Providing Spiritual Nourishment Along the Camino de Santiago
Greater Europe Mission workers Wes and Sherry couldn’t help but overhear an intriguing conversation at the home of fellow faith-based workers along the Camino de Santiago. Every week they joined these friends for fellowship and encouragement. Sometimes, the occasional pilgrim was invited to share in a meal. On this day, Wes and Sherry encountered a seeker in the process of finding Jesus.
Wes and Sherry, along with the other guests, fell quiet and began to pray silently as the conversation progressed.
“What do you think?” one of the workers asked a young German man. “Did that answer your question? Is following Jesus something you’re interested in?”
“Yes, it is,” replied Andreas, a slightly built, dark-haired, bespectacled young man. He sounded both serious and sincere.
“So, would you like to receive Jesus?” the worker continued.
“Yes, I would!”
Along with the others, Wes and Sherry joined the prayer silently, then rejoiced and celebrated with Andreas afterwards. Everyone hugged him and welcomed him into the family.
Following the Way
Andreas found himself battling depression in his mid-twenties. He’d decided to walk the Camino as a way of confronting his struggles, hoping a solitary journey would give him time to discover why he couldn’t shake feelings of sadness. Along the way, he’d met an Irish believer named Danny. They began to walk together, and as they followed the dusty road, Danny told Andreas about Jesus. Andreas listened intently.
Now Danny, a tall, dark, and gentle young man who was also doing his first Camino, sat beside Andreas, listening as his walking buddy actively pursued a relationship with the Savior.
“I want to do that thing,” said Andreas to the believers around him. “You know…that thing in the water. That thing that Jesus did.”
That very afternoon, Wes and Sherry had the privilege of walking down to the river to witness Andreas’s baptism.
Continuing their walk the following day, Andreas and Danny reached Wes and Sherry’s café in a neighbouring village. Wes asked Andreas how it felt to be a follower of Jesus, and the young man replied enthusiastically, “I feel like a new person. I’m just so excited, I can’t believe it!”
The discussion of faith took a new direction as Danny began discipling Andreas whenever their paths crossed along the Camino. Wes and Sherry kept in touch with Andreas, and the young man agreed to go through an Alpha Course with them online after his Camino.
With time, and through the course and regular conversations with the couple, Andreas came to realize that there were areas of his life that he hadn’t surrendered to the Lord. Shy and reticent to walk into a church filled with strangers, Andreas had gotten off to an unsteady start in his Christian walk. He lacked fellowship and struggled with old habits.
Patiently, from afar, Wes and Sherry prayed for and counselled Andreas. Eventually, he found a church where he could grow in his faith, and he began encouraging his family to follow Jesus. First, his sister, then his mother, and finally, his brother came to faith.
“It’s been a beautiful thing to see,” says Sherry of watching Andreas grow. “We don’t often get to witness a new believer’s progress, because no one stays on the Camino. That’s why it was so special for us to encounter Andreas.”
A Faithful Presence
Wes and Sherry, who, through Business as Mission, operate two businesses along the Camino, love to provide physical and spiritual nourishment to walkers along the pilgrimage path. Strategically placed in a small town along the famous route, they seek to point those who are spiritually seeking Jesus.
“Many times, we get to see people and hear parts of their stories,” says Wes. “We sometimes get to lead them to the Lord. We are placed along the way to minister to people at that one point, and they need different things when they reach us—a seed to be planted, watered, or harvested.”
Hardly a day goes by that Wes and Sherry are not able to pray with, encourage, or give hope to someone along the Camino. They make the most of daily opportunities to speak truth into people’s lives.
Wes explains, “People walk the Camino for many reasons. Some are grieving a loss. Others are looking for answers in life. They have taken a break from work or school to spend time alone and process things.”
Trying to answer life’s big questions—like What am I doing here, Do I want to stay married, or What is my purpose in life—these travellers are often receptive to gospel conversations. Many of them find a warm welcome at Wes and Sherry’s food truck on the Camino and their café in town, where they host “Jesus Meditations” and read key verses from the Bible.
Wes and Sherry also try to show love to the local Spanish population. This is no easy task in a small town where even someone from a neighbouring village is often considered an outsider. As they stand between both worlds—Camino walkers eager to converse about deeper issues and Spanish locals who have been hurt by the Church in the past—they strive to be faithful and present, always “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason for the hope they have” (1 Peter 3:15).
If you are interested in knowing more about GEM’s ministries along the Camino, contact [email protected].
About the Author:
Jenny Garrity is a storyteller with Greater Europe Mission. Jenny and her husband Kim joined GEM in 1984. They have served in Germany, Belgium, and most recently, Greece in response to the refugee crisis.