Gap Year abroad
Our history

The history of our Christian organization

The Shelter was initiated in 1971 by the association Tot Heil des Volks (Dutch for ‘For the Salvation of the People’), a registered charity in Amsterdam. This non-denominational Protestant organization was founded in 1855 by Rev. Jan de Liefde. From the beginning, the organization was focused on bringing the Gospel of Christ in words and deeds. Out of compassion, Tot Heil des Volks provided clothing, food, and schooling to poor families. When the government started offering education for all citizens of Amsterdam, some of the school buildings that were owned by Tot Heil des Volks became empty.

During the Flower Power of the early 1970's the Christian organization recognized the spiritual need of the many hippies that were flocking to Amsterdam and occupying Vondelpark at night. In the summer of 1971 one of the schools was therefore turned into a youth hostel - the beginning of the Christian organization of the Shelter.

The goal was to be a shelter for the many hippies by giving them extraordinary service and hospitality, as well as meeting them in their spiritual journey. Our first Christian hostel, the Shelter Jordan, opened in 1971 with 98 beds in the picturesque Jordaan area of Amsterdam. The Christian hostel was a great success, so one year later a second school was turned into a youth hostel: Shelter City.

Sharing Christ with backpackers

From the beginning, the Shelter has always focused to share the gospel of Jesus Christ among backpackers. Backpackers are often not only on a physical journey but also on a spiritual journey. They are open to interact with people of different cultures, backgrounds and interests. This brings opportunities to think about and discuss beliefs and the purpose of living with them. You can read more about our history and work in our Shelter magazine.

You can be part of our ministry! If you love to meet new people, live in an international Christian community, experience diverse cultures and share the gospel within a safe environment, our ministry in Amsterdam is the place for you! Consider to do a gap year at the Shelter or join us for a few months.