Report from the field
Western Territory officers serving in Poland
By C.Patrick Granat, Major
The article below provides the full version of Major Granat’s comments, which were summarized in “Taking the Challenge,” in the July 15 New Frontier (Vol. 29, issue 12).
Major C. Patrick Granat and Captain Kitty Granat are corps officers in Warszawa, Poland; Major Patrick Granat is regional officer for Poland.
The Salvation Army in Poland—“Armia Zbawienia”—is in the midst of a growth and development phase. Only six months ago we had two soldiers, and one seldom attended. Now there are five who are active and involved, and the corps is growing.
Last winter we adjusted our “Toy and Joy” program to include home delivery of the Christmas parcels. This led to the development of ongoing relationships with the families and the regular attendance of several children in our after-school program.
The after-school youth program began last autumn. A qualified children’s teacher leads the group. The teacher became a soldier in the corps in December, and now we are planning to hold a vacation Bible school and a youth outreach event to kick-start a new Sunday school at the end of the summer. The junior soldier material is being translated and we expect to enroll the first junior soldiers in the country in early 2012.
A recently renovated building in the neighborhood has been empty for two years, and we are praying that funding will become available for us to purchase it for the Warsaw Corps hall and Social Service Center. There is ample space for Sunday school and fellowship, as well as an apartment on the top floor for officers’ quarters. We need 10,000,000 Zloty (approximately $25.5 million) and we have less than 1,000 in the bank, but we have a God who works miracles. We ask for your prayer support for this important step forward.
The current hall we rent is only one room and must be used for everything. We must move all of the seats, set up tables and turn the room into a fellowship hall as soon as the benediction is pronounced on Sunday. This makes it hard for people to feel that we are a real church, and our growth has come only through exhaustive work. Many first-time visitors have not returned because of the situation, so we look for a long-term solution. A more adequate building would be just right.
There has been a need for a long-term strategy for The Salvation Army in Poland. To date we have only one corps and an outpost in a small town about 100 miles away. There are many major cities where the Army could develop, but we lack the vision and personnel to move forward.
I will be visiting a former Methodist pastor in the north of Poland, who is very excited about being involved in a ministry that authentically preaches the gospel as well as effectively reaches the social needs of the community. He is young enough to become an officer, and his wife and children are also excited about what they’ve seen of the Salvationist expression of Christianity. He has located a building that was previously used by The Salvation Army when the region was part of Germany, and the Army may have some legal claim to the site.
We want to open a drop-in center again this winter. Last year we were prepared for 25 people, but the budget was inadequate, and we are still trying to catch up financially. Pray that we will have another place—even temporarily—so that we might reach out to the homeless during the harsh weather with a warm cup of tea and a warm welcome to our meetings. The meetings during the snow season were standing room only, and several of the homeless have become regular attendees on Sunday and in the midweek Bible study.
Our big dream is for a self-supporting ARC (adult rehabilitation center) program. With the need for better recycling of plastics, I have a vision for a plastic recycling center that will provide jobs for the unemployed and a rehabilitation opportunity for those addicted to vodka—the national beverage. Funding may be available from the European Union, but we’ll need to navigate the bureaucracy successfully in order to qualify. We’ll need advisors and some local funding for the expenses required just in the application phase. Please keep this in your prayer focus, along with prayers for Polish officers and new corps openings. As in William Booth’s day, setting up an appropriate community service project and a dynamic evangelistic program will be the “two wings” necessary for soaring into the future.