A Warsaw partnership that goes beyond faith boundaries
What does it look like when a church forms a partnership with a secular organization?
Communitas is answering that question in Warsaw, Poland. A nonreligious organization there, Smile Warsaw, is feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, and loving the homeless every Sunday. In its mission statement, Smile Warsaw says “this is not a religious undertaking but a humanitarian one.”
Of course, Christ followers have an additional motivation. Compelled to love as Jesus loved, the Communitas church plant in Warsaw, City Church, has found a way to extend the compassion of God to “the least of these” by working with Smile Warsaw.
“Smile Warsaw draws English speakers who live in the city or are connected to the city in some way,” said Renata Constable of City Church. “We realized that we can help the poor while also developing great relationships with the volunteers here who want to make a difference.
The partnership between Smile Warsaw and City Church began in January 2018 when Renata saw a post on Facebook about a need of shoes for the homeless. Smile Warsaw had posted each person’s name and shoe size. Renata asked the church leaders if they could get involved. The answer was a swift “yes.” Renata reached out to tell Smile Warsaw they could meet the need for shoes.
“As a church embedded in the city, we really needed to be a part of their efforts,” Renata said.
The Smile Warsaw-City Church partnership has continued for nearly two years now. Relationships are being built both with the homeless and the Smile Warsaw volunteers.
“As a church, we sponsor one meal a month and pay for it,” Renata said, “But we go beyond paying for the food. We work shoulder to shoulder with the Smile Warsaw volunteers.”
In Warsaw, as in most of Europe, this kind of partnership is typically not how people think a church would act. Too often, even well-meaning churches end up leaving people feeling shame or guilt based on how they discuss the Bible, even though those are the very feelings God seeks to heal.
As Renata put it, City Church is seeking to “influence the spiritual and cultural environment in Warsaw. What we’re doing is sharing a different face of the church, and a different face of faith in Christ.”
In gratitude, one of the Smile Warsaw founders spoke to the City Church congregation, sharing the vision of Smile Warsaw and thanking the Communitas church plant for their partnership.
According to Renata, the Smile Warsaw volunteers have a heart for the homeless and want to see their city revitalized. By supporting their efforts, City Church is showing them that the mission to love the poor and marginalized has an eternal perspective. City Church is demonstrating that the sacrificial love of Christ is what motivates Christians to join hands with the broader community to help “the least of these.”