Earlier this summer several Charis Women spent two weeks hiking and serving in Portugal and Spain on the St. James Way. Below is a recap written by Mandy Swain, their team leader. A version of this story appeared on the Charis Women website. See the original story along with photos and more stories here.
Charis Women sponsors ministry teams that serve around the world. The 2022 team partnered with Encompass World Partners to spend one week walking the St James Way interacting with fellow travelers and another week serving at a pilgrims’ refuge along the Way.
A highlight from the trip was the week we spent helping run the pilgrims’ refuge. I loved working at the pilgrims’ refuge and getting to know the people who go through it. One story to illustrate our time there is this:
The caretaker was supposed to leave while we were running the pilgrims’ refuge. Due to changes in plans he ended up staying, but we helped with his work so he could at least relax. The first day we got back to the pilgrims’ refuge after our hike a woman from Germany also checked in. She was a mess. She was tired, ended up a little drunk, and was emotionally exhausted. The caretaker, who isn’t a Christian, thought that this would be a disaster. He would have to take care of these five American Christians and this drunk German lady. Long story short, she ended up staying the whole week we were there. We loved on her and fed her and also helped the caretaker. On the last night he told me about his worries about us that first night. He was amazed at how we just loved her. I was able to tell him we were able to love this woman because Jesus loves her and we are called to show Jesus’ love to everyone, no matter how they act or who they are. I am humbled that God used us as a light to this man. God knew that this man would be on a spiritual journey and seeking in 2022. God knew that what this man needed more than a week off was to see Jesus through us. And I pray that this man keeps seeking God. We weren’t supposed to spend any time with him, he was supposed to be gone and another person helping us. But God knew. He knew that 2020 wasn’t the time for us to walk the Camino and neither was 2021. God knew there would be people coming through the pilgrims’ refuge who needed spiritual encouragement and others a little seed planted. So even though it was a long time coming, I am thankful that God sent us when He did. It was a wonderful journey.