October Partners Update

Hadassah and friends in concert

School Update

Matt Gingerich writes,

From my office at Gateway to English I can hear a children’s class calling out the names of fruits in English. It’s afternoon, and the bulk of the day’s lessons are just getting underway. Each of our teachers has had at least two individual lessons so far today and will teach at least two more lessons before the day is over. Most of our students come after school or work to learn English, making afternoon and evening our busiest time of teaching.

GTE has a full attendance this year; around 180 students are enrolled in groups or individual lessons, with a waiting list of others who would like English lessons. We have more six-to-seven-year-old children in classes this year than ever before, likely a sign that parents are wanting their children to learn English at earlier and earlier ages. From ages six to sixty—artists, mechanics, salespeople, students, surveyors, professors, and more—our students make our lives colorful and interesting.

Our teaching staff is the same as last year, adding stability to our school year. I enjoy working with our talented and creative teachers. They are committed to teaching well, developing engaging lessons plans and continually working to challenge their students. Teaching and working constantly with people is tiring work, but these teachers remain invested in sharing the love of Jesus with everyone around them. Many of our students have commented over the years on how Gateway to English has a peaceful and friendly atmosphere where they can feel at home. Praise the Lord, and thank you to our teachers!

Hadassah’s concert with Sarah and Natalia

Hadassah’s Concert

Kristin Herrin writes,

September was a rich month in Poland. It marked the beginning of school and the beginning of fall. It was also the month that hosted a beautiful gathering of friends at the Hershbergers’ home, where we enjoyed an outdoor concert by Hadassah, Sarah, and Natalia. Sarah and Natalia are two of Hadassah’s lovely Polish friends, and the trio have been making music together for over a year now. They love to use their gifts to worship God and to point others to Him. People came together from various parts of Poland and we all enjoyed a time of fellowship after the concert. Many beautiful songs were shared, both by the trio and also by Lavern’s family. Some songs sung by the trio were original, and I was impressed by the genuineness of the lyrics, the faith expressed both in the words and the lives of those who sung them. I am so thankful I could take part in the evening, and am excited when I consider how God will continue to use these ladies’ gifts for His glory.

Lavern, Peter, and Jola’s trip to Romania

2019 Translators’ Conference in Suceava, Romania

Lavern Hershberger writes,

I had the privilege of attending the 2019 Translators’ Conference held in Suceava Romania on September 26 and 27. It was the second biennial conference organized by Christian Aid Ministries in Suceava. About 100 people from 14 different countries attended. They were from a variety of churches and missions, but all involved in translating and publishing.

I was very encouraged to see the enthusiasm for translating and publishing Bibles and quality literature in many languages. A special element of this conference was the report from Duane Nisly from Costa Rica about the translation of Christian Light school curriculum into Spanish. This is a difficult and time-consuming project, but many of the conference attendees were interested in this.

I’m inspired to move ahead with publishing more books in Polish. May God’s kingdom continue to grow all over the world.

Matt and Sharon’s Wedding

Sharon (Spicher) and Matt King

Matt Gingerich writes,

Sharon Spicher and Matt King, both former volunteer teachers, got married in Belleville, PA, on October 12. Thanks to financial contributions from friends in the US, Lyndon, Hadassah, and I were able to attend the wedding. Matt and Sharon poured themselves into life and relationships in Poland while they were here, so it was special to represent their Polish friends at their wedding.

Autumn-Themed Small Talk

Alyssa Zimmerman writes,

Gateway to English hosted its first Small Talk event for the school year on October 18. Many of our students and their families came to enjoy the interaction, food, and games. Some of the highlights from the fall-themed evening included pumpkin bowling, caramel-dipped apples, and pumpkin spice lattes.

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.

August Partners Update

Teaching staff discuss purpose of GTE

Back to school preparation

Deborah writes,

Today, when I opened the door to school and walked up the steps, I felt the anticipation of fall school registration in the air. Teachers were cleaning up after our table refinishing project, and the secretary was printing off fresh new contracts for our students to sign. The newly painted bathroom and classroom made the whole school feel like it was another, better, exciting place to learn.

Earlier this week, our teaching staff met to discuss our purpose in teaching English here in Mińsk Mazowiecki. Matt led us in a clarifying conversation that pushed us from thinking that what we do here is

the same as why we are here. For example, we are here to connect with people as we teach English, but that is something we do, not the big picture, the why. Our why informs what we do, but it runs much more deeply and motivates every part of our lives. We left this discussion feeling inspired and ready for another year of teaching and loving people well in Mińsk Mazowiecki.

Our school year begins on September 9, but our registration for students opened on the 29th of August, which means the teachers are present at school for 7 afternoons before school starts. They welcome old and new students and make sure students have all the information they need for the next year.

We are looking forward to another year with four full-time teachers: Lyndon Beiler, Kristin Herrin, Alex Yoder, and Alyssa Zimmerman. Jaden and Jewel Kilmer, Matt and I, Hadassah Hershberger, and Lavern Hershberger will all be part-time teachers at Gateway to English.

Reflections on our summer furlough

Matt writes,

Deborah and I spent two months in the US on furlough this summer, from the end of June to the end of August. We split our time between family in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Those two months felt like a whirlwind, as we made the most of our time to be with as many people as possible. Spending so much time with family and friends in such a short amount of time reminded us how rich we are in relationships. I was greatly encouraged to talk with so many friends who are serving God in many places and in many ways. Our life in Poland tends to be very focused in Mińsk among a rather small group of people. This is not a negative thing, but we found it refreshing to get a broader perspective by stepping away from our Polish life for a short time. We are deeply grateful for friends and family who have poured into our lives and for the chance to reconnect with them. We return with renewed energy for life in Mińsk: the Agape church community, our friends and neighbors in town, our team, and our work.

Family Visitors

Alex and Lyndon both had family visit them this month.

Alex’s family visited him in Poland

Alex writes,

Having my family visit me in Poland was definitely a (maybe the) highlight of my summer. We were able to do some exploring in Warsaw and also spent some time in southern Poland. We visited Kraków and also took a tour to Auschwitz. Big cities and adventures are great but simply showing them around Minsk where we live and teach, amongst other things, was also very enjoyable. And obviously, after a year without seeing them, it was great just to spend time together.

After a year in Poland, I have not forgotten my family, but their time here has made me realize how separate my life in Poland feels from my home in the States. It was unique for me, if only for two weeks, to experience the merging of these two worlds. Both are very important and hold a special place in my heart.

Lyndon’s parents also visited him in Poland

Visitors at Agape Fellowship

Lolita writes,

August 4 was a special Sunday for us at Agape Fellowship. There were around 20 visitors to swell the ranks of the faithful few who weren’t traveling. Among the visitors were my good friend Sarah (Overholt) Alimowska with her husband, two sons, and 80 yr. old mother-in-law Vala. Church people are still talking about the encouragement and inspiration they received from Vala’s deep faith and vibrant testimony. Sarah and I have been friends since I traveled to Poland for the first time with her family in 1992. Alex was very happy to have his whole family with us as well. We all had a wonderful time of fellowship and enjoyed lunch together outside in the parking lot.

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.

Summer 2019 Newsletter

AIM Newsletter Summer 2019 cover

New staff couple Jewel and Jaden Kilmer introduce themselves, board chair Matthew Mast shares highlights from his visit to Poland with Pastor Anthony Gingerich, and Lolita Hershberger reports on our biennial family conference. Read More

Winter/Spring 2019 Newsletter

AIM Newsletter Winter/Spring 2019 cover

Meet Wojtek and Agnieszka Wojtynska, who share what led them to Agape church and what their work is here. Also, we report on Winter Bible School and introduce our new volunteers. Read More

January Partners Update

New Year's Eve party

January Happenings

Gateway to English update

Our January has been moving along at a rapid pace, making us grateful for the time we are given here on this earth. Gateway to English resumed lessons on January 2, and new students keep showing up at our door despite being half way through the school year. We all taught substitute classes for Alyssa, who returned on January 9th from her Christmas visit to her family. We are making a final push toward the two-week winter holiday beginning on January 28. Pray that we could have enough energy to care well for our students and be able to make good connections and conversation.

New Year’s Eve celebrations and Polish NYE traditions

We celebrated New Year’s Eve with our church family. We had a time of worship and prayer, then played games and ate delicious appetizers. At midnight, we ran outside to see the explosion of fireworks igniting all over Mińsk, in a display that would give American firemen nightmares. While Christmas and New Year’s celebrations mean lots of time with family and friends for most Poles, it’s also a time of year when family disputes are most obvious and people spend a lot of time drinking.

Church/school kolędy evening

We hosted our annual carol singing evening for our students, friends, and church family on January 6, at Gateway to English. Matt and Lavern led us in singing Polish and English carols. We enjoyed the special songs sung by the Piotr Ławrynowicz family, the Lavern Hershberger family, Jaden and Jewel Kilmer, and the GTE teachers. Afterwards, we feasted on Christmas cookies and punch and conversations with old and new friends.

church school carol evening

Music events

December and January have been filled with music events here in Poland. Before Christmas, Matt and Deborah experienced the Kolędy [Christmas carol] Concert at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw. Other team members went to hear Handel’s Messiah the following week. We were also privileged to sing at a kolędy concert in the village school of Wiciejów and at a nursing home where our secretary Ela’s mom is living. It’s such a gift to have a solid team of singers to worship and minister with.

Recently, Hadassah has been a part of Under Grace, a gospel choir in Warsaw that uses Gospel music to reach people who don’t know Jesus. Gospel music has become more popular all over Europe, and this free expression of Christian music is different from what many post-Christian people have experienced. Somehow, people feel a freedom in this genre that we hope opens them to the truth they are singing.

Book distribution project

Update on literature distribution: We continue to receive many requests for Bibles and books. We are exploring options for funding for printing more Bibles. Many individuals and groups need Bibles for evangelism, and don’t have the funds to buy them. Eastern European Mission is not able to send any more at this time, but hopefully will in the future. Praise God that people want to read His word!

Prayer and Praise

  • Pray for Alyssa and her family in the states as they walk with their mom and wife on her cancer journey.
  • Pray for Lolita as she prepares for her speaking assignments at REACH, in March.
  • Pray for safe and restful winter holiday travels for the teachers, the Kilmers, and the Gingerichs.
  • Pray for the upcoming Youth Winter Bible School, hosted by Agape. Pray that everyone attending would have open hearts to hear God’s voice speaking.
  • Pray that we could keep finding opportunities for outreach in Mińsk.

Financial Needs

The addition of Jaden and Jewel to the team has increased expenses significantly. They and the Board have been working to raise the needed funds, but there is currently a lack of funds. We ended January with all bills paid, but with only several thousand dollars to start February. We will need at least $10,000 in general donations in February.

If you would like to help support shipping costs for literature distribution or contribute toward printing more literature, you may indicate that preference on your donation to AIM. We anticipate costs of around $200 per month for shipping.

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.

December Partners Update

December Happenings

Christian literature distribution

Earlier this year we found out about good quality Bibles and books that are available at no charge from an organization called Eastern European Mission. We have been distributing some of them, and recently let our Seed of Truth readers know that we could send them any of these materials that they are interested in. Within a week, we had over 100 orders for over 1000 Bibles and books. Many of these are from individuals, but some are from people involved in prison ministry and other evangelistic efforts. We are glad we can help meet the need for quality Bibles and Christian books in Poland. If you would like to make a donation to Eastern European Mission to support their work, visit their website.

Fellowship with believers

Lavern was encouraged recently to attend a weekend fast with 60 men from all over Poland. Most of them are from small home groups or unaffiliated churches. This meeting has been held quarterly for 14 years. It’s very informal, but the spirit of earnestly seeking God and encouraging each other is powerful. It was also a first for hearing 60 Polish men’s voices robustly singing acapella in unison. Many of the men were glad to hear about the availability of the Bibles and books.

GTE Christmas banquet


Matt and Deborah hosted Gateway to English’s Christmas banquet at the school this year. We feasted on traditional Polish Christmas food, complete with fish in aspic and Wigilia cabbage and mushrooms. While the staff see each other every day, it was so fun to celebrate Christmas in a formal way as work family. We finished the evening with carol singing and scrumptious desserts.

Prayer and Praise

  • The Agape congregation has been looking for more ways to reach out to people in our town of Mińsk.
  • Pray for connections with people who need help and for wisdom and care to love them well.
  • Alyssa Zimmerman traveled to the US for two weeks over Christmas to be with her family. Her mom, Dawn, was recently diagnosed with cancer and begins treatment soon. Pray for courage and trust and for wisdom to make good decisions.
  • For fresh energy and ideas for the teachers at GTE as they begin 2019.

Financial Needs

In January, we expect to need $11,292 in general donations to support the team and the ongoing activities in Poland. In December, we received $8,225 in general donations. We have some reserve for January, but we may have a shortfall of several thousand dollars by the end of the month.

If you would like to help support the shipping costs for literature distribution, you may earmark donations to AIM. We anticipate costs of around $200 per month for shipping.

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.

November Partners Update

November Happenings

All Saints’ Day and Staff Retreat

The first week of November was a big week for Poland, as the church holiday of All Saints’ Day was celebrated on November 1. Many of our students and friends visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried, to pray that their loved ones’ time in purgatory might be shortened, to light candles for them, and to remember their stories (pictured is Minsk’s Catholic cemetery on November 1).

For many people, it’s a good time to have family gatherings and talk about the family lore, but for others, it’s a great burden to keep up all the family graves and say prayers so that their family members can get to heaven sooner. We have had some interesting English lessons talking about these holidays with our students. We are happy to tell them that we don’t have to pray for our family members who have died and that God knows everything about them and their future. This holiday and these conversations provide us with a good chance to stop and reflect on the meaning of death, resurrection, and our hope in Christ.

AIM staff took All Saint’s Day to hold a staff retreat day, a time to reflect, pray, and create space to listen to what God has to say to us. After a worship time and brunch in the morning, we split up to spend about five hours of solitude before reconvening for supper and wrap-up. It was quite refreshing to step away from our daily responsibilities for a few hours to focus on connecting with God and each other, and to reflect on what God has done in our lives over the last months.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is not a Polish holiday, but we find ways to celebrate it here, enjoying the chance to connect with each other and with our Polish friends and reflecting on what we are grateful for. It’s traditional at GTE to have a Thanksgiving themed Small Talk around the time of the American holiday. Small Talk is a monthly event for our English students and friends from church to get together, eat food, speak English, and, in general, make connections with each other. This year, we had a pie contest, with five teachers making five different kinds of pies.

We had other activities as well, including a harvest hymn sung by the team and a gratitude activity that everyone participated in. Last year, when we were new here, our first Small Talk of the season had maybe five guests. We decided to ramp up publicity, plan more group activities, and really encourage our students to come. Ever since, we usually have between 30-40 people coming for these events, and this school year, they’ve been even bigger.

It was special to gather as a team over a good Thanksgiving dinner (pictured), chat, and reflect on the good gifts God has given us. It was special to have Dervin Martin and Derek Sensenig visit over Thanksgiving weekend. Dervin served in Poland 2015-2017, and Derek sang with the Hope Singers 2018.

Prayer and Praise

Prayer

  • Please pray with us that God would use holidays such as All Saints’ Day and the upcoming Christmas holiday as a means of pointing people to the Truth. These holidays are governed by tradition, but we pray that they might be the means for people encountering Christ.

Financial Needs

In December, we expect to need $11,300 in general donations to support the team and the ongoing activities in Poland. In November, we received $5,183 in general donations. We have some reserve for December, but we may have a shortfall of several thousand dollars by the end of the month.

The Board is working with Jaden and Jewel to raise $30,000 for their financial support this year. If you would like to contribute to that need, please contact us at homeoffice@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.

October Partners Update

Lavern's birthday celebration

October Happenings

Small Talk

On the last Friday evening of October, Gateway to English hosted its first Small Talk event of the school year. We plan Small Talk as a monthly event with the goal of connecting with our students and getting to know them better through informal conversations, games, and food. These evenings also give our church members the chance to interact with our students and bridge the gap between church and school.

Alex interacting with a student

Reflections on English teaching from Jaden Kilmer

I would like to take the opportunity to describe the group class of teenagers I help teach. A group class usually has 4-8 students and two teachers. A typical group class runs for 1½ hours. Currently at GTE we have six children’s classes, four teenage classes, and five adult classes.

Jewel and I teach this class once a week and we are finding the experience stretching. For us, it can feel challenging to connect with teenagers. Nevertheless, we are finding the challenge rewarding. I am very grateful for Jewel’s experience and insight.

Deborah with her students

What are some goals we have? Helping them think about the world in healthy ways is important. We have been loosely following the Bible story of Daniel and his friends by using the theme of “Challenge.” This has led to some interesting thoughts and observations. Sometimes their observations are provocative in their simple directness. A nice side benefit to teaching this story is the continual challenge of pronouncing ‘Nebuchadnezzar’! Another goal is to introduce and reinforce new vocabulary. We do this primarily through group exercises and games. I think we all look forward to the games (at least if noise means anything…). Finally, we hope to expedite communication skills by beefing up their conversation skills. We continue to search for new ways to do this.

Prayer and Praise

Prayer

  • We’ve had lots of conversations recently about a new Polish film, Kler, a sort of protest film about corrupt Catholic priests in Poland. Lots of people have seen it and have strong feelings about whether or not it’s a good film. Sadly, most of our students have told us that everyone knows that the film is true; that some Catholic priests are abusive, drunk, and stealing money from their parishioners. Our hope for our students is that this film will make them ask hard questions, and that the answers to their questions will lead them to Truth and not to giving up on God completely.

Praise

  • We are grateful that the beginning of a new school year has started to bring in funds again after the summer break.

Financial Needs

In November, we expect to need $9,750 in general donations to support the team and the ongoing activities in Poland. In October, we received $5,300 in general donations. We have some reserve for November, but we may have a shortfall of several thousand dollars by the end of the month.

The Board is working with Jaden and Jewel to raise $30,000 for their financial support this year. If you would like to contribute to that need, please contact us at homeoffice@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.