A Total Commitment
One of the most personal ways you can provide agape love is to sponsor someone on their Emmaus experience. A sponsor is a person who has been through an Emmaus (or similar) experience, is willing to share that experience with prospective participant and is active in their 4th Day by participating in a reunion group.
The candidate should already be on a pilgrimage, willing to grow and move forward in his/her journey of faith. They know that God has made a difference in their life and must be able to clear their plate to give full attention to the spiritual renewal experience for its duration, including the event's follow-up activities.
The Emmaus Library Series’ 'Sponsorship' book has an excellent chapter on “Responsibilities of the Sponsor” which elaborates on the following steps in sponsoring a prospective participant:
- Pray for discernment. The Sponsor’s first responsibility is to pray for discernment. Take a list of names into your prayer room and share that list with God. Leave the list with God and wait for Him to reveal the name to you. It may not happen immediately. Just be patient and wait on God.
- Pray for your pilgrim. Pray for when to discuss the walk with your potential pilgrim. Pray for God to guide you in the discussion. Pray for an openness of the potential Pilgrim’s heart for the Walk to Emmaus.
- Meet with your pilgrim. Pray for God to give you calmness, assurance, and perseverance. If your Pilgrim is married, you must meet with both partners to discuss the Walk to Emmaus. The design of the Emmaus movement is to affirm the sanctity of marriage and commitment of spouses to each other. Presenting the information to both partners may preclude misunderstandings and lessen divisiveness. Share important aspects about the walk such as…
- Tell when, where, and the time and length of the walk.
- This is a Christian Renewal Retreat with approximately 45 women/men from different walks of life who are strangers, but who will become a close-knit Community.
- The Pilgrim will experience the unconditional love of Jesus, which binds us all together.
- The Pilgrims will experience strong Christian fellowship with support and reinforcement in their Emmaus Walk experience.
- The Walk to Emmaus experience doesn’t end Sunday evening. You will continue your Spiritual growth and renewal as you become involved in a Reunion Group.
- Give your potential Pilgrim an application form. Explain everything on the form. Answer any questions that are raised. Request that the Potential Pilgrim prayerfully consider the opportunity to attend the Emmaus event. Ask the potential Pilgrim when you can check back for their response. Pray for the person. Don’t take a refusal personally. It may not be God’s timing or Emmaus may not be for this particular person.
- Send out request letters for personal agape letters to be mailed to you. This may require some personal sleuthing on your part, so that your Pilgrim doesn’t find out what you’re doing. You should try to collect about 12 personal letters or so.
- Contact your Pilgrim two weeks prior to their weekend and offer guidance on what to pack. Provide encouragement and reassurance, which will help them prepare for the Emmaus experience.
- Pray for your Pilgrim. Obstacles tend to present themselves as the weekend approaches. They will need your prayers of protection.
- Take your Pilgrim to the Walk and assist with check-in. Remain with them until the call-out. Sponsors' Hour is where you will pray over your Pilgrim’s cross. This will happen directly after the call-out, when all of the Pilgrims and team members have left to begin their weekend.
- Pray for your Pilgrim. It’s a good idea to sign the 72-hour prayer vigil. It’s very special for the Pilgrim when they see your name on that chart, too.
- Check on your Pilgrim’s family and see if they need anything. You might take them a meal or have them over for supper on Friday night. If your Pilgrim lives alone, you may need to feed a pet or water plants, pick up the mail, or take out the trash. These are all acts of agape love and servanthood.
- Attend Saturday Night Community Service and Candlelight Service. Bring the personal agape letters with you if it hasn’t already been done. Your attendance at the candlelight will be very meaningful for your Pilgrim and for you. (Young children are not invited for Saturday night.)
- Attend Closing and provide transportation home for your Pilgrim. Your attendance at closing will encourage your Pilgrim when they give their thoughts on the weekend’s experience. It will also give you a glimpse of their experience. You are their transportation and personal assistant in moving out.
- Take the new Emmaus member to a 4th Day Gathering and introduce them to the community. It is very important to get the new Emmaus Community Member involved in a reunion group. Help the new member learn about Emmaus and the many ways in which they can serve in the community and on a Walk. Teach your pilgrim how to be a good sponsor, or take them to an Emmaus Sponsorship training session.
The Quad Cities Emmaus Community is strengthened by trained, committed sponsors. Add these steps to your Sponsorship 'toolkit' so that you can refer to them and put them into practice. Remember, Christ is Counting on Us!