Friday, March 1, 2013

It's Official

When David and I first came to Poland in 1996, we had no idea that in 2013 David would become the director of a mission to Poland. But now as we look back at our lives, we realize that the years of study, training, ministering at churches, and countless experiences and relationships have all been preparation for this season in our life.
Effective today (March 1, 2013), David has assumed the role of executive director of Polish Christian Ministries (PCM). Although his title has changed and the job description is more extensive, our calling remains the same: to love and serve the people of Poland.
God has a plan for each of us. As we surrender to Him, He faithfully leads and provides. The journey often winds and twists and we find ourselves in the most unexpected places (e.g., from the cornfields of Concord, IL, to the busy streets of Warsaw!). Life becomes an adventure of faith as we say "yes" to the Spirit of God. There is truly no better life than the one in step with the Savior.
We thank God for this opportunity to serve the churches of Poland. Please join us in praying that God's kingdom will grow in the hearts of the Polish people.  


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Feelin' the Love

What do you do when you're home alone on Valentine's Day and your "sweetheart" is 4500 miles away? Such was my dilemma today. Dave is in Poland for a few weeks and I'm holding down the fort. Since our children are all grown and away, it's me, myself, and I for 15 days. I'm learning a lot about what life is like for those who live alone.

But before you go feeling all sorry for me ... You can imagine my surprise when the doorbell rang at 9am and there on the step was a nice lady holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers. "For me??" Yes, from my beloved husband. What a guy! I was feelin' the love ...

Inspired, I decided to gather some piano music together -- several of those beautiful love songs we all love to hear -- and I drove down to St. Joe's hospital. There's a nice baby grand in their lobby with a sign on it: "Play Me." For the next hour I tickled the ivories as visitors strolled past on their way to patients' rooms (many carrying flowers and balloons). One old guy asked if I knew any Elton John and tried to give me a tip! :) I was feelin' the love ...

From there I drove to the theater in Livonia to see "The Impossible" -- based on the true story of a family who survived the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. It was an emotionally stirring film, and when the boys and their parents were finally reunited, the tears began to flow. I was feelin' the love ...

After a bowl of soup at Panera, I headed home. As I walked through the door into the dark and empty house, I felt a twinge of loneliness. But then I was reminded of those who face loneliness daily, and of those in the hospital who are struggling with depression and disease, and of those who have faced major calamities, and of those for whom the reunion never came ... and I began to count my blessings. I turned on the kitchen light and there were my flowers ... a vivid reminder that I am loved.

As I slipped under the covers, I whispered a prayer for all the others sailing solo on Valentine's Day. "O God, would you truly draw near to the lonely, the brokenhearted, the sick, and despairing? May they sense Your presence and find hope stirred anew in their hearts. O, kind Shepherd, hold them close so they can feel Your love ..."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Next Level - Savannah, GA

What a treat to spend the last few days attending the "Next Level" conference in Savannah, Georgia. The Savannah Christian Church hosts this annual event to encourage and train church leaders. Dave and I, along with our Polish friends Bronek and Nina Hury, enjoyed the drive from Maryland, especially as the sun emerged and palm trees appeared. We were warmly welcomed by Dave Stewart and his Global Outreach team who always go the extra mile to make their international guests feel at home.

This being our first time to Savannah, we appreciated the chance to stroll through the beautiful historic district before the conference began. We set up our PCM display table and had opportunity to share about the work in Poland with many new friends. The times of worship and teaching were helpful and inspiring. We were blessed to participate in the conference and pray blessing over the Savannah Christian Church as they exalt the name of Jesus, not only in their own community, but throughout the nations of the earth.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Great Honor

In 1954, Paul Bajko established Polish Christian Ministries as a means to support and encourage the Christian churches in his beloved Poland. He and Adela poured themselves into the work, raising awareness, gathering resources, writing literature, preaching and sharing the message wherever they went. Paul served as PCM's director for 40 years. In 1994, Wayne Murphy assumed this role, carrying on the work of establishing and supporting churches throughout Poland. He and his wife, Diana, have tirelessly served the mission, developing friendships and bearing fruit that will last into eternity. And now this spring (March 2013) David will become the third director of PCM. We, too, love the Polish people and have a strong desire to serve the churches of Poland. It is a new venture for us and we have much to learn. We are thankful for these role models who have laid the foundations and paved the way -- and we count it a great honor to follow in their footsteps. All glory to God!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Ostróda Swirl

It's a strange phenomenon. When I'm in Ostróda, I can't think. What I mean is, I can't seem to think beyond the moment. Living with my husband in a small room, cluttered with a variety of items too numerous to imagine, maneuvering around each other in an attempt to find that one item needed for the next event - my brain kicks into overload and a dull "freeze" ensues. From dawn to dusk we manage moments, requiring varying degrees of physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual energy. Rubbing shoulders throughout the day with interns, camp staff, leaders from various countries who speak various languages, all in an effort to best minister 24/7 to countless children, youth, and adults - we're "on call" at all times and the needs are limitless.

But don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining - it's an amazing environment and God is at work in incredible ways. It's just that I can't seem to think outside that environment. I lose track of what's going on in the rest of my world. The big issues of what God is doing globally are shaded in grey somewhere in the recesses of my mind and spirit. I'm stuck in a mental mire that makes it difficult to plan ahead. Upcoming events and commitments back home get shoved into the "A.O." (After Ostróda") pile. In the "Ostróda swirl," as I fondly describe it, I wouldn't dream of making an important "life-decision."

But I'm back home in Michigan now. We returned two weeks ago. I've had time to breathe deeply, to study the Word, to worship and pray, to walk in the cool of the morning - and to experience the Spirit of God blowing the clutter from my mind and heart. My spirit is being refreshed and my vision renewed. I can think clearly again. And yet I think of my friend, April, who lives at the camp with her husband (our camp director, Andrzej) and their three children. The "Ostróda Swirl" is her life. There is no "going home" to escape the clutter. The clutter IS home. And I think of the myriad of missionaries throughout the world who similarly serve amidst the clutter for the sake of the Gospel.

O God, would you refresh my friend, April, and so many others like her? Would you sweep away the clutter from their hearts and minds and give them times of refreshment in Your presence? Provide them with the supernatural ability to think outside the moment with clarity and vision. Remind them of their calling and of the grandness of Your scheme of which they are a part. Give them a glimpse of Your glory. Amen.

Summer 2012

It was the fullest summer in Poland yet! During our 12-week stay, we spent most of our time in Ostróda, hosting several camps for youth and adults. What made this summer unlike any other was the group of 9 young adults (7 from the States and 2 from Ukraine) who dedicated themselves to serving at Ostróda Camp as volunteer interns. Along with Andrzej Korytkowski (our new camp director) and his family, we became a team (actually, a family) as we lived and worked side-by-side. From cleaning toilets to leading worship, our days were packed full from morning to night. It was a great joy to host Holocaust survivors from Israel, children from Poland, Belarus and Russia, youth from Israel and Germany, and many more. We saw hearts touched and lives changed by the love of God. It was an amazing summer, and once again, we are thankful.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Seventy Years

70 years may seem like a long time, but from a historical perspective it is but "yesterday." Recently I have been re-processing an atrocity that occurred only 70 years ago -- the Warsaw Ghetto. Although I have studied it often, these last few weeks have created an even deeper sorrow in my soul. I read Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto, by Emmanuel Ringelblum, Ghetto Diary, by Janusz Korczak, and watched the film "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler." The day-to-day accounts of life in the ghetto by both Ringelblum and Korczak were difficult to read. I felt a great sadness in my spirit and a heaviness that filled my heart. It is hard to imagine that this really happened in the Warsaw I know and love -- and not only in Warsaw, but in Łódź, Białystok, Kraków, Lublin, and many other towns. 70 years ago this summer (July - September 1942) the unimagineable occurred as 300,000 Jewish men, women, and children were deported from the ghetto, most of them murdered immediately upon arrival at Treblinka. Unbelievable.

I study the history of Poland because I love this nation and her people. I want to understand the Polish people in order to love and serve them effectively. But the history of the people of Poland is intrinsically bound with the history of the Jewish people who lived among them as Poles. Yes, it is a complex history - but I am determined to learn as much as possible from as many perspectives as possible. My friends have sometimes warned me that too much study of the suffering in the past will cloud my spirit and be harmful. Yet I believe that I cannot minister well unless I carry in me at least in some small measure the same sorrow that those I'm ministering to carry in great measure.

The Warsaw Ghetto is one of many horrific ordeals that have occurred on Polish soil. Jews and non-Jews alike have endured indescribable suffering. I do not know the specific implications for today, but I pray that God will somehow redeem these events to His glory. I want to honestly face and remember the past, asking God to bring good from evil, beauty from ashes, joy from despair. May the God of Israel and His Son, Jesus the Messiah, be LORD over Poland's past, present, and future. O God, may Poland fulfill the destiny to which You have called her!