“You feel as at home as though you were at home”

Russia, Croatia, Argentina: his success as a pastry chef and confectioner takes him around the world. Right now the native Frenchman lives in Hong Kong. What gives him stability both at home and abroad is his faith. This is a portrait about Priest Gaël Majchrzak.

Already as a child, Gaël dreamed of being a professional chef. After two years of training as a chef, he decided to take things further and trained as a patissier. I am lucky because for me my work is like a hobby, he says, and raves about his work. He particularly likes the artistic aspect of his work. The best thing about it is the pleasure on people’s face after they have tried one of his sweet creations.

From France into the rest of the worldt

“I was born in Algrange (France) and lived there until I was 18,” he says. His training and his work make travelling an everyday necessity in his life. And finally it led the self-employed entrepreneur away from home again and again, and before long it took him abroad.

“I always travelled. I worked in Moscow (Russia) for five years and then I lived in Dubrovnik (Croatia) for three years, and twice a year I am in Argentina.” In addition to developing and designing his own handcrafted sweet creations, Gaël Majchrzak also trains budding confectioners. “I received a request from Hong Kong to help develop a project, and this is the reason I am here now. At first, it looked like I would be here a month or two. Then my wife came to Hong Kong to join me. Now we are now planning on staying longer.”

Learning languages is part of it

Living in Hong Kong, do you miss Europe? “I like Paris and I miss my neighbourhood there, but I always enjoy the place where I live. I love to meet new people, get to know a new culture, and a new language—and then you don’t have time to miss anything,” he says. “And anyway, thanks to Skype, WhatsApp, and so on it is really easy to be in touch with your family.”

We asked him if he sometimes finds it difficult to get used to things in a new place that are very different from what he is used to. “Not at all,” says the native Frenchman. “I am aware that every country is different and that people are different, and I have no right to complain. I have to adjust and I want to adapt to the circumstances of the new place, not the other way around.”

Learning the respective language is all part of it. “Besides English I speak Russian fluently. I can also speak Spanish, and I’m learning Chinese right now.”

Respecting other people’s beliefs

On account of his work-related travels, Priest Gaël Majchrzak has gotten to know many New Apostolic congregations. “I was always welcome and felt the members’ love, even though we did not understand each other. I experienced that you can attend a service and not understand a single word, yet still feel as at home as though you were at home. That always fascinates me!”

Gaël Majchrzak grew up in a New Apostolic family. Living his faith is an integral part of his everyday life. “Many of my colleagues are believers, but they all come from different religions. We respect each other and our beliefs,” he says and adds, “In some countries, such as in Argentina, for example, it is actually strange if someone does not go to church on Sundays.”

Ordination throws up questions

The congregation in Hong Kong, to which Priest Majchrzak currently belongs, meets for divine services on the 20th floor of a high-rise. “It is a small congregation, and I really love to go there,” he says. The congregation has 60 members. There are services on Sundays and Wednesdays, but not everybody can be there all the time because of the distances and the traffic.

The members in Hong Kong were looked after by a District Evangelist and a Priest until District Apostle Urs Hebeisen ordained Gaël as a Priest in September 2018 for the Hong Kong congregation.

What went through your head before the ordination? “I had a lot of questions to ask myself. When I do something I do it one hundred per cent, whether it is work, sports, or whatever. So I asked myself: am I really capable of being a Priest one hundred per cent? I always go to church, even when I am travelling on business, but being a Priest is something else. My father is a Priest, so I know what it is all about.”

My faith pushes me in a good direction

So what happened? “I could not refuse God’s call. So now I have to organise myself and make this possible. Fortunately, I can set my own hours and organise my time freely.”

Priest Gaël Majchrzak realises: “Without God I would not be who I am. God is always at my side, also in difficult situations.” He is grateful that he never feels alone. “My faith always pushes me in a good direction. I have met many sisters and brothers, and I have experienced that we all have the same goal: we are all waiting for the return of Jesus together and want to have eternal fellowship with God. The rest is material, and is therefore no important.”

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Dinara Ganzer, Andreas Rother
International, Congregational life, People/Personalities