It was strange waking up in in a church creche – beside Tom Courtney – not my worst nightmare – just the reality of the glamour that is Christian ministry! Our hosts brought breakfast into us – coffee, brown bread with cheese, ham, cucumber, tomatoes and jam. It was delicious – I really love the Polish food. It is tasty, healthy and there are lots of sausages and tomatoes!
We moved into the main church building where Tom spoke for the first half of a three hour conference (translation made it twice as long). It was a good group with a significant humber of younger people. I did the second half speaking about engaging with atheists. This group in the city all knew atheists, the later country group was smaller and had less people who knew atheists. I was impressed with this church – small but with a lovely sense of community, a love for the Lord, a desire to reach out and they even had an excellent wee bookshop
Then we went 40 kilometres to a more rural area of Silesia. I recalled from my history how Silesia was the coal mining centre of central Europe – it still is – although it gives the appearance of being idyllic farmland. The church we were speaking in is actually the pastors house – a large Dutch style house with the barn part that is usually used for the animals being turned into a worship and youth centre. The pastor was very enthusiastic because he had heard me speak in Kirkcaldy and thought that that kind of evangelism would work in Silesia. The group here was much smaller but in a different kind of way I was just as impressed. It is amazing that the Lord has his people everywhere! Silesia used to be 50% Lutheran and had periods of revival during the Hutterite times. May that happen again.
One of the things that struck me was that in both churches the Christians always stood for prayer (the good old Free Church practice) – to my mind it shows respect and honour and seriousness – certainly much better than slouching!
Another very encouraging thing was that several of the people in both churches asked if the Dawkins Letters and Magnificent Obsession would be translated into Polish. I said to them that I would love to see that but I was not sure if they would work in Poland. Then today (I am writing this on Sunday) I was approached by a Polish lecturer after my first seminar and she gave me a big hug ..She told me that she had translated the whole of the Dawkins Letters into Polish and was now going to get it published…because she loved it. She said it worked so well because it was European and she understood the references and loved the humour. She was very kind and enthusiastic and said she wanted to give it to all her students. She had even given it to two of the them for an assignment. I said all we need now is a Christian publisher. So when we went for coffee, guess who I met? A Christian publisher who was talking to William Mackenzie, of CFP, and wanted to publish it! Wonderful how God works things out.
We made it to Wisla (incidentally the only town in Poland that is majority Protestant) and got settled in the ridiculously large Hotel Gotebiewski. Met up with the other Solas guys, Dave Hartnett, Al Smith and Phil Dickson, and grabbed some quick food. Probably too quick as I felt really nauseous and had to go to bed – I was so sick I wasn’t even able to watch the Barcelona game. I was glad to get some rest. We will see what the rest of this trip brings – but already it has reinforced for me the importance of what Solas is doing – the crying need of the hour in Europe is for communicating the Good News. May the Lord use us in that.