A group of believers enters the next phase of a pilgrimage to reconciliation.

By July 2, 2004

International (MNN)–The whole concept started with a banquet of rice and water.

A rabbi told a gathering of believers that in some places, clean water and rice is a feast. That was an introduction into the concept of ‘shalom’ in 1999. In that audience, a key leader for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and the makings of the “Pilgrimage for Reconciliation”.

Shalom, an ancient Hebrew word, means the well-being and flourishing of all creation in harmonious interrelationships. The mission of PfR is to enable college leaders to train other collegians to be shalom-makers.

Jimmy McGee heads up “PfR”. Around the world, ethnic conflicts are escalating. As a consequence, reconciliation among people with different ethnic identities is urgently needed.

That’s the function of PfR. McGee says they study the demonstration of ‘shalom’. “We’re not only studying the theological implications of it within the Scriptures, we’re then doing an historical review of observing how has ‘shalom’ been broken and then how has it been restored? It’s much more of a sober reality of our humanity.”

PfR provides urgently needed training for InterVarsity staff and students to help them transform their campus ministries to reflect shalom values.

The teams have already completed orientation, and are ready to take on the next stage of the project. Together, McGee says they’re developing future leaders who understand the reality behind ‘peace’. “The staff who went through one summer of experience, now get students to come with them to study ‘shalom’ in the international context. So, it’s not only studying, we actually take a ‘Trail of Tears’, we actually study the African American history of slavery, Jim Crow and civil rights in this country. We’re sending students to Croatia and the Balkans, and then we’re sending second group to South Africa.”

When the teams return in August, they will spend a week in debriefing in Atlanta, Georgia. Past teams have said they came back wounded by the suffering witnessed, but resolved to gain greater understanding from God about how to serve as agents of Shalom in society and on campus.

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