Switzerland’s spiritual inheritance

When we hear about Switzerland’s spiritual inheritance we usually think of the Rütli oath, our flag, national anthem and our constitution. But there are also places, persons and events which first enabled or strongly influenced the spiritual inheritance. During a recent prayer tour we were at three of these places. This tour, initiated by Dave Olson, took us to places which were and still are signifiant for the spreading of the Gospel in Switzerland. All over the world God is in the process of re-opening forgotten and clogged „wells“ or „spiritual springs“, so that they can once again become a blessing. These are places where for example during centuries there was constant prayer, such as Herrenhut (Germany) or Bangor (Ireland). For centuries these „wells“ disappeared from Christians’ sight and were spiritually „dried out“. Places where something took place where God was glorified and his kingdom was able to spread. Our stations were St. Maurice, Beatus caves, Flüeli Ranft.

St. Maurice in the Valais:

In the third century the emperor of the time sent a Theban Legion (Egyptian soldiers) to present-day Switzerland. On the one hand they were to quiet down the rebels and on the other hand torture and murder Christians. These Thebans were themselves Coptic Christians who refused to worship other (Roman)  idols or to persecute and murder Christians. The leader of this legion was a man named Maurice. The Romans then began to torture and murder every tenth soldier of this legion in order to intimidate and bring around the others. They still refused and thus in the end the whole legion (6,600 men) was tortured and murdered. Through these martyrs, the first large evangelistic wave was born in the region and far beyond. Their dedication pushed open a door for the Gospel in our country. They were absolutely faithful and loyal to the emperor but in the end they had to obey God more than men! They had Jesus’ attitude, lion and lamb in one.

Beatus caves on the Lake of Thun:

In the 6th century Beatus, who was probably from Ireland, came to the region of the Lake of Thun. He was a disciple of Jesus and traveled around preaching the Gospel. That was very difficult in this region where people were rather closed. This was due to their great fear of a dragon who lived in the caves and caused fear and trembling in the whole region. When Beatus heard this he set out to battle the dragon. When he found it he approached courageously, armed only with a stick and the name of Jesus. When the name of Jesus was mentioned, the dragon „shot“ into the air and landed in the lake, where he drowned. From then on, Beatus lived in the cave and spread the Gospel. There was a second wave of evangelization in the whole region. This story reminds us of the battle between David and the giant Goliath. David likewise came armed only with the certainty that he was „battling“ in the name of the Lord. But that was totally sufficient for the victory!

Brother Klaus, Flueli Ranft:

The life of Niklaus of Flue, known as Brother Klaus, mirrors to some extent the Swiss Christians. Driven by his deep longing for a relationship with God, he lived the last 20 years of his life as a hermit in Flueli Ranft. He lived in one room without any furniture. He slept on the floor, eating and drinking nothing during these 20 years until his death. But he took the Lord’s supper every day. It is also surprising that Brother Klaus was illiterate. He could neither read nor write. Basically he had nothing „except“ God. Today we have, at least partially, a huge amount of aids, strategies, beautiful conference centers, but God is absent. Brother Klaus was a magnet. People came to him from near and far to ask for advice and encouragement. What was this man’s secret? His deep fellowship with God and his resulting prayer life. Brother Klaus was a spiritual „watchman“ whose went out into all areas of society.

What do persons and events in these three locations have to say to us today? God seeks today, as then, persons who are willing to give their best in their profession but who also know that ultimately they must obey God more than man when necessary. Even if it costs one’s job. This is a matter of dedication first to God and then of course also to men.

We must again carry the gospel out to people. “Switzerland in motion“ is an advertising slogan from the soccer championship of 2008 in our country. The church (congregation) must get moving again, out of the beautiful meeting places, out to the street where people are. We must dare to to come courageously in the name of our lord Jesus Christ against the giants in the form of fear of man.

And we must again find a quiet place with God, fighting through the jungle of all our distractions. We must ask him for a deep longing for fellowship. Not so much to know about him but to know him. From this fellowship to hear, pray, see and act.

Dear Father, help us in this. We ask in the name of your son Jesus Christ. Amen!

Werner Woiwode


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