baby, to search for a better life in Thailand. Now, at age 20, Aung is a Christian and the Thai director of Ventureâ€™s Hosea Center.
16 | DEVELOPING FUTURE CHRISTIAN LEADERS
“Thailand is a tough place. On the surface, Thailand is a developing nation and enjoys peace, but one layer down, it is a marketplace for trafficked children and sex tourism,” says Ryan Skoog, President of Venture. “According to Joshua Project, it is statistically as rare for a Thai native to become a Christian as it is a Muslim in Saudi Arabia.” The Thai people are 94% Buddhist, 5% Muslim, and less than 1% are Christian. Missionaries have been active in Thailand hundreds of years but haven’t seen much acceptance of the Gospel. Thailand’s constitution allows for freedom of religion but there is a saying in Thailand, “To be Thai is to be Buddhist.” Despite strong cultural pressure, Aung became a Christian six years ago after she was invited to the Venture Hosea Center by a missionary teaching in her village school. At the Hosea Center she developed relationships with Venture missionaries and staff, learned about Jesus, and learned to speak English.
opposition they may face from their peers. After a few years at the center, Aung neared graduation. She faced the same pressure from her family that many girls in her village face, to marry an old, rich foreigner so she can help her family financially. Aung didn’t want that. She wanted to go to a university, to study English, and get a good job; but, she didn’t have documentation showing her Thai citizenship. Venture’s Thailand Director helped her attend a college and pursue her dreams. Last year, Venture hired Aung as the new Thai Director of the Hosea Center. She had proven her commitment to what God is doing in her village through the center. She became fluent in English, attended church regularly and volunteered faithfully. Now she is able to help her family financially and do the work God has put in her heart. Her new position hasn’t been easy. She has had to earn the respect of the locals because she is young. Also, in daily announcements to the village, the monks encourage people not to participate in Hosea Center activities.
“I'm so thankful for what
Despite these challenges, the HoVenture's Thailand director conVenture has done for me sea Center averages 25 children a nected her with a church in a larger day, age 5 through 19. Over the past and my village.” city where she could interact with few years 10 children have become more Thai Christians after she deChristians as a result of Venture’s AUNG SAEJIANG cided to follow Christ. There, she work. The goal is to see these kids Hosea Center Director found strength to remain a Christian become future Christian leaders even though her family and community disapproved of her decision. Aung’s village is home like Aung and make an impact in tough places throughto a renown Buddhist temple. The abbot has been ad- out Southeast Asia. vocating to change Thailand’s constitution to make BudAung’s dream is that there will be a church in her village. dhism the national religion and limit freedom of religion. She wants the young and old in her village to be ChrisVenture faced opposition from the community when the tians. She hopes to travel the world and do missions. Hosea Center opened in 2010. The abbot led a campaign against Venture with a town-hall meeting where the community voiced their disapproval. The meeting was followed up with a petition of 200 signatures and threats to deface the property when the center opens. Thankfully, Venture had the support of a few committed Christian villagers who felt the center was worth opening despite the
“It’s remarkable to see the impact Venture has had,” says Mark Durene, an Assemblies of God missionary who has served in Thailand for 20 years. “The Hosea Center is unique because it has effectively reached into a strong Buddhist village and has changed lives. That is difficult to do here.”
DEVELOPING FUTURE CHRISTIAN LEADERS | 17
Photo by Matt Lien.
STEWARDSHIP Our Guiding Principles
Accountable: we are audited by a third party firm annually. Lean: our administrative costs are less than 8%. EďŹƒcient: we actually partner with other non-profits to share efficiencies. Basecamp: A group of companies and foundations cover 100% of our administrative costs.
5 YEAR GROWTH 46%
President & Owner, Conductive Containers, Inc
Executive Vice President, AFC Travel
Mark Geier J.D.
Partner, Larkin & Hoﬀman Attorneys at Law
Stephen M. Hosmer
CFO, Royale Energy (OTC: ROYL)
Executive Director, Venture
CEO, True North Strategies
CEO, Alliance Healthcare (NASDAQ: AIQ)
WE RUN LEAN
Co-Founder & President, Venture
Founder & Chairman, Centrav Inc.
92% – $2,998,836 PROGRAM 8% – $254,357* ADMINISTRATIVE & FUNDRAISING
Co-Founder & Missionary, Venture
Dr. Kristen Leigh Willard
Professor Emeritus, Columbia University, NYC
ADVISORY BOARD Terry Boynton
President, Yonder Travel Insurance
Senior Account Director, IN Marketing
*100% of Administrative Costs are covered by this team of generous businesses.
Director of Events and Artist Partnerships, International Justice Mission
Connections Pastor, The Oaks Fellowship
VP, Pro Acoustics
Principal, Longfellow Homebuyers
Owner, Schulz Communications Inc
FINANCIALS | 19
BALANCE SHEET 2015
Furniture, Fixtures, Equip
Total Fixed Assets
Total Accounts Payable
Total Other Current Liabilities
Total Current Liabilities
TR Net Assets
TOTAL LIABILITIES & EQUITY
CURRENT ASSETS Funds Cash
Total Other Current Assets Total Current Assets
LIABILITIES Current Liabilities
Statement of Cash Flows and Reconciliation is available upon request.
20 | FINANCIALS
Photo by Melody Skoog.
INCOME STATEMENT 2015
FINANCIALS | 21
EVERY MILE MATTERS
You can now make a diﬀerence in the palm of your hand. With Venture Miles you can help those in need with every mile you log from a simple workout�
AVAILABLE SUMMER 2017
FOR RESPONDING TO THE WORLD'S GREATEST NEEDS “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me...”
Photo by Sara Aho.
– MATTHEW 18:5
Miles | 23
511 E. TRAVELERS TRAIL, BURNSVILLE, MN 55337
GALA OCTOBER 13, 2017
VENTURE.ORG/GALA Register Now
24 | Miles
Venture does tough things for people in tough places. Check out what God has done through Venture in 2016.