For many years, there have been an incredible bunch of people in Switzerland, living out the values of 24-7 Prayer and striving after prayer, mission and justice.
Manor House was the first 24-7 community, established in 2012. Then, in 2016, Christian and Stefanie Wittwer co-founded the second Swiss community, Stadtkloster Thun, based in Thun, Switzerland.
Here, Christian and Stefanie share some of their heart:
What’s your link to 24-7 Prayer?
We love 24-7 Prayer and its vision and values. In our first community, Manor House, we wanted to be part of a network of some kind and we saw that 24-7 offered the relationships, support and structure that we were looking for.
When we founded our second and current community, “Stadtkloster Thun”, we knew that it would also be a 24-7 Community. And now, we are also coaching a few people who want to start communities of their own too.
How did you get to be where you are now?
A group of us were part of the Manor House community in Switzerland, and we felt God calling us to step out and begin a new community; one which would enable a prayer room in Thun to continue, which would probably have been closed otherwise.
The community also enables us to share part of our living space with refugees, helping them to integrate in Swiss culture.
How do you foster and grow community?
We live together, sharing a house with another family and four young refugees – all together with a common spiritual rhythm. Each group (the two families and the young men) have their own apartment in the house, but we regularly share meals together.
What does prayer, mission and justice look like for you?
It’s about being willing to take the whispers of God seriously, and being prepared to follow.
When we felt God was telling us to open our homes and families for these young men who had fled their country, we chose to listen to his voice over the voices of people who were questioning us loudly about whether that was a wise thing to do.
We have watched our family grow to accommodate these young men with their different culture, watched with tenderness and love as our daughters gain big brothers, knowing that God has blessed us richly. And these newly gained brothers have, of course, made a huge impact on us too.
Where do you feel like God is calling you to right now as a community?
Often it’s easier to focus on what we are not called to do – living in an area where we’re confronted with broken people every day, it can feel like it’s easy to get lost in the problems of the world.
But right now we feel like our task is to support our children and those in our community; giving them love and guidance and helping them become the people God has created them to be. We believe that God will lead us into specific things as time goes by – but all in his good timing.
What are the highlights and challenges of where you are at right now?
The young men who live with us have been in Switzerland for less than two years and have learned German well; they’ll be learning trades soon. We have so much to praise God for with their story.
One challenge we have is that the house we are renting belongs to the city council which means they have a say in what happens. At the moment, they are considering shutting down our prayer room, which has been going for almost 10 years, as they have told us that it’s illegal! This is because it’s located in the cellar of our house, which should only be used for storing food, officially.
What’s your advice on growing as a community?
Have a purpose beyond your own fellowship - allow God to bring people together based on His calling in their lives. Don’t expect your circle of friends to become the community, but expect the members God calls to the community to become your friends.
Let go of your own expectations – don’t expect perfection and trust God to know what is best for you. And of course, pray hard – pray a lot together!
What is your vision for the years ahead?
We hope and pray that we will see people’s lives changed by God’s love. We also want to develop our prayer room further, as a way for people who don’t yet know God to discover prayer.
We’re also excited about our new A300 course, where we are hoping and praying to see 50 intentional communities founded across Europe in the next 20 years.
Find out more about the A300 course and about Stadtkloster Thun.
This is the second part of our Community Roots blog series, unpacking global stories from 24-7 Communities. Find out more on the series homepage.