Today, our group got a glimpse of hell.
On Tuesday, we stayed overnight near Auschwitz, and today we toured both the main camp and also Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the outlying camps.
FLF Executive Director Greg Morrow was asked about why this trip was a part of the Summit week. Two reasons, he said. One was to understand this part of the identity of Poland. The other was the bonding experience of the trip and seeing this common experience as a diverse group.
Even when you have been told what to expect and have read stories, it still cannot prepare you for hearing the stories of the brutal efficiency of depravity, viewing entire rooms of shoes or glasses that had been taken from those who had perished, or walking through rooms where people had been killed by poison gas. Faces of the dead lined the hallways. One urn made of of the ashes of countless numbers of adult and children was on display.
This is the anniversary of the first transport of 728 Poles who were brought to the camp as political prisoners. Preparations were taking place for a ceremony to be held later that day. As overwhelming as the experience is, it was even harder seeing another group with several people displaying the Jewish Star of David. How many of them had stories of their relatives who may have perished there?
One couple in our own group was from Israel along with their one-year-old son. Liel Davis shared several emotional stories of her grandfather as we traveled back to the seminary that afternoon, followed by her own testimony. She said that many of today’s Jews are working on trying to forgive the atrocities.
Some of our group were made aware almost accidentally before this week of the book The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku. The title of the book is incredibly ironic as much of it are his experiences as a persecuted Jew and Auschwitz survivor. Much of this story can be heard in a TEDxSydney Talk in which he recounts not only the ways he suffered but also how he used his survival to share joy in the lives of others.
During our trip back, another one of those “bus conversations” took place. This time it was Chris Cook, pastor of Parkade Baptist Church and Future Leadership Foundation , budding on an opportunity that arose from his travels to Poland last year in the week after Russia launched its war against Ukraine. He will be interviewed Friday morning on the national Radio Poland 3 where he will be able to share about Future Leadership Foundation. This will take place between 9-10 a.m. here, which will be 2-3 a.m. Central Time. Pray that his interview may be able to open additional doors for ministry.
This evening we arrived back at the seminary where we practiced the cardinal rule of missions (aka flexibility) and we packed conference bags with informative and fun items, decided on rooms and other decisions. Each time we gather it seems that a new partner has arrived; this evening it was the Archbishop of Tanzanian Baptists. Brad Newbold concluded our time together as we the room echoed with the harmonies of “Praise God in Whom All Blessings Flow.”
On Thursday our Summit officially starts as attendees arrive in the afternoon. Please pray that they have safety and the wonderful spirit of the week carries over to the main part of the week. #FLFPoland2023.