After walking almost 16,000km for Christian unity, one young Tasmanian’s journey is just beginning.
By Mark Reidy
Samuel Clear may have long legs and size 16 feet, but that didn’t make his 18-month walk across the world to promote Christian unity any easier.
During his epic journey he was robbed by a gang at knifepoint in Costa Rica, had a shotgun held to his head in Venezuela, was mugged by two men on an isolated stretch of road in Russia, was apprehended by Secret Police in Belarus, stalked by a puma, hospitalised with typhoid fever having suffered bleeding feet for weeks at a time, slept in rat-infested rooms and endured weather conditions ranging from 47 degrees to minus 33. But his desire to invite Christians of all denominations to pray for unity inspired this 29-year-old Catholic from Tasmania to continue.
Sam, who is currently the Perth manager of the Disciples of Jesus Youth Mission Team, told The Record that the seed for his global mission, which began in Brazil on December 16, 2006, was planted in 2005 when a number of profound experiences brought to his attention the division that existed between Christian churches.
Initially this awareness instigated feelings of sadness and helplessness, “like witnessing a car accident”, and he thought that there was nothing else to do but leave the problem in God’s hands.
However the Gospel at a Mass he attended soon after began to resonate loudly within him, “A man finds a treasure buried in a field and he goes away and sells everything he owns so to purchase the field”.
He knew then that he was being called to pray for unity and began asking people he knew to join him at 4.01pm (praying “for one”) each day. He soon became frustrated at his inability to reach a wider audience and a few days later, while looking at a world atlas, he thought of walking around the world inviting as many Christians as possible to join him in his prayer. In what he describes as “a St Francis-like experience” Sam then sold all that he owned to fund himself and embarked on the 568-day journey.
“I decided that I wouldn’t ask for money or sponsorship for my walk, but would instead ask people to pray with me. Australians are very generous when it comes to giving money, but have difficulty when it involves prayer. When people asked me how they could help, I would say to them ‘… on your knees’.”
He continues today to invite others to pray for “unity in truth and love” when he speaks to various parishes and groups about his adventure. He’s delivered the message in nine different languages to each church that he passed, of various denominations, on his trip through South, Central and North America, across Russia and throughout Europe.
He is excited at the prospect of Christians praying at 4.01pm across the various time zones. “People don’t necessarily need to pray for long”, he says. “Even 30 seconds in the busyness of their day is enough. Imagine the power of thousands of Christians, joining together each day, united in their focus on Christ and their desire for unity, in that one moment.”
It was the same message he delivered to crowds of up to 80,000 at World Youth Day in Sydney only days after completing his 29,000km (15,500 by foot) journey on the coast of Spain. He was overwhelmed by the WYD experience, particularly awed at being invited to address such large numbers after a year and a half of mostly isolation.
His desire for social reintegration led Sam to accept the role with the YMT over returning to his parents’ remote Tasmanian farm. He believed that the social and spiritual interaction involved with managing a group of young people dedicated to bringing youth into a personal relationship with Christ, would be the most effective way of debriefing from his arduous journey.
Having survived on Providence for so long, there is no doubt that this 196cm Disciple of Christ is prepared to take any future challenges in his long and purpose-filled stride.
For more details of Sam Clear’s journey, including his journal and photos and/or details about the Disciple of Jesus Youth Mission Team see ymt.com.au/walk4one.