- Ron Myers
MISSION SWITZERLAND So rich, yet so poor “in spirit”. “The door has opened for broadcasting the gosp
Switzerland, a magnificently beautiful country, nestled in the Alps of central Europe, is a modern nation built over centuries amidst snow capped mountains, pristine lakes, rich vegetation and animal life. Its people are well educated, hardworking, and wealthy, but many have lost touch with God.
Switzerland ranks among the world’s richest nations. And the cost of living is high. Geneva currently ranks 7th in the world, and Zurich is 3rd. Switzerland has the highest concentration of millionaires on Earth estimated at 716,000. One Swiss person in 11 is a millionaire. By comparison, the US has the most millionaires of any country (13.5 million), that’s one millionaire for every 24 Americans. So Switzerland has over twice the millionaires per capita as does the US. People so rich, yet so poor in spirit!
Geneva, Switzerland, was the cradle of the Reformation 500 years ago. Among giants of Biblical truth such as Martin Luther of Germany, were Jean Calvin, a French immigrant to Geneva, and Ulrich Zwingli of Zurich, who set Europe ablaze with the authentic gospel message of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Though 68% of the Swiss profess to be Christian (38% Catholic, 31% Protestant), most people no longer attend church. Particularly the young are turning away from God. Most university professors and students are atheists and evolutionists.
The population of Switzerland is 8.5 million, yet there are only 54 local SDA congregations divided into the three main national languages, German, French and Italian. J.N. Andrews arrived in Switzerland as the first Adventist missionary to Europe in 1874. Since then, church growth has gone painfully slow. After 143 years of presence, today there are only 4,704 baptized members in Switzerland. That’s an infinitesimal 0.06 % of the population. In other words, the Evangelization of Switzerland has barely started.
There’s only one Adventist school in Switzerland, a primary school at Zurich, and only one medical institution, a hospital at Gland, adjacent to Lake Leman, between Geneva and Lausanne. In fact, Continental Europe has among the lowest concentration of Adventists of any continent in the world… only about 180,000 members for a population of 340 million, that’s about one Adventist for every 1,890 people. By comparison, in the North American Division, with a population of 360 million, church membership is 1 million 230 thousand. That’s a ratio of one Adventist per 294 people, over six times greater than Switzerland. Except for a handful of countries where Adventists have not yet entered, the Adventist presence in Switzerland is almost invisible.
There are reasons why the Church has not grown in the old world. Among them are the obstacles of making contact with the people. Yes, faithful members are doing what they can to reach out to family, neighbors and acquaintances. But in most Swiss towns and cities, it’s illegal to distribute literature on the streets without a difficult-to-obtain permit. Most people live behind locked doors in apartments where one can’t get ready access through security systems. Mass mailing of Christian literature is frowned on. And there are no Christian TV stations. Neither commercial nor state-owned radio or TV broadcasters sell time for religious programming. And the web is having only minimal impact.
Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” But he didn’t say it was impossible for a rich man to be saved. “Things that are impossible with people are possible with God” (Luke 18:26-27).
But Jesus cannot return until everyone has heard the gospel, including the rich, though spiritually poor people of Europe. God has not abandoned Switzerland. Doors are opening. Now is the time to advance.
Unexpectedly, Swiss rules changed a few years ago allowing private religious radio broadcasting for the first time. Among the first networks approved was RADIO 74. At about the same time, an Italian based Catholic Network was authorized, Radio Maria. And a few other evangelical stations have since been authorized. Can you imagine it! Switzerland... where J.N. Andrews first began his work in 1874! Now RADIO 74 has been authorized to broadcast around the clock, helping to finish the work Andrews and his children struggled to begin 143 years ago!
RADIO 74 began broadcasting in Zurich and Geneva 24 hours a day just under three years ago. Transmissions expanded to Lausanne and Sion a year later, and are set to begin in Freiburg, Neuchatel and Yverdon in coming weeks. If we had the funds we could cover the entire country of Switzerland, estimated to cost under $200,000 per year. Understand that Switzerland does not permit private stations to operate their own transmitters. Air Time is leased from a private, not-for-profit corporation which owns the transmitting rights and which assures high quality technical services at rates cheaper than we could do it ourselves. And like many countries in Europe, Switzerland is committed to transitioning to Digital Audio Broadcasting or DAB+. DAB+ is a new kind of radio that probably will never be authorized in America. It works like Digital Television which can transmit several programs on the same channel at the same time. Up to 14 high quality digital stereo radio programs can be transmitted on each DAB+ bouquet, keeping costs well below FM broadcasting.
Switzerland has already phased out AM radio broadcasting, and plans to make FM obsolete by 2024. So DAB+ is the wave of the future. RADIO 74 was blessed to get in on the ground floor so it can grow with the new technology. DAB+ transmission costs are quite inexpensive, about $10,000 per city per year. Eventually, RADIO 74 expects local listeners will donate to pay the costs of transmission in each city we serve. But getting off the ground has been a formidable challenge. Donations in Switzerland are not yet strong enough to cover these expansion costs. We are confident things will improve as our coverage area expands. But, meanwhile, we are really struggling to make ends meet, and to pay the quarterly payments of around $15,000.
So we are asking our friends in North America, and anywhere in the world you’re reading this or listening on the web, to help us evangelize Switzerland. RADIO 74 Switzerland is currently running about one year behind in its DAB+ payments. It’s a real miracle that the contract hasn’t already been cancelled and transmissions cut off. If that were to happen, this opportunity would be gone forever. To avoid disaster, we have to act decisively. May I ask you to make a donation today for RADIO 74 Switzerland?
If you do not need a tax deductible receipt, then please make your donation on line at our European website: www.radio74.org
Please note that all donations to RADIO 74 Switzerland are channeled through RADIO 74 France, which produces all RADIO 74 programming for both Europe and North America. If you would like a US income tax deductible receipt, then please make your donation on line at www.radio74.net Mention your donation is for RADIO 74 Switzerland.
You can call RADIO 74 for more information, week-days from 8 am to 5 pm Pacific Time: 760 375 2355
The mainly volunteer teams of RADIO 74 Switzerland, France and America thank you!
God bless you as together, by God’s grace and provision, we seek to finish the gospel commission, even in the wealthiest of countries like Switzerland.