“I grew up on two continents, with two languages and two different branches of “religious” Christianity. I had a great childhood, but I was always longing for significance in my life and popularity with others, but I felt that those were based on culture and location. It wasn’t until college where my life took a turn when I let go of those ambitions and trusted Jesus Christ personally. He gave my life the significance I was longing for and it is not based on popularity or the place I live at. It is based on God’s love for me and it goes beyond culture, religion, continents, and languages!”
Lake Zug in the winter
A decade ago we moved from the US to church plant in Switzerland. Not too long after arriving, I led a ladies book study on Bill Hybel’s book, “Just Walk Across the Room” with ladies who were attending the International church our family had come to plant. During the course of that study, the ladies and I were working on the task of writing down and then telling each other our faith stories in 45 to 60 seconds without using “religionese”. Not an easy task for ladies from 5 continents with different church backgrounds, who all found themselves in the heart of Switzerland wanting to share the difference Jesus had made in their lives. My story is the introduction you just read and working through that study and starting out our “Swiss” journey of church planting, I had one of those moments, as I call them, where I realized that I was in over my head. Who was I kidding, attempting a church plant – with my “crazy” husband leading the way. Could I even make a difference? I didn’t feel so significant and wondered how in the world I found myself in Switzerland leading such a diverse group of ladies and trying to share the Gospel in a relevant way to an area of Europe that, at least on the surface, could care less.
Well, maybe I can share a bit more than just the introduction and let you know how we got to Switzerland. Born in Colorado to Swiss parents, I spent the first part of my life there before relocating to Switzerland where I did most of my schooling and then once again returning to Colorado for part of my college studies and during that time meeting my husband. He was the one who shared about a personal relationship with Jesus with me. Up to that point, I had considered myself “religious” and believed in God but the whole relationship aspect was new to me and I soon realized that this was what I was longing for. Jesus, not only bridging the way to the Father but also bridging my two worlds in a personal way. I ended up marrying this incredible guy and we started life and also our family together while living and working in the mountains of Colorado. I was living my dream and growing in the Lord! We started getting more and more involved with ministry at our church and our two older children were born during that time. We also kept spending time over in Switzerland visiting family and friends and during one of those extended stays, God touched our hearts for ministry over here.
At that time it was only that, a touch from God and we quickly slotted back into our life in Colorado. After some years and changes in our church, we felt God calling us into full time ministry so my husband quit his job as General Manager of a local Colorado company and became a youth pastor while attending Seminary. The moment he started with his studies, everything from church history classes to a church planting class started pointing to Switzerland. This country kept appearing over and over. My husband did a hypothetical church planting strategy and picked Zug, Switzerland and long story short, after more than 10 years of living in the mountains of Colorado, we were crazy enough to sell everything and try and live out this Seminary paper without a job waiting for us in Switzerland and without raising any support. We pretty much up and moved (thanks also to our dual citizenship). It had never been my intention to return to Switzerland and live here again but despite my reluctance, I could also clearly sense God’s calling and so, with my husband’s leading the way, we moved.
“‘Welcome to Zug’ where people from 127 nations live.”
Lake Zug, boat called “Zug”
After a difficult first 8 months in Switzerland, God answered with a great job at an International company, where he still works more than 9 years later, and also with an International English speaking church plant that was actually happening. We are now ten years into our adventure over here and we can look back on a growing church – “our” little church plant – that we actually handed off to the established church leadership a couple of years ago and that now has a new pastor; a great man of God. As I write this, we will be attending this church’s tenth anniversary service tomorrow morning! With the handing off of the church, we as a family have been given the opportunity to “run” with God in a different kind of ministry while still living over here in Switzerland. We are now part of a local Swiss German speaking church where the average age is mid-twenties and where we are part of a larger church movement across Switzerland. This allows us to share our insights gained from our International church plant and partner with a local church to share Jesus with a young generation of Swiss. We are a family on mission and our children – three of them now! – are part of this adventure and are true missionaries to their world around them, living and serving in the local language of Swiss German while speaking English at home.
The Best Family – myself, husband Cory and our three children
“Zytturm” (Time Tower), the symbol of Zug, Switzerland
But even with all these blessings and “successes” the Lord has allowed us to see and be a part of, there are still days, where I wonder what I am actually doing over here (not to mention still missing Colorado!) and how much of a difference I make… sort of like that time leading that ladies book study at the beginning of our journey here in Switzerland. I know my significance in Jesus but I still sometimes feel like I’m in over my head and even struggle to share faith in a significant way with the world around me.
I think we all have those times and doubts and you don’t even have to move away from the US to know that it’s not easy to share your faith with others and to wonder what you’re actually doing in a certain place or if your life truly makes a difference.
That’s okay. It keeps us in a place where we look away from ourselves and our own “significance” and look to the One who makes us significant down to the every detail of our lives including the context and place where we live and minister. So as a woman, if you know Jesus and are living your life with and for Him, you are significant and you have a story to tell no matter what you think on certain days or what the world around you tells you. Your life makes a difference and is significant in the context you’re in, even if you doubt it. Keep “living it and giving it”! … which, by the way, happens to be our family mantra!
So, will we always be over here? No idea! I’ve had a tendency to alternate between two continents and I’m always ready to go wherever God leads next. So we’ll just have to see… we are a family on mission and we keep going with God and growing closer to Him and closer as a family and at the moment this happens to be right here in the center of Europe.
Lake side “Promenade” in Zug, Switzerland
Sunset in Zug, Switzerland (Photo by my daughter, Livia)
Photos by: Tanya Best and family
About the Author
Tanya has been married for twenty years, has three children and a dog and lives outside the city of Zug, Switzerland. Her family considers themselves “tentmaking” missionaries who “live it and give it” in all aspects of life, work and ministry.