The 20-year-old we’d come to visit invited us into her family’s apartment. We entered a wide doorway and found ourselves in a long, dark, concrete hall. About six white doors lined the hall – they reminded me of freezer doors. The area looked more like a food locker than an apartment hallway. When the young woman opened her door, however, we stepped into a teeny apartment that was pleasant to behold – bright white ceiling, blue and yellow tiles on the wall, and coordinated blue tiles on the kitchen cupboards. Once again we were treated to a cup of strong coffee (complete with grounds that settled to the bottom and stayed there) while discussion about the girl’s request for financial assistance was held.
When the visit ended, we walked to a nearby building that bore a sharp contrast to the apartments. Inside we found nearly a dozen children either playing games with adults or on a computer. This is a government-funded program for children in this housing development. No one over the age of 15 is allowed inside in order to provide safe refuge for children whose lives are affected by domestic abuse or alcoholism. These kids can come here anytime for help with their schoolwork, for fun and games, or for a hot meal. It’s here that weekly children’s Bible-based programs have been held in the past. Sadly, a lack of staff means they’re not happening anymore.
We walked past the dismal apartments again when we returned to our car. I couldn’t shake the feeling of darkness and hopelessness in that place. And I wondered how many children leave there to go on to live productive and healthy lives. The odds are stacked against them.
At six o’clock we had to be a local church because Gene had been asked to lead a Bible study. It was his first time speaking through a translator. A small group gathered – perhaps a dozen precious Polish folk. The prayer time that followed was sweet – one after the other, they stood and prayed on behalf of their families and city. There was scarcely a second or two between prayers – it was as though they couldn’t wait to talk with God. What a privilege to worship God with His children on this side of the world.