Festival of Life Brings Mission Revival to Poland

Festival of Life , an international evangelical outreach based in America, has achieved a great success in Poland on its mission trip running from 14 July to 18 July. People of all ages gathered in the open area in the town of Wisla, and received bible study from Pastor Mike MacIntosh from America, the leader of Horizon Christian Fellowship, organiser of Festival of Life. Gareth Bolton from Operation Mobilisation in the UK also taught Bible in the afternoon or evening sessions. At night, participants enjoyed lively music concert, praising God with their voices and bodies. About 500 people have indicated they wanted to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, said the Festival of Life’s Chief Organiser Henryk Kroll.

A mission outreach of such a grand scale is the first ever in Poland and even in Eastern Europe. Festival of Life was held in collaboration with 32 local churches. It provides the first time opportunity for the Catholics, Baptists and Lutherans to come together to serve their people.

Some missionaries that attended the Festival of Life shared their opinions on mission in Poland, reported by Assist News Service (ANS). Mission is closely related to the social and cultural background. For Poland, its society is becoming more and more open since it was freed from Communism in 1989 and its entry to European Union on 1 May 2004.

Arkadiusz Delik, Director of Operational Mobilisation (OM), Poland, said to ANS as he attended the festival, “We were hoping that when we received our freedom from communism, it would be easy to interest people in the gospel, but actually it is harder. People are more concerned about money, television, entertainment, but not about God.”

Even though over 90% of the Polish are Catholics, many problems explode as freedom comes. Alcoholism, drug addicts, pornography, sexual abuse and unemployment are the problems among the general public. The missionary said that alcoholism caused serious broken marriages, therefore affecting the younger generations.

As the leader of Festival of Life, Pastor Mike MacIntosh warned, “Poland is right at the cross road to make a decision to build ethics and morals into the new society. If they miss this point it is going to be worse than under Communism.”

To solve these social problems and guide people of God back to their faith, Poland OM Director Delik strongly encourages missionaries from all over the world to come for church planting and evangelism in Poland, where the percentage of evangelical Christians is the least in the whole of Europe - just 0.13 per cent of the population of around 40 million.

In a battle with increasing secularism, the Polish Catholics are much strengthened in this festival by the word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Interviewing with ANS, Pastor Mike MacIntosh suggested the Catholics to read the Bible and to learn God in a personal way. As the leader of the festival, he was welcomed by the Catholic priest to the Catholic Church to search for God. Moreover, he hoped that more Catholics will adopt the spirit of Festival of Life to bring people to God more actively.

Henryk Kroll , main organiser of the festival, shared the same vision to kindle the fire of evangelism in the heart of Catholics, “Getting Evangelical Catholics to be on the board who are Charismatics has been a real blessing. Poland is a Catholic country and if we are serious about evangelism, we have to work with the Catholics and for the Catholics.”

Pastor MacIntosh is very optimistic to the future of Poland. He commented after his one week teaching at a Lutheran Camp in Auschwitz alongside with Festival of Life. Poland is the largest country in Eastern Europe and the country is different to many of the other Eastern European countries, as it is more religious compared to the others. Not only the majority is Catholic, but in that region is also very strong in Lutheran.

“I am one person who knows that Jesus Christ loves Poland and God has a wonderful plan for Poland. I am so thrilled to look at Poland today and see the future that you can be the greatest nation in all of Europe,” he said.

Grzeogorz Giemza, Home Mission Director for the Evangelism Crusade for the Lutheran Church, who are organising the mentioned camp, has revealed Polish’s potential in local and overseas mission when speaking to ANS, “We have two main purposes are to have Bible teachers and evangelism - and converting those to Christ who attend.” Many people come from all over of Poland to attend the bible study.

Another Polish leader even said, “We also run on this site, a Bible school, training for youth leaders, counsellors, and one of our major jobs is to go out from their churches throughout Poland and to out and reach others and we also have a church planting project. We are now training people so we can send missionaries to Kazakhstan and Ukraine.”

Jerzy Marcol, Director of Biblical Mission Association (BMA), a Polish mission group, attended the festival. For him, even though the freedom after communism and EU expansion has caused moral decline in Poland, it did benefit mission in some ways. Marcol said, “In the Communist times we had very limited opportunities to be the sending country. Now we have a missionary movement from Poland” BMA already send 20 missionary workers worldwide including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kazakstan, Papua New Guinea and Siberia.

By using a parable, Marcol explained to ANS the importance of developing overseas mission and sending out missionaries, “If we are a country that only receives, it is like the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea receives water from the Jordan River, but no matter how much more water you pour into it, it remains dead. If we want to transform Poland in a living country we have not only to receive, but become like a Lake of Nazareth. That lake receives water but also gives water.”

Even though Festival of Life has just lasted for a few days, the Polish miracle is expected to have a lasting impact because it has raised the awareness of both local and overseas missions through the participants of mission leaders. Many pastors in Poland are amazed with this festival and are so energized.