Updated: Feb 9
By: Justin Hanneken
Teaching English as a second language was largely-unfamiliar to me until the Summer of 2019. As I learned about a ministry in Poland, called Graceland - it became abundantly clear to me how vital this type of service to youth can be an outreach for the Gospel! Graceland Ministries is reaching youth & adults in the heart of Krakow, specifically people who never have the time or inclination to engage in a new Christian community.
In Summer 2019, Ends Cycling pedaled across Iowa in the 47th-annual RAGBRAI Tour. Each night of that tour, our cyclists & support staff learned from Steve Dorey, who is on the board of Graceland, as he shared testimonies of God’s work through Graceland. Praying & cycling for the youth of Poland, those 7 days, and seeing thousands of dollars raised for their work - we give God glory for how He connected us - and looked forward to doing more.
A short-term project was in the
works, as Ends Cycling was so excited to take a small team for 10 days to work with this special ministry. When Covid-19 hit, that trip was canceled but the ministry pressed on and their work with young people moved to in-classroom meetings to Zoom [video conferencing]. In that, we found out that we could still be involved!
Brian B, David W and I recently followed up our Iowa Bike Ride 2019 with a virtual short-term project helping our partners, Graceland and getting to know the youth we pedaled for!
David Wehrle (Outreach Tour Coordinator) had this to say about his experience,
“The Lord has put global youth, and particularly students, on my heart since I was first called to the mission field 30 years ago. Graceland is doing a critical work with students in Krakow - over 20% of that major city's population of 800,000. In a time when many have become disenchanted with the Church, Graceland is using an innovative English-teaching ministry and cafe to influence Poland's next generation of leaders for Jesus. I have been blessed by this opportunity to work with Jillian and engage students in small groups and one-on-one. It takes me back to the days I was teaching English in Ukraine and Russia. I feel like a missionary again! I have new hope for the future of the Kingdom because of Graceland.”
Brain Burgan (Finance Coordinator) shared his perspective on helping with adult & youth classes with Graceland,
“The past few weeks I have had the opportunity to join Graceland through a virtual short term project. I have been a guest in two classes, one with teenagers and the other with adults that are learning English. Through learning new vocabulary words and how to define / explain / describe the word I have been able to build relationships and share experiences. It has been fun to have one-on-one interaction. God has opened a door to stretch me personally and to come alongside others.”
We are so thankful for the work Graceland is doing with these precious young people. I, for one, was impressed with how incredibly polite they are, and how they seem to really value their education and take their studies seriously. I look forward to continuing helping out with Graceland beyond the original 3-week commitment. When you see God at work, you can’t help but join Him!