Good Soil Helps Bring Hope to Poland
How do you clearly communicate the gospel in a country that prides itself on being very religious and moral? A country where over 90% of the 38 million inhabitants identify as Roman Catholics, but have no real understanding of God’s redemptive plan and very limited Bible knowledge? While on their pre-field journey to become missionaries in just such a country, Ed and Leslie Schick were introduced to the Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship (GSED) training and the evangelism resource, The Story of Hope (TSOH). They immediately thought – This is what we need for our ministry in Poland to help train those in Polish churches in meaningful and relevant evangelism. Many Catholics in Poland realize that the catechism training they have received in church and at school was more focused on being a good person and a good church member, rather than understanding what God has to say to them in the Bible. A good number are interested in developing and deepening their knowledge of the Bible. Tapping into this need and desire is key in getting the gospel to Polish people, and the Schicks believed TSOH could be foundational in that effort.
The Schicks arrived in Poland in 2014 to help in the Baptist church in Lublin. One of their major goals was to see TSOH translated into Polish. As new missionaries, though, they thought it would be quite a while before they were ready to help in this endeavor. However, when Leslie began to use it to teach English to one of the ladies in the church, the woman quickly saw the potential value for their ministry and offered to begin translating the story summaries. The project to produce Historia Nadziei (History of Hope) was initiated.
While that was in process, Ed began to teach the 40 events in TSOH to the entire church each Sunday morning. He spent almost a whole year covering each Bible story and the eight gospel truths. On the final Sunday, the group concluded with a grand review of the entire redemptive story. When they first began, the church members just could not understand why it was so important to study these simple Bible narratives. By the end, they had embraced the concept of using the Bible’s big story with their friends and neighbors. They understood that most people in their neighborhoods did not know most of these events, leading to a clear lack of understanding of the gospel message.
The Historia Nadziei was published in July 2018, and the church members were eager to use the newly printed copies in their evangelistic outreaches into their community. One woman needed eight for her prison ministry, another man five for his. Both also inquired about TSOH in other languages and, because of similar efforts by missionaries in other European countries, Ed was able to give them one in Portuguese and one in Bulgarian.
Encouraged that the church in Lublin has continued to use TSOH in its evangelistic groups, the Schicks have a vision to train evangelical churches throughout Poland to use Good Soil principles and resources. In 2019 they moved to the capital city of Warsaw and immediately found opportunities to train those in their church, Second Baptist, interested in sharing the gospel in their community. Two of these were a young couple, Lukasz and Marta, who have a great desire to reach their neighborhood friends. They agreed to start a “Gospel Group” in their home, with Ed & Leslie co-leading and training them along the way. Three others joined them and in early 2020 they began. Polish people usually have very busy schedules, so a plan was set to meet bi-weekly and take the year to complete the study.
Then came Covid-19. While the restrictions forced them to meet virtually, it also enabled them to enlarge their group as five more decided to join. It also allowed them to meet more often, for a while even twice a week, and caused their friends to be more open to spiritual matters than ever before. Just as they were finishing up the forty events, the restrictions were lifted, and everyone became very busy again. It was difficult to get everyone, even on-line, to finalize the Bridge to Life section of the study. The Schicks believed these lessons to be crucial in bringing together all the teaching of how God’s rescue plan can give a person complete forgiveness, reconciliation with God, and the true hope of heaven. They prayed they would be able to conclude the lessons and just last week accomplished that. On Saturday, the group met for a backyard picnic to celebrate the completion of their journey together.
The Schicks see a real spiritual battle going on in the lives of those who participated, as they face the dilemma of having to change from what they have always believed to the truth clearly presented to them in Scripture. For many Poles, this struggle can last quite a while, as many see it as turning their backs on their national heritage. Having helped them understand the gospel, they are now praying that they will truly and sincerely embrace it as well.
Another couple from the group appears to be ready to start another “Gospel Group” with their circle of friends. This is the multiplication that the Schicks are yearning and praying will continue throughout the Warsaw metropolitan area. They ask that we steadfastly pray for the continued spread of more GSED trained workers and new evangelistic bible study groups, and for more Good Soil materials to be translated and available in Polish.