Journeyman asks friends to read Bible, lives transform

Cultural Christianity seemed like a huge roadblock in International Mission Board missionary Sarah’s ministry. She encountered people every day in Poland who affirmed they were “Christian.”  

They went to church — well…mostly, but definitely on a holiday. They esteemed Jesus, even going as far as wearing cross jewelry or hanging one in their homes. But when Sarah asked, “Why did Jesus die?”, the question stumped them. 

“I didn’t really know what to do,” Sarah confessed about the dilemma of offending or even alienating someone by questioning their Christianity.  

Cultural Christianity seemed like a roadblock to Sarah when she first arrived in Poland as an IMB Journeyman, young adults who serve for 2-3-year terms. She began asking Christians to read the Bible with her and lives began to change as they discovered what it means to really follow Jesus. IMB Photo

When the Journeyman thought about it, cultural Christianity here wasn’t that much different from her home, back in Kentucky. The comparison was especially true among young adults who identified as Christian but really didn’t give much thought about God — for or against. During her college years, Sarah watched several lives change by simply reading Scripture. So, she asked Polish young adults to read the Bible with her. 

“To say you’re a Christian, that means you believe what’s in the Bible. So let’s see what’s in the Bible,” she reasoned with her Polish friends. She knew God’s Word can convict, as well as teach. All she had to say was, “Here it is. This is what Jesus said,” then stand back and watch. 

Reading the Bible, however, was out of the ordinary for most in Poland. Many don’t own one. The Bible was something only the priest or religious leader read and interpreted for the people, if it was used at all.  

The first time Sarah shared a Bible passage with Wiktoria, the Pol became emotional. She’d never heard anyone use the Bible out loud in a regular conversation. It blew Wiktoria’s mind that she could not only pick up a Bible and read it but apply the Scripture to her own life. 

“It was like this warmth spread all over me,” Wiktoria said after reading the Bible for herself. “It was something I never experienced before. It was the first time someone proposed to study the Bible.” 

Wiktoria wasn’t new to church. She grew up going with her parents. However, the first time she heard the gospel was via a YouTube video. She responded to the invitation to make Jesus her personal Savior. She wanted to know more, though, so she googled “Baptist church near me.” That’s where she met Sarah and learned to study the Bible. 

Natasha and Wiktoria talk about the Book of Hebrews over coffee. Sarah has had opportunities with both young women to read and discuss the Bible. IMB Photo

As the two read Scriptures together, each passage brought a new wonderment and awe of discovery for Wiktoria. She couldn’t believe her new friend, Sarah, wanted to know her thoughts on what the passage meant. Sarah helped her put it in the context of the original author and heed the Holy Spirit’s nudges.  

The missionary showed how to apply Scripture to the hard things in life simply by being present in the lives of those she reads with. It’s something that takes a lot of time. 

“It’s really a lot of everyday boring decisions of reading a passage and asking, ‘How does this speak to a person who is [spiritually] lost?’” Sarah explained. “Seeing someone discover the goodness of God or go from very little interaction with the Bible to understanding the Old and New Testaments are connected is a joy.” 

The Journeyman currently reads the Bible with several young adults. They don’t skip verses or chapters, allowing the readers to see how God keeps His promises and desires a relationship with His children. 

“Each time I meet up with Sarah, I have such a strong fire for God,” Wiktoria said.   

The Polish woman discovered a growing burden for teenagers in Poland to really know Jesus on a personal level. Her passion for sharing what she has learned is laced in her plea for prayer for those stuck in the same “cultural Christianity” she experienced.  

Sarah nodded and smiled at her friend’s revelation that resembles the biblical model of discipleship and multiplication. 

“It’s what God imagined,” Sarah explained. “It’s what He told us about in the Bible.”