be fervent in spirit

Rynek (main square of the city). Sunday afternoon. Evangelism by Hallelu Jah Fellowship.There were 2 worship concerts, one with the prayer for the city, dramas, pantomimes.

On a side of the main stage there were three tents: one full of ideas ministering to the kids, second one open to anyone who would like to get counseling (especially drug addicts), in the third one people could watch different evangelistic media presentations.

Although the weather was chilly, during the five hours of the continuous program, there were many people who were stopping by, intrigued by this event.

the cross is the reason

“40 and 30 on 70” band

(this is the most original name of a music group you’ve ever heard; the full name goes like this – “forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys” –  from Judges 12:14)

they play sort of folk music, but with a ‘heavier’ sound, it depicts Polish soul very well…

Robert Ruszczak, leader of the band and the main organizer of this event

people gathering around…

watching…                                  priest Wlodzimierz (try to pronounce that: Vwoh-dzhee-myezh)

pantomime…                                 interested….

watching

Open up the doors and let the music play

Let the streets resound with singing

Songs that bring Your hope, songs that bring Your joy

Dancers who dance upon injustice

from the song “Did you feel the mountains tremble”

one of the pantomimes

me with a famous preacher, Andrzej Dziewit, a true evangelist…

Andrzej sharing his testimony, I’ve heard it so many times, and every time it is moving and sobering, he really has a gift…

me with another legendary leader of Hallelu Jah, Mroczek, one of the greatest…

it was a good night…

kids watching

mime

worship and prayer for the city of Wroclaw

worship

prayer time

note in a local newspaper abot the event

most of the pictures above courtesy Hallelu Jah web album

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fruhstuck

Concert at the Szepty club, by Frühstück. We know Martijn and Ellen (Dutch) for a good number of years now. They are faithfully spreading the Good News among my people, and I like them a lot. No nonsense, just caring for those who are searching, and gathering them at theRock church.

the coolest pastor in town
the crowd
glory
beauty of music

night vigil

This was on Friday night, in the old town center of Wroclaw, Poland. Beauty of the surroundings helps to focus and inspires enormously.

People from Hallelu Jah gather there monthly for a 3h night vigil. This time we prayed mostly for the evangelism which was to take place in two days in the main square of Wroclaw.

I walked these streets millions of times before…

Ostrow Tumski

slavery during WW II

babcia [bah-b-cha] – grandma in Polish

I’ve called my babcia today. She is 92. We chatted for a while. I don’t even know how it got to the topic, but I started to ask her about the times when she came back from Germany, after almost 6 years of forced labor.

babcia’s hands

During WWII, about 12 million people were taken to Germany for forced labor (slavery), about 2/3 of them from Eastern European countries. It was human trafficking at it’s most organized, legalized form. Hitler’s Lebensraum idea concerned expanding the pure German, Aryan population toward the eastern territories. He considered Slavic (Poles, Russians, Serbs) nations (as well as Jews, Gypsies, Africans, homosexuals, prostitutes, criminals, disabled) as Untermenschen (sub-humans in German), inferior to the German race, and needed to be get rid of.

The sub-human, that biologically seemingly complete similar creation of nature with hands, feet and a kind of brain, with eyes and a mouth, is nevertheless a completely different, dreadful creature. He is only a rough copy of a human being, with human-like facial traits but nonetheless morally and mentally lower than any animal. Within this creature there is a fearful chaos of wild, uninhibited passions, nameless destructiveness, the most primitive desires, the nakedest vulgarity. Sub-human, otherwise nothing. For all that bear a human face are not equal. Woe to him who forgets it. (from a pamphlet “Sub-human” printed and distributed by The Race and Settlement Head Office in 1942 in Germany)

Hitler was determined to enslave and eventually kill all the Slavs, take their territories, and make Germans it’s inhabitants forever. His Generalplan Ost document was a well planned genocide. Extermination of all Poles was carefully planned. It would require about 20 years, from 1941, to wipe out the whole population of about 40 million Poles. By 1952, only 4 million Poles would still be alive as slaves of Nazi Germany.

After invading Poland in 1939, Germans and Russians alike were specifically looking into killing the elites of intelligentsia, political & military leaders and clergy of Poland. From the history of our country, when it ceased to exist for over 120 years in the XVIII-XIX centuries, they knew that what helped Poles survived was our faith, strong family values and underground education. These specific groups were targeted to wipe us out of the map of the world forever.

My grandma was one of those Poles, decided to be used as a slave in a German farm, until she could work. What fate would meet her later, no one knew. She was in her late 20-ties, taken by force to Germany and worked for almost 6 years. She was used to hard work before, her mom died when she was just 9 years old. I don’t know much about the kind of work she had to do. I know that they had one meal a day, worked all day long. After 6 years, they were released to go back to Poland.

She came back with my grandfather, pregnant with my aunt. And this is the story, I never heard before.

When they came to the city of Wroclaw, they were looking for a place to stay. There were Russians and Poles there, who liberated the city, German population who did not have time to escape, Polish repatriates from the East (Russians were given Eastern Polish territories by the decision of Roosevelt and Churchill, who did not protest Stalin in Yalta, in his greed for more civilized land; millions of people had to relocate; Wroclaw was the city, where Germans had to leave in order for Poles kicked out from the East, to live in). There were Polish partisants, wounded German soldiers, Russians and disoriented Poles looking for houses to settle in.

my babcia and my aunt

My grandma and grandpa picked a house on the outskirts of Wroclaw. Unexpectedly they met an elderly German couple still living in one of the apartments upstairs. They did not have time or anybody to help them to relocate, although the decree of deportation was in motion. This elderly couple was pretty scared. Before and during the war they lived in the basement of the house, which was occupied by different people. Their children were not allowed to go to the garden or play in the yard around the house. They were considered poor and not wanted to be seen by the tenants.

My grandma, who just returned from working for Germans as a slave, said that they can live together and help each other. The couple was grateful.

When the time came for her to give birth to my aunt, the couple went to look for a midwife. They walked for a few hours, trying to find her from house to house. A neighbour heard some noise, and seeing my grandma in labor, went out to the street and stopped some Russian truck. There was a Russian medic, who came and discovered my grandmother laying with her newborn baby daughter by her side, with her umbilical cord still attached. They were laying there for 3 hours. He cut the cord and left.

During the next few months, the German couple helped my grandma with the baby, while she was trying to get food and water for all of them day by day.

I listened to this story today and I was stunned. My grandma said only: there are people and not-so-people-like human beings. Wherever you are, you need to help others.

After many years, it was decided that Germany will pay compensations for those who were used in slave labor during WWII and were still alive. In a year 2000, I think, she got about $300.

in the shadows of gray

Reminiscing is not easy. Sipping my cup of tea, I’m trying to distinguish between the reality that was awaiting me and the far surpassed life given me as a gift I don’t deserve.

I came to this world as a rather fearful, somewhat disoriented, internally intrigued and at the same time outwardly sound-minded heart. My first memory is saturated with the color of gray walls in the building where I spent the first years of my earthly pilgrimage. The beam of lights cutting through this deserted place are also present in my memories, invigorating the sadness and overwhelming heaviness.

My mom and I lived in an old building surrounded by 3 sides with similar giant, obscure, upraised old German apartments. These ancient dominating buildings were always there and everywhere. My apartment was on the third floor. From the balcony, I could see another gray giant, with it’s windows starring at me.

Some windows were inhabited by people recognizable to this small gray community. One window had a man with a loud puzon (trombone). The man would practice daily at different times of the day. I don’t even know if he belonged to some orchestra or was it just his hobby. His window seemed loudly disturbing. The lace curtains decorating it would fly open quite often, revealing pieces of old-fashion furniture. But there was not enough light in our yard to distinguish the interiors of his living place.

There was another interesting window across. This one was always occupied by someone from the family. Mostly by the mother and one of the daughters. It was incredibly amazing how they could be so well informed about the whereabouts of most of the occupants just from observing and watching. They were mobilized if a new person would pass by, they would be vigilant at evening times, they would listen attentively to the echoes of the voices bouncing in between the buildings, trying to decipher the meaning of the words, to feed their hunger for gossips. I was thinking often, when do they have time to cook, to clean and to do other “normal” things of life. They were probably bored. They were waiting with anticipation for something great or even less then great to happen. Something that would change the monotonous existence within the scratched walls.


Every time I stood in front of these buildings I was diminished and conquered by their firm and depressive presence. They reminded me of the times we lived in. These old tenement houses supported the idea of the ruling system, proclaiming loudly the common share, common property, common life as a massive blurb of otherwise not important individuals, working for the better tomorrow in the land of common satisfaction. The patches with falling paint, pieces of bricks and whatever else might stick to them in the last 100 years, were slowly giving in under the pressure of time.

The yard was ugly. Squeezed in between monster buildings, there was black dirt, beater (for cleaning the carpets) and the doors leading to the outside world of streets, cars, shops and people. Nothing else.

Looking from my balcony, to my left, there was a piece called the “Jewish yard”, to my front and right was “our yard”, and behind my building was the “Gypsy yard”. The last one had a story and a social right to be named in such a way. Gypsy families were living nearby, their numerous children would play in there, making constant noise by loud laughter, songs and frequent fights in a language not understood by the rest of us.

This is the back view of my building from the “Gypsy yard”. On the left would be the “Jewish yard”, to the right and in front – “our yard”.

But every space called yard around my building, was the same. It brought the same feelings, the same disappointing “luck of hope and the future” message banging over our heads, falling straight from the sky, sinking deeply into our very conscious and alert minds. No escape was the refrain of this chant soaking daily into our existence, trying to penetrate to the very bone of leftover faith in humankind’s goodness.

The only thing you could do in that place called yard was to imagine. Therefore creativity blossomed exponentially. There is a limit to the number of times you can play hide and seek or jumping ropes. Beyond these familiar games there was a wide open world of unrestricted imagination. And the kids were freely exploring this childhood universe without boundaries and borders. But today is late and I need to go to sleep…


These 3 picture are not of the place where I actually lived, but were taken in Poland and depict accurately the feeling of the times.