A little over two weeks ago, I stood with Holly, Miriam and Flora outside Stansted airport. The sun was rising, the airport was busy…and we were about to discover which flight we would be catching. Our boarding passes were in bright orange envelopes given to us by Fusion, a Christian student organisation seeking to build a network of student-friendly churches across Europe. The part we played in this vision was to take part in ‘Escape and Pray’: 48 hours in a mystery location, relying on God to provide for us as we prayed for the city, its churches and its students.
It was both terrifying and exciting to stand there and open that envelope. Where would we be going? Would we find places to stay? Would people be welcoming? What if we’d packed for the wrong weather?! We could have ended up anywhere in Europe.
We opened the envelope to read: ‘you are going to Madrid!’
To Spain we therefore went – and this (and the following two blog posts over the next couple of days) tells some of the stories of what God held for us there.
‘immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine’ (Ephesians 3:20)
The night before travelling we sat in Holly’s garden to chat and pray about our expectations, fears and hopes for Escape and Pray. The matters of food, accommodation, and money were discussed; we’d each receive €20 from Fusion to use how we wanted (and we could use bank cards abroad if we needed to), but apart from that no plans or provision had been made.
The matters of sleep and sustenance were therefore massive unknowns. They were worries which grew throughout the first very hot day we spent in Madrid.
Yet God, despite (or perhaps because of) these worries, gave us everything we needed. And not only that – he gave us more than everything we needed.
We stayed our first night in the beautiful flat of a woman we met at the International Church of Madrid. She lived three minutes’ walk from the church and was happy for us to sleep on the floor of her living room. Already this was beyond our expectations – booking a hostel had been our most likely option after six potential offers of accommodation had fallen through earlier in the day. But this was not all; when our host went out for the evening, she let us use her kitchen to cook food, completely trusting us even though we were strangers. We had a wonderful dinner (featuring ‘floopy zebras’) and a good night’s sleep, followed by breakfast with our host who we chatted to in a mixture of English, Spanish and Italian.
We knew that this was God’s provision for us not only because of the feeling of peace we felt throughout, but also because of a message from someone in the UK, saying that they had felt an urgent need to pray for our accommodation at the exact time we were offered somewhere to stay by the woman at the International Church.
God gave us more than we needed food-wise as well. On our second day we met with Bekah, a staff worker for GBU (the Spanish equivalent of UCCF). She very generously took us out for lunch at a lovely restaurant called La Rollerie – we had the most amazing food and conversation, and a welcome rest in a busy 48 hours.
In addition, people we met gave us money for food (without us asking at all); this amounted to €60. We didn’t need to use this money – in fact, the only money we used all weekend was the €20 given to each of us by Fusion. God gave to us abundantly, in measures immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. We left Madrid with €60 which we are donating to GBU.
God also gave to us abundantly in that he let us be accidental tourists as well as intentional pilgrims. Despite not planning to at all, by the end of the weekend we had seen most of the super cool tourist sights in Madrid. God is a God of fun, too!