In the Northwest corner of Spain, there is an entire city, Santiago de Compostela, that has been built around the supposed resting place of the body of St. James. Many believe that after the death and resurrection of Christ, James traveled all the way to the Iberian Peninsula with the gospel message, eventually dying and being buried in this city. As with most holy places in the Middle East and Europe, they built a giant church on the spot!
Through the years, millions of pilgrims have re-traced his steps on a route that has become known as the “St. James Way” or “Camino de Santiago” which ends up at the cathedral. The pilgrimage became so popular that there are now multiple routes through France, Spain, and Portugal. If you’re interested, check out these helpful videos about the Camino HERE and HERE.
Most pilgrims come searching for something, and the hospitable atmosphere, casual café’s and resting points along the way allow for people from literally all over the world to connect and share their stories. This “Camino Culture” creates the opportunity for natural “relational bridges” (see previous blog HERE) and has caught the attention of our Grace Brethren Family in Europe. One of our Portuguese partners, who has gifts in evangelism and hospitality has spearheaded the preparation of an “Albergue” (or Hostel) in Porto, Portugal, where pilgrims stop at night to eat and rest. This has also become a ministry center for other outreach opportunities in the local community. A coalition of leaders from multiple cultures is forming to come alongside this ministry and help it to grow and thrive. Pastor Doug, who has visited this ministry and experienced the Camino, is serving on this coalition. Please pray for the ministry of this Albergue, as it strives to connect the Saint James Way to life with Christ.
Two young people from Grace Church, Rachel & Zach Peters, are heading to Portugal and Spain next week with a team who will both experience the Camino and help to serve with the Albergue ministry and our ministry partner there. This team (led by Hope Grace Brethren Church in Dillsburg, PA) is continuing to pave the way for continued ministry and investment in this vital region.
Here are some specific prayer requests for Zach & Rachel’s trip:
- Travel to/from Portugal and within Portugal & Spain
- Effective ministry to pilgrims
- Healthy bodies (especially feet)
- Clear leading for future ministry opportunities
Stay tuned to the blog for updates on their experience.