“The secret to walking across the country is to do it one step at a time.” ~Unknown
In the summer of 2002, I attended a pro-life youth conference in New Orleans. A group of young adults with “pro-life” printed on their t-shirts attended and spoke about their walk across the United States. I pledged that I would spend the next summer walking with the Crossroads Pro-Life Walk Across America. May 2003, I bought a one way ticket on a Greyhound bus for a 30 hour trip from Dallas to Arlington, VA. After two days of orientation, our group of walkers drove an RV from Virginia to San Francisco to begin the greatest adventure of our young lives.
The purpose of the Crossroads walk is to offer every step as prayer and mortification for the protection of dignity and sanctity of all human life, from the moment of conception to natural death. Crossroads also seeks to educate and encourage people to become more actively pro-life.
During my trip, I encountered thousands of people, most of whom were pro-life. We spoke at churches, visited youth groups, recruited young adults along the way, prayed at abortion centers, saved a few babies (that we know of), and formed lifelong friendships.
The biggest hurdle to overcome is that everything happens in God’s time. Various things broke, walkers got sick or injured, and many times we ran out of money and didn’t know from where our next meal would come. Many times we didn’t know where we would lay our heads. Every single time it appeared as though we would go without, God sent help at the last minute.
This year, Crossroads will begin their cross-country pilgrimage on May 19th in Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles, with all walks concluding in Washington, D.C. on August 11th. The three month trek will test the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual endurance of 50 or so young adults.
As a walker, my faith soared higher than ever before. Life was no longer according to my will, but wholly according to God’s. Living with 20 other people in tight quarters with only a backpack of personal belongings and no ability to set one’s own schedule tested my limits. Oddly enough, I had a difficult two months adjusting to life after Crossroads. My faith was at its peak and my will was aligned with God’s. Fast-forward to today, and a great many people with whom I walked have become or are in the process of becoming priests or nuns, or are leaders in their communities.
The interesting thing about Crossroads is that it not only invigorates the walkers, but many communities are transformed as well. I remember staying with a couple who were infertile, and the husband had been very bitter and angry at God because of it. We stayed nearly a week at their home, and by the end, the husbands anger and bitterness had melted. The day we said goodbye, he gave a tearful speech explaining that our witness of God’s love had relieved him of twenty-five years of scorn.
Nine years later, Crossroads is still going strong, and has expanded to at least four walks per summer. This summer, as they do every summer, the walkers will stop in Shreveport for a weekend. My wife and I will play host, listen to their stories, and share our own stories from the walks we completed.
Wherever you live, keep the Crossroads walkers in your prayers. They rely solely on divine providence for everything (food, water, shelter, clothing). If you live near one of the routes, please consider meeting them as they pass by, and offering even something as small as a word of encouragement. Not only will you lift the spirits of the walkers, but you too may be enriched by their love for God.