An Easter Godwink in Switzerland | Greg Asimakoupoulos

Some might call it a coincidence. I choose to call it a Godwink!

Some might call it a coincidence. I choose to call it a Godwink!

After the first of the year, my wife and I were contacted about possibly serving the International Church of Luzern in Switzerland. Their pastor had just retired and they were looking for someone like to me to provide pastoral leadership for three months until the new pastor from The Netherlands would arrive.

The opportunity was too good to pass up. In addition to seeing a new part of the world, accepting the job would allow me to do what I love. Having recently retired, I was excited to be able to preach again. And on Easter Sunday no less. After all, Easter Sunday is my very favorite occasion to lead God’s people in worship. For me it’s the most important day in the Christian calendar.

About the time I accepted the invitation to go to this English-speaking congregation in the Alps, something else was happening I knew nothing about. The headmaster of Whittier Christian High School in Southern California was finalizing the itinerary of a study tour in Europe for his students, staff and parents.

When Carl Martinez learned from the travel agency that his group would be in Luzern on Easter Sunday, he went on an internet search to see if there was an English-speaking congregation in the city. Upon discovering the International Church of Luzern online, he contacted the church who extended a gracious invitation to join them.

As Wendy and I prepared to leave for Switzerland, the church chairman let me know that my third Sunday in Luzern would be a rather unusual one. She indicated that the size of the congregation would likely double with a school group from the United States attending ICL for Easter worship.

When I learned the name and location of the school that would be coming, I was immediately intrigued. My wife Wendy had taught at Whittier Christian School forty-eight years ago. What were the odds that a group like that would be worshipping with us during our short stay? I couldn’t help but wonder if one of the parents or faculty traveling with the group might have been a student in my wife’s third grade class back in 1976.

After landing in Switzerland, I began to work on the details for Easter Sunday at ICL. I decided to Facetime with the headmaster of the Whittier School. I expressed delight that his group would be joining us to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. I also indicated my wife’s connection to his school. Mr. Martinez told me that although the campus at which my wife had taught had closed some years ago, it was entirely possible that one of the parents or staff from his group might have attended Wendy’s school at the time.

I told Mr. Martinez that we were looking forward to having a group from Southern California with us. I related our family’s connection to the area. My wife’s ninety-three year old parents have lived in Orange County for over fifty years. Additionally, I told him that my wife’s brother lives in Yorba Linda, California and attends the Evangelical Free Church there.

“Wait!” Mr. Martinez interrupted. “Your brother-in-law is a member of the Free Church in Yorba Linda? That’s where I’ve attended for the past twenty years. What’s his name?”

When I told Mr. Martinez my wife’s brother was Dave Steven, he informed me they were part of the same men’s ministry. It was simply amazing! Of all the hundreds of churches there are in Southern California, how likely would it be that this headmaster who was bringing his school group to our church in Switzerland was part of my brother-in-law’s church?

Before we hang up the headmaster said, “Oh there’s one more thing, Pastor Greg. You might be interested in knowing that our original itinerary had us in Stuttgart on Easter. A recent change means we’ll be in Luzern.”

Looking back, I discovered that the travel agent for the school group made the change in their itinerary about the time my wife and I were contacted about serving the congregation in Switzerland. He knew nothing about the church or the church’s interim pastor. And how appropriate! Easter is all about unexpected turns of events that find us scratching our heads in amazement.

Guest columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos is a former chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores in Mercer Island.