In the background is Iglesia de Santa María, one of the many churches we encountered along the Camino de Santiago.
“FOCUS has the privilege of engaging students during an especially formative stage of their individual journeys.”
Back in 2018, my good friend Aimo Virtanen invited me to explore the final 100 miles of the historic, 500-mile Camino de Santiago (the “Way of St. James”). During the Middle Ages, this trek through Spain was considered one of Christianity’s most important pilgrimages, and the past few decades have brought renewed interest among hikers, cyclists, and those seeking personal reflection and spiritual growth.
We embarked from Astorga, Spain, making our way toward Santiago De Compostela: the end goal, the finish line. As we walked through the picturesque countryside and enjoyed the solace of a dozen village churches, I was able to set aside the unrelenting demands of life’s to-do list and respond to the invitation to “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). As we progressed, Aimo and I were struck by how many young adults we met during the weeklong journey – millennials facing major life issues and seeking guidance about their futures.
This brought to mind the many independent school students God leads into our ministry. Like pilgrims on the Camino, they too are on a spiritual path, whether they realize this or not. Many are considering the purpose of life – a reason for their existence beyond the cultural expectations of their pressure-filled environments. FOCUS has the privilege of engaging these students during an especially formative stage of their individual journeys. Sometimes we’re just a brief stop along the road. But for many students, FOCUS joins them as they trek through middle school, high school, and their transition to college (like the Pre-College Weekend participants exploring Martha’s Vineyard in our cover photo). For FOCUS alumni who continue to support our ministry as volunteer leaders, members of our Area Sponsoring Committees, or as parents of a new generation of spiritual pilgrims, our roads have largely converged.
As we walk with students, our prayer is that FOCUS would provide a safe, welcoming space where they can explore the Christian faith and the Good News of God’s love for them.