A few weeks ago, a team of individuals gathered to take part in our Spain Mission Trip to serve pilgrims on the famous Camino de Santiago. 65 year old Venetia was a member of the team and writes about her experience:
“As was promised me in prayer, I know that God has more for me”
For centuries, the Santiago de Compostela was the third most important Christian pilgrimage after Jerusalem and Rome. These days only a fraction of the walkers come for religious reasons, yet many of them admit to being on a quest.
Our 24-7 Mission Team was based on a section of the Portuguese Route known as the ‘Spiritual Variant” - the little chapel where we greeted pilgrims was one of the few churches they would find open on their way.
We only had a few minutes to figure out which language to use with pilgrims as we met people from nations across Europe. We met others from New Zealand, and even a group of 30 school children from Portugal. With each, we offered a free orange and a stamp for their ‘credencials’ (the documents that prove pilgrims have walked at least 100k).
Our day to day was simple, as is the way of the Camino: we did a little housework for our hosts, sat outside the chapel with the three local ‘granddads’ which was a joy; and it was a privilege to join in their annual fiesta – although those sleeping in tents were less than impressed by the dusk-to-dawn music!
"...Our prayer times were very powerful. In fact, they stretched me to the limit"
One of the things I found encouraging was the spiritual maturity of the young people on our team. Mostly in their late 20s, these amazing people from six different countries had incredible spiritual insight and our prayer times were very powerful. In fact, they stretched me to the limit.
I learnt so much during our times of prophetic prayer, and I loved the discipline of the daily ‘Examen’ and the ‘Lectio divina.’ One team member said this was a way of reading the Bible so that the words come off the page and into your heart. We learnt to focus on a Bible verse by writing it out, speaking it, singing it and praying over it. I found myself doing ‘word art’ in my journal the day we focused on Revelation 22:17.
"Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life."
- Revelation 22:17
Our hosts had arranged for us to meet Father Julio, a Cistercian monk at the Monasterio de Armenteira. He told us that monastic life can be hard - "You discover the bleeding wounds in your heart and soul when you are in the monastery" - and the importance of naming your wounds in order to heal them.
He also imparted real wisdom about investing in relationship with God - "The pilgrimage to your heart is very important. The heart is where our identity is situated. This is what God wanted us to be. If we don't discover it we will have difficulties in life."
Although I didn't walk the Camino de Santiago, I have certainly begun a new camino to my heart. As was promised me in prayer, I know that God has more for me – even at my age.
Inspired by Venetia's story? Read more stories about Mission.
Venetia is a writer and grandmother who first came across 24-7 Prayer when she interviewed Pete Greig for an article in the Scripture Union Bible-reading notes, "Encounter with God".