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Shelter Christian hostels

One of the best volunteer organizations in Amsterdam

We are a volunteer organization in Amsterdam, focused on sharing God’s love with travelers from all over the world. With our team of volunteers we strive to be a light for Christ to the 40.000 guests who stay in our two Christian hostels in Amsterdam every year. Guests may book a bed in a shared dormitory-style room with other guests of the same sex.

Since 1971, our Shelter Christian hostels Amsterdam have been a safe low-budget retreat to many backpackers traveling through Amsterdam. The love and faith that we have in Christ is central to everything we do. Through excellent hospitality, we want to make the gospel of Christ known to travelers, in words and deeds.

Shelter Christian hostels Amsterdam

Imagine talking to a non-believer about your faith in a complete relaxed, respectful and natural way in a setting that feels like home to you. No feelings of being pushed, no sales talk, no rejection, no awkward feeling. Just mutual interest, listening and being available. Sounds good right? Well, it is exactly what we are striving for in our volunteer organization: Shelter Christian hostels Amsterdam. Through hospitality, we want to reach out to travelers and share God’s love. Why to travelers? Because travelers (mostly 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, which brings opportunities to think about and discuss beliefs and the purpose of living with them. A perfect group of people to share your faith with!

Home away from home for many

Our goal is that every guest who stays at the shelter receives a “home away from home”. We do this firstly because we find hospitality important. After all, it is the core business of a hostel. At the same time it goes much deeper. We see hospitality in the heart of God himself. Therefore we strongly believe that the Shelter can be a place where our guests come home to God.

The desire of Shelter Christian Hostels Amsterdam is to be an oasis of rest, in an often overwhelming city. Through all the interactions and activities that take place in our hostel, we hope these values stand out: sincere, warm hearted, respectful, thought-provoking, and considerate. As a non-profit volunteer organization, our focus is not on money, but on love. All profits of the hostels go to some of the best volunteer organizations in Amsterdam. For example local Christian volunteer organizations that help homeless people, poor children and women in prostitution.

How it all began:

the history of our volunteer organization Shelter Christian hostel Amsterdam

In 1855, Rev. Jan de Liefde founded the non-denominational Protestant volunteer organization Tot Heil des Volks. From the beginning, the volunteer organization was focused on bringing the Gospel of Christ in words and deeds. Tot Heil des Volks provided clothing, food, and schooling to poor families. When the government started offering education for all citizens, school buildings of Tot Heil des Volks ran empty.

During the Flower Power of the early 1970's the organization recognized the spiritual need of many hippies that were occupying the Vondelpark at night. Hence in the summer of 1971 Tot Heil des Volks turned one of the schools into a hostel. Our Youth Hostel Ministry was born.

Christian volunteers

Both hostels are run by Christian volunteers (18 to 30 y/o) from all over the world. We train and equip them to engage in hospitality and evangelism in a culturally relevant manner. Maybe sharing the gospel sounds still a bit scary for you. Maybe you feel unprepared or afraid of being rejected. Or maybe you are the opposite and you have no greater passion than sharing your faith with people who don’t know him yet. No matter if you are an experienced street evangelist or a rookie, there are numerous ways to share God’s love in our hostels and to grow in ways of doing that. We offer a safe and yet adventurous setting to grow in evangelism and learning how to share your faith in news ways.

Christian mission

Our Christian mission centers around three themes:

  • Practice hospitality
  • Participate in community
  • Pursue hearts for Jesus

Practice hospitality

The foundation of our ministry is Christian hospitality. We create an atmosphere of love and acceptance, which opens up a space for us to share the love of Jesus Christ. Excellent customer service is what we aim for. We believe that practical service, given with kindness and joy, could be the starting point of meaningful connections with our guests. Travelers often like to exchange ideas, to philosophize about God, Jesus and the Bible. We spend time conversing with them about regular things, praying that God will open up opportunities to share about the passion of our hears.

Image cleaning volunteer in hostel room

Participate in community

You are not serving alone: you will live and become part of our supportive community of Christians. Through our ministry and Christian community we want to equip our volunteers for a life of ministry and service. Through the Ministry Training Program, weekly small groups, worship sessions and prayer meetings, you will grow together in faith and unity. Furthermore, you will have a prayer mentor and prayer buddy to talk and pray with. Living in a Christian community will help and encourage you to keep your focus on God and grow in your walk with Him. During this time, you will have the chance to grow and discover your unique gifts.

Pursue hearts for Jesus

Through personal conversations and evangelism activities, we like to create a safe atmosphere. Both believers and non-believers stay in our hostels. Some guests are very active in their spiritual journey. However, we also have a lot of guests that are more passive. We want all guests to feel free to talk about spiritual matters with us. In conversations about everyday things we try to make a bridge to the Gospel, without being forceful to guests or preaching to them. With further interest guests can get a free copy of the New Testament. We want them to experience the Shelter as a safe place, and it is our deepest desire that they find God, the ultimate shelter for life.

What we believe

We believe that:

  • the gospel of Jesus Christ can give freedom and renewal to every person
  • hospitality begins with God, and may be passed on through us to others
  • God invites people into His community; God is a relational God; and man only reaches his/her destiny within a restored relationship with God and fellow man
  • hospitality setting of the Shelter, which is an active community of young adult Christians, demonstrates a beautiful example of the proclamation of the gospel to young travelers
  • as followers of Jesus we have much to offer, while at the same time we have much to learn and receive
  • the Shelter is one of the best volunteer organizations and a meaningful place for young adult Christians to grow

List of volunteer organizations we support

Lastly, but not less important: our hostels are non-profit. This means that the revenue generated by the hostels supports local charities. These local charities are some of the best volunteer organizations in Amsterdam. They help people in need, like homeless people, poor children, drug addicts, and women who are trapped in prostitution. In this way, our volunteers contribute indirectly to the work of many volunteer organizations in Amsterdam. Check out the full list of volunteer organizations here.

Join our ministry team!

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

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