by Summer Kelley
When ITMI's Richard and Brooke Nungesser first arrived in Poland in 2001, their "primary work" was teaching English.
God had other plans for the pair.
ITMI's Richard and Brooke Nungesser with Steve Evers in Poland. (2003)
Burdened for the plight of the forgotten, homeless and outcast who took refuge in train stations and searched for food in the trash, they began regularly meeting them in the stations with hot tea and granola bars.
In 2002, the vision expanded to serving breakfast twice a week along with a Bible study.
"Breakfast should not only be a good start, but a God start," Richard was quoted in ITMI's March 2002 monthly newsletter. Thus "Holy Start" breakfast was born.
At first, Brooke and Richard thought the Barracks would be flooded with people coming for breakfast. They were habitually serving up to 75 at the train stations.
When the doors opened the first day, just 5 people showed up.
Brooke says, "We didn't care. We served those 5 with all of our hearts. Soon, the room became so crowded, we could hardly fit everyone."
Bread of Life's Holy Start Breakfast (2004)
Bread of Life Bible Study (2004)
Bread of Life Bible Study (2004)
So, what are these 3 things you should know? Here they are.
1. Many Were Reached for Christ at the Barracks Over the Years
This is just one story of many.
Brooke recalls a special Thanksgiving Feast one year. She was alone in the kitchen, preparing. A young man, dressed in all black showed up early.
At first, she was intimidated.
But Brooke shares, "God spoke to my heart and said, 'Put him to work.' I did. And he gave his life to Christ that very night. Today he is married, working, and helping people fight addictions!"
2. Bread of Life is More Than a Social Service
While Bread of Life's mission is to help those in need, they are committed to a "how" that is distinct from other social services.
Richard and Brooke didn't set out to swoop in and "fix" Poland from a place of height looking down. Just the opposite, in fact. Their goal was to involve, empower and elevate the Polish people, giving them the tools to rescue the forgotten among them.
Eventually, the Holy Start breakfast and the barracks were turned over to a team of nationals.
Brooke says, "We had a hard time letting go of how we would do it...and yet, we knew, that in order for it to truly grow, we needed to give it to the people BEST for participants. Their people. Polish people."
Brooke continues, "It did grow. Better than I would have ever imagined...with as much love as God Himself would give."
3. Holy Start is Getting a New Location
On Good Friday last month, ITMI's Bread of Life served its last Holy Start breakfast at its long-time location, known as "The Barracks."
But don't worry!
Bread of Life will still provide a Holy Start for the many who need it. It will just happen at a new location!
Brooke says, "All is glory to God for the thousands upon thousands that have walked through the door and been given not just a hot meal, but a hug, love, prayers, and the priceless Word of God."
Building the New Life Center on a Proven Foundation
The success of Holy Start provided the tintype for Bread of Life's New Life Center, a transitional home for men. The New Life Center gives a professional staff of Poles yet another opportunity to serve the poor.
The New Life Center's Polish-staffed, God-centered and whole-life approach to offering help for those in need has been resoundingly successful. Stories of lives truly restored continue to roll in.
This month, Richard Nungesser and New Life Center Director, Marcin Lukaszuk, are in the US to tell more of those stories!
In the next two weeks they'll be in Albuquerque, Phoenix, Denver, Los Angeles and Sacramento. If you're in one of those areas and would like to see them, contact our office to find out the details!
They'd love to see you.