November Partners Update

November Happenings

Thanksgiving Small Talk

The day after Thanksgiving, we hosted our traditional Thanksgiving-themed Small Talk event for our students. Instead of focusing on the history of this American holiday, we wanted to emphasize gratitude. Each person present wrote what they were thankful for on a paper leaf and then pinned it to a “thankfulness tree.” We had prepared some traditional American food and enjoyed the evening of talking and getting to know our students better.

November 24 Small Talk event at GTE

November 24 Small Talk event at GTE

We’re thankful for our many interesting and enjoyable students. They come from all walks of life and have had many interesting life experiences. Our goal is to give our students professional English lessons that will build their language skills while showing them the love of Christ. In the process, they teach us. We learn how to be better listeners, get to know Polish culture and traditions, and, most of all, make friends. We are grateful to have good students and that so many of them have become friends.

November 24 Small Talk event at GTE

Agape enjoyed another visit from the Daniel Fąferko family from western Poland. It is always encouraging to have friends and fellow believers visit from other places. We enjoyed the music Daniel’s family shared with us in our Sunday morning service.

Daniel Faferko family singing at Agape on Sunday morning

Financial and Personnel Needs

  • In the last five months, expenses have exceeded income by nearly $10,000. Our reserves are nearly depleted.
  • We need one single man and two single women to teach conversational English starting in August 2018. For more information, contact Matt Gingerich at administrator@aimpoland.org.

Give to AIM

Donors may indicate preferences for where their gifts are used (such as staff support, Gateway to English, or Seed of Truth) and AIM will honor preferences where possible. AIM reserves the right to assign all contributions where needed. If you would like additional information about how funds are used or if you wish to pledge ongoing support, please contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org or 814-789-4394.

To make a donation using credit or debit card, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

Summer 2017 Newsletter

Shannon Lehman explains their family’s unexpected return to the States to care for a foster daughter, and Piotr Lawrynowicz provides his perspective on the challenges the Agape congregation has faced in the last six months. Read More

October Partners Update

October Happenings

Encouragement from Visitors

Phil and Linda Beiler and their two youngest children, Abigail and Zachary, spent two weeks in Mińsk at the beginning of October. At the end of a six-week time in Europe, they came to Poland to encourage the church and provide some teaching and mentoring while Lavern’s are in the States. Phil preached at both of the Sunday morning services they attended and they contributed to other church events such as prayer meeting. They spent time with church families and the American team members. Matt and Deborah traveled with them to visit the Marek Widzyk family one day as well. The church enjoyed the energy and encouragement they brought.

Daniel Fąferko and Szymon Matusiak, two Polish pastors from other parts of the country, are also contributing to church life while Lavern’s are gone. They come periodically to Mińsk to preach and spend time with the church. We enjoy the chance to fellowship with other believers in Poland.

Language Training

Matt and Deborah Gingerich have finished their three-week intensive language classes in Warsaw, Deborah at a beginner level and Matt at an intermediate level. The classes were very helpful, but the Gingerich’s are glad to have more time to spend in Mińsk now. Deborah writes: “To learn a language requires becoming like a little child—you must be okay with making mistakes, not taking others’ corrections too personally, and be brave enough to speak even with a limited vocabulary.”

All-Saints Day Prayer

November 1 is All-Saints Day, a very important holiday in Poland. Many people celebrate by gathering with family for the day, then spending the evening visiting the graves of deceased family members. Although there are potentially good outcomes of this day, we are also reminded that, for so many Poles, people lack assurance of salvation. Pray with us that the light and freedom of Christ would continue to change lives in Poland.

Financial and Personnel Needs

Financial support and housing for members of the AIM team cost nearly $5,800 per month.

Give to AIM

Donors may indicate preferences for where their gifts are used (such as staff support, Gateway to English, or Seed of Truth) and AIM will honor preferences where possible. AIM reserves the right to assign all contributions where needed. If you would like additional information about how funds are used or if you wish to pledge ongoing support, please contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org or 814-789-4394.

To make a donation using credit or debit card, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

September Partners Update

September Happenings

Transitions and Fresh Vision

Matt and Deborah Gingerich arrived in Mińsk on September 26. They spent their first week in Poland settling in and getting acquainted with school schedules and procedures. They are staying at Lavern’s house for now, but are searching for an apartment. They hope to find a place to live within the next week. They will take intensive Polish language classes for the next three weeks. Matt writes, “We have greatly enjoyed our time with the team and the church family so far, and we look forward to the next year. It is encouraging to see what God is doing in Poland; we are privileged to join the work here.”

Shannon Lehman returned to Poland over the time of Matt and Deborah’s arrival to guide the transition of responsibility and help them get established. He reflects on his visit:

“Arriving in Warsaw I was chased down and surrounded by the ‘Fearsome Foursome’ [the four teachers]. Their joy and energy was on full display and gave me such joy and relief. I was so far away from my family and yet with them I really felt like I was returning home. I saw that they were in good spirits and had taken care of each task and of each other. I know the church group was extremely small during that time and while they felt the loss of momentum they still gave their energy and it helped. The church cannot thank them enough for this.

I can report that God is moving and stirring the hearts at Agape with fresh vision. I believe that their courage and dedication to a thriving and growing church in Minsk Mazowiecki is visible and that this vision is absolutely possible. The group is small, but still mighty.”

Special Thanks

A special thank you to the parents and friends of our VS staff. They are top notch—dependable in adverse and unexpected circumstances. The best is certainly yet to come!

Challenges facing the mission in Poland

We are looking for ways to give our mission and church exposure in the town of Minsk Mazowiecki. Since Catholics have no categories for a church that meets in a regular-looking venue, they remain relatively ignorant of the beliefs, practices, and ministries of AIM. They usually know about our school, but rarely that we are, more importantly, a church. We are planning to set up some displays and information in the town market at the end of October. Please do pray for this event. We want to be obvious and available, but not pushy. Our prayer is that Jesus would be proclaimed and honored by our words and actions that day.

We need wisdom to work toward inspiring and supporting leadership development at Agape.

Financial and Personnel Needs

  • $945 for Shannon’s travel to Poland during the time of transition
  • Financial support and housing for members of the AIM team, costing nearly $5,800 per month

Give to AIM

Donors may indicate preferences for where their gifts are used (such as staff support, Gateway to English, or Seed of Truth) and AIM will honor preferences where possible. AIM reserves the right to assign all contributions where needed. If you would like additional information about how funds are used or if you wish to pledge ongoing support, please contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org or 814-789-4394.

To make a donation using credit or debit card, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

August Partners Update

August Happenings

Staff Updates

Matt and Deborah Gingerich (Guys Mills, PA) have agreed to serve in Poland for the 2017-2018 school year. Matt will take on the role that Shannon filled, providing leadership for the school and oversight for the finances of AIM. Matt’s three years of service as a volunteer teacher (2009-2012) give him valuable preparation for this work. Matt and Deborah plan to arrive in Poland on September 26.

From the Lehmans

Life is full of transitions and change. In fact, life on earth IS a transition. We feel deeply grateful for the support and flexibility of the team in Poland and the AIM board for their recognition of the significance of the call to come back to the States to provide a home and care for Jahna. It’s been nine years since she’s been in our home. We are all happy to be reunited but the energy and focus it takes to stay engaged and hopeful is beyond our capacity. We praise God for power and for His might which is helping us to take back the ground that’s been lost in those years. We are astounded that so many brothers and sisters have entered this story for Jahna’s sake and are stepping up without complaint, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. Victory is ours. Hallelujah!

More details on the story will be coming in the next newsletter. Shannon’s are living in Chambersburg, Pa for the time being as they make their way forward through fostering and required visits with Jahna’s mother. Shannon will be travelling to Poland the last week of September to help prepare Matthew Gingerich to take over administrative responsibilities there.

An update from the staff at GTE

We are so proud of them for stepping up when Shannon’s had to leave so suddenly.
We’ve been really glad that all of us teachers have at least a year of experience. Registration and the first week of school were much easier because we all knew what to expect this year. Beginning a year with a completely new schedule and lots of new students can be a challenge, but it’s also fun to see many of the same students back again. We currently have a little over 100 students enrolled, but we’ve had quite a few new students show up to register during our first week of classes. It will take a few weeks for everyone to settle in as kids’ school schedules change and we try to make sure that everyone is in a suitable class for their level.

The month of August was spent building deeper relationships with students and church families. We also took a bike trip into the eastern forests of Poland. Then it was time to prepare for the new school year! Praise God for the new students and for those who have been coming for many years like Pani Halina. She’s over seventy years old and still rarely cancels a class. Here she is having pizza with Sharon and Wendy just because they’re friends!

Financial and Personnel Needs

Airfare for Matt and Deborah: $1,130

Give to AIM

Donors may indicate preferences for where their gifts are used (such as staff support, Gateway to English, or Seed of Truth) and AIM will honor preferences where possible. AIM reserves the right to assign all contributions where needed. If you would like additional information about how funds are used or if you wish to pledge ongoing support, please contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org or 814-789-4394.

To make a donation using credit or debit card, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

July Partners Update

Peter translating during a service

July Happenings

Important News

Because of recent changes in the status of a foster child who was part of Shannon and JoElla’s family for a few years, Shannon and JoElla and their children will be moving back to the United States on August 5. They will be settling in the Chambersburg, PA area for the near future. This sudden departure means that there is a gap in administrative personnel in Poland. The Board is working hard to develop a plan to provide leadership and support for the team. As that plan develops, we will share additional information in Partners.

Word from the Lehmans

Please pray for our family. These are sudden changes compressed into an extremely tight window of time. The focus cannot be on us though. It has got to be on Christ because the storm around me is overwhelming when I try to weigh it against my chance of survival. Jahna needs a family to be her anchor, a north star from which to orient herself after nine years of constant change and upheaval. We will answer that call boldly as we have witnessed the miracles that have even made it possible. We will not shrink back and I urge you, our supporters, to step forward at this time and to help AIM as this is requiring some resources and energy that we couldn’t calculate for. We cannot expect warfare to be different… it will be costly and will demand sacrifice from all of us. Thanks for partnering in this fight even with its unexpected twists and turns.

An Update from Lavern’s

We are having a good time in the U.S. We’ve been in Montezuma, Georgia with Lolita’s family, except for a week we spent in Virginia. We’re glad that we can help out around Grandpa and Grandma’s place—in the wood shop and in the chicken house. Hadassah and Annaliese are enjoying the youth group at the Word of Life church where we attend. We’re engaging in friendships and conversations that refresh and encourage our souls.

Lavern feeding chickens

Agape Church Update

Summer means people are travelling and taking vacations, but it also means we get to host some visitors as well. Polish people take their vacation seriously…they don’t come for the weekend, but rather for a week or two. One brother shared his story of redemption with us. God miraculously spared his life even after he jumped from seven stories in an attempt to kill himself. Peter (R) is translating here, and has also been organizing our meetings and leading out in church administration while Lavern’s family is on home assignment. He is doing a very good job and as he would say “keeping the vertical position.”

Peter translating during a service

Report from Lyndon’s service trip

Lyndon Beiler and his brother Lavelle spent in southwestern Poland helping with a church family camp. Lyndon said, “It was definitely a highlight of my year in Poland. It was exciting to see God at work in the lives of the campers, and it was an excellent opportunity to practice Polish with both the kids and adults. As far as contacts with good people in different parts of Poland, it was like hitting the jackpot, and it was really encouraging to feel the energy and excitement from the short term North American team.”
Lyndon and Lavelle helping with a church family camp

We are very thankful for the strong team of VS personnel we have here right now. Please keep supporting them and praying for them.

Financial and Personnel Needs

Airfare for Shannon’s family cost $3,031. We anticipated this expense sometime in 2018, not in July 2017. Funds are available to cover this cost, but this has the potential to create a cash flow issue in August.

Give to AIM

Donors may indicate preferences for where their gifts are used (such as staff support, Gateway to English, or Seed of Truth) and AIM will honor preferences where possible. AIM reserves the right to assign all contributions where needed. If you would like additional information about how funds are used or if you wish to pledge ongoing support, please contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org or 814-789-4394.

To make a donation using credit or debit card, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

June Partners Update

June Happenings

A Month of Changes

June was a month we were all looking forward to and dreading at the same time! The early part of the month was filled with visitors from the States.

Matt and Deborah Gingerich were here for ten days in early June. Matt lived here for 3 years and taught in our school. It was obvious that he invested his time and talents well during those years. His hard work on the language is still paying off as he was able to communicate with friends and the church family as well as translating Polish conversations for his new wife. They celebrated their first anniversary while in Poland. We are grateful for their diligent service on the current AIM board.

Smucker Sons’ Visit

John and Laura Smucker’s three boys are now fine young men and they came back for a visit with two of their friends. They were in Minsk for a week and did a lot of projects helping church families and their hosts do some painting and cleanup. They even got to help a local family start a treehouse for their little boys! Once again it was encouraging to see them connecting with family friends from past years. Those who have served here over the years have left a very positive testimony behind and we believe God is calling some of you back to continue building his church through these relationships.

Hosting JoElla’s Grandmother


It was a grand privilege to host JoElla’s grandmother, Sadie Kinsinger, and her Uncle and Aunt, Phil and Kathy Yoder for a few days. Grandma’s visit was a special gift. She had her 82nd birthday with us here in Poland.

Lavern’s Departure


Lavern Hershberger’s family left Poland for a six month home assignment in the US. We really miss them at church. No matter how loud we sing we can’t replace the gorgeous singing of their family and the stellar job of translating that Lavern usually does each Sunday. This is a new experience for the church family and two brothers are stepping up to the plate to organize and lead the church during this time.

Financial and Personnel Needs

The end of English lessons for the summer means that we depend entirely on donations from now until the end of September. We have some funds on hand in preparation for those “dry” months, but we will need nearly $10,000 per month in donations to meet the ongoing expenses.

Give to AIM

Donors may indicate preferences for where their gifts are used (such as staff support, Gateway to English, or Seed of Truth) and AIM will honor preferences where possible. AIM reserves the right to assign all contributions where needed. If you would like additional information about how funds are used or if you wish to pledge ongoing support, please contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org or 814-789-4394.

To make a donation using credit or debit card, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.

May Partners Update

GTE volunteers provided child care during the conference

May Happenings

Church Conference

Phil Beiler and his wife Linda returned for the second consecutive year to be our guest speaker. It was very nice because he is well received by the Polish people and it was also good because he built on some of the foundations he laid last year. His teaching was centered around “Knowing God” and he addressed how we need to know God personally, in our families, and in public and corporate ways. We had a few new families attending this year, but many have returned faithfully year after year. Gustaw and Maria Muszkiet served us well with lodging and amazing meals. Those who attended once again affirmed that they come for the fellowship with other conservative Christians and to hear some practical teaching on the Christian Life.

A family prepares to launch balloons during the church conference

GTE volunteers provided child care during the conference

School Picnic

We had a great turnout at our annual end of school picnic. This year it was at Lavern and Lolita’s house. Many students came with their families and this year was special because it was also Mother’s Day in Poland. We had around 60 guests come and go throughout the evening. The boys loved helping Lavern make the ice cream with the White Mountain churn and the crowd burned through 3 batches in no time. We will be keeping some minimal private lessons going through the summer as we prepare for school next fall.

Sharon visits with her private students, a set of twins

Church Campout

The men and boys from AGAPE organized their first campout at the cabin on Jan Apansewicz’s property. We have grown now to a size that allows us to do these kinds of things and we need more traditions and events like this because it really helps us build connections and shared experiences. Brother Jan A. shared some stories around the campfire from his days of working in the coal mines while we roasted all sorts of meat over the fire. Vegetables weren’t readily available at the campsite.

Lavern and Brayden grill food during the men and boys' campout

Visit from Amos and Shaunda

Amos and Shaunda Stoltfus and family visited for two weeks at the end of May. Amos is on the AIM board and his wife, Shaunda, is Shannon Lehman’s twin sister. Shannon and Shaunda were both on the original team of volunteers who came with Lavern Hershbergers and John Smuckers to establish this outreach in 2001. It was really neat to see one student show up at our end of year picnic and tell us that she used to have private lessons with Shaunda 16 years ago! We had no idea and it just shows again the power and blessing of those daily connections. Praise the Lord for all the willing staff who have served here in the past years. We still meet people whom you’ve impacted.

Announcements

  • Please contact Shannon Lehman at sklmail124@gmail.com if you have any suggestions or would be willing to volunteer to help with church work and teaching at GTE next year. We are looking for someone to come in August or in December.
  • Praise the Lord: The Lehman family gained their legal status as “Temporary Residents” of Poland. The whole team is now authorized to stay until 2019 before they need to go through the process of application and renewal again.
  • We have enjoyed the summer visitors already and are going to have a busy month in June with more. Matt King and Wendy Yoder are both travelling home tomorrow for a short visit with family and home congregations.
  • Lavern Hershberger’s family will be going to the States for a six-month home assignment, leaving Warsaw on June 13. They plan to spend the majority of the time in Montezuma, GA, with some shorter trips to Virginia Beach and Stuarts Draft, VA. Pray for them and for us in this time. Pray especially that the church family in Poland would be able to stay connected to Lavern and Lolita and yet be willing to step into areas of leadership that are unfamiliar to them.

Financial and Personnel Needs

  • We are looking for a pastor to fill in at Agape Mennonite Fellowship for at least part of the time that the Lavern Hershberger family will be on home assignment in the United States. For details, contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org.
  • We are looking for a field director to replace Shannon Lehman after his two-year term. For more information, contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org.
  • The end of English lessons for the summer means that we depend entirely on donations for the months of June-September. We have some funds on hand in preparation for those “dry” months, but we will need nearly $10,000 per month in donations.

Give to AIM

Donors may indicate preferences for where their gifts are used (such as staff support, Gateway to English, or Seed of Truth) and AIM will honor preferences where possible. AIM reserves the right to assign all contributions where needed. If you would like additional information about how funds are used or if you wish to pledge ongoing support, please contact Matthew Mast at homeoffice@aimpoland.org or 814-789-4394.

To make a donation using credit or debit card, please visit our contact page.

Our prayer and praise requests are updated at www.aimpoland.org/pray/.