For nearly two decades, this Osage Beach resident has walked the Lake area and central Missouri highways carrying one of his large crosses. He has poignantly and very visibly shared his Christian beliefs. Some folks give him an encouraging wave from their vehicles. Others give him a pause. They stop and get out of their cars. Then James orally shares his belief with his new friends. They often pray together. “It touches me more than you think,” James imparts. “Every time I walk, it changes me to be more like Jesus and to feel His pain for man.”
James was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, raised in the Kansas City area and vacationed at the Lake. Enjoying cartooning and
graphic arts while growing up, James graduated from the Shawnee Mission School District. He served in the United States Navy and in 1987 moved to the Lake. Two years later he married his love, Carolyn, and together they have a daughter, Sarah. They left the Lake for Springfield, Missouri, where James studied at Evangel College.
Next was a move to Bolivar, where James first began his walks with the cross in 2003. Returning to the Lake two years later, he continued his discipleship on Good Friday carrying his cross along Highway 54 in Osage Beach and Camdenton. Then in 2014, “God laid it on my heart to take the cross beyond the Easter holiday and to make it a daily walk of faith and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and His love and grace,” James elaborates.
This kind and humble Hy-Vee employee has carried the cross on the National Day of Prayer, to and from work in Osage Beach,
then to Lake Ozark, across Bagnell Dam, the Community Bridge and beyond. He has walked in Columbia, Jefferson City and Lebanon. In 2017, he carried his message to 30 small towns throughout central Missouri.
In the future he plans to enlarge his ministry by visiting others in the cities of Nashville, New York City and Washington D.C.
“Jesus died on that cross to give man hope and life from God the Father,” James enlightens. He was also inspired by his mother and other family members. “Now it is time for me to become that same inspiration to others, to pass on the hope and grace of God.”
In keeping his commitment, James physically walks as a visual symbol so others may be enlightened, as well as reminded to enjoy and pursue their own physical and more meaningful spiritual well-being.
Q. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE WALKED WITH YOUR CROSS?
A. At the Lake, I have walked a 32-mile route on Good Friday that included Lake Ozark, across the Bagnell Dam and along Osage Beach Expressway. My longest walk was on Memorial Day in 2016 from Eugene, Missouri to Jefferson City. It was 35 miles to and from, 5 hours each way.
Q. DO YOU TRAIN FOR YOUR LONG WALKS?
A. I train every day by working out and, naturally, just by walking.
Q. WHO CONSTRUCTS YOUR CROSSES?
A. I make my own crosses. They weigh from one pound to three pounds and are made of flat wood boards. On a heavier cross I installed a wheel on its lower portion. Sometimes, I use plastic pipes.
Q. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BIBLE VERSE?
A. One is Colossians 1:19-20, “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things in heaven, whether things on Earth, or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.”
Q. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE?
A. I am very appreciative of my family’s support, the Lake area churches’ support, their pastors, the media covering my story and friend Alan West, who often accompanies me on the highways. •