I dislike giving big announcements about my life. Hearing big announcements from others, like LeBron going back to the Cavs, can be a very enjoyable experience. But, personally, I’m not a huge fan of placing myself under the spotlight, although with how fast the church life rumour mill works I’m not sure how realistic an expectation that is. The honest reason is that I get stage fright when talking about myself in front of a lot of people, and I quickly get bored if I have to keep answering the same questions. For me, whenever I thought of migration, the scenario I always preferred was to simply slip out of the country and wait for people to slowly catch on that I’d moved elsewhere. But, I knew I’d offend pretty much everyone with that approach and end up in the spotlight anyway so, grudgingly, I abandoned that. So, I’ve chosen the ‘write-a-blog’ approach. A brother likened this approach to breaking up with someone via text, that made me laugh. The video training hasn’t given me an opportunity to make a proper announcement in front of everyone at a meeting, and even if I had that opportunity, I probably wouldn’t have taken it. I guess I’m psyching myself up for my marriage announcement (that is a joke, do not read anything into it!)
View of Lac Leman from Ouchy. Evian, France is across the lake on the left.
As you may have figured out by now, at the grand old age of 24 and two months, I’m migrating. I’ve actually spent the past couple of weeks trying to write this post. Trying to accurately and succinctly the whole experience into words has been much harder than I thought. Because, you see, this is something I’ve been open to but accidentally stumbled upon. By accident, I mean I wasn’t expecting it but of course it was all part of the Lord’s plan.
I didn’t wake up one morning and have a eureka experience, but it did feel like a veil-being-removed experience. One day, I just decided to search for jobs in Switzerland, as I mentioned I’d been open to migration for a while. For various reasons, I knew I wouldn’t be in London for long. After almost two decades living in this monster of a city, I was ready to try something else. Almost immediately, I saw something which caught my eye and I just had the inner peace to apply, so I did. A few hours later, I received an email inviting me to a Skype interview. Everything seemed to proceed at a measured pace after that. I felt really good about this job and I knew, deep down, that I’d get it but it was still a huge relief when it was officially confirmed. It was even better, when they agreed to allow me to start in August, so that I could still attend the Poland Conference.
So why Switzerland? Well I was just answering the Lord’s call. I knew that I wanted to migrate to where there was a need. I wanted to function in a smaller local church and just give myself totally to being useful there. There are around 100 saints in Switzerland, which has a population of about 8 million. The saints there have been praying for a while for saints to migrate there. I didn’t know that at the time when I applied for the job but now that I do know, I’m even more excited. Even though I’m walking into a situation with a lot of unknown variables, I’m excited because I see something of the Lord. I see the need, I’m touched by it and I’m ready to respond to it.
View of Lac Leman from Montreaux
I’ll be working in Lausanne right next to the campuses of two of Switzerland’s top universities. The saints have been burdened to set up Christian clubs but it’s difficult because there is already an established nationwide Christian club. Switzerland is a very organised and orderly country. While forward-thinking and innovative, when it comes to people’s personal lives, it’s really difficult to change the established way of doing things. It’s been said to me many times that the Swiss are very private and independent people. However, if you’re able to break through and gain their trust, they will be the most loyal and dearest friends you’ll ever have. I see this in the saints; they are definitely some of the most exercised and loving saints I’ve met. Now, I’m just burdened for the Lord to gain even more. This is what I’m attracted to; the Lord working in this incredible country.
This is not just about Switzerland though. There are needs everywhere; Germany needs saints, Belgium needs saints, Sweden needs saints, and Portugal needs saints too. For the past couple of years, the UK has been blessed with steady stream of saints migrating from Boston and this has been great. But, already, some of them are married. Then they’ll be settled and maybe even have kids. Just through these situations, and no fault of their own, international migration becomes less attractive. I’ve found it difficult enough to deal with the practical implications of moving countries, I can imagine how difficult it would be with kids. It would be great if there were more saints open to migrate directly to mainland Europe, but that’s just me musing outloud. It won’t be easy. In Switzerland the easiest route for non-Europeans is probably through attending university. Through a bachelors, or post-graduate you’ll be able to be on the campuses and, afterward, it’ll be easier to get a job in Switzerland since you’ll have some knowledge of the language. Switzerland has four national languages: Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansh. In many of the major cities, such as Zurich (German), Berne (German), Geneva (French) and Lausanne (French), English is widely spoken and is often people’s second language. I’ve been informed, although I can’t verify, that in Geneva it is possible to live comfortably for many years without needing to learn French. So if learning a new language is a problem, then one could always head there.
Blending with the bros at château de Gruyeres.
Recently, I was asked if I would miss London. I was quick to give an unequivocal no but now, I’m a little more measured. I will definitely miss the saints, after all many of them shepherded me in different ways when I came into the church life, but beyond that I doubt I’ll miss much. London will probably always be home, but it’s time to move on. The more you’re attached to a place, the harder it is for the Lord to use you in other places. I’m sure I’ll see many of you at various conferences and blendings and if you’d like to visit, I’m only a £50 one way plane ticket away. I’ll try to update my blog regularly because Switzerland is a very beautiful, fascinating and, sometimes, extremely frustrating country. I’ll definitely be writing something about how to get through the many forms you have to fill in to get a social security number, open a bank account and yes, even buy a prepaid sim card (they require ID before they’ll sell you one). In the meantime I hope to see some of you in Poland.
Au revoir et beaucoup de grâce