Situated in the middle of Europe, Poland represents in many ways the crossroads of the eastern and western parts of the continent. Poland emerged as a nation around the end of the tenth century A.D. At the time it was the largest nation in Europe. Over the course of the next millennium two of Poland’s neighbors, the Kingdom of Prussia (modern-day Germany) and the Russian Empire, developed into two of the world’s superpowers. In 1795 these two countries divided Poland between themselves and removed it from the world map. Following World War I, Poland regained its independence as a sovereign nation and became the ninth-largest country in Europe.
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union both invaded Poland during World War II. Some 6 million Poles—half of whom were Jewish—died during the war. At the close of the war, a Communist government was installed in Poland behind the Soviet iron curtain. In 1989 free elections ushered in a new government, which began the fall of Communism in Europe.
More than half of Poland is agricultural or woodlands. Because so much of the country is undeveloped, Poland is a haven for many animals and plants that long ago disappeared from the rest of Europe. Some of the animals found here include the wisent (European bison), brown bear, gray wolf, and moose. Some 25 percent of European migratory birds breed each summer in Poland’s wetlands.
Adventists in Poland
Christianity was rooted in Poland from its very beginning. The first king of Poland, Mieszko I, became a Christian around A.D. 966 and formed Poland as a sovereign Christian state. The Roman Catholic Church is still a powerful force in Poland.
Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox
ADVENTIST TO POPULATION RATIO
*General Conference Office of Archives and Statistics, 146th Annual Statistical Report
In 1888 two Adventists, J. Laubhan and H. Szkubowicz, moved from the Crimea in western Russia to eastern Poland to start an Adventist congregation. Three years later they opened a church in Zarnówka. The Adventist Church struggled to gain state recognition, but continued to grow. For a while, all church buildings had to be privately held.
During World War II, Germany and the Soviet Union outlawed the Adventist Church. All church properties were taken away and some members were sent to Siberia. Following the war the Adventist Church was reestablished and started to grow again.
The fall of Communism brought full religious freedom for the Adventist Church. While this newfound religious freedom is good, the nation has grown quite secular. The Adventist Church has barely grown in total membership over the past 15 years. To help the local churches reach out into their communities, the Adventist Church decided to provide a place of spiritual growth where its members can strengthen their relationships with God and introduce others to Him. The place is called Camp Zatonie.
Today Camp Zatonie reaches several hundred children each year. But the Polish government is demanding that the camp’s buildings be brought up to modern standards. It’s a major financial hardship on the some 5,700 Adventist believers in Poland. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help complete the renovations and make the camp even more useful as a way to share God’s love.