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Hike through France and Spain is a life-changing experience for Evangel students

October 30, 2012 | Valorie Coleman

A group of Evangel University students is preparing to explore 450 miles of southern France and northwestern Spain for six weeks next spring, on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostell, Spain.

“The pilgrimage to Santiago, one of three main pilgrimage sites in the world along with Jerusalem and Rome, is done for a variety of reasons,” says Dr. Eliezer Oyola, professor of Spanish. “Whatever your reason for going, this will literally change your life forever.”

Oyola has led student groups twice before, and he has indeed seen their lives changed.

Recently, at homecoming, several of those who have made the pilgrimage reunited to share their experiences.

Lyndle DeCamp went on that first Santiago pilgrimage 15 years ago. Oyola asked him to serve as his research assistant, and together they organized the six-week trek in 1997.

To this day, DeCamp structures his ministry as a young adult pastor in Illinois around the life lessons taught along that journey.

“One day in Spain, as we hiked to the top of a plateau, we came to a cross surrounded by rocks. Dr. Oyola explained to us how pilgrims will often lay rocks down at the foot of the cross, or leave behind symbols of life-controlling habits they wish to break. At that very moment, a rainbow appeared in the sky. Dr. Oyola took the opportunity to share with us students about God’s promises. The experience made an impression on me that has never left,” says DeCamp.

Because Oyola plans to retire soon, he anticipates the trip next spring will be the last time he will make the pilgrimage.

“This is the last chance to take this journey, which makes it very special,” he says. “Each trip has offered new relationships, new opportunities, new adventures.”

DeCamp spoke in two of Oyola’s classes during Evangel’s homecoming week.

“I want students to be a part of the transformation this journey brings,” DeCamp says. “These experiences will last a lifetime.”

The cost for the trip is $3,500, which includes air and train fare, meals and lodging. For more information contact Dr. Oyola at (417) 865-2811, ext. 8649.

— Hallie Kilavos, senior, and Valorie Coleman, assistant director of public relations at Evangel University

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