He was one of several bystanders who hovered near the courtyard gate of an old church building in the oldest city in Poland. Across the street behind him, “Welcome to Gangland” sarcastically welcomed all to the area where no one really wants to go.
The grease-stained sidewalks of the part of Kalisz tagged “Gangland” by one would-be artist are hard to spot underneath all the trash.
The neighborhood’s appearance reflects the broken state of many hearts and lives. Lives oblivious to the idea of Jesus wanting a relationship with them, just as they are.
Hearts tired of failing to live up to the rules of religion.
Tired of the shame and guilt associated with “church.”
Tired of soaring taxes and expensive priest fees for religious required events - weddings, burials, confirmations - in an unstable economy.
Tired of feeling discouraged, unloved and unworthy.
The gang member leaned casually on a bright green gate, gazing into the courtyard of the building that belongs to Kalisz Baptist Church. He watched those inside participate in “Children’s Day,” an event organized by the church for families to enjoy time together.
A local gang member observes Kalisz Baptist Church's "Children's Day"
Children's Day at Kalisz Baptist Church
The gang member wanted to go in, but remained outside, uncertain whether he should - or could - enter. He’d been rejected by churches all his life, failing to live up to cultural expectations and rules.
But he knew this group of people was different. His friend, Tomek Jezyk, was their leader. He wasn’t anything like the holier-than-thou leaders of other churches.
He’d seen Tomek welcoming and helping the filthiest and meanest of street children. Tomek was a young man with a quick, genuine smile and a casual “I’m-one-of-you” appearance.
Tomek’s compassionate, shepherd heart noticed the self-dubbed “outcasts,” hovering outside the gate. He knew they weren’t comfortable coming into the church building, where the event was originally planned to take place.
Rounding up his go-to men of the church, Tomek had them move the church pews into the courtyard, knowing the gate-hoverers would be more comfortable there.
Then Kalisz’s drunk, stoned, depressed, abused and estranged not only heard about Jesus that day, they witnessed a powerful demonstration of what He did.
Because Jesus didn’t wait for us to come to Him. He made Himself one of us.
Just like Tomek and his church brought the pews to society’s unloved that day, Jesus brought His Kingdom and its restoration to us. He ate with sinners. He hung out with the unlovely.
And the man standing by the gate? It seems the inexplicable force that propelled him to risk rejection and hover near the gate was the Holy Spirit making a divine appointment.
He became a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom that day!
As the Director of Bread of Life, Kalisz, Tomek is the driving force behind everything Bread of Life does in Poland’s oldest city.
Under his direction, Bread of Life, Kalisz serves over 3,000 people a year meeting social and spiritual needs. Job search assistance, help finding a place to live, support for single moms, a clothing closet or spiritual guidance are some of the most common services Bread of Life offers through the Kalisz office.
Tomek leads “David’s Club,” which is karate training for about 250 underprivileged and street kids. It gives them discipline and purpose. It demonstrates to them that they matter.
Tomek says, "We give them good reasons and tools to say no to drugs and alcohol - and yes to Jesus. We have a lot o joy and happiness - and we showed the kids this can happen without drugs."
Since 2012, Bread of Life Kalisz and Kalisz Baptist Church have organized and hosted Christmas at the Square.
Christmas at the Square is an event designed to benefit several children facing serious medical issues and their families. Donated hand-crafted goods are sold in the quaint and historic Kalisz square.
Artists donate performances and warm food and drinks are sold.
Steve Evers, ITMI Director, says of Tomek, “Tomek’s nothing’s-too-big, little-by-little, bulldog attitude lets him pull things off that are unbelievable. He has become respected and very influential in Kalisz, and he’s using that influence to help sick children."
Tomek also shepherds the Kalisz Baptist Church - without pay. Tomek is not a trained pastor, but he cares deeply about the people of Kalisz and will serve them any way he can.
For a couple years now Tomek has been leading his church to join him in loving the unlovely of Kalisz. The church is using their facility for a daily after school program for the kids of the neighborhood.
Years ago, Tomek was a Polish Buddhist.
He volunteered with Bread of Life at the train station in Poznan, Poland, where a group was serving tea to the homeless taking shelter there.
While translating the gospel for ITMI’s Richard Nungesser, Tomek heard the true story of the world and eventually came to trust Jesus as His Lord and Savior.
Discipled by Richard, Tomek eventually came to start a branch of Bread of Life in Kalisz, Poland.
Tomek is passionate about giving others the chance to hear about the true savior of the world and put their faith in Him. He genuinely loves people from all walks of life with the love of Jesus, and works tirelessly on behalf of blessing the city with demonstrations and declarations of the gospel.
- Serve the poorest of the poor in Poland’s oldest city, Kalisz.
- Provide opportunities for the people of Kalisz to serve the poor in their midst.
- Bread of Life, Kalisz, is in the process of the realization of a small hospital for cancer patients and their families. This is an extremely important project because too often in Poland, kids and parents are separated. This will relieve the stress of having to travel, sometimes at extreme distances, when children are in the hospitals. It is a project the city asked Tomek to take on, and we did not hesitate to answer, “YES!” Through this hospital, people will hear the Word of God and See the hands and feet of Jesus in everyone they come in contact with.
- Tomek is in need of short and long-term missionaries of all ages to come and help in Kalisz. It can be for 1 week, 1 year, or a lifetime. There is plenty of work to be done!
- Tomek is need of personal monthly supporters to come alongside him as he rescues the forgotten in Kalisz!
- Tomek is in need of qualified carpenters to help with the renovations of the old German church where he is the pastor.
- Tomek is in need of sponsors as we begin to realize the hospice project for children with cancer and their families in Kalisz.
They stopped fighting. They prayed. And then, something exciting happened.
Philip wasn’t like most people that come to Bread of Life Foundation in Kalisz, Poland. He wasn’t addicted to drugs, alcohol or substances. But he did have a burning question. It was the same question that tears at the hearts of most Polish people. One many don’t dare to verbalize, even in their own minds. Philip’s question was…
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Bread of Life Kalisz’s Christmas at the Square event was a big success!
Kalisz Baptist Church isn’t daunted by their size. They consistently create effective ways to reach the needy of their city with the love of God and the message that they can have a relationship with Jesus.
Last month, a team from Sun Valley Community Church partnered with Bread of Life to put on a week-long summer camp for 21 kids from David’s Club.
In Poland’s oldest city, Kalisz, 15 children were given the opportunity to take Bible course given by Kalisz Baptist Church.
The quaint square of Poland’s oldest and very steeped-in-traditions city, Kalisz, was aglow with warmth and activity. Passers-by were drawn to the merriment, as delicious, warm food soothed their shivering, while…
He was one of several bystanders who hovered near the courtyard gate of an old church building. Across the street behind him, “Welcome to Gangland” sarcastically welcomed all to the area where no one really wants to go. He wanted to go in, but remained outside, uncertain whether he should enter – or could enter.