O'Fallon First UMC partners with Polish congregation
If you have ever met Pastor Janusz Daszuta you would never forget his big booming voice, his energy, or his visionary spirit.
There is no doubt he is a “Man of God” by his actions and his speech. Pastor Daszuta is the lead pastor of Kielce UMC in Kielce, Poland and conducts a huge
Vacation Bible School Day Camp in the rural community of Zaborze, Poland.
In June seven members from O’Fallon, First UMC departed for Poland full of enthusiasm and anticipation. Several members of the team have made this trip before but the emotions still run high in anticipation of hugging old friends and making new friends. After a nine hour airplane ride and a short car trip the team finally arrived in Morawica, Poland.
A six-year relationship between O’Fallon UMC and Kielce UMC in Kielce, Poland, has flourished into a large family connection.
Over the years the two churches have worked together to build a huge Day Camp in the rural area near Zaborze, Poland, just outside of Kielce. The camp is situated on several acres of pasture land and can be seen from miles away. The tepees, horse corral, and huge campfire are all surrounded by a rustic log fence.
Vacation Bible School
Mission teams hosted by First UMC have traveled to Poland to join with the Kielce UMC congregation to organize and conduct a huge vacation bible school for children primarily from the surrounding farming communities. For many of these children the Vacation Bible School Day Camp will be the only summer vacation adventure they will get.
The vacation bible school is a weeklong affair conducted from Tuesday to Saturday. In 2010 approximately 220 children attended which makes for a logistical challenge. The children are divided into ten groups which the “Americans” work with a translator and helper and everyone learns from each other. The camp activities reinforce the theme word of the day. This year the theme words were Bravery, Honor, Love, Respect, and Humility. All the games, crafts, and activities plus the Bible teachings were used to reinforce the theme words.
There were many activities, crafts, and games all going on simultaneously. Activities included shooting the bow and arrow, jump rope, horseback riding, and log rolling just to mention a few. The children moved from station to station chanting and singing their group’s song. Just before the meal was “Time with the Creator” which was Bible Story time. A Bible story coordinated with the theme word was told to the children by the American leaders.
Saturday was Family Day at the Camp. Families were invited to share in the children’s activities and to view the crafts the children made during the week.
Competitive games between the groups built spirit and togetherness and gave the parents a chance to see their children in action. At each activity there is an opportunity to build new relationships or reinforce existing relationships. The O’Fallon’s team philosophy is that “it is not about the project but it is about relationships.”
There are many highlights of the mission trip but one of the most powerful testimonies is the opportunity to worship with another Methodist congregation especially one that is 5,000 miles away. “We speak different languages, we come from different cultures, but we worship the same God, how powerful is that,” says Ron Fontenot, a six year veteran of the Poland mission outreach.
Covenant agreement ‘focuses’ mission and outreach
The partnership between O’Fallon First UMC and Kielce UMC has put “focus” in the Missions/Outreach program. Several Sunday School Classes conduct their own fund raisers to finance the Poland mission trips. Small groups finance the purchase of T-Shirts, crafts items for the Polish children and provide funds for the upkeep for the Day Camp.
The Intercessory Prayer Team provides prayers for the Kielce UMC leadership and prayers for members of Kielce UMC.
The Wednesday night Cooking Team provides meals for fundraisers to support the mission project.
On World Communion Sunday, through the use of technology, Rev Janusz Daszuta participates in the worship service at First UMC and provides words of encouragement and answers questions from the congregation.
Becoming an In Mission Together Partner
The “In Mission Together” partnership has inspired First UMC to become better equipped to respond to mission challenges not only globally but in the local community. Many hearts and lives have been touched by God’s love because members of First UMC have dared to step out and extend a hand.
Congregations are invited to explore “In Mission Together” partnerships with United Methodists in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Information on becoming a partner is available online at In Mission Together
Give to Poland “In Mission Together” Advance # 00408A