No matter how many times you hike El Camino de Santiago your journey is different. The path is full of highs and lows, both in elevation and in emotion. It challenges you in ways that you never thought possible. It teaches you about others and their cultures. It teaches you about yourself. Above all, it gives you opportunities to teach others about Jesus.
El Camino, the Way of St. James, is a world-famous hike that leads to the burial site of the Apostle James in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Various routes from around the world converge at the city’s cathedral, where James’ tomb is located. Hikers, called pilgrims, do the hike throughout the year, but the summer months attract the most pilgrims.
For the past two summers, I have hiked the Camino with OM Spain. The two times that I have done it could not have been more different. This past year, I backpacked part of the Northern Way with OM Spain’s Transform team. For six days, our group of 20 from around the world worked together to push through the hike’s physical, as well as spiritual, challenges. We grew both individually and as a team. The time we spent walking through the Spanish forests was breath-taking, not just because of the scenic landscapes we passed, but because of the company we kept along the way.
We also made lasting relationships with other pilgrims hiking the Camino. And that is the real reason why OM Spain hikes the Camino: to befriend the people that God puts beside us on the path and to share His love with them. Many pilgrims hike the Camino seeking a life-changing experience; what better life-changing experience than hearing the good news of Jesus Christ?
Last summer, Karina*, a pilgrim from Eastern Europe, spent her last week on the Camino with the OM Spain team. She said in her own home country she had never once found a church whose doors were actually open. Her time with us was her first interaction with Christians in her life. A wonderful Dutch woman on our team gave Karina her very first Bible. Karina was overjoyed!
In my summers spent hiking the Camino with OM Spain, I have learnt that we are all on our own Camino in life. Some parts of our journey are steep, requiring a lot of concentration and strength. Other parts are flat, requiring stamina and encouragement to keep going in the midst of monotony. No matter what part of our individual Camino we may find ourselves in, our mission remains the same: Tell those walking alongside us the good news of Christ.
For information about joining OM Spain for in this year’s hike, from 18-29 July, click here.
Elizabeth Holmes is an OMer from the United States. She has served in Spain for the past three years as OM Spain's short-term ministry coordinator and field communications facilitator.