by Jayna Richardson
Dani and Vilma Siter, leaders of the ministry Family and Life Slovenia, have always wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago, a well-known pilgrimage route in Spain (also known as the Way of Saint James). Although circumstances prevented them for many years from making the trip, in 2014 God used their dream of walking the Camino to give birth to a new idea—the start of a similar prayer walk in Slovenia. That year they took 13 days out of their schedule to walk 257 kilometers (approximately 160 miles) from city to city visiting HomeBuilders® groups, praying for the ministry, and fellowshipping with volunteer couples. That walk became an annual event: the Family and Life Slovenia Prayer Walk for Families. Many HomeBuilders groups throughout the country have gotten involved, either by walking alongside the Siters for a day or two or by opening their homes for prayer and hospitality.
In May of this year, the Siters’ dream of walking the Camino became a reality. Their trip was a time of prayer, spiritual refreshment, and preparation for upcoming ministry opportunities. Because Slovenia is a predominately Catholic country, the Camino is of particular interest to many Slovenians. Dani and Vilma have since organized three presentations on the Camino and have been able to hand out resources such as Weekend to Remember® invitations, a quarterly magazine, and a Campus Crusade for Christ pamphlet called “Five Signs of the Camino” to hundreds of eager listeners.
Before the Siters went on their trip, they challenged their coworkers and volunteers to carry on the tradition they had begun of walking and praying through the cities of Slovenia. “We have always had in mind that we are not the ‘owners’ of these events,” says Dani. “They must become transferrable.”
The volunteers took up the challenge. Five groups planned their own routes and organized evening events. They spread out in different cities of Slovenia in order to reach more people with their prayers, encouragement, and the good news of Jesus Christ. They prayed, talked, shared their testimonies, and invited couples to join local HomeBuilders groups and sign up for a Weekend to Remember. Dani and Vilma were excited to see other couples taking initiative to reach out to people and using this opportunity as a powerful tool to share the gospel.
Many in Slovenia have been blessed by this initiative. One volunteer shared that during her prayer time one morning before she left her home to join the walking group, she was reminded that someday we will leave everything behind—including our earthly home. She became aware that if we are in the Lord, we are “no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” (Ephesians 2:19).
The Siters agree. “We are at home in the arms of our loving Father, and that is the message of hope we all want to bring to other Slovenian couples and families,” Dani says.
Although the Siters were pleased to see the volunteers continue the annual walk without them this year, they do hope to walk the Slovenian paths again next year alongside Slovenian couples. They plan to invite as many couples as possible to join them, and they pray it will be another incredible opportunity for outreach.