“Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.” Psalm 25:4-5
For many years I have had the desire, the burden, to Go, and I have carried these verses as a prayer in my heart. Over those years the journey has been tumultuous and painful. I have found myself in places I never expected to be, yet the Lord has been faithful through it all. To teach me, and to turn everything burned to ashes into something beautiful.
After watching the movie, The Way, I put the El Camino pilgrimage on my bucket list. Then it popped up in my Facebook feed from Adventures in Missions! I couldn’t pass it up.
My hopes for this trip line up very much with the current work I do with 3 Oaks Ministries as the Volunteer and Religious Services Coordinator for the prison here in Orofino, Idaho. As a VRC I am a “non-chaplain” who doesn’t lead services or counsel inmates. Instead, I coordinate the volunteers and handle the religious property and policy. But openness and honesty still go a long way, and the Lord has a way of accomplishing His work despite our limitations.
For me, this trip very much is a pilgrimage. I have learned a lot about the journey of faith and how to share that with someone in a way that respects their journey as their own. In His faithfulness, the Lord has put me in a position where I get to experience “missions” every day that I go in to work at the prison. My position as a VRC with 3 Oaks Ministries is a unique opportunity to share in the journey of faith with so many men who are desperate for hope and new beginnings. I am constantly challenged in my own faith and convictions, so I grow along with these men and the volunteers who come in to serve them.
Just like El Camino, there are a lot of pilgrims in prison. Men (and women) on a journey of self-discovery and change. For many of them it is an unexpected journey, too. Coming into the system so angry and hurt, they are surprised to find themselves changing and seeing the world in a new way. I get to be a part of that. And, ironically, my “non-chaplain” status lets me be a part of that journey without expectations.
It is this sharing that I hope to take with me to Spain. To be a fellow student along The Way. I will be on my own pilgrimage, and I look forward to sharing that journey with other people who have chosen to journey as well. In that place of availability, may the Lord do His work.