This article was originally published in the June 2021 edition of ITMI Monthly.
Just before she’d picked up her son from school, she’d gotten some troubling news. She’d lost her job.
Monika Bacik sank into one of the empty swings on the playground. Her young son, Niko, had bounded ahead joyfully when they arrived and was already visiting his favorite equipment.
Monika brushed her blonde hair from her face. She needed to think. Just before she’d picked up her son from school, she’d gotten some troubling news. She’d lost her job.
In her earlier days, she’d worked as an au pair, then developed extensive experience in the travel industry, working in hotels in Poland and abroad and earning her International Tour Guide’s license. But when she returned to Poland, Monika discovered that these experiences she was so proud of did not impress employers in her home country.
What would she do now? As a single mom, she depended on the income of a steady job. She needed to come up with a plan - a good one - before her son grew tired of the playground.
But before she could even begin worrying about what she’d do next, her thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of her phone.
Seeing her pastor’s name on her phone’s screen, she answered the call.
Monika grew up in Poland, a Catholic country. She’d been raised with church traditions.
“Going to church was a habit,” she said, “I was not questioning the things I was doing, although there were many things I didn’t understand.”
As a six-year-old, Monika had asked herself, “Do I believe in Jesus?”
“I remember I felt deep in my heart that I did. I didn’t question anything. I was just following the traditions trying to get closer to God,” Monika remembers.
As a young adult in the travel and hospitality industry, she’d encountered cultures and people who believed other things. That made her start asking questions that led her to seek and research online. It was there that she met some believers who helped her grow and find the answers she was looking for.
She joined a Christian Bible Study where her growth was accelerated.
“It got me,” she said, “I was on fire.”
After some time, she met some girls who were part of ITMI’s Poznan International Church. Poznan International Church is an English-speaking community in Poznan, Poland for internationals, pastored by ITMI’s Richard Nungesser.
Richard’s wife, Brooke, writes,
“Poznan International Church is what Richard calls an ‘Oasis’ for people that come from all over the world to either study, work, marry, or find refuge in Poland. And, for some reason, it has not seemed to matter to many of these foreigners that Poznan International Church is a Jesus-loving Christian fellowship. They still come from all walks of life.”
Some of those “walks of life” include Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus.
Richard and Brooke are also the co-founders of Bread of Life, an organization that seeks to demonstrate and declare God’s love by ministering to the forgotten and in need. Many from the Poznan International Church congregation find opportunities to put into practice what they learn at church by volunteering with Bread of Life.
Not long after she joined Poznan International Church, Monika started sharing food, drinks and Gospel at the local train station and helping with construction projects at the barracks, where Bread of Life held many of their outreaches.
Monika and a group of international missionaries serving with Bread of Life pray for the homeless after sharing food, the gospel and music with them.
Monika serving tea to the homeless in Poland.
When she answered the phone, Monica’s pastor, Richard Nungesser, told her that he appreciated all Monika had done for people from Poznan International Church and Bread of Life. He told her he knew she was busy with work, but he had something to ask.
He asked if she would be interested in a part time job working for Poznan International Church.
“I remember how happy I was because I could clearly feel that it was God leading me,” Monika recalls.
Calling Monika when she was sitting in the park, wondering what to do with her life, was in Richard’s words, “God’s perfect timing.”
Eventually, Monika transitioned into working as a full-time missionary for Bread of Life as an Events and Project Manager. But that transition came with the need to take a step of faith.
“It was quite challenging when I stepped on the open waters to become a full-time missionary, where I’m not getting paid by my organization but I need to encourage people to be willing to be part of our mission and contribute. I’ve never heard about such a way before, as in Poland it is not common at all.
I didn’t know how to do fundraising myself and whether I could be successful.
So I do it by faith, trusting that God will satisfy all our needs. And as I haven’t reached my goal yet, I also feel happy and satisfied and thankful for everything I receive.
It is a blessing to see that we are not alone in our mission and that people come on board with us, choosing what we do as something they value.”
Monika Bacik and ITMI's Brooke Nungesser pray with a group of women in Poland.
Five years later, Monika still loves her work with Bread of Life. Now, with the support of ITMI’s Bread of Life donors, Monika works alongside Richard and Brooke to organize big events, recruiting and lining up volunteers, artists, local businesses, schools, city authorities and media.
“We do things that are more meaningful than just a job itself,” she says. “I’m not only involved with the church and Bible studies but I also get to see life transformation of others.”
Monika and her son, Niko, serve those in need by delivering donated clothing.
Monika prays with children at Bread of Life's Tydgien USA summer camp outreach.
At one of Bread of Life’s summer camp outreaches for kids, Monika met a lady from one of the nearby villages who shared a broken and heartbreaking past full of loss and pain, but still had a loving heart full of compassion.
“She was so hungry for Jesus,” Monika remembers, “She invited me to her home to read the Bible and find explanations for situations she faced.”
The woman was on a journey to find Jesus. Now, this village woman is “on fire” for the Lord. “She is a light to many,” says Monika.
The divine meeting blossomed into a beautiful friendship. Monika often drives to the woman’s village and the pair talk, read, pray and laugh together.
“I don’t know who inspires who more,” Monika says, which shows her heart for real, redemptive relationships.
“Monika’s passion for Jesus and His saving grace drives her life,” Brooke comments.
A big part of Monika’s job is being heavily involved in Bread of Life’s Betlejem z Bread of Life. Betlejem is a large event that invites the entire city to bless families whose children face major health challenges each December.
Thousands of Poles clamor to get involved with this cause around the holidays.
They may come because they want to feel good about helping someone, but in the process, thousands hear the Gospel declared during this event, at the same time as they are seeing it demonstrated through the followers of Jesus’ love and care for the sick.
People from the city also have opportunities to get to know and build relationships with Bread of Life staff and volunteers and get involved with the organization’s year-round outreaches.
“Monika is never shy to tell everyone she meets about Jesus,” Richard Nungesser observes.
Monika serving at Bread of Life's Betlehem event.
Monika serving at Bread of Life's Betlehem event.
In 2020, Monika’s role changed as the COVID-19 pandemic forced Bread of Life to cancel or adapt many events and hold them online.
“But what I love about our organization,” Monika explains, “is that we are not afraid of changes and we always try to adjust our action to a present situation. So we put some of our projects aside and we use all our energy to help people affected by this new situation.”
When she faces challenges, Monika reminds herself that it’s an opportunity to glorify the Lord. “I always tell myself that if it was easy or obvious, then God would not reveal some great testimony. While I wait for His solution, I do my best.”
As quarantine, lockdown and food crisis became part of everyday language, Bread of Life pivoted to amp up their already robust food distribution programs for the needy. Monika was right in the thick of it, distributing food at the food banks and distribution points, helping raise funds and donations that would fuel the outreach.
Monika Bacik and ITMI's Brooke Nungesser demonstrating God's love through food distribution early in the pandemic.
“Monika always has time to help someone in need,” Richard says.
Monika has followed the Lord’s leading, found her calling and is serving Jesus faithfully. Her ministry allows many to seize redemptive opportunities through events planned and organized. Those same events allow her to find and minister to those in need, build redemptive relationships and tell people about Jesus and the relationship He wants to have with them.
Monika still needs a few more supporters to stand with her and, as she says, “choose what we do as something they value.”
If you value reaching the hurting and lost for Jesus, would you stand with Monika as a monthly supporter?
Even a small monthly donation would help Bread of Life and enable Monika to meet the financial obligations a single mother has while serving and loving the broken.
About the Authors
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.
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