Campus Crusade for Christ Awakening

REVIVAL IN POLAND Memoirs


This history will be a new and fresh re-telling of a story that involved many missionaries and thousands of Poles, from the recollections of one individual. I chose the word revival in the title for the entire national history of Poland rather than for the many individuals who experienced new life in Christ for the first time: Believing that there was always a remnant of true believers in Christ and His teachings, over and above the teachings of evolutionary theologies which have no basis in the original first century documents of the living church, which by the way carried no names of churches like the ones we often hear today. These individuals in Polish history which have impacted the nation include names like: Mieszko, Jadwiga, Casimir the Great, Pawel Wlodkowic, Jan Ostrorog, Mikolaj Rej, Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Casimir Pulaski, Ignacy Paderewski, Jozef Pilsudski and Franciszek Blachnicki. Men and women who understood that all worship and all prayers must be directed to the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Though I have met only one of these individuals personally and have witnessed his actions which cut against the grain of his culture. The others have all given their indicatons by their writings and associations; that they also understood along with thousands of other Poles, That only God is good and right all the time and that His goodness can only be given to us freely when we truly believe Him and Him alone. These individuals made decisions which also cut against the grain of the religious culture which was being corrupted by pagan influence or Religionist revisionism which is often political in nature.

1 have read Grazyna Sikorska’s book on this period and also the writings of Dariusz Cupial and Dr. Norman Geisler. I have also spoken to many Poles who witnessed what happened after I left Poland in 1978. Their story can better be told by them and others who stayed behind after me, but I will make some observations on the basis of the facts as I know them – with the understanding that as new information comes out, this story will give us a more complete picture. I will also be writing as one who is getting a first hand look at the lasting results since 1991 when I began to make numerous trips to Poland with my wife Anna, who also was touched by this work of the Holy Spirit. Anna was a leader in the Roman Catholic Oasis movement and was one of hundreds of thousands who were born again through the ministry of Campus Crusade among the Oasis camps and churches. I am starting to write these memiors from Bialystok, Poland where in a few days ( on the last day of the 20th Century ) my wife will be baptized along with others who joined Christ during their Oasis days.

It was at the 1970 Chicago Christmas conference sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ at the Marriott hotel where 2000 College students from the mid-west gathered for a time of fellowship, teaching and direction. Bill Bright challenged us to pray for a specific country…

I chose Poland.

…Before we go back to the past, let’s take a look at what I am seeing in Poland 30 years later. There was and remains great fruit from the evangelism of the Seventies. Pastors, Missionaries, Organizations and even whole churches were formed. Fruit is still coming in, but among the good news there is also bad news. Many Bible churches in regression, little interest in reaching the lost among many church members or even leaders and a relatively wealthy evangelical establishment is not always eager to mingle with Poland’s poor, which represent the majority. This week in Poland we saw hundreds of thousands of youth dancing in the streets to raise money for children in need all over Poland, but what the television reporters didn’t tell us is that most of them were on drugs or liquor. My question is , who will bring them the truth if even among many Protestants, works salvation is being preached? There has also been a stolen harvest here in Poland, where by default the cults have taken those who sought the Christ of the Bible. When we talk about revival today, we mean the Bible believing churches and true believers, not those dead in their sins.

As a student leader with Campus Crusade I was priviledged to train under Conrad Koch who later was the National director of training for CCC, Marty DeBoer who was our Campus Director and Dave Sunde who now works with the Family Life ministry. Under Conrad Koch I taught the basic training class at the University of Illinois. Under Marty DeBoer I was asked to lead in the organization of  Chicago area Colleges around the University of Illinois in Chicago and area Churches for Explo ’72. Other staff members that were a great encouragement in the beginning were Steve Kovic who still serves in old Yugoslavia and Leroy Benson who served in Poland. At Explo 72  in Dallas Texas the prayers for Poland turned into action and by 1974 I was in Poland.

The Lord provided me with that proverbial dream job right after Explo 72 . I met Carl Tack who just graduated with a masters from M.I.T. and he hired me at the largest machine building plant then in the world. I was being paid more than anyone I knew and my job for the first six months was to study ten volumes written by him. After two years I was programming machines that cost millions of dollars. It was during this time that a telegram from Warsaw’s Ministry of Education informed me that I was accepted to study in Poland under a five year scholarship. I gave Carl Tack two weeks notice and was off for Poland in late September 1974. I spent that first night in Poland walking around Cracow’s old town square with ninety dollars in my pocket, were I sit today as I write this fragment almost twenty seven years later. Cracow’s beautiful town square is filled with advertisements to attend the showing of the Jesus film in every major theater in Cracow this week and other posters inviting the young to a Christian Rock concert sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ.

In Warsaw the following week I witnessed Josh McDowell speaking to a packed out crowd of Warsaw University students where hundreds indicated that they wanted to accept and trust Christ as their personal Savior. There was standing room only in the cavernous Catholic church. Josh was invited by the Minister of Education and his book on sexual behaviour is already in the hands of educators all over Poland. His message was clearly the Gospel as the information on relationships also needed to be adressed and used as a natural lead in to the Gospel. Josh was also seen on National TV in Poland and in the newspapers.

Bud Hinkson began the Campus Crusade work in Poland with many individuals who would help him of which I became one. Bud and Shirley Hinkson made numerous trips to Poland and set the foundation in Poland from the very beginning. We began talking about Poland in 1973 by mail and met in Vienna in 1974 where ideas were shared to begin work in Poland. Here we are pictured together in Lublin, Poland in the Spring of 1976.

Twenty seven years ago things were different and there was little evangelical witness in Poland. It all began with the Bible being translated by the Catholic Church in 1966. This alone caused many to re-think their faith. In the early seventies singing groups like the Continentals came into Poland and sang at Catholic Churches. They left a witness and some people were saved at that time. In the mid seventies, contact had been made with the largest Catholic youth movement in Europe and in 1976 the four spiritual laws took off like wild fire among the Oasis movement. Campus Crusade for Christ sent in it’s first team for the entire summer of 1976. The story of how this happened will be the main focus of these memoirs as I was a witness to this. I came to Poland with my guitar. Since 1970 I sang with a Christian rock group called Morning Star.
This picture of Morning Star was taken in 1973 at Trinity College.

Singing for me in Poland began in 1974, here is another picture below taken during that time in Nowa Huta – Cracow at the Ark Catholic Church built in Poland’s first Socialist housing complex against much opposition from the Communists. My future wife Anna attended this Church back then and could well have been in the crowd of thousands who stood outside where the concert was held. The second picture shows another concert I had in honor of Tadeusz Kosciuszko on the famous Kosciuszko Mount in Krakow.  In 1974 I first met Cardinal Wojtyla in Cracow, Luis Palau in Lasuanne,  and Bud Hinkson in Vienna.

In April of 1975 I was awarded with second place in the Poznan International Folk Song Festival. My singing partner, Denise Kovelan of Cleveland, Ohio won first place and we spent April singing in student clubs all over Poland ( In January 2003 Denise ( Kovelan ) Marrali of Cleveland contacted me after many years and said a CD was burned of a recording session we had in 1975 at the Cracow Student Radio Studio ) . On May 1, 1975 I was invited alone to sing at the Communist Day Festivities for all party members at the University in Cracow. I sang three Christian songs and gave a short message in Polish. The meeting organizer was grilled for two days and news spread around the Campus. The students then invited me to sing at all the Catholic Churches and Schools. I was also invited by the students to Lublin where I led Bishops and priests in singing and was led into a room with the founder of the largest Catholic Youth Movement in Europe. We agreed to work together and I was the liaison between Oaza and Campus Crusade for Christ. There were subsequent meetings to set the stage for an unusual experiment. What followed that first year in Poland were meetings in Vienna, Austria with Bud Hinkson and his staff to set up the thrust of concentration of approx. twenty five staff members who would visit Poland over the next twelve months.  In Vienna, there was some scepticism among a couple of the leading staff memebers in Vienna, as to the value of this contact in Poland. Then we all met in Yugoslavia with Bill Bright and further discussed the work in Poland with Bud Hinkson and other staff members. Here is a picture I took of Bill Bright on the run in Yugoslavia.

After Yugoslavia, I went back to Vienna with Bud Hinkson and we both were to fly out of Brussels on the same flight in early June of 1975. My road to Brussels and Bud’s were not the same. I went through France to meet with two old friends from my Church Youth Group stationed at a small Polish Mission Church near Lille in Billy Montany, France near Belgium.  I only had enough money to buy a ticket to Paris and got there with ten dollars in my pocket. I checked my bags in at the railway station and found out later that it would cost twelve dollars to get my luggage out. I spent that night sleeping under the Arch of Triumph in the center of Paris.

… More of this story continued

Ks. Franciszek Blachnicki, founder of Europe’s largest Roman Catholic youth movement. In 1975 he invited Campus Crusade for Christ through the late great Bud Hinkson to take part in future summer retreats which were held all over Poland. The first group came in 1976 and was led by Dick and Linda Sanner. The four spiritual laws were already in Polish and the good news spread like wild fire among the thousands of young campers who understood the Gospel for the first time as it was presented without heavy religious baggage. Professor Blachnicki then allowed Campus Crusade to take over the teaching at all the camps for the next two years. Blachnicki himself given a passport one day before martial law was declared in 1981 and never could come back. Blachnicki died in Germany in 1987.  However, much fruit remains today from that great shinning moment. Pastors, ministry leaders, lay leaders and even whole Bible churches were formed. Many in the Oasis movement today still use the four laws and the Jesus film which was first translated into Polish from the original English. Our entire family joined most of them again in July of 2004 at the Zakopane – Koscielisko Military Rest Home for a time of recollection and praise. Larry and Debbie Thompson developed the staff movement of Crusade in Poland beginning in 1979.

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