We blinked and we were on a train. We left France and the rest of the Ten2 Teams, still dazed from the activity fueled training that preceded, and hummed along the tracks to L’Arcada, Spain. Our team sat together with an entire car to ourselves. A short time passed when a Finnish woman about our age joined us. As we got to talking, we discovered that her name is Ilona.
We explained our mission and service in Spain. Ilona shared that she was traveling Europe, mostly on her own. After an hour or so of getting to know each other, the topic shifted to religion. Ilona explained that in Finland most people identify as evangelical Christians. She went on to tell her own story. She was raised in a Christian home, but she was sure to clarify that her family had focused less on a personal relationship with God and more on the traditions associated with Christianity.
Curious after this clear distinction, we asked Ilona if she was the same as her family: Christian by tradition rather than relationship. Ilona explained that she was open to Christianity but was not a consistent practicer of faith. One of our teammates, Toby, asked if we could pray for her and she agreed, so we prayed over her faith and travels. What happened next was the work of the Holy Spirit.
As we lifted our heads and opened our eyes after saying “Amen”, we looked at Ilona. Her eyes had welled up with tears. We could see how impactful the simple act of prayer had been on her spirit. Sadly not long after this, it was time to part ways. Ilona told us she was glad she had met us, and we continued on our journey to L’Arcada, our final destination.
It is beautiful how the Lord orchestrates the crossing of souls so intentionally. He gives us small moments of simple connection that run deeper than we could ever anticipate. “As you go, proclaim this message. ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Matthew 10:7.This summer, we want to bring the kingdom of heaven as we are traveling, as we are serving, as we are living. We are continuing to pray for Ilona as she travels through Europe, and that she would pursue her curiosity for a personal relationship with God.
Emma Stauber is a Ten2 storyteller with Greater Europe Mission and serves in Athens, Greece.
Hannah Ruth Branson is a Ten2 storyteller with Greater Europe Mission and serves in Viana, Spain.
This story is in collaboration with Josiah Elmore, a Ten2 team leader with Greater Europe Mission serving in L’Arcada Spain.