It was a cool Spanish evening and the tile terrace was a welcome place to gather for worship. As Steve began to play his pilgrim guitar the other pilgrims in the house would each take turns peeking out to see what was going on. Three bikers were mesmerized by this charming group of young people. They joined us for the evening vespers and began to tell Rick & Twinky their story.
Rodrègo and Havier came from a mountain town famous for its hanging houses. The homes are built on the steep face of the mountain and the porches protrude out as if into space giving the houses the appearance to be hanging effortlessly. Their bicycle trip has taken them down the Spanish pilgrimage route and we would have only one night to interact with them.
Tonight they would sit in silent wonder as they watched our group worship. We quickly gathered that they didn’t speak English. Our lives would be our only testimony. Sharing time continued with prayer and testimonies. Rodrègo, Havier and their friend turned to Twinky in astonishment. They’ve never seen such respect in young people. Listening ears, nodding approval, and words of encouragement greeted each testimony as each pilgrim shared from his heart. This was the moment God had brought us together for.
“For such a time as this.” Ester 4:14
As the bikers sat in awe of our worship, Twinky shined the light on God. That evening Rick and Twinky were able to share the good news that God offers a personal relationship with Him, if they would choose to accept it. These three gentlemen heard the gospel message for the first time and our testimony paved the way for it to land on warm and softened hearts.
Meeting people of faith is a rare occurrence in Europe, but God brought these men into our presence so that we could be a testimony of His presence!
What they saw in us that night that was so attractive was Christian community … not secular solidarity, or artificial tolerance, but a real community that cares for each other. The pilgrims from Wooster were such a great example of community we even drew in another pilgrim couple from Germany who saw something in us that they wanted to be a part of. They were honorary members of our group by the end of the week of walking together. As atheists, Toby & Marei were not impressed with the Priest’s gospel presentation at the Cathedral of Santiago. They said it felt fake. But they were so drawn by our community that they even joined us for several meals and spiritual discussions (not to mention washing dishes for us, and just being friends).
The relationships that were built as they followed us around all week paved the way for a positive response to an invitation to continue a spiritual quest. Rad used his parting comments to ask permission to pray for them. When Toby responded with a “yes,” Rad explained that he would like to pray that they continue to grow in their faith. Toby’s response was, “I would like that.” He might as well have gone forward at an alter call. This man will never see life the same way now that he has met you!