Pilgrim Walking the World for Christian Unity
Inviting People to Join in Praying For One United Church
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ROME, JUNE 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- At 4:01 p.m. every day, people around the world (in their respective time zones) stop to pray "for one" -- for one united Church.
The initiative was begun by Australian Samuel Clear. But Clear was not satisfied with recruiting just family and friends for the 4:01 prayer crusade. So he decided to start an around-the-world pilgrimage seeking Christian unity, called "walk4one." He's been walking for some 11,000 miles -- since beginning in Brazil in December 2006, inviting whomever he can to pray for a united Church.
Clear began in the eastern-most point of the Americas. A Web site and blog keep his followers aware of his progress; he's currently in Spain and will be back in Australia for this summer's World Youth Day.
Clear told ZENIT how he decided to walk around the world to pray for unity. Though he has a degree in mechanical engineering, he spent five years in his native Australia as a missionary.
"In that time in Australia I began to see a lot of division within the churches. Particularly as a Catholic missionary I was being batted around the head quite seriously for not being 'Christian,' because I was Catholic," Clear explained. "But a lot of the problems that people had with me being Catholic weren't true; they were founded on half truths.
"There're a lot of problems. What really struck me, though, was [the conversion of] a Pentecostal and an evangelical man who became Catholic. And both of them lost their friends and family because they became Catholics and their friends and family believed they had dishonored Christ.
"In that moment, I guess I kind of glimpsed the pain of Christ at the broken Church and I couldn't let it rest. It just kept eating at me and as much as I tried to forget it, it [got] to the point where I had to do something."
I need you
It was through prayer that Clear decided what he would do: "I was kneeling down in Mass one day and just prayed: 'Lord, love to help you, but sorry, mate, you're on your own. I can't help you.' And once I had shut up, once I was quiet, I just felt the Lord saying: 'You know, Samuel, you're right. You can't fix it, but I can. I need you to pray.'"
Clear had already begun the 4:01 prayer initiative, but as he noted on the walk4one Web site, "I began to get frustrated at not being able reach more people outside my immediate friendship group."
"That's been the mission," Clear told ZENIT. "I just pray, pray for unity and that invitation to pray for unity got to the point where I was looking at a map one day and I thought I could just walk. I really wanted to not just pray for unity but to extend the invitation to pray for unity.
"So I took a year of planning and meeting with my bishop and meeting my director of the mission where I was working and eventually we came to the decision where I would do it. […] So I sold what I had and started walking.
"I walk and pray, simply. And then I stop in all churches along the way: Orthodox, Pentecostal, Protestant, evangelical, and extend the invitation to pray
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[Interview by Claudia Soberón; writing by Kathleen Naab]