Life is full of wonderful and unexpected surprises! When Karen arrived in Germany to homeschool the children of a missionary couple, she had no idea that a certain soldier named Paul would become not only her best friend but her life partner in ministry. Those early years in Germany were formative in developing a vision for starting new communities of faith in Europe. During Paul’s seminary years when the former Eastern countries opened up in 1989, we sensed God’s call to explore those new frontiers.
We arrived in Poland in January 1998 with our 3 children and a dalmatian. For the first fourteen years, we partnered with other mission organizations and Polish Evangelical churches under the auspices of the Alliance for Saturation Church Planting (ASCP). Along with these partners, we provided church planting training, materials and helped develop a church planting vision within the Polish Evangelical denominations. Those experiences have given us a unique perspective on the spiritual state of Poland.
In 2012, we changed our focus to starting new communities of faith among marginalized people in Poland – the homeless, at-risk children and youth, the elderly, the poor. In partnership with Christian Charity Association, a Polish ministry serving these groups, we have worked in after-school programs for at-risk children, served in state-run retirement communities and ministered in various homeless centers and shelters. This has given us ongoing opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus. We have also been able to start Discovery Bible Studies in many of these groups. One of these studies led to the establishment of a new community of faith in a home for marginalized adults.
In early 2016 we lived in Birmingham, England and ministered to the Polish homeless community. We saw the possibility of helping Polish men and women to return to their home country. In response, we started the Birmingham Project to assist Poles in returning to centers affiliated with the Christian Charity Association. This has helped our returnees to address issues of addiction and re-enter the work-force within an environment of discipleship.