Samuel Clear left an engineering career to walk 15,600 kilometres around the world to promote Christian unity, after observing how many mission projects failed to get off the ground because different churches did not agree with each other.
Patrician Brothers College Fairfield Year 10 students heard about the highs and lows of the trip during a reflection day on May 15, including the point when Sam’s view of his purpose shifted.
During the journey he was mugged at knifepoint, bashed, met dangerous wildlife, and had surgery without anaesthetic. But it was meeting a man in Panama’s village of El Higo who secretly planned to leave his pregnant wife and daughter to find work 200 kilometres away to provide for them that affected him most.
I realised that unity wasn’t simply about agreeing with each other.
“It was both the low point, in that he gave me hospitality and food when his family went without, and a high point in that it absolutely changed my perspective on unity,” Sam said.
“I realised that unity wasn’t simply about agreeing with each other, but more so about loving each other. What came through when meeting some of the poorest of the poor was that they didn’t have to be in that situation because there were plenty of people around them that had the means to help, but their idea of Christianity was just to go to mass on Sunday. They didn’t actually give a stuff about the people around them, they weren’t united with them.
“It transfers to so many areas of life. Homelessness, those dying alone in a nursing home, those struggling with addiction, those who come from broken families, health and environmental issues, even somewhere like the Middle East where it’s more dangerous to be a woman right now than a soldier.”
During the workshop, the students were given business cards which included an invitation to pray for unity at 4.01, am or pm, and blank spaces for them to write the three areas where they would like to see change, and more of God’s love, present in the world.
Fadi Khousho, 15, was reminded that others don’t share the privileges many Australians have, and wanted to promote interfaith harmony and give more time to elderly people.
“We can go home and open our fridge and there is an assortment of foods,” he said.
“Some don’t have that opportunity, they have to go begging. Sometimes we are bound by law and have different facilities where we can get help whereas crime rates are soaring in some of the countries that Sam visited.
Through simple actions you can change the world.
“One of the things I could do is visit the elderly and have a conversation with them. I think if maybe I showed that some people, especially younger people, still have an interest in their lives that would make them a bit more happy.”
Austin Le, 15, said he wanted to see people adopt a more liberal world view. He also hoped to create more unity within his school debating team.
“Right now we’re arguing with each other so I’d like to get everyone together to know that everyone cares for one other so we can perform better,” he said. “Most importantly from the talk, in terms of life skills, I’ve learnt about different personalities and how they can impact your productivity.”
Matthew Brunet, 16, said he’d like to see people embrace freedom and unity and brotherhood “mainly in social ethics and how people act towards each other”.
“What I took most from the talk is that just through simple actions you can change the world,” he said.
Sam’s journey by numbers (December 16, 2006 to July 5, 2008)
15,600 kilometres on foot
22 countries in 19 months
11 near death experiences
-33°C to 47°C temperature range
200+ reflections days, and
450+ talks at schools and churches in Australia, New Zealand and America.