Summer after summer Geneva receives an important number of tourists from several countries of the Arabian Peninsula. Certain wealthy families from the region come to Geneva to profit from the peace and security for their vacations. Some local Christians have had opportunities to speak to the Middle easterners about the Gospel.
A young Saudi woman who teaches religion was very intrigued by the crosses which she saw on churches in Geneva. She even took several photos of them. When two Christian women started a conversation with her she expressed her perplexity: “Why do people in Europe have the freedom to purchase a Qur’an if they want but in our country it is impossible to buy a Bible. Another young man from Saudi Arabia expressing a different perspective told the Christians: “We live in an open world, if I want a Bible I can find it through the internet.”
A group of Christians from an Arabic background has had excellent contacts with the Arab tourists who were walking in the parks and quais beside Lake Geneva. In 2005 during the course of one month they contacted 600 men and women of which 200 heard a detailed explanation of the Gospel. About 30 people indicated that they would like to know much more about Jesus. The last evening of this special summer project several Arabic speaking Christians sang Arabic Christian songs and many of the tourists stopped to listen. After listing to the Christians for a long time an older Syrian man with with a throat cancer allowed the Christians to pray for him.
He left them carrying a New Testament.
After the death of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, who loved to visit Geneva, many of the city’s great hotels were concerned that the Arab tourists might go elsewhere. Indeed Geneva is not the only tourist destination in Europe for the Saudis, Qataris and others from the Gulf countries. However even if the number of tourists does decline in the future, the Muslim presence in Geneva will probably continue to be strong. Over 180 different nationalities are present in the city including 35 official representations from Muslim countries (Consulats, etc). There are two mosques and several Islamic institutes along with many North African Muslims and numerous illegal Muslim immigrants from Sub Sahran Africa. Christians in Geneva find themselves before significant opportunities to live among Muslims and to proclaim their faith to them. Several churches in the city have started to make specific efforts to reach the Muslim community.
Prayer guide for Geneva, Switzerland:
* May Christians in Geneva be able to see the opportunities which are available to them to proclaim Christ to the Muslims visiting and living in their city.
* Pray for those Muslims who do convert that God would help them to become real disciples in living Christian communities. Christians need to devote time, energy and much thought to discipling new converts from Muslim backgrounds.
* Pray for the development of ministries in Geneva and many other parts of Europe where there is a significant presence of Muslim tourisms and inhabitants. Native Europeans and Arab Christians all have their place in such ministries.
Background on Switzerland (World Factbook)
The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance among three cantons. In succeeding years, other localities joined the original three. The Swiss Confederation secured its independence from the Holy Roman Empire in 1499. Switzerland’s sovereignty and neutrality have long been honored by the major European powers, and the country was not involved in either of the two World Wars. The political and economic integration of Europe over the past half century, as well as Switzerland’s role in many UN and international organizations, has strengthened Switzerland’s ties with its neighbors. However, the country did not officially become a UN member until 2002. Switzerland remains active in many UN and international organizations, but retains a strong commitment to neutrality.
Economy of Switzerland
Switzerland is a peaceful, prosperous, and stable modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP larger than that of the big Western European economies. The country’s largest banks suffered sizable losses in 2008-09, leading its largest bank to accept a government rescue deal in late 2008. Switzerland has also come under increasing pressure from individual neighboring countries.
Population: 7,925,517 (July 2012 est.) World rank #95
Life Expectancy at Birth: 81.17 years. World rank #17
Ethnic groups: German 65%, French 18%, Italian 10%, Romansch 1%, other 6%
Religions: Roman Catholic 41.8%, Protestant 35.3%, Orthodox 1.8%, other Christian 0.4%, Muslim 4.3%, other 1%, unspecified 4.3%, none 11.1%
Languages: German (official) 63.7%, French (official) 20.4%, Italian (official) 6.5%, Serbo-Croatian 1.5%, Albanian 1.3%, Portuguese 1.2%, Spanish 1.1%, English 1%, Romansch 0.5%, other 2.8%
Note: German, French, Italian, and Romansch are all national languages, but only the first three are official languages
School life expectancy: 16 years
Switzerland – Video
Sights and Sounds of Switzerland