The Power of the Gospel in Poland

Persevering prayer yields eternal harvest

The Power of the Gospel in Poland

Persevering prayer yields eternal harvest

As the area in front of the stage at the TAURON Arena Kraków overflowed with people responding to Franklin Graham’s invitation to repent of their sins and profess Jesus as their Savior and Lord, Andrew Katjaszewski remembered fondly the day he became a Christian eight years earlier while in prison.

“My heart is full of joy when I see how many people went up to give their lives to the Lord,” he said. “I remember the moment that I did it.”

He has never been the same. 

A prayer team member speaks with a young woman in Kraków. Photo: Shealah Craighead / ©2024 BGEA

After serving time in prison twice for transporting people into Italy as part of an illegal job recruitment scheme, the 52-year-old former coach driver began a prison ministry in south Poland to help other inmates experience the same freedom in Christ he had discovered. His passion for evangelism and discipleship has continued to grow. Katjaszewski taught the Christian Life and Witness course at Siloam Church where he is a member, about three hours southeast of Kraków in Gorlice.

At the Bóg Cię Kocha (God Loves You) Tour, Katjaszewski prayed with two people who made decisions for Christ. Jacob, 31, was ready to be adopted into God’s family. “He was looking for God; however, alcohol had made a mess in his life,” Katjaszewski said. “Today, he came here to commit his life to the Lord. He believed that the Lord is able to free him from alcohol.”

Katjaszewski also prayed with a 16-year-old boy who professed his faith in Christ. “He grew up Catholic and today, because Franklin invited people to come to the Lord, he responded to it,” Katjaszewski said. 

And while Katjaszewski was praying with new believers, his friend Daniel walked to the stage area and professed his faith in Christ after battling alcoholism for years. “I hope that today’s meeting with Franklin Graham will make a breakthrough in his life,” Katjaszewski said. “I will do my best to show him lots of mercy and be in touch with him all the time.” 

Arek Obcieżko, founder and pastor of Well Spring Church in Tarnów, about one hour southeast of Kraków, said the April 13 God Loves You Tour was a “fire-starter for evangelism” in a European nation steeped in religious tradition.

“We’re pretty religious, but that doesn’t mean that this is a Christian nation,” Obcieżko said of his native Poland. “Religion does not equal relationship, as we all know. Our job is to teach people and train people how to evangelize, how to share the Gospel, but if they don’t know how to do it, they can at least bring the people in for an event like this.” 

Two teenagers, who came with his group of about 20 church members and some of their non-Christian friends, received Christ’s gift of salvation at the event. Obcieżko, who works full time in the financial industry, started the 50-member church out of his home about eight years ago. “We believe that the church has to be missional,” he said. “We have to be focused outwardly.”

Dennis Agajanian. Photo: Thomas J. Petrino / ©2024 BGEA

House churches seem to be growing throughout Poland since Ukrainians began fleeing their war-torn country about two years ago.

Eight months before Russia invaded Ukraine, Maksym Mahdiuk sensed God leading him to move with his wife and two young children from Warsaw to Kraków to start a Ukrainian-speaking church. “I didn’t know anyone in Kraków,” he said. Two weeks after arriving in Kraków, Mahdiuk was leading a home Bible study group of four people. Today, the church numbers nearly 60.

Mahdiuk, who grew up in Western Ukraine, which borders Poland, became a Christian about eight years ago when God set him free from a drug addiction that had enslaved him as a teenager through his late 20s. For the past two years, he has worked with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as a liaison to Ukrainian churches in Kraków in preparation for the Tour.

“My life is a miracle,” Mahdiuk said. “About 10 years ago, I couldn’t even imagine being in ministry. I was blind spiritually, and I lived in a very dark place.”  

Hans Mannegren, BGEA’s Tour director for Poland, said the ministry’s two-year effort was immersed in prayer throughout the planning and preparation process, which yielded more than 800 decisions for Christ. More than half of those were for salvation.

Weekly prayer meetings among the nearly 350 participating churches were punctuated by a small group of prayer warriors who traveled from South Korea at their own expense to join local church members in prayer before and during the event.

“They came into the venue on Friday morning, praying and cleansing the place from top to bottom,” Mannegren said. “Every chair and every meter of that venue was cleansed and consecrated to Jesus in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

More than 13,000 people filled the TAURON Arena Kraków on April 13. Photo: Thomas J. Petrino / ©2024 BGEA

Mannegren witnessed God’s faithfulness as more than 13,000 people filled the arena, including those who traveled on nearly 200 chartered buses, some from as far as seven hours away. But one of the attendees who professed their faith in Christ had specifically been on Mannegren’s heart and mind for quite some time.

“I had both witnessed to him and prayed with him multiple times, but he had never made a commitment,” Mannegren said of the hotel employee he had forged a relationship with over the past two years during his frequent stays in Kraków. “I have had a very close relationship with him, but he’s always had a little bit of distance. We had very good discussions. I’m very open and he’s very open too, so we had very, very, dynamic discussions. There was always a little bit of hesitation from him. He was not a religious person. Several times I said, ‘Can I pray for you?’ And he said ‘of course you can,’ and I put my hand on his heart and prayed for him that he would see God’s plan for his life.” 

Mannegren received a text shortly after the conclusion of the event that his friend had responded to Franklin’s invitation but left the crowded stage area and went back to his seat without speaking to a prayer counselor about his decision. That’s when Mannegren found the 60-something-year-old gentleman where he had been sitting in the arena.

“I heard a clear profession of faith, which was a huge step for him, and I was so thankful,” Mannegren said. “We are praying a lot for him that he will have the filling of the Holy Spirit so that he can have help with the areas where there are challenges. We really appreciated what he did, and his openness was very clear. This was the first time that I heard him profess his faith in Christ because there had been a lot of resistance.”

Mannegren said his friend has been connected with a local church in Kraków and that he looks forward to continuing their relationship as brothers in Christ.

Sharing Christ through personal relationships is very effective in Polish culture, said Mirostaw Wielchorski, pastor of New Beginning Church, located about two-and-a-half hours from Kraków in Skarżysko, Kamienna.

“We were more encouraged to look for the people among the unbelievers who would be willing to come here,” he said. “My expectation is that we will organize for evangelism and spend more time in the streets, especially one-on-one meetings with people.”  ©2024 BGEA 

Photo: Thomas J. Petrino / ©2024 BGEA

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