Evangelist to Cheer Up Town near Auschwitz

I’ve often wondered what it must be like to live near somewhere like Oswiecim, the Polish town forever known to history by its German name, Auschwitz. A bit heavy, I’d always supposed. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, thanks to a US pastor. ASSIST reports (links added):

Pastor Mike MacIntosh, the senior pastor of Horizon Christian Fellowship in San Diego, California, is planning again to bring his “message of life” to a Polish town close to Auschwitz, the infamous “City of Death.”

The American pastor is returning again to Wisla from July 16-26 for his unique Festival of Life outreach. His previous Festival of Life was in July 2004 and included clowns, musicians, Kids Games, seminars and even an outreach to alcoholics.

…The horror of Auschwitz still is stamped in the consciousness of much of the world, but at last some good news has come to the area that hasn’t seen too much of it, in the form of this loving Festival of Life led by Mike MacIntosh.

[MacIntosh] went on to say, “Festival of Life 2006 is building on the 2004 Festival. This time the people caught the vision for what our ministry does. The City officials have agreed to install 10.000 new seats to accommodate the crowds this year. We are hoping to set the vision for thousands more to participate in evangelism.”

But that’s not all:

…Now Henryk E. Krol, who runs a chain of Christian radio stations in Poland, including one in Auschwitz, will be one of the main organizers of the upcoming festival.

ASSIST gave some further details about that last year:

Henry Krol, the head of the Radio CCM network, said in an interview at the NRB 2003 in Nashville, Tennessee, “Our first transmitter of Radio CCM started its operation in 1998 and the antenna is mounted on a chimney of a chemical factory where the poison gas, Zyklon-B, was manufactured and used by Nazis in the death camp. We are a voice of reconciliation in such a symbolic place.”

Actually, this had been reported on UCB at the time – I tipped off  the Guardian Diary column (this was before my blogging days), which ran a short piece on it. However, there’s more to the Evangelical symbolic appropriation of Poland’s historic tragedies than just this:

Krol, who along with his family were deeply in involved in Billy Graham’s historic visit to Poland in the 1970s, said that another of his radio stations is based in Gliwice and the radio antenna is placed on a historical timber radio tower, the exact place where World War II started with so-called Gliwice German provocation.

“Our radio studio is based in a building where, for over 40 years, the communist party regional headquarters was placed. The radio president sits in a room used once by the first secretary of the Communist party,” Krol added.

The “Festival of Life” will be coming a couple of months after a massive Evangelical campaign in Rwanda timed to coincide with the anniversary of the 1994 atrocities. I blogged on that here. Horizon Christian Fellowship is affiliated with Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel network of mega-churches; I’ve noted some of Calvary’s overseas evangelistic activities here and here.