Participants of two global mission projects to be running concurrently in the nations of Croatia and South Africa will be completing their training this week as they prepare to depart after July 3. Since June 27, staff and students from the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship have gathered for an orientation held in Atlanta, Georgia learning about "Shalom Theology" and receiving training in cross-cultural skills and spiritual formation.
IVCF's "Pilgrimage for Reconciliation", which will be running June 27 - August 7, is based on the concept of 'shalom,' an ancient Hebrew word meaning the well-being and flourishing of all creation in harmonious relationship. As ethnic conflicts are escalating around the world, reconciliation among people with different identities is urgently needed, said Jimmy McGee Project Director of "PfR." According to IVCF, the mission of PfR is to enable college leaders to train other collegians to be shalom-makers.
"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," said McGee.
PfR provides urgently needed training for InterVarsity staff and students to help them transform their campus ministries to reflect shalom values. 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."
For PfR-Croatia, students will travel through Germany and Croatia, visiting sites like the German Holocaust Museum and others that are key to understanding the ethnic cleansing that occurred in both countries. They will learn from spiritual and political leaders in the area who are actively working to restore "ethnic shalom" in the two countries.
Students taking part in PfR-South Africa will be exploring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and learning the history of Apartheid. They will be visiting Soweto and Robben Island, and other sites significant in the struggle against apartheid.
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.
McGee, who is in his 15th year on staff with IVCF, has served as a CSM on several Atlanta campuses for almost 11 years. He started and directed the Atlanta Urban Project for 10 years and currently serves in the multi-ethnic department in addition to directing the Pilgrimage.
Eileen Hocker, who will be co-directing PfR-South Africa, is the producer for 2100, IVCF's media producer. Last year she led students on the Global Urban Trek to learn and serve in a garbage village outside of Cairo, Egypt.