I would like to share just a little bit about the mission trip to Poland that I and several members of our family participated in this past month. Many of you joined in sending us on this trip when you participated in our fundraising sale early in the year. You helped us raise over $4000 for the trip! Thank you for your part in this mission effort!
Eleven people from our church, plus folks from Alaska, British Columbia, Florida, New York, and Japan all joined forces in Poznan, practiced singing together for several hours, and then took to the streets to reach the Polish people for Christ!
Here we are practicing in a Christian school after a couple tram rides and a hike through the woods to get here.
Joseph, our second-born son, directed our choir, and did a fantastic job of making us sound a lot better than we would have without his coaching. One morning, during our devotions together, he read the story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20.
An Edomite army was on the verge of attacking the people of Judah. Proclaiming a fast among the people, Jehoshaphat sought the Lord’s help and prayed,
“Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you . . . We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jehaziel, who told the people not to be afraid, “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.”
Jehoshaphat devised a “battle plan” unlike any other. He appointed singers to go before the army, with one job — to praise God for His steadfast love! The people of Judah never raised a hand to fight! The Lord set an ambush against their enemies and defeated them!
Joseph, as he read this account to us, reminded us that music is a weapon that God has given us. When we sing, when we worship God and give thanks to Him through song, He flexes His mighty arm and exercises His holy will.
We went into Poland with songbooks and thankful hearts, eager to serve Him. The rest was up to God, and I believe He blessed our efforts!
Our job was to gather in public places, sing His praises (in a language that most Polish people didn’t even understand!), and distribute invitations to concerts that we would be singing later during the week. In those concerts, the Gospel would be preached (and translated into Polish).
Our first efforts were met with rain — rain that God in His sovereign plan had allowed at that time. When it rained, we took cover or explored the town. When it quit raining, we sang.
This was a concert we performed under a cover in a beautiful park — while it rained. We didn’t have a big crowd, but the people that God wanted to be there were there, and stayed to hear God’s Word preached — while they huddled under umbrellas.
We sang in this plaza until it rained too hard to keep singing. While we sang, Bogumil (Bubu), the Polish pastor, and several others passed out invitations to our formal concerts.
Here we are, gathered on the cobblestones of a shopping district, once more singing God’s praises before He again chose to send rain. We went back to our hostel pretty soaked after this round!
This day was amazing! We arrived at the Old Town square of Poznan just minutes before a major tourist attraction occurred. People were crowded in front of the town hall to watch the goats come out of its clock tower to butt each other twelve times at noon. We hustled onto the steps of the building, sang the one song we knew in Latin, acknowledged the applause of tourists who just assumed we were part of the event, and scrambled into the crowd to distribute our invitations! Only God could have timed things so perfectly!
This concert was performed in a beautiful little brick church with amazing acoustics! Quite a few people came, listened to the music, and heard the Word of God preached. And we had a blast!
Our first Sunday in Poland was spent worshipping with the believers from several small Polish churches. We met in the loft of a barn at a horse and pig farm, and shared sweet fellowship around the Word, stumbled through the Polish words of familiar hymns, sang for the Polish believers, and stuffed ourselves with the amazing feast they had prepared for our day of rest.
The next day we boarded a train and traveled six hours north to the beautiful city of Gdansk on the edge of the Baltic Sea. We fell in love with the city and its waterfront and Old Town filled with beautiful churches, ornate and colorful houses, artists, and outdoor restaurants.
Pawel, the pastor of the Gdansk church, set up a literature table in the town square, and we sang for 10 or 15 minutes every hour or so, drawing people’s attention, and then passing out invitations to our concerts. Pawel boldly preached to the groups that gathered.
We held two concerts in the courtyard of a restaurant, and the rest were in the Town Square. At the first restaurant concert, I really enjoyed talking to a couple mothers who were venturing into homeschooling with their children. They are the pioneers of homeschooling in Poland, much like those who first started homeschooling in the states in the 1980’s.
Here the leader of the group from our church preaches at a concert while Bubu translates for him.
I think one of the highlights of the trip for all of us was the unexpected opportunity to sing in the huge St. Mary’s Cathedral in Old Town Gdansk. Begun in 1379 by Catholics, this brick church became the biggest Evangelical Lutheran church in the world from 1577 until 1945, when it was transferred back to the Catholic diocese. It can hold 25,000 people! It was an amazing place to sing! The Nicene Creed echoed all through the building, long after we stopped singing.
This is most of our team along with many of the believers and visitors in the Gdansk church.
This is a picture of our family members that went to Poland — Rebekah (our soon-to-be daughter-in-law), Benjamin, me, Bethany, Hannah and Joseph. Thank you to those of you who prayed for us and helped support our work! Please continue to pray. And thanks for taking the time to read this post. (It was a long one, huh?)
Photos courtesy Evangelos.