This article was originally published in the July 2016 edition of ITMI Monthly.
My recent trip to Poland allowed me to see and participate in many heartwarming connections with our Polish brothers and sisters. It was a blessing to me to meet up with a mission’s leadership team from Grace Community Church in Tempe, Arizona, who were in Poland to encourage Daniel Machlowski and Piotr Zaremba who are missionaries that they support.
Included below are a few of the images that I get to experience on my trip to Poland, hoping you get a better idea of what God is doing in this gospel-needy country.
Poland is beautiful. It’s unique old world charm is unmistakable. Poznan is where Piotr Zaremba lives and does ministry from. Here is where he has help plant multiple churches, including his current church, named K5N Church. You’ll have to ask Piotr sometime where the name came from.
Most every decent sized town or city in Poland has what is called the Old Town square or in European terms, Centrum. Piotr will gladly escort you to this picturesque Centrum when you visit him and the ministries he passionately oversees.
Poland is full, really full of century old cathedrals. The architecture is really stunning, especially for someone from Arizona, which doesn’t have any old building like these. This is in the town of Gniezno, Poland, about an hour northeast of Poznan. Gniezno is the birth place of Catholicism in Poland. Piotr, ITMI’s Janusz Fredyk and Dariusz Banicki planted a church right in the down town of Gniezno, because there was no other evangelical presence there.
These men, with the help of ITMI’s supporters, reclaimed another building, refurbished it and now use it as the church building. The Gniezno church building isn’t as stately, but while it is beautiful on the outside, it’s more beautiful on the inside, where love abounds.
Not far from Gniezo is ITMI’s and Richard and Brooke Nungesser’s Bread of Life’s, New Life Center. Piotr calls it a "recycling center" because of how the broken men that are at the end of their hopes, who have tried to find peace and happiness in a myriad of unsuccessful avenues, come the the New Life Center and many of them find Jesus and God’s way of living life.
Pastor Janusz Fredyk, in the red sweater, has really done a great job overseeing the Polish staff that leads these, many times, homeless men in their walk to find a new life. We hope in the future to share with the ITMI family some of the incredible stories of where these men have come from and how God has used Bread of Life and it’s leaders to "recycle" these once forgotten, but precious lives.
This plate of pastries is extra special, it was made by one of the men that Bread of Life has taken in to the New Life Center.
Once on the street and living out a horrible existence, this baker is now learning about Jesus and pulling from memory recipes that his mother use to cook when he was a boy. Now he’s serving others and growing in the process!
Barry Seifert, pastor from Grace Community Church (GCC), Tempe, Arizona, can’t keep from encouraging everyone that he meets. He traveled with Debi Clifton (not pictured) Director of Missions at GCC and Carol Easton, Missions Board Member GCC (right) to come and encourage and build up their missionaries on the field.
Here, ITMI’s Brooke Nungeser, who also has never met a stranger, enjoys Barry’s unique encouragement and humor. Reminds us that missionaries really do need our support and encouragement. Many times they are pulled on from every direction and have very few people that they can just relax around.
Consider emailing, writing or calling your missionary and encouraging them with a verse or a time of prayer.
This lady is so very special. She has a medical degree. She was a trained doctor. She was trained during the communist years, which meant that she was special and they "allowed" her to go to medical school. Krystyna put all her medical knowledge and her practice on the shelf for many years...she is also a pastor’s wife...Piotr’s helpmate.
For years she has supported Piotr in his immersion of ministry in ways that would make most of us in the west uncomfortable. She kept the home going when Piotr was out helping plant churches in cities that had no evangelical churches. She went to bed many, many nights by herself as Piotr worked 'til wee hours keeping on track with translating his one chapter a day. For over 1000 days, Piotr woke at 4am in the morning and translated from the ancient languages a chapter...until he was finished. Many long, long days of sacrifice so that 40 million Polish speakers in this world could have the gift of God’s word in a language and vocabulary that they could grasp and comprehend.
Now that all Piotr and Krystyna’s children are grown and out of the house, Krystyna has returned to helping people with her medical knowledge, primarily counseling those in Poznan who have mental illnesses. She knows and wants to share the real answer to this world’s problems.
Piotr takes us to a very special place to him. It looks like an ordinary lake that we could see in many mid-western communities. But to Piotr, it is special because it is where something very valuable to the Body of Christ happens.
Piotr’s K5N church meets in a local community theatre. They rent this facility and have to move in and out each Sunday morning. They don’t have their own church building, much less a baptismal. Baptisms in Poland are a big deal. You are telling the world, and everyone you know that you are separating from all you and your family have identified with for generations, and now you are going to identify with Jesus.
Piotr loves baptisms. He loves to get a whole group of people out in the water together, and as many as can carpool together out from the town to this lake, on the shore, and have a good old-fashioned Baptism. Testimonies, singing, preaching and tears of joy are all present.
Thank you for all your help in helping ITMI help Piotr and K5N as they truly change Poland one precious soul at a time.
There is a special satisfaction in touring a very special, four story building in Lodz, Poland, that had been finally reclaimed and partially refurbished, by ITMI’s Leszek Wakula and the Baptist Church he pastors. What makes this building special is it was confiscated by the communist during the cold war and then later given to the Polish bureaucracy...they didn’t want to return it for ministry use, but God has intervened.
About the Author
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.