Since the late 1990’s, Evangelical School of Theology (formerly Biblical Theological Seminary) has hosted visits to Poland and Wroclaw by numerous groups from abroad (USA, Great Britain and Canada). Beginning in 2007, EST hosted its first mission study tour for men and women from White Memorial Presbyterian Church in the US. The purpose of the trip was to attend lectures presented by EST faculty and staff, meet pastors and others from local churches, hear personal testimonies of Polish believers, and participate in ministry/service oriented projects. In 2009 and 2011 there were additional study tours for adults and for youth with similar focus and variety of service projects, e.g. cleaning/painting in a local church, activities with Polish children, visit to center for disabled children, cleanup project in a Jewish cemetery (that survived WWII), and interaction with Polish volunteers who joined the tour group for various activities.
The lectures included: EST’s past, present and future; personal testimony from EST leaders; lecture on Dietrich Bonhoeffer; missionary perspective on Poland and ministry; and Polish history (German occupation, communist rule and current situation). There were also tours to see: sites in Wroclaw, Church of Peace near Wroclaw (built in the mid-1600’s after the Thirty Years War), castles, Krakow, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Some groups have had opportunities to visit local churches in Wroclaw or Krakow, depending on the schedule.
EST is continuing to develop study tours that will allow visitors to experience firsthand the history and culture of Wroclaw and Poland and to see what is happening within the ministry of EST. Tour members benefit greatly from meeting faculty, staff, students, Polish Christians, pastors and ministry leaders and others associated with EST. During these trips visitors learn how they can pray for and be more involved in this ministry.
In September 2014, a group from White Memorial Presbyterian Church will visit Poland. Their journey begins in Berlin and then continues to Poland where they will visit the Gross-Rosen concentration camp museum near Wroclaw and the Church of Peace in Swidnica. During their time in Wroclaw they will attend a local evangelical church, see historical sites in Wroclaw (Jewish cemetery, Edith Stein House) and visit places of worship representing different denominations (Jewish, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox). The group will meet EST faculty and staff, attend lectures at EST and learn more about the challenges facing EST and Polish Christians and ministry in Poland.
Below are comments from two participants of previous study tours:
“My experience in Poland has made an indelible impression on me. I felt as if I lived a history lesson from one of the most important areas of our world. I am so impressed with the transformation the people have brought the country through in the past 20 odd years. I enjoyed meeting everyone associated with EST.”
“Each day of this adventure was so unique and amazing … the week felt like a worship service in many ways with praise, confession, learning, and fellowship. The trip may be over, but the journey with our new family in Poland is just beginning.”