How to Make a Cross
(and some personal thoughts about cross walking)
At the request of many people asking for details about how my cross is made, I have prepared this page.
In early 1968 we opened a Jesus Coffee House called 'His Place' on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California. I felt the Lord wanted me to put a big wooden cross on the inside wall of the building. It must be a real cross that a man could be crucified on. I then began a search for information about the history of the cross and actual crucifixion.
1. The wood had to be strong enough to hold an adult man. I felt a 4" x 4" was about the right size.
2. A man's outstretched arms would require a crossbeam about 6 foot wide.
3. The height of the cross would need to accommodate a man of at least 6 feet or more. There would need to be about 3 feet put in a hole to keep the cross upright. Perhaps a gap of about 3 feet between the man's foot and the ground would be appropriate. The upright beam of the cross would be about 12 feet.
4. My best estimate would be a 12 x 6 foot cross, made of 4" x 4" wood.
At the crossbeam, a 2" x 4" piece of wood is cut out of each beam to make it fit smoothly together. I used a metal 4 x 4 plate to cover that point. It and the wood have holes drilled so a 4" bolt fits through to hold the crossbeam in place. This can also be unbolted for transport.
I ran into a problem taking the cross overseas. It is too long for checked baggage, so it must be shipped airfreight on separate flights, etc. This presents many problems as well as the fact it does not arrive with you! To overcome this I cut the twelve-foot beam in half. This can then be bolted together with a metal support on both sides with the same type bolts as the crossbeam. I started doing a few cross walks along Sunset Blvd. in 1968-69.
Before the first long crosswalk began December 25, 1969, I had no idea how far and fast I could walk with the cross in a day. Several weeks before the crosswalk was to begin I went out in the desert in California and walked with the cross. It was during this test walk that we realized the wood at the end of the cross would wear away at about the rate of an inch a day! Wood against pavement and rock will lose every time! That is the reason for the wheel.
I feel the best wheel and tire is an inflatable 12-1/2" size. It is common around the world as a tricycle wheel. You can now get puncture resistant tubes to prevent flats.
The unbolted cross fits in the international airline regulations. The three 4" x 4" pieces of wood will fit inside a triple-ski bag. I have a canvas shop extend the wheel end of the bag a little wider to fit the wheel.
The weight of the cross varies with the type of wood used and could range from 35 to 70 pounds. I now use California Red Wood.
The cross wood is not holy but it does represent a truly Holy event, the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ on a cross! The cross is a dramatic symbol of that event. A large cross being carried makes a profound and unforgettable impact on the mind of the person who sees it. That person years later still remembers when and where they saw the cross being carried.
In the Bible, symbols are very important in both the new and old Testaments. The Passover and other events are full of symbols. In the New Testament, the Bread and Wine represent the Body and Blood of Jesus. Baptism and foot washing are other symbols used by believers. In the same way the 'cross' conveys a profound message when it is seen outside the 'normal' place. Out on the road it shakes a person who may have even worn a cross for years around their neck. A person who goes to church sees so many crosses they no longer make an impact, but let the same person leave church and see a person caring a cross and they are shaken.
Some people are critical of a cross walker saying 'Jesus has already done that.' Yes, Jesus did carry the cross but after a short distance Simon of Cyrene was compelled by the Roman solders to carry the cross of Jesus. A sinner was qualified to carry the cross of Jesus, but he was not qualified to die on it for our sins. Simon carried the cross 'to' Calvary. We are to carry the cross on 'from' Calvary to the world.
Jesus said "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" Mark 8:34
"Whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple" Luke14:27
"He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" Matthew 10: 39
It is clear the followers of Jesus 'must' be cross carriers. You may interpret this for yourself or accept it as fact. What did it mean in His day? The cross meant death! It was common for the Romans to us it as a way of suppressing their occupied peoples. Jesus said this before He was crucified. It clearly meant to the hearers that those who followed Him were to follow Him to death. 'Take your cross and carry it to your death.' Those who follow Him are to make an unconditional commitment to Jesus and this is to bare His shame and reproach as you like Simon follow Jesus to the place of death.
Jesus called me at 5 a.m. in the morning in September of 1969 to carry the cross across America. It was a clear, certain message from Jesus. So I carry the cross because He called me to do so and still does. I walk for Jesus! I walk because it is His will and call for my life. He uses it as a witness and for many things but I know I walk for Him alone. I do so without shame and seek only to please Jesus. I seek to walk with the cross when, where and how He says. Whatever happens is in His Hands and according to His will. That is why I am happy what ever happens. I walk with the cross in the rain, or cold or heat, when loved or hated, when welcomed or rejected, in honor or dishonor.
To my knowledge this mission of carrying the cross was the first long cross country walk with a big life size cross in history. This walk began December 25, 1969 and has continued now to every nation. Jesus did it! All glory to God.
To those called, go forth with the cross for Jesus. God bless you.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus, I've carried the cross as of 2015, 41,552 miles in every nation and major island group.
Arthur and Denise Blessitt