Question:

Hello!

I was curious about your thoughts regarding worship while traveling abroad. I was accepted to study abroad in Valencia, Spain, for one semester (four months). But I can't find a congregation near Valencia. The one I contacted in the city only has services in Tagalog and the nearest church that uses English according to them is apparently about 90 minutes away. I don't know if I'd be able to travel that far.

Do you feel it would be a sin to be away four months without worship? I don't know if I should go.

My brother, who is a preacher, told me that, if it were him, he'd go out of his way to worship abroad or not go at all. Because apparently it looked like Paul waited in Troas so he could worship with the brethren in Acts 20.

Thanks and I enjoy reading your answers. Hope the body is well there.

Answer:

A careful reading of Acts shows that Paul always traveled with a group of brethren, even when he was a prisoner being sent to Rome for trial. I'm sure safety in travels was one reason, but another reason would be the ability to worship while traveling. The incident at Troas in Acts 20 shows that even when he was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem, Paul stayed nearly a week just so he could meet with the brethren in Troas.

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 10:23-26).

People are in too much of a habit of treating commands of God like suggestions when they find the commands inconvenient. Personally, when I make trip plans, I layout where I will be worshipping first and then plan my travels around those times.

Here are some options:

  • Take a crash course in Spanish. You might not understand everything at first, at least you can worship with other Christians. I remember worshiping in a few congregations in the Philippines. I had a translator when I was presenting the lesson, but I sang with the brethren in their language. I just sang the phonetics and did not understand most of the words, though there were enough Spanish words in the language that I picked up some of what was being said.
  • Talk to the brethren in the nearby English-speaking congregation. See if you can travel over on Saturdays, worship with them on Sunday and then travel back.
  • Learn the bus and rail system to see if you can travel on Sundays. Add the cost of travel to your planned expenses.
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