From the Camino de Santiago to Davenant House

In the infinite wisdom of the Lord of all the earth, each event falls with exact precision into its proper place in the unfolding of His divine plan. Nothing, however small, however strange, occurs without His ordering or without its particular fitness for its place in the working out of His purpose; and the end of all shall be the manifestation of His glory, and the accumulation of His praise. – B.B. Warfield

Mist lay upon a well-worn path lined by walls of mossy stone. They had been piled there centuries prior to keep the sheep in. As we walked this path and approached a small village in the north of Spain, I could hardly have imagined what God’s providence had in store for the journey ahead.

It was 2017 and I was co-leading a spring break hiking trip for students abroad in Europe, a pilgrimage on the famous Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James. I had never previously met in-person my colleague in InterVarsity who was co-leading the trip with me, but when he asked if I wanted to arrive early and hike 60 additional miles in 3 days before we met the students for the 60 miles of the planned 8-day hike, I ascertained that our hearts were cut of similar cloth and we would get along just fine.

The trip’s goals included student discipleship and helping them process their experiences in post-Christian Europe in order to challenge, encourage, and strengthen them in their faith. While we observed the 2000 year old Roman wall, roads, and aqueduct in Lugo, admired the beauty of the cathedral within those walls (commissioned in 1129 and completed in 1273), and walked upon paths formerly trod by the feet of people like St. Francis of Assisi, we challenged students to consider things that last. We pondered God’s Word, his handiwork, and ideas or philosophies which, since they accord with Truth, have withstood the test of time. Our clarion call was to remember the ancient ways and walk in them, rebuild the ancient ruins in a world that has sought to deconstruct and destroy, choose to create, redeem, and build things that will endure time and passing fashion because they accord with truth, goodness, beauty–ultimately with reality–and to do all this to the glory of God. A cathedral may take 150 years to build, but it lasts millenia. Meaningful spiritual investment may take years (or miles walked together) but the impacts ripple out and have eternal consequences.

Little did my colleague and I know as we invested in these students’ lives that our pilgrimage would continue later with The Davenant Institute, doing a much-expanded version of this work of retrieval and renewal for the church in our day. The colleague I am referring to is now the VP of Davenant, Colin Chan Redemer. He reached out shortly after that trip to tell me he had joined Davenant. He described the work of institute, their desire to start a L’Abri type discipleship ministry in the foothills of the Blue Ridge in South Carolina, and why he felt I was the right guy to get that work off the ground. With a sabbatical coming up and a planned trip West with my family, we decided to visit Colin and his family and through that heard much more about the vision for Davenant House in July of 2018. A couple months later, Brad Littlejohn and his father stopped by as they went through central Wisconsin and we met. Brad explained that the board had voted to put Davenant House up for sale for various reasons, thinking the Lord had different plans in store for Davenant. We assumed that meant the door was closed.

It was a few months later in mid-November that I received a call from Brad to ask if we were still interested in being the first Directors of Davenant House. The board felt that the Lord may be guiding them to keep the house if it worked out for us to come on. They hadn’t had any interested parties in purchasing the house, which was itself no small miracle considering the housing market in the Greenville area. Bad luck? A curse? Providence? The prayers of a passionate old Southern gentleman?

Perhaps a combination of the last two. Local neighborhood legend says that when the neighbor next door to Davenant House put their home up for sale several years before, Brad’s grandfather Broadus, who had originally acquired all the property that surrounds the Davenant House, told them that he was going to pray that there would be no buyers. He had dreamed the property would be used for ministry. These neighbors never got a single showing and pulled the listing after several months, ultimately selling it to Davenant years later. Davenant named it Broadus House in honor of him. Effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man and the workings of God’s providence? Perhaps his prayers extended to the Davenant House and surrounding property as well!

Back to our arrival on the scene: I interviewed with the board and was offered the job in December of 2018. After an exploratory trip in January for the annual Regional Convivium and prayerful consideration, the Lord confirmed our call to ministry at Davenant House. My family moved down from Wisconsin in June of 2019. While Covid affected in-person work and networking for a time, it also gave us time to make significant progress on the property and prepare for hosting people. Additionally we helped with creating the Davenant House website and launching Davenant Hall. On-site work picked up in 2021 with discipleship and hosting events at Davenant House, and the work has grown rapidly since.

Augustine’s words are fitting for this tale of God’s providence and the aims of Davenant: “Order your soul; reduce your wants; live in charity; associate in Christian community; obey the laws; trust in Providence.” Like stone fences lining the paths and pastures in northern Spain protecting and guiding the sheep, through the retrieval of Christian wisdom for the contemporary church Davenant is rebuilding the ancient ruins stone by stone and recovering the path, raising up and equipping people to be faithful followers of Christ that will make a significant impact in their callings and in their churches, and calling them back to the Way.

The Davenant Institute is only able to do the work it takes to renew Christian learning, restore Protestant wisdom, and contend for the common good thanks to supporters like you. 

In recognition of our ten-year milestone, would you consider donating $10 or more to support our continued work? Every dollar goes to supporting our community of scholars, students, and friends to pursue truth and defend the Gospel together. 

Please give today to sustain and expand this essential work of equipping the next generation of Christian leaders, and become part of our growing army of friends!

Michael Hughes has served Davenant since 2019 as Director of our Davenant House and in June 2023 moved to the role of Teaching Fellow, which has an emphasis in regional college and church outreach. Michael has his M.A. from Crown College and is pursuing his ThM. Prior to Davenant, Michael spent nine years serving with IVCF. He lives in South Carolina with his wife and six children and worships at Covenant Community OPC.


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