Sharing the good news in Switzerland
Posted on August 16, 2017 by Jon Trotter
Esther and Don Clymer (right) share coffee time with Swiss friends Walter and Regina. Photo courtesy of author
By Don Clymer
“I took a walk one morning,” stated a woman to me as she was saying good-bye. “I asked Jesus to walk beside me…we spoke with each other. It was very therapeutic.”
I had just helped lead a four-day seminar on my book A Spacious Heart at Bienenberg Mennonite Biblical Seminary near Basel, Switzerland. During afternoon sessions I directed guided prayer exercises designed to draw people into a closer relationship with God.
The activity to which she was referring is called active imagination, where we invite people with whom we have a conflict, or people, like Jesus, from whom we need encouragement, to sit with us or to walk with us for a chat.
“Thank you so much for your openness and vulnerability this week,” said a man with tears in his eyes. “I was very encouraged to deal with my shadow side.” He was referring to a session in which I urged the participants to “invite your demons to tea,” while sharing my own proclivities to judgment and projection. My approach was eye opening for many of the 50 in attendance from Germany and Switzerland who seldom hear such personal stories from a church leader.
I wasn’t sure if my writing and work on spirituality in the United States would connect with the people of Europe, but the loneliness, brokenness and hunger for a deeper relationship with God is as evident here as at home. Sharing the good news here in Europe is helping people develop a closer relationship to God and helping them to return to what God created them to be, rather than what the outer world forced on them.
It is also helping them to believe that they are “beloved of God,” created in God’s image and likeness, not in the image and likeness of the culture that surrounds us.
Don leads a seminar on A Spacious Heart. Courtesy of author
Esther and I attended numerous Mennonite, Methodist and Reformed churches, speaking in some, and building relationships in all. We connected with hundreds of Swiss and German Christians, interacting with them and their faith journeys.
One of the highlights of our year was translating a gospel play from Swiss-German to English. The play, in the style of Ted Swartz’ “Fish Eyes,” humorously recounts the bewilderment of Jesus’ disciples Thomas and Matthew in hearing Jesus’ hard teachings.
Esther supported our year in Switzerland financially by working half time as a home healthcare nurse.
We are grateful that VMMissions has supported us in this interesting, life-giving adventure of getting to know hundreds of wonderful people, and sharing (in our own special way) the good news with them.