By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
HUNTINGTOWN, Md.––The sound of accordions, trumpets and clarinets, from bands like Lenny Gomulka & The Chicago Push, and Marian Lush filled the church auditorium at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Huntington last month. The group danced, laughed, learned about Polish customs and ate Kielbasas, Pierogies, and sweet rolls.
The Polka party was a fundraiser for Megan Sanford, a member of Emmanuel, who is preparing to minister in Rzeszow, Poland with the goal of training and mobilizing local church leaders to start church planting movements.
Sanford is working through Pioneers, a missionary organization based in Orlando, Florida.
“Our goal is to train and equip local believers in evangelism/outreach in order to start church planting movements in Rzeszow, PL,” Sanford explained.
Sanford had her first missions experience in 2002 with a church youth group. In 2011 she traveled to Haiti for a short term missions trip.
“When I got back, I felt that God maybe calling me to missions,” Sanford said. But she didn’t act on this feeling right away, she spent a lot of time in prayer asking God to open up the doors if this was His will for her life. She didn’t know what people group she was supposed to reach.
After much prayer Sanford spoke with Tripp Causey, an elder in the church who directs the missions ministries. He directed her to Pioneers. She attended a church partnership forum last year at the Florida offices. “God just blew the doors open,” she said. “By the end of the conference I was invited to Pioneers candidate orientation program.”
At candidate orientation program last May, Sanford felt Poland was the place she was being called.
She travelled to Rzeszow and ministered for two weeks in October and felt affirmation that this was where God was calling. “I was at peace and Poland feels like home” Sanford said.
Sanford said that the country of Poland has less than .2% of evangelical believers. The population is predominantly Catholic, though Sanford said many claim the faith only because of family and tradition. “To be Polish is to be Catholic,” she said. Many don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and are going through the motions, she said.
“The Catholic Church looks suspiciously at evangelicals,” Sanford explained. There are many cult groups growing in the city.
Some families even turned out relatives who converted to Protestantism.
Sanford is still raising support but plans to be on the field by September.
She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and worked as a parole officer for over three years. Currently, she works with children with behavioral and mental health issues.
At the church, Sanford enjoys teaching children. In her spare time she enjoys outside sports, hiking and reading.