27. A WALK OF LOVE
From the United States to Ottawa, Canada, 1976 – Each day I would walk, then at night I would leave the cross somewhere, hitch a ride back to my old van where I would sleep, then drive up to the cross and walk again the next day. It was cold, windy and rainy as I came into the beautiful city of Montreal. The Montreal Canadians had won the Stanley Cup and this was their day to be welcomed home by the city. Crowds lined the streets, cheering and waving. No one spoke to me as I eased my way with the cross through the masses of people. I preached at a square in the city center with crowds all around, but no one listened.
In the city center I saw a big church across from the square. I needed some place to leave my cross for the night. Cold and wet, I approached the church, looked inside and saw a big wooden cross, about the same size as the cross I was carrying. There was a big banner across the front of the church that said, “Hallelujah!”
I walked back outside, looked around and saw a side door. When I knocked at the door, a lady opened it and behind her were some ministers. I explained what I was doing and asked if I could leave my cross there overnight. She turned to a minister and I saw him shake his head.
“I’m sorry,” she said “But we wouldn’t be able to do that.”
She started to close the door but I insisted. “Please, it’s just a cross. I’m not asking for money or anything, just a place to put the cross.”
She turned and whispered to the minister, who responded “We can’t just keep everything people want to leave here.”
“But, it’s a cross,” I said, shaking in the cold. I could hardly believe my ears. “Just be careful you don’t pass Jesus by if He ever comes looking for a place to stay or a place to leave His cross.”
I picked up the cross and walked back into the celebrating crowd and looked at the tall church steeple. Tears flowed down my cheeks as the cross seemed ignored and rejected. A black man tapped me on the shoulder as I stood waiting for the light to change. He spoke with an accent. He had remembered me carrying the cross in Nairobi, Kenya. That was his home. He remembered the big crowds looking at the cross there and here he was shocked to see everyone passing it by. He was on his way to the airport but he held me in his arms and we prayed together, as he was a strong believer. I felt his love so real as I walked on down St. Catherine Street and remembered his smile in my beloved Africa.
After awhile, I saw a short lady, like a midget, coming straight at me. She was dressed in an old dress and a torn coat. “Mister, God sent me to lay hands on you and to pray for you.”
“What do you mean?” I asked and bent down to her.”
I was in my house and God gave me a vision and showed me a man carrying the cross down the sidewalk, and He told me to come down to St. Catherine Street, and I am to lay hands on this man and bless him. Would you please kneel so I can put my hands on your head?”
Her love was overwhelming. I got on my knees and said, “Ma’am, you sure can lay hands on me.”
She laid her little hands on my head and prayed in great power. Tears flowed down my cheeks as she finished by saying, “There, now, I’ve done my job. You keep walking with the cross.”
I stood and looked at her gentle face, old in years, yet radiant. Her hands were rough from hard work.
“Well,” I said. “God has told you to come and lay hands on me and now I feel Him telling me to give you all the money in my pocket. God told me everything, so here it is.”
She then began to weep and told me how much she needed the money for food. We both were crying and praying as she walked off into the crowds.
I started down the sidewalk and as I neared a residential area and a park, a beautiful young girl, about 16 years old, came rushing up. She had long blonde hair and deep blue eyes. She looked me straight in the eyes. “Your are the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen in my life. There is a glow around your whole face.”
I was amazed as she continued, handing me a flower. I put down the cross and leaned against it.
“I’m an atheist. What are you doing with that cross?”
“An atheist?” I smiled. “You are the third most spiritual person I’ve talked to all day. One black man, and a midget, and you.”
I told her my story of carrying the cross and how the church had turned me away from leaving it there overnight. She kept asking questions. Finally she said, “Where are you going now?”
I told I was looking for a place to leave my cross so I could return and get my van.
“Oh,” she said. “You can leave it at our house just around the corner from here.”
I left the cross in the family living room and walked for hours, most of the way back to my van, getting a ride when I was near it.
The next morning I drove my van back to Montreal and parked outside her house. She prepared breakfast for me and as I was about to leave I asked her to let me pray.”I know you don’t believe, but I do. So let me pray for you. If there is no God it won’t hurt.”
“Oh, yes,” she said. “Last night it felt so good with your cross in the house. I put a blanket under the cross and slept under there. Please pray.”
We prayed together and she opened her heart to Jesus.
What an experience. Uninterested crowds, unchristian Christians, a black man from Kenya, a midget lady, and an atheist girl who turned to Jesus. Praise God, what a day!