Wengen, Switzerland – August, 1989
On a crystal clear bright blue sky day, I took the train up to 11000 feet to the Jungfrau mountain with Joanie, one of the tour leaders. She and her husband started a drug and alcohol rehab center for men in England called Yeldall Manor. She told us some amazing stories of men receiving Christ as their personal Savior and being delivered from addiction to alcohol or drugs and having transformed lives. After her husband died of cancer, she felt led to minister to other widows so she speaks to ladies’ groups all over Great Britain and the USA.
On top of the mountain, they had skiing and dog sledding, but I just watched. I had a hard time staying warm and got lightheaded and dizzy from the altitude, so we went to the cafe and drank hot chocolate. Then we went inside the ice palace to see these incredible ice carvings. Rather than take the train, we had fun hiking back down the mountain to Wengen. We made frequent stops along the way to enjoy the beauty and share what God has been teaching us over the years. The fellowship was rich combined with the spectacular alpine beauty. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2 KJV). Thank You, Lord, for such a wonderful day of refreshment.
On our one rainy day, a couple invited me to go with them to Lucerne. Friends of theirs, a retired German pastor and his wife, also joined us. Pastor Will speaks excellent English, has a great sense of humor, and loves the Lord. When he was a teen, he was forced to live in a Nazi youth camp and moved from country to country every year during World War 2. But God’s ways are higher than man’s ways, and he received Christ as his Savior during a secret Salvation Army meeting. God plucking him out of the pit. A year later, many of his friends were killed in an air raid, but he was spared when he jumped in a hole he had just dug. Now he smuggles Bibles into eastern Europe. He said Russia and Hungary are wide open, but Romania is suffering terribly. He showed me photos of a crowded Baptist church in Russia and let me take a photo of his photo to show the folks back home.
After dinner, we all met again for a time of fellowship, speakers, and singing. One evening, they asked me to share my testimony and tell of some opportunities I have had to share the gospel over the years. Another evening, we watched a wonderful film made in the Swiss Alps called Treasure of the Snow by Patricia St. John about forgiveness. (See my recent post on the life of Patricia St. John, RN)
On Sunday, one of the men who also speaks some German, went with me to the Protestant church in town to worship. I was disappointed in the cold formal worship service. I could understand the German prayer and hymns, but not the sermon. We then returned to the hotel for the English worship service led by Peter Letchford for the tour group. I was blessed by his continuing message on the gates of Jerusalem. We had a delicious midday dinner in the hotel dining room and then strolled around the village and rested the remainder of the day.
It’s fun to speak German again, but I’m rusty. My German has come in handy a few times when I’ve been with the different groups on the day trips, but many Swiss speak excellent English. They are required to learn German, French, Italian, and English when they attend the public schools. Their fluency in many languages puts most Americans to shame.
Another day I enjoyed visiting Ballenberg, a Swiss open-air museum village with houses from previous centuries. It was fascinating to watch a man make a huge vat of Swiss cheese over the fire, and a woodcarver an intricate horse. Our picnic in the woods with other single ladies in the tour group was delightful.
Hiking through the lush green valley beside the river to Trummelbach Falls another day was delightful. We paused to watch the farmers rake freshly cut hay by hand who reminded me of the Amish back home. On the last day, I visited a real castle on Lake Thun. I had fun pretending I was a damsel in distress hanging out the castle window, but no prince charming showed up. The boat ride back on the lake was a relaxing way to end my wonderful two weeks in the Swiss Alps.
After breakfast the next morning, we all boarded the train back to the Zurich airport. I could not hold back my tears when I said goodbye to everyone before we boarded the plane. I know I will probably not see most of these dear brothers and sisters until we are worshiping God together in heaven. I am glad that goodbye is not forever for fellow believers.
I had the joy of meeting Joanie again the next year when she was in the Midwest USA for a visit. I googled Yeldall Manor and was thrilled to see it looks like the Christian rehab center is still going strong. God wonderfully answered my prayer to let me meet other Christian single ladies.
In a recent prayer letter from missionaries in Romania, they reported wide open doors to share the gospel in high school assemblies with hundreds of young people who are hungry to hear the good news about Jesus Christ. It will be wonderful to learn in heaven how God used the Bibles Pastor Will smuggled to them for years when they did not have the freedom to worship.
I heard on Christian radio that over 7000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2015. We need to pray for persecuted believers around the world to be strong in Him. May we all keep “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).