The decision to leave their home in Ukraine was a tough one. Vladamir was a lawyer. He and his wife, Julia, were raising three sons.
Starting a new life somewhere else meant their sons would leave their school and their friends, for a new school in a new language.
It meant Vladamir would be starting over with the career he’d worked to build. It meant they wouldn’t live in their home, the country they’d lived in all their lives. They’d be away from their people. Their family. Their friends.
With Russian bombs turning life in Ukraine upside down, many are making the same choice Vladimir's family made. Poznan, Poland is now home to over 10,000 Ukrainians.
How far Piotr’s reputation for mirroring Jesus has spread.
Before they left Ukraine, someone advised Vladamir, “You should go to Poznan, because Piotr Zaremba is there. He is very open to embracing newcomers.”
Piotr Zaremba’s reputation for embracing newcomers has spread from Poland to Ukraine for a reason.
His gentle way of exuding the love of Jesus has built a church culture that is uniquely open for new people has attracted a community of Ukrainians to Piotr’s church.
It helps that one of the many languages Piotr speaks is Russian, which the Ukrainians also understand.
“As I noticed that there are Ukrainians coming to our churches, I immediately understood that God is not only giving me a tool to reach thousands of Polish speaking people but also Ukrainians,” Piotr said.
At first, they were coming to the regular services at Piotr’s church, which are in Polish, and listening intently. One Ukrainian, Vitalij was baptized.
ITMI's Piotr Zaremba, preaching on a Sunday morning.
Eventually, Piotr worked with Vladamir to start a Ukrainian service. They wanted to provide a “spiritual dining hall” for those seeking to rebuild their lives and find community after fleeing Ukraine.
The Ukrainian church plant has been meeting since November 2018. On average, it is attended by about 30 people each Sunday.
Piotr preaches there in Russian whenever he can, and some of them go to the service in Polish afterward.
One attendee, Olga, commented on the unique and open culture of Piotr’s church, “I feel more freedom in K5N [Piotr’s church],” she said.
This community has been a great blessing to these Ukrainians who have lost their homes, families and friends and find themselves in a foreign country.
This is just the beginning.
As these Ukrainians grow and adopt the Gospel-centered culture of Piotr’s church, they will reach out to their friends and neighbors with the Good News, becoming a group of missionaries that have access to a unique tribe of people in Poland!