In 6 months I am moving to the end of the world.
Dramatic, I know… But, it’s true.
I am packing my things and heading out to Santiago de Compostela: an ancient, holy, and renowned place.
So why do I call it the end of the world?
Well, because it is there on the northwest coast of Spain that the ancient Phoenicians, Celtic Druids, and early-Christian missionaries believed the world came to an end.
My future home is the place where eras worth of people came to watch the sun “set into its death” out beyond the cresting waves on the edge of the world. As you may imagine, the “end of the world” held a lot of significance, and naturally it drew people from all over. In fact, for as long as historians can tell, people have journeyed to this region worshipfully.
Fast forward through the ancient days of druid priests following the stars to worship at the altar on the world’s edge, and the significance of the sight remains. It is said that shortly after Christ’s death, St.James carried the Gospel all the way to this Iberian shore and thus took the Gospel as far as it could go. Legend surrounding the acts of James then encouraged pilgrimage to this site, and eventually led to Santiago being declared the 3rd most holy city in Christianity, after Jerusalem and Rome. So, for the last 1000 years, the city has been a destination for Christian pilgrims who walk the Camino de Santiago (or “The Way”). It has been a place where people come to grow their faith, to seek spiritual depth, to display devotion, etc….
So why would the 3rd most holy city in Christianity possibly need a Christian missionary?
Well, while this site has long been the destination of Christian pilgrims, it has also become a place where people of all spiritual persuasions journey. In fact, even many atheists and agnostics take the pilgrimage to Santiago, and would even claim that it is for spiritual purposes. So, while people would traditionally make this walk out of faith, these days many people are walking it simply to try to find faith.
That’s where Pilgrim House steps in. The team of missionaries I am joining out in Santiago run a hospitality ministry called the Pilgrim House Welcome Center (check out our website: https://pilgrimhousesantiago.com). Through this ministry we seek to welcome pilgrims into a space of rest and peace where they can safely reflect, debrief, and process their journey. For most pilgrims this outward journey is but a reflection of an inward one…so most come to the end with tired feet & weary souls. Many of these people are seeking fulfillment, happiness, love, healing, purpose, God, etc.… But here’s the thing, many of them get to the end of their Camino and feel just as empty, hurt, or confused as when they began.
So then there we are, ready to offer a bit of respite from the exhaustion, an ear for all of the processing, some company amidst the confusion, some love for the burdened and hurt….The Gospel in word and deed.
We exist to meet these people with the practical love of Christ right where they are at, there at the end of the(ir) world. We are there for the people who have lost their purpose, who are hurt and burdened, those who are fearful, who are unfulfilled, the ones with lots of questions, the confused, the tired, the hopeless.
My hope in moving to Spain is to be there with these people… to listen and wonder with them, to serve them, to pray with and for them. I want to be there to make sure that these people don’t leave Santiago until they have experienced God and seen the Gospel… if not through their pilgrimage, then certainly through Christ in me.
I am moving to the end of the world so that as people travel there and come to the end of themselves and the end of their options, maybe they can find that Christ is there waiting to give them a new beginning.