Dear Internet Family and Friends,
Praise the Lord!! Amazing! Incredible! And unbelievable! What a glorious trip! This had to be one of the most awesome times I have ever experienced in carrying the cross around the world! In August, with God’s help, I traveled with Billy Sieh from Waco, TX to Poland. We had the privilege of walking with tens of thousands of pilgrims across Poland! It was truly glorious!
A year ago, I received an email inviting me to be a part of an annual pilgrimage across Poland. For hundreds of years, pilgrimages have been made from all over Poland to the city of Czestochowa. The tradition still continues with many groups even walking from other locations across Europe! There are groups of tens of thousands of people who walked along the highway, through forests and fields to this city. These groups are made up of children, young and old people, babies in carriages, and even families. Soldiers from the Polish, Czech, and Slovakian Armies even had large groups, along with the Polish Navy. Each group was divided into smaller groups with a priest who would help lead the teaching and singing. Every group had a public address system that was carried like a backpack by different volunteers each day. It often stretched hundreds of yards (the length of each group) so that everyone in the group was able to hear.
We began at St. Ann’s Church at the edge of the Old City in Warsaw and began walking through the streets. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets crying, clapping, and encouraging us on. We walked ten days (about 160 miles) for our arrival in Czestochowa. For miles in front and miles in back, all you could see was people! It was one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen! As the groups began to arrive in Czestochowa, I couldn’t help but think how closely this must resemble the pilgrimages in the Bible up to Jerusalem! It was awesome to see as tens of thousands of people were arriving!
I don’t know if I have ever been with a more spiritually hungry group of people anywhere in the world! It is almost impossible to describe how open the people were and how much love there was. Each day, different priests and groups would invite me to speak with their individual group. I had the privilege of sharing about Jesus and how we can be forgiven and know Him personally. I would explain how He wants to come and live in our life and how he will join us in our pilgrimage through life; and that He will never ever leave us. Then, I would have the honor of leading that group in prayer. Most days it was constant preaching, praying, and counseling from one group to the next. It seemed like there was never a moment of rest! Even at night I would be often be speaking with people and counseling late into the night. One day, I literally preached, counseled, or prayed with people nonstop from four in the morning until midnight that night! At night, we would sleep in the fields or in barns that people along the way had volunteered for the pilgrimage. Each day I would go to sleep totally exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Oh, but what a way to go!
Not only did I walk with tens of thousands of people – as we walked into a city or village, there would often be thousands of people lining the streets! Even out in the countryside!! Many days, the cross would be covered with flowers and often, food and water would be tied onto it. People would often be crying and give me a hug and kiss, or they would touch and kiss the cross. Over and over again, I would have people thank us for coming to their group. So many would tell us, “Now, I know Jesus!” or “Your message and the cross changed my life!” One day, a young lady ran up to the cross and pulled off my sunglasses and looked into my eyes. “Yes, yes!! I heard that you have Jesus and I want Him too!”
There was so much love! Walking with these beautiful people was amazing!! The people of Poland seem to understand the cross like very few other places in this world. They are true friends of the cross! They are so humble, and open and hungry to follow Jesus! I can’t tell you how much I learned by walking with these precious people; my life was truly enriched! I only pray that God would give me grace to return one day!
Thank you!! Thanks for loving Jesus so much and for your desire to follow Him! Thanks for the love, friendship, graciousness, and example that you have shown us. Thanks for enduring with us through these last two letters (we promise the next ones won’t be so long!)! It’s your prayers and gifts that continue to send us out. Your love and encouragement is a real treasure! As we carried the cross through Poland I saw such a clear picture of how the Body of Christ is connected together. There were those who actually walked to Czestochowa on the pilgrimage and those who wanted to join us, but weren’t able. The ones who weren’t physically on the pilgrimage would line the streets and cheer us on. They would open up their fields and barns for us to sleep in. And they would give us food along the way. At times, we almost had too much to eat! They would insist that we accept their hospitality. They said, “We want to go but we can’t. You have to eat our food, and stay in our barns so that we can go with you.” What a picture! And oh, so true! There are only a few who have ever actually, physically been with our family out on the road with the cross, but so many of you have truly joined us with your precious prayers and gifts! You are truly together with us on this pilgrimage. Thanks!!
God Bless You!!