Stephen's Emmaus Experience

March 30, 2006

I really enjoy being a part of the Emmaus Community. It is a joy to be a part of Christians who have such a love for Jesus and serving Him.

I went on my Emmaus Walk in May of 2002 and it had a profound impact on me. My pastor first told me about the Walk around 2001. After some procrastination, I filled out my application and gave it back to him. I am generally pretty open-minded about things, especially when they are presented by a close friend. On the other hand, I did not feel driven or excited to go either. My feelings were pretty indifferent and I remember thinking, "Yeah, I'll try it. Why not?" After I got my form in, I began getting invitations for specific upcoming Walks. However, every time I got the postcard with the date, I already had something planned. After the third or fourth time returning the card with the response that I couldn't attend that particular Walk, I resolved to find out when the next Walks were. I found out there would be a Men's Walk in May, so I kept my calendar clear until I got another invitation. As it turned out, my pastor had to go out of town the weekend of my Walk, so we arranged for another friend of mine who had attended the Walk to Emmaus to take care of the sponsor duties for the weekend.

My friend picked me up on Thursday night and brought me to the church where the Walk was being held. We had dinner together with the rest of the first-time pilgrims and the team members who would be staying for the weekend. Then the pilgrims and the team went to the conference room for introductions and a little bit of "get to know you" time. Basically, this was hearing people tell their names, where they were from and the family members' names (not that I remember any of the details). After that we saw a movie called "In Remembrance", an older film that detailed the events of the Last Supper. This film was significant for me, not because of the corduroy suit the narrator wore, but because of the portrayal of Phillip. Phillip was obviously a very loving husband who felt the call to follow Jesus. He and his wife both understood the importance of that decision but they also had to deal with the difficulties of being apart as well. This was something I could relate to then, as my wife and daughter were at home while I was on this "retreat".

A lot of the weekend was a blur, but there were some significant events that each had a deep impact on me. For these, I will not go into specific details. I do not wish to "hide" or "cover-up" anything and I would be happy to share the details with anyone face to face if they really wanted to know, however I also feel that going into those details here would only serve to taint them. These are things that are unique for each individual and it is very hard to express what happened in spoken words, let alone in this written format. That being said, I will now begin to share. There are many different worship services throughout the weekend, each with a very particular purpose. The weekend is designed so that one event builds onto another until it is time to go home on Sunday evening. So even though some times were spiritually draining for me, there were also times when I felt I was lifted higher and closer to God than I have ever been before. In general I have never been a very emotional person, but these different worship services helped me to come into contact with feelings I am not normally even aware of. I was able to see myself as someone God really loved and found an entire community of people who would openly love and accept me as well. Since my original Walk in May of 2002, I have remained active in my local Emmaus Community. I consistently attend the monthly Gatherings. Gatherings are basically reunions combined with worship services that are open to anyone whether they have attended a Walk or not. I enjoy seeing my friends and family and taking communion with them. I also have enjoyed helping with other weekend Walks. I like helping in the kitchen, attending some of the worship services, cleaning up, and putting the Emmaus things away (also called "tear down"). God has also called me to serve on live-in teams which have always been a blessing and I am always willing to do. I am so fortunate that my wife is also involved in the Emmaus Community as well. It means so much to be able to serve God as a team, whether it is at the same time or if one of us is supporting the other. I have been supported by and do my best to support my Emmaus Community. I still remember the words that I heard near the end of my walk, "You will never have to go through anything alone again." God has done such marvelous things for me and through me by way of this experience that I strongly desire to share it with any and all of my Christian friends.