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Where Will You Serve? English Bible Camps Are Coming for Summer 2016!

This article from GEO Missionary Benjamin Helge offers a glimpse into service in an English Bible Camp in Poland. Ben relates the experiences of volunteers and missionaries who worked together last year. This year, 13 teams have been requested for Poland. Three teams are ready, and four more are being processed. That means we still need 6 teams! All teams who serve work through The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod’s (LCMS) Short Term Team Coordinator, Sandy Kohlmeier. If you are interested in putting together a team, please contact Sandy at sandy.kohlmeier@lcms.org. 

Volunteers lead an English Bible camp group in Chorzow, Poland in the summer of 2013. Photo by Stephanie Jones

Volunteers lead an English Bible camp group in Chorzow, Poland in the summer of 2013. Photo by Stephanie Jones

–By Benjamin Helge, GEO Missionary serving in the Czech Republic, and coordinator for English Bible Camps

Wake up, eat breakfast, head to the parish, music, snack, Bible story, English, craft, lunch, games, and closing. During a week of English Bible Camp (EBC) in Poland it might look something like this from 7:00-16:00 (4:00 PM). From mid July into the beginning of August, LCMS congregations and teams served in various cities around Poland to share the love of Christ with Polish students. While each sight and schedule looked slightly different, each one focused on the same message, “for it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:8, NIV).

In July 2015, Ben wrote of this photo: "Spent the day learning about Gliwice, Polish language, Polish culture, and the Lutheran Church in Poland. God is good! Thanks to Pastor Andrzej and Agnieszka for your words and wisdom. One more day until we head out for camps! Now, time for Jurassic World."

In July 2015, Ben wrote of this photo: “Spent the day learning about Gliwice, Polish language, Polish culture, and the Lutheran Church in Poland. God is good! Thanks to Pastor Andrzej and Agnieszka for your words and wisdom. One more day until we head out for camps! Now, time for Jurassic World.”

God provided three teams to come and lead EBCs at four congregations this past summer. Our theme focused around God’s love for us and used 1 John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (NIV).

Maybe you have thought about serving in an international capacity, bringing the Good News to the world. Here in Central Europe, and around the world, numerous opportunities await to share the Gospel through English. The presence of English in our world grows daily. However, in many smaller towns and villages, students do not have the opportunity to practice their English with a foreigner. Thus the existence of EBCs. During EBC, students are immersed in English because an LCMS team leads the daily activities, but more importantly, students constantly hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the week.

Volunteers work with students in 2015 in Poland. Photo by Ilona Cichy

Volunteers work with students in 2015 in Chorzów, Poland. Photo by Ilona Cichy

Upon arrival, a team must adjust. It is more than just adjusting to time. It includes acclimating to new cultures, food, people, weather, and much more. Here, Jenni, a team member from Escondido, CA shared her reactions after being in Poland for a day.

Wow. That’s the word that has been repeating like a stuck record in my mind the course of this trip. Wow, in a tone of annoyance, when I awoke at 3 in the morning, completely restless with the Lords work waiting to be done. Wow, with appreciation, as we conversed with great company over a breakfast of bread, bread, and meat. Wow, in awe, as we sat humbly in the polish church, listening to Pastor Andrew speak of the history of the church and Polish Lutheranism in staggered English. Wow, in confusion and disappointment, as I, and many others, choked over insane polish words such as niebezpieczeństwo, or danger, and przepraszam, or I’m sorry/excuse me, which is completely not pronounced like it looks. Wow, with happiness, as we munched on lunch. Wow, with a students heart, as we learned knowledge of Poland and the polish people. Wow, with admiration, as I walked along beautiful old polish architecture while eating a 1$ gelato cone.  Wow, stuffed still from lunch, as I ate sandwiches for dinner. Wow. The word that keeps bouncing around my mind as I dream of the experiences to come, and the love and friendship to be shared in the minutes, hours, and days to come.

Once a team gets adjusted, it is time to begin preparations for the week of camp. This past summer, teams had two days of orientation, met their host congregations, explored their regions, and finalized details before camps began. EBCs started on a Monday and concluded on a Friday. Every site ran on a unique schedule allowing for flexibility. Below, Jenna, a 2015 EBC leader, shared a little experience after a few days of camp.

Many children know our names and come running in to camp in the morning with a huge smile on their face. We can feel their excitement to learn English and to come to know the Lord through our presence there. In English class, we have been teaching how to hold a conversation in English using complete sentences which link back to our daily topic, which for today was all about courage. In Bible class, the students heard stories about courageous people from the Bible, such as David defeating Goliath, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Children from the English Bible Camp in Chorzów, Poland sing the Biblical English language songs they learned for their parents in July 2015.

Children from the English Bible Camp in Chorzów, Poland sing the Biblical English language songs they learned for their parents in July 2015. Photo by Ilona Cichy

If you have led Vacation Bible School in the past, you know each day contains a theme, a story, and a message. The same applies to EBCs. As Jenna shared, this particular day revolved around courage and used the stories of David and Rack, Shack, and Benny (for any of you VeggieTales lovers our there). As students discussed the courage we have, they heard also about the reason for this courage, the hope and promise we have because of Christ’s death and resurrection.

God gives us unique ways to share His Gospel. EBCs are just one of the ways the message of Christ crucified is being shared in Poland and throughout the world. Please consider putting a team of five people together to serve in Central Europe during the summer of 2016. There are many locations throughout Poland ready to welcome your team and work with them in sharing English and Jesus with their community. Service opportunities in Poland will happen during two terms: Southern Poland: July 20 – August 1, 2016 and Northern Poland: August 3-15, 2016. We praise God for all He continues to do through short term teams, long term missionaries, and the local people.

  • To learn more about how to start the process of creating a team or serving as a short term volunteer, read this Q & A from Sandy Kohlmeier.
  • Want to read more about EBCs from a volunteer’s perspective? Check out this article from a volunteer last year, Lisa Wagner.
  • Learn more from another volunteer here.
  • Are you interested in serving or in putting together a team of about five people to serve in Poland this summer? Please contact the Short Term Teams Coordinator for the Office of International Mission (OIM), Sandy Kohlmeier at sandy.kohlmeier@lcms.org.
  • To see more information about the opportunities to serve, visit the Serve Now catalogue.

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4 Responses to “Where Will You Serve? English Bible Camps Are Coming for Summer 2016!”

  1. I was one of Ben’s Sunday School teachers when he was growing up! So proud of what he is doing now!

  2. Benjamin Helge says:

    Hi Mrs. Black! I hope you are doing well. Thanks for the comment and for the instruction you gave me while growing up. I am extremely thankful for all you taught us kids and the foundation I have because of it. Maybe see you in Central Europe sometime soon! Peace, Ben

  3. Dana Bolar says:

    We serve each year on a similar team in Czech Republic, right near the Poland border. Don’t worry if you don’t feel equipped! God will equip you! It will be a life-changing experience and your faith walk will be strengthened. And, how amazing that you are teaching kids about Jesus where you may be their only opportunity to hear! Go & Serve!

  4. In 2012, my wife Susan and I were seriously planning for retirement. We attended a two-week English language bible camp in Mikowlajki, Poland. It was an incredible experience, an opportunity to share Christ with many young children. When we were retired two years later, we became GEO missionaries with LCMS and are now teaching English as a foreign language in Tisovec, Slovakia. This is also a wonderful opportunity to speak about God’s love and our Salvation through His Son, Jesus. It is God’s Church, and it is His mission. We are happy and thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of it – to be doing what our Lord has asked, that we spread the gospel to all nations.

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