How a West Midlands pastor is reaching out to the UK's fast-growing Polish population
Census data released by Office for National Statistics in 2011 found that Polish is the second most common language spoken in England. More recent figures revealed that Poles are now the largest non-UK born population of all foreigners living in the UK.
Yet despite the large Polish population, they continue to be amongst the hardest populations for the Church to reach due to the language barrier. West Midlands based evangelist and author, Pastor Joe Hayes, is determined to change that.
His outreach in the culturally diverse town of Dudley includes a separate Sunday service in Polish that has branched out of the church he and his wife lead. He has also recently re-published his book God's Word Will & Ways (Spiritual Directions for New Believers) in Polish to 'equip new [Polish] believers in their Christian journey'.
The book was initially published 13 years ago for the purpose of 'helping new Christians find spiritual direction, build on biblical foundations and be established in a local church.'
It is set out in a question and answer format, allowing individuals to grapple with life's biggest questions before providing biblical answers to them. The book defines 'Christian jargon' such as redemption, justification, sanctification and salvation – phrases that mature believers use unthinkingly in their everyday vernacular. It also walks new believers through various church practices including baptism, tithing and fellowship – explaining their importance from a biblical perspective in lay terms.
'Sometimes they are suspicious of me because I don't wear a "dog collar" so don't meet their idea of what a vicar should traditionally look like,' says Hayes. He believes his Northern Irish Catholic upbringing increases his sensitivity to his congregants' faith background, enabling to tailor his delivery of church services accordingly.
The Polish edition of God's Word Will & Ways has been on the UK market for three weeks now. Hayes' ultimate goal is to reach enough sales to allow the costs to be subsidised for copies to be sent to partner churches in Poland. With the growing number of evangelical and Pentecostal churches springing up across Poland, he is confident that the book will be an invaluable tool for nurturing new believers both in the UK and abroad.
The book has previously been translated into Tamil and Swahili, proving to be a particularly essential tool for providing an accessible introduction to the Gospel to individuals from a Hindu cultural background.
Joe and his wife Lizzie are the leaders of Dudley Community Church, a member of the Assemblies of God Network of Churches.