A Place to Belong ...
Last Sunday we had a full house and a melting pot of many cultures. The worship service took place at the United Methodist Church downtown Aarau, Switzerland (March 22, 2015). The languages were German, Arab and the Swiss-German dialect.
The hymns and bible passages were on the screen in German and in Arab. The Pastor of the German-speaking congregation together with the leaders of the Arab-Fellowship were leading and preaching. The praise-team was a mixture of the two worshiping congregations in two different styles. "Christ has broken down the dividing wall, that is the hostility between us. So he came and proclaimed peace to those who were far off und peace to those who were near" Ephesians 2,14–22.
The personal witness of the preacher, Rami Ziadeh, was helping to understand how this multi-ethnic ministry in Aarau began. His testimony translated by his wife Anna Ziadeh reads as follows: "Fourteen years ago, we came as asylum-seekers from Syria to Switzerland. We were a very young couple, open for a new start in Switzerland. But the language barriers and many other difficulties made it very hard. We were strangers, ready to be called for repatriation to Syria. We felt to be cut off from real life, outsiders in the strongest sense of the word. So we were looking for a place to belong! We understood that belonging is something, which has to go deep, has to be based on a common foundation. Finally we found the place to belong: the UMC in Aarau. The church also engaged in our struggle to get the permit to stay in Switzerland. From foreigners we mutated to friends. Growing in faith and in love we started to care for other persons and families all of them refugees from Syria, Irak, Iran. And the local church was supporting us in this mission. Looking back, we are convinced, that God had brought us from Syria to Switzerland at such an early stage and prepared us for the ministry among the refugees in Aarau, who in recent years were finding their way from the war torn countries in the Middle East to Switzerland."
The Arabic fellowship is today a community of Christians fostering relationships through authenticity, affirmation and accountability. Here you may find as a stranger into a Circle of Friends. The new fellowship is coming together every second Sunday, following the German Worship. The families are celebrating the community and are staying together for lunch. Regularly the new fellowship and the traditional German congregation are happy to worship together and enjoy the rich cultures in such an event.
Rami and Anna Ziadeh are now part-time employed by the UMC as coordinaters for the Arabic fellowship. The church is also sponsoring scholarships for their study, so that their way into the ministry of the UMC shall be possible. The grant from the GCORR Action Fund is an encouraging contribution to this.
The United Methodist Church in Aarau has become a place to belong ...
a house full of colors and a melting pot of many cultures. We see it taking shape day after day: a holy temple built by God and in which God and the people are at home.