Zermatt is a world town with the Matterhorn guarding the end of the valley and making a spectacular view and a challenge for mountain lovers, whether those on the lower slopes or on the summit. It is therefore inevitable that the world comes to Zermatt and the church and chaplaincy can embrace people who understand English, who outnumber English speakers, who far outnumber the English. A few days later, these same people will be spread worldwide, not just in Great Britain, and they will be talking of and reflecting on their experiences in Zermatt. We hope to share with them the love and redemption of God by spending sometimes as little as 2 or 3 minutes with them, outside the church setting or when they are visitors to the church. Those that come to the services are a small minority of the people we meet.

During our time in Zermatt, we therefore look to engage with people of all nationalities. Alison and John Bowers who were part of the team, work closely with the 'Gideons' and brought cards with them which show how to download a Bible in your own language onto a smart phone or tablet device or computer. I have been four times as Chaplain in Zermatt and each time we find gift bags allow a quick introduction to folks whether out walking or on a ski lift. We ask God to show us the people who are open to receiving them and who are heard speaking English. We gave out over 300 of these in 2 weeks.

I bring the cellophane bags from the UK and this time we put in the Gideon app card, a church information sheet, a text card of Psalm 121: 1-2 which doubles up as a visiting card of the chaplain and 2 small bars of free-trade chocolate which we buy at the Co-op in Zermatt. It is a team production line to put the bags together in an attractive way. These bags act as a great way to meet people... almost everyone loves Swiss chocolate and people are surprised and pleased to hear of the English Church. 

We offer them as a gift from the church and a sign that we will pray for them, explaining that the Gideon Bible can be downloaded in one of over 200 languages. We had printed copies of the Bible in English but the App reaches far more people potentially.

I see the ministry in Zermatt as a wide scattering of seed to people who will spread that seed worldwide as they go home. That is very exciting and we continue to pray for those reached in this way, with a freedom in Christ as to how he will work next in their lives. We meet people who have had seeds sown and we can pray with and share with more deeply, but we send many on their way with God's blessing and the seeds of his Good News. It doesn't really matter that there is such a small regular congregation, if any. Go into all the world to preach the Gospel.. go into Zermatt to preach the Gospel to the world. God is doing his worldwide work in Zermatt by the power of his Holy Spirit. I think this model of reaching people for Christ is very exciting and an encouragement for rural churches in beauty spots who could perhaps, ask God to give a vision for tourists in their area. Just a thought, but a prayerful one!

Article and photos by Fiona Schneider (pictured in the striped t-shirt) who was Resort Chaplain at St. Peter's, Zermatt (6-20 August)

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