They connected with people and showed the love of Jesus through acts of kindness.
The participants of a mission trip from Poland to Israel in late 2022 were able to experience firsthand that travel is a great form of education, and it also has a plethora of other benefits. When combined with evangelism, it has an impact not only on its participants but also on the communities that are being reached.
The aim of the mission field trip wasn’t just sightseeing. Most of its participants were students of the Polish College of Theology and Humanities in Podkowa Leśna, and the main goals of the trip were to educate the students about biblical lands and also for them to serve the local community by cleaning up the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
“When we think of effective missionary work, the first things that come to mind are speaking to multitudes and converting and baptizing as many people as possible,” Marek Micyk, Polish Union Conference youth director and main organizer of the trip, said. “God used our humble mission of picking up trash to send countless people our way so that we could talk to them. Who knows what will happen next? We just planted the seed.”
The society they hoped to reach out to is considered a rather closed community. This is why they had to search for creative ways of sharing Jesus’ love, Micyk explained. “As visitors, we took care to be mindful of their belief system, so that our actions weren’t counterproductive,” he said.
The relationships that were made during this field mission trip were invaluable, and the participants of the project were also able to get to know one another even better. Cleaning up trash also created an opportunity to support local initiatives, as they did not work alone.
Micyk explained that the group joined forces with the “The Beautiful Land Initiative,” which has been working for several years to restore the land on which Jesus walked. “We also had the pleasure of helping pick olives straight from the tree in a garden, which was a fun activity for the whole group,” he said.
Micyk said he is very thankful to the Trans-European Division and its special fund for Youth Missionary Initiatives, which supported the trip. He added that it would be difficult to list all the places the group visited during the trip to Israel, but each of them was meaningful in its own way.
“We rejoiced in being able to minister to the people we met, but also had the privilege of learning about the local culture and could more clearly envision the Bible stories that played out centuries ago in the places we visited,” he said. “We were also able to serve at a Jewish moshav. While we worked, we learned about the principles of this particular Israeli cooperative community and about the way that it functions.”
One of the trip participants, Oszkar, said that for him, it was an amazing experience to see the Holy Land and meet the people of Israel. “It was exciting to listen to their stories, learn about their views, and take notice of the diversity of their community. I also enjoyed getting to know the people in our group more,” he said.
Another participant, Jonasz, said the trip was a spiritual experience. “After being in the places that Jesus was in and spoke at, I was able to gain a better understanding of the gospel stories. The places described in the Bible became tangible memories to me,” he said.
Micyk added that the trip helped participants understand that no matter what their culture and religion is, it is important for people to go out of their way to be kind and hospitable to one another. “We experienced exceptional hospitality from both Arabs and Jews and were surprised by the sheer amount of acts of kindness that we encountered on every step of our journey,” he said. “One of the acts of kindness that stood out the most to us was the feast that awaited us upon arriving at [the home of] Bedouin Ibrahim, who took us in as his guests. We were also invited to a Shabbat dinner at a rabbi’s home.”
Jerusalem, Jericho, Bethel, Shiloh, Samaria, Mount Carmel, Tiberias, Qumran, Gamla, Hippos, Bethsaida, Korazim, Capernaum, and Magdala were just some of the places that the group had the opportunity to see and learn about. “We believe that thanks to the Holy Spirit, our humble ministry will have a positive impact on the lives and faith of the people we met,” Micyk said. “[We hope] they will see the love of Jesus that we wanted to share with them through our actions.”