The people I met and experiences I had only confirmed my belief that the Camino desperately needs evangelists. No matter what reason pilgrims gives for their walking, it is clear to me that the Holy Spirit leads them to come to Spain for a transformative and perhaps healing experience. Some may claim they are only doing it because they can, or because they are retired, or because a relative died, or because they need to think about work, or because they like the "energy," but it is not man who plants the desire to come to a place like the Camino de Santiago in anyone's heart. The Holy Spirit brings people to the Camino and touches them throughout their journey. Jesus reveals himself in myriad ways through experiences, people, nature, and perhaps even thoughts and visions. What the Camino needs are people who will not only help pilgrims understand their experiences in the light of the Gospel, but live as Christ lived before their very eyes.
I spoke to several VBS children on Thursday about the Camino and explained it very simply: "A pilgrim is someone who goes on a journey to look for God." Since you readers aren't as focused on cookies and lemonade, I'm going to add a bit to that statement. A pilgrim is someone who goes on a journey to look for God or to see him reveal himself more. There are people from every continent, every race, and every religion looking to the Camino as a way to God, but what many of them don't know is that he is already walking alongside them.
What I hope and pray to see in my lifetime is a new class of hospitaleros and pilgrims. The current owners of most of the albergues are (with notable exceptions) just trying to make a living or a profit and may or may not be gifted in hospitality. The Camino needs people who will welcome pilgrims in and wash their feet and serve them to bring the Kingdom of God near to all who pass through. That can be a life-long or short-term mission. Language does not matter (at least not for Americans), for almost everyone speaks English. Almost all pilgrims set out, ultimately, to be blessed. The Camino needs people who will walk with their fellow pilgrims in order not only to be blessed but to be a blessing and a light to all they meet on the road to Santiago. Then, Lord willing, when the seeds are planted and watered and perhaps even harvested, the Gospel will bear fruit in every continent, race, and religion and all will worship the one true God of Israel, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Thank you all for praying for me and keeping up with this blog. I hope you will continue to pray for the pilgrims and even consider what else you might do to bring the Kingdom of God to them. It may be only a word, but the Holy Spirit can use anything we say to plant a seed of the Gospel in someone's heart when we let him lead the conversation. If Spain doesn't tickle your fancy, perhaps you could try it today where you are.
It's been a pleasure writing this blog, and I hope it's been a pleasure and a blessing to read it. God bless!