Sam Clear is a 28-year-old Catholic from Australia who is currently walking around the world as a pilgrimage of prayer, inviting all Christians to pray for unity. In the last 12 months, Sam has walked from Brazil to Canada. In that time, he has been racially abused, stalked by a puma and held up at gunpoint, slept in rat infested rooms and underneath trucks and experienced the best and worst of the world-wide Christian community. All of these experiences have given him a unique view of the need for Christian unity, which is expressed in the following extracts from his journey.
Brazil: Sunday, February 11, 2007
After walking a few thousand kilometers through very dangerous places I have torn a muscle while getting into my hammock.
I might take this opportunity to talk briefly about Unity of Christians in light of injuries. Firstly, I’ll quickly list my injuries thus far over 28 years.
I’ve broken 15 bones, I’ve dislocated my shoulder several times, I’ve had two shoulder reconstructions, two ankle reconstructions, seven stitches in my finger, three in my eye-brow, skinned my foot in a bike wheel, I’ve had Pneumonia twice, was asthmatic as a child, have been bitten by a snake and once upon a time tore a muscle while hopping into my hammock.
The point is this: all of those injuries have hurt and most of them would have stopped me form walking around the world, if not at least made it very uncomfortable. Yet despite all these injuries, I am still able to walk around the world. Each injury was treated and allowed to heal. It required humility to slow down and allow healing to take place and it often hurt even more in attending to it (putting a dislocated shoulder back in is the classic case).
So too with Christians, it requires humility and patience to allow injuries to heal and more often than not it’s the initial ‘attending to’ that hurts the most, but the consequences of not attending to hurts or injuries is far worse. Imagine if the doctor had discarded the part of my body that was injured because it no longer functioned as it should. I’d have one leg, no arms, a pretty warped looking torso and a very gummy smile. The Church is the Body of Christ and the Body of Christ is broken. Please pray for unity and may we always approach unity with humility and reverence!
Venezuela: Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Still praying hard and walking to who knows where and smiling most of the way. Have had some run-ins with Pentecostals who’ve accused me of not being Christian because I am Catholic and that I shouldn’t be walking for unity as it already exists between Christians (it’s just that I’m not one of them apparently). I’ve found this humbling, particularly as this is the exact reason I’m walking but there was no point in arguing so on I walk and on I pray.
Costa Rica: Sunday, May 20, 2007
Some food for thought; I’ve spoken to a few people along the way who have used a closing remark along the lines of, “Well, I guess in the end we’re all just brothers and sisters in the Lord and that’s all that counts.” This closing line hasn’t sat well with me since I first heard it but I only realized why the other day–it is indifference, not unity. We aren’t called to tolerate each other but to love one another into complete unity. It’s actually a very easy trap to fall into and calls for prudence in not allowing the search for unity to fall short and merely become passive indifference.
Nicaragua: Sunday, May 27, 2007
The more I walk and pray the more I learn about the disunity of Christians and the travesty this is. I keep being reminded though that the fundamental foundation for unity is prayer and a desire to be united. A fellow I chatted with back in Costa Rica commented that we’d all be united if other churches just read their bibles. He then began to point out the errors of many churches and left it at that. Yes, correcting errors in theology is an elementary part of unification but one of the big problems I’ve noticed while walking is that many people are happy to cut down other churches but will then refuse to listen in turn. It’s always someone else’s fault … Let’s start with the self.
USA: Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I’ve been very blessed with the company of so many hospitable Texans. On the down side, two nights ago I stayed in a small hotel and channel-surfed the cable TV through all the various Christian stations. I was amazed at the array of teachings and preaching of the different stations; it unfortunately drove home even further the division amongst Christians. Over 30 minutes this is just a sample of what I heard:
– “The Baptist Church is run by a board and that is not in the bible!”
– “Hell does not exist and the bible is not the exact word of God.”
– “Hell is very real and the bible, the word of God, describes it vividly!”
– “The Holy Spirit whispered to me, ‘I can get you money anywhere in the world’.”
– “The Lord wants to bless you with financial security, so if you send a $1000 deposit right now to the address on your screen you too can allow the Lord to bless you.”
– “We need to make atonement for our sins! Send a minimum of $60 to the address below & begin to make your atonement with God.”
– “The Catholic Church seeks to control your life.”
– “The Pentecostal Church is so legalistic.”
And so on, and so on.
It was incredibly sad to watch the public face of Christianity in the outside world. The truth is not relative and we sure aren’t making much of Christ’s prayer in John 17.
USA: Sunday, November 11, 2007
As the sun set en-route to Greybull I saw the most fantastic sight-the southern migration of Arctic Geese. There had to have been well over 1000 of the little guys, in flying V’s of around 50 each, sprawling across a brilliant sunset. It was awesome. What was unexpected though was that as I watched one particular flying V I saw two geese break off from the formation and head back into the north. I was thinking to myself, “Wrong way guys! You’ve just come from there,” but I soon stood in awe as I watched them fly back to a goose that had fallen behind. The two geese circled around and pulled up alongside the straggler; together they formed their own little 3-geese flying V and powered on back to the main group. It was brilliant. Nice one guys, unity in action.
For full details on this journey, go to www.ymt.com.au/walk4one.