I am writing this on Thursday morning from home. We arrived back at 2am (3am Polish time) this morning after a very busy couple of days (hence the lack of blogs since Monday)!
On Tuesday Ruth, Ivan and I met up with Ian and Eva (the leaders of the church) and their children’s leaders. They wanted to find out more about what we do with our children’s work and to share the new things that they are doing. It was a great time together swapping stories, lessons we are learning and encouragements. Once again it was so lovely to see how much our churches have in common.
Then we met up with the young people at Helen’s house for a late breakfast and then we all headed off to do some prayer walking in the poorer areas of the city. We started by the river where on Friday and Saturday evenings hundreds of young people gather to drink and hang out. It was so sad to hear about so many young people looking for answers in a bottle. We prayed and walked and stopped in front of the city council buildings to pray for the city and for those who are governing. We then took a tram to another poorer part of the city and walked up a hill where we got some amazing views out over the estuary.
We carried on praying and walking and asked God to show us who he might want us to talk to. We met a man on the street who was in a wheelchair and was homeless. We were able to chat, pray and provide some food.
Then we headed back to the city and met up with some of the Polish young people and Ian and Eva and their family for lunch at a potatoe restaurant! It was a wonderful couple of hours, chatting, laughing and enjoying some great food and great company.
Then on Tuesday evening we headed back to Ian and Eva’s for a worship night led by two of our Polish friends Oliver and Victoria and their youth leader (another Ian)! They were great and we enjoyed a great evening worshipping God by candlelight, sharing stories of what God is doing in our lives and praying together. It was a very special time.
Wednesday started with another breakfast at Helen’s and praying for the day. We then headed off for some sight seeing which included a tram ride out to the third largest cemetry in Europe on the outskirts of the city. It sounds depressing but it was a really beautiful place. Poland is a predominantly Catholic country and on Friday of this week it is All Saints Day and lots of people were at the cemetry cleaning the graves of their loved ones and decorating them with flowers and candles.
Then another lunch with lots of us gathered in the restaurant in the building where the church meets on Sunday. Then we all packed up and headed with our luggage to the centre of the city for Street Church. This happens every week and hot drinks, soup and bread are given away to people who are homeless alongside a church service on the streets. Our ABC young people worked alongside their Polish friends to serve the food, pray for people and to share their stories of how God has been close to them in the difficult times of their lives. We were so proud of all of them. They were brave and really stepped up and to see them serving and sharing as a part of the amazing Street Church team was fantastic.
Then after some very emotional farewells it was straight on the bus from the city centre out to the airport for our trip home.
What a trip we had. Building even firmer bonds with Helen and the folks in Szczecin has been wonderful. We are in awe of the work that they are doing and how they step out for God in so many different ways. The ABC young people have made some incredible friendships with the young people from Poland and can’t wait to see them again (we hope they will be able to come and visit us in the UK). They have been pushed out of their comfort zones but have responded so well and they are all an amazing bunch.
God bless Chris