15 February 2022 | Warsaw, Poland [Tomasz Szydlowski]
It was in late 2022 a goup of youth from Poland went on a trip to Israel to experience firsthand that travel is a great form of education, and which also has many other benefits. When combined with evangelism, it has an impact not only on its participants but also on the communities served.
The aim of the trip wasn’t only sightseeing but also with missional purpose! With most participants – students of the Polish College of Theology and Humanities in Podkowa Leśna, the main purpose of the trip was to understand the land of the bible, and also provide and opportunity to serve the local community by cleaning up the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee.
“When we think of effective missionary work, the first thing that usually comes to mind is ‘speaking to multitudes of people, converting and baptizing as many people as possible,” said Marek Micyk, Polish Union Conference youth director and lead trip organizer. “God used our humble mission of picking up rubbish by sending many people our way to engage in conversation. We do not know what will happen next, but we just planted the seed.”
The community they hoped to connect is considered to be a rather closed community. This is why they had to search for creative ways of sharing Jesus’ love, Micyk explained. “As visitors, we took care to be mindful of their belief system, so that our actions weren’t counterproductive,” he said.
The relationships made during this mission trip were invaluable, with all project participants able to get to know one another even better. Cleaning up rubbish also created an opportunity to support local initiatives, as the group did not work alone.
Micyk explained that the group joined forces with a local organisation which has been working for several years to restore the land on which Jesus walked. “We also had the pleasure of helping pick olives straight from the tree in a garden, which was a fun activity for the whole group,” he said.
Micyk said he is very thankful to the Trans-European Division and its special fund for Youth Missionary Initiatives, which supported the trip. He added that it would be difficult to list all the places the group visited during the trip to Israel, but each location was meaningful in its own way.
“We rejoiced in being able to minister to the people we met, but also had the privilege of learning about the local culture and could more clearly envision the Bible stories played out centuries ago in the places we visited,” he said. “We were also able to serve at a Jewish moshav. While we worked, we learned about the principles of this particular Israeli cooperative community, and about the way it functions.”
One of the trip participants, Oszkar, said that for him, it was an amazing experience to see the Holy Land and meet the people of Israel. “It was exciting to listen to their stories, learn about their views, and recognise the diversity of their community. I also enjoyed getting to know the people in our group more,” he said.
Another participant, Jonasz, said the trip was a spiritual experience. “After being in the places where Jesus lived, taught and healed, I was able to gain a better understanding of the gospel stories. The places described in the Bible are now tangible memories for me,” he said.
Micyk added that the trip helped participants understand that no matter what their culture and religion is, it is important for people to go out of their way to be kind and hospitable to one another. “We experienced exceptional hospitality from both Arabs and Jews and were surprised by the sheer acts of kindness we encountered on every step of our journey,” he said. “One that stood out the most to us was the feast that awaited us upon arriving at [the home of] Bedouin Ibrahim, who took us in as his guests. We were also invited to a Shabbat dinner at a rabbi’s home.”
Jerusalem, Jericho, Bethel, Shiloh, Samaria, Mount Carmel, Tiberias, Qumran, Gamla, Hippos, Bethsaida, Korazim, Capernaum, and Magdala were just some of the places that the group had the opportunity to see and learn about. “We believe that thanks to the Holy Spirit, our humble ministry will have a positive impact on the lives and faith of the people we met,” Micyk said. “[We hope] they will see the love of Jesus we wanted to share with them through our actions.”
This report first appeared in the 9 February online edition of the Adventist Review Used with permission with slight editorial changes. [Photos: Polish Union Conference]