By Emily Roth
In Poland, many people share the common dream of going to the United States someday. WorldVenture colleagues Bruce and Linda Thomas first moved to Poland in 2010, and right away they began to meet locals who wanted to see America.
The Thomases serve a local church plant and English language school in Lubin, Poland. The language school began at the same time as the church and has grown through the years. The last school year brought 235 students, ranging from five years old and up. Many of the adult students that Bruce and Linda teach have become their personal friends over the years.
When the Thomases returned to the United States for their first home assignment, they viewed everything through the perspective of their Polish friends.
“We thought that it would be fun to invite our friends from Poland to America,” Linda said.
In July of this year, after much preparation, Bruce and Linda hosted a group of Polish visitors for a two-week American experience. Their guests were a mix of friends, students in the language school, and a couple from the Polish church.
The Thomases were their tour guides during the trip. Bruce and Linda come from the greater Chicago area, so they focused their time on Illinois. They went to museums and concerts in Chicago, watched a baseball game, visited the capital of Springfield, hiked in a state park, and toured a dairy creamery in Wisconsin.
“We did a lot of sightseeing but we also introduced them to the Christian community,” Linda said. “They stayed in Christian homes. They went to church with us. They even went to vacation Bible school with us.”
At the vacation Bible school, one of the Polish women shared her testimony of faith. One of the unbelieving visitors translated for her because he had the most advanced English in the group. Later that day, he asked Linda questions about the church where the vacation Bible school took place.
“For those unbelievers, it was the first time they had been in any church service that was not Catholic,” Linda said. “It’s hard for me to predict what God is going to do with this, but I’d like to think that it will open up more spiritual conversations with the unbelievers who were there.”
Bruce and Linda are already thinking about the next time they can host another group of Polish visitors. They think of this opportunity as “missions in reverse,” because they invited people to visit their home country instead of the other way around. It presented a new way to connect with their Polish friends and had the extra benefit of introducing them to more American friends.
“We were facilitators to partner people from Poland with Christians in Illinois,” Linda said.
The hosts learned about Polish culture at the same time as introducing their guests to American life. Bruce and Linda hope that they will stay in contact with the help of social media and continue to grow these new cross-cultural friendships.
Just a few days after the visitors returned home, one of the American hosts traveled to Poland and volunteered at the church’s English immersion camp. While there, he was able to reconnect with one of the Polish men who had visited.
The trip required a lot of planning and time, but Bruce and Linda believe it was worth the investment.
“They had such a good time,” Linda said, “that they said this was a dream come true for them.”
For more information about ministry in Poland, please contact Bruce and Linda Thomas at blt8490 (at) gmail.com. The church and language school of Lubin continues to grow and engage with the local community in various ways. Help finish construction of their new building by giving to the special project 6434-905-Church Building Fund.