This article was originally published in the September 2014 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Not long ago, Slawek’s alcohol-induced tantrums estranged him from his family. He was unable to hold a steady job in the shifting construction market. His entire life’s work, everything he’s been working so hard to build, turned into a million tiny, almost un-reconstructable pieces.
He was doing his best to kick the addiction on his own. He trained his will power muscle. All for nothing.
“The longer I went without drinking, the harsher the blow was for my family when I inevitably got wasted and reset the clock all over again.”
Slawek’s life capsized as he succumbed more and more to his alcohol addiction.
I built a model of Columbus’ Santa Maria with my Dad (ITMI’s Piotr Zaremba), a long time ago. Though it was a beginner level project, some of the pieces were so small you had to use a magnifying glass to paint them. The brushes were as thin as matchsticks! We both felt like we were all thumbs.
But what joy to look at a finished model! If you’re ever in Poland, you’ll find the Santa Maria proudly displayed in my Dad’s office, among the rows of Hebrew dictionaries and Biblical lexicons.
Slawek’s passion was ship modeling. But unlike me and my Dad, he quickly left the beginner level behind and graduated to advanced, thousand-piece projects. His works took part in championships and received national acclaim. But Slawek’s ship building days were long blurred by the years of alcohol abuse, as if part of another life.
Slawek needed help, and this was no entry-level project.
Real Help at the New Life Center
The transition required Slawek to leave his home and family in the north of Poland and move some 200 miles to Nowa Goślina, and not for a mere couple of weeks, either. NLC’s Christian oriented recovery program takes up to 12 months to complete.
Slawek was determined - but his determination would count for nothing were it not for NLC’s dedicated workers, and specifically, the genuine concern of NLC’s onsite director, Marcin Lukaszuk.
“At several times in the program, I was ready to run,” remembers Slawek. “In fact, I was already sitting in the director’s office, explaining how ready I was to leave. He listened to me intently. Then he ripped all my arguments apart, point by point. All I could say was, ‘Well, I guess you know where to find me.’”
Marcin’s firm hand and gentle heart were precisely the kind of concrete support Slawek needed in his time of crisis.
Apart from psychological counseling and on-site chores, NLC residents are involved in numerous social projects, which help to reintegrate them back into the society. They work with the local government to deliver food to those receiving public assistance, keep the neighborhood clean, and help out at charity events. They also participate in services at the nearby Gniezno Baptist Church, where ITMI's Pastor Janusz Fredyk openly welcomes all.
Marin, Janusz, Slawek and his wife at Gniezno Baptist Church
Slawek always believed in God’s existence. However, “there was this huge gap between my belief and my life. I honestly didn’t know how my belief was in any way related to the choices I made every day.”
As Slawek slowly made his way through the recovery program, God was molding his heart.
Putting the Pieces Together
“One day, I was in the kitchen with the other men,” he says. “As usual, we were preparing the evening meal. I was peeling potatoes. Then all of a sudden, it all came together for me. I realized how much Jesus loved me. I realized that it was for my sins that He bled on that cross. I realized how terribly it hurt Him when I trampled His sacrifice underfoot with my incessant drinking. It was like a series of blows to the heart. I ran out of the kitchen with tears pouring down my cheeks. One of the guys ran after me. He thought I cut myself with a peeler.”
Slawek with his friends from the New Life Center.
That happened in November 2013. In June 2014, Slawek got baptized and sealed his commitment to God. He finished the recovery program and is back together with his family, working as a house-painter in Denmark.
This is not to say that all the pieces in his life are back together again. But he is back to working on his model ship building with a new Friend who will never abandon him, and he now benefits from the perfect vision that comes from walking in God’s amazing light.
Slawek, ready for baptism.
Celebrating baptisms with a Barbecue!
You Are Building Something Amazing
When the box with the ship model kit is first opened, all the tiny pieces may be overwhelming.
The New Life Center is there to lend a helping hand to people who are overwhelmed by the task of putting it all together again. Through support of the NLC and its dedicated workers, you have been a part of this amazing construction work!