“Oh, they’re here for my daddy,” he said as the police car entered the neighborhood.
His dad had dropped him off at the children’s camp the night before, dead drunk. The camp, Tydzien USA or “USA Week” is an annual event held by Bread of Life, Kalisz in Poland. The neighborhood where the camp is held is a tough block.
The black, sprawling letters spray-painted on the cement block wall as you enter read, “Welcome to Gangland!” Troubled youth fill the streets, many of their lives molded by their parents’ struggle with drugs and alcohol.
Many of the evening campers were malnourished, dirty and neglected. One had an infected knee from an unwashed injury days prior. Several were in need of shoes. People from all over the world came to Kalisz to serve these children and give them this week-long camp.
Adelyne Nungesser was one of them. She had traveled to Kalisz with her family from their home in a nearby Polish town, but some of the camp helpers came from across the Atlantic.
Adelyne’s parents, Richard and Brooke Nungesser, are the ITMI partners who founded Bread of Life.
The Nungesser family spent the whole week leading the camp. It was Adelyne who heard the little boy’s comment about the arriving police car.
Hungry campers enjoy food provided by the camp.
Brooke later shared,
So, they treated infected knees, made sure the kids had a meal and offered them something that could stay with them after the camp was over: Truth from the Bible.
Brooke teaching children to put on the armor of God every day.
Richard Nungesser encouraging the children and their families in love and their need of Jesus!
Thankfully, Bread of Life has a constant presence in this neighborhood through its partnership with the local church.
ITMI’s Tomek Jezyk, who pastors the church - without pay - and runs Bread of Life’s branch in the city, is largely responsible for ensuring Bread of Life is available for those in need.
Tomek’s great passion to serve his city continues to make a substantial impact through David’s Club, a martial arts club; for the children of the “gangland” area; and Bread of Life services for the poor such as addiction counseling and other help.
Tomek also spearheads an annual event which gives city residents the opportunity to raise funds to help the families of children suffering from serious health conditions.
All of these wonderful demonstrations of the Gospel are directly due to the generosity of Bread of Life supporters. This brotherhood of sacrificially generous contributors has revitalized the decrepit, historic building owned by the tiny congregation of Kalisz Baptist Church by funding massive renovations.
Not long ago, the outdoor water closet facilities were replaced by a sparkling new indoor facility!
Tiny historic building owned by Kalisz Baptist Church and used for many Bread of Life outreaches in the city.
Kalisz Baptist Church's old, outdoor water closet facility.
New water closet facilities!
Renovated Sunday School classroom.
As the building is restored before the eyes of the neighbors, may it serve as a demonstration of the power of Christ to transform not just decrepit buildings, but crumbling families and lives.
The generosity of Bread of Life supporters has yielded a physical place that can be used to offer hope in this district called “gangland.”
A place where hurting families can find people who care, right in their own neighborhood.
Kalisz Baptist Church is the red-roofed building in the middle of the taller housing buildings, perfectly situated to be a blessing to the residents.
A place where the suffering can be drawn in and begin a relationship with Someone who is strong enough to defeat the demons that haunt them and release entire families from the emotional and spiritual baggage that victimizes them.
Because our mission isn’t to restore buildings. We work toward the restoration of physical buildings to host outreaches that lead to lives renovated by Jesus!
Tomek baptizes someone with a life renovated and restored by the Lord in Kalisz.