As we left Estonia, and headed for Geneva we were transitioning from strangers to a team, into a family. At the heart of that transformation was the Spirit of God, who miraculously cultivated a bond of trust between us. That bond, cemented in travel, learning, and service together allowed us, as a family would, to share the hard parts of our stories with one another.
I was amazed by God’s work within our AD family.
They loved each other so well. They cherished each other’s testimonies, they stewarded the hearts of their friends, and they prayed into each other’s lives boldly. It was powerfully palpable. You could almost touch the Spirit. Grab hold of it, even.
Some people call these Thin Places; where the distance between Heaven and Earth gets blurry. The poet Kathleen Raine captures the mystery in her poem The Wilderness,
“Yet I have glimpsed the bright mountain behind the mountain,
Knowledge under the leaves, tasted the bitter berries red,
Drunk water cold and clear from an inexhaustible hidden fountain.”
There, in Geneva, amidst the history of the Protestant Reformation and at the crossroads of our globalized landscape, I believe we experienced something akin to a Thin Place. Souls were restored, past hurts and insecurities were laid bare for healing and redemption, and God opened our eyes to His work in the world in a new way.
You see, the whole globe comes to Geneva. Because of Switzerland’s neutral history and its geography – and perhaps due to God’s providence – Geneva is an international city through and through. It’s not Swiss and it’s not French. It’s Other. Because of that, it is home to most of the world’s major NGO’s and aide organizations. This allowed us access to guest speakers working at the highest levels of international government, as well as those working on the front lines of aide work. Geneva also provided us a unique opportunity to see first-hand the work of cultivating intentionally international church congregations. We worshiped with believers from Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania.
I’ll carry two distinct lessons with me from Geneva: first, the grandeur of God. He’s bigger than our global problems and our institutions. Second, the intimacy of God. He cares so deeply about us. We experienced His love and grace profoundly.
Really and truly, we saw the “mountain behind the mountain.”