‘Cross’ country walker makes local rest stop

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 2, 2007

WINTON – When someone asks Chuck Johnson on how he has made it this far, he always has the same response.

“Luck has nothing to do with it.”

For the last seven years Johnson has been traveling through the nation with a backpack, a 10 foot cross and a lot of faith.

“I do it just to remind people they need Jesus in their life,” said the 45-year-old Anaheim, Ca. native.

On Monday, Johnson’s path took him through the Roanoke-Chowan area, passing through Jackson, Conway and Murfreesboro via Highway 158.

He plans to continue his trip on Tuesday, taking Highway 13 to Suffolk after resting up at the Ahoskie Inn.

Johnson has logged thousands of miles crossing the 48 states that make up the continental United States.

He has done this 10 times and it’s something he hopes to keep on doing for at least three more years.

Johnson’s journey began in Tijuana, Mexico on March 1, 2000, after he built what was to be his only companion on the road, a large white cross made from PCB pipe and two small wheels that he carries on his shoulder.

He said the Lord told him he would only need $55 and Johnson wasn’t surprised when the total to construct the cross came to $53.50.

“I guess the Lord knew that’s all I needed,” he said.

And so he set out with only $1.50 in his pocket.

This is not the first time Johnson has bared a cross on his back. The first cross he carried weighed 86 pounds and was made out of oak.

Johnson said he carried it around the town of Milpitas, Ca. and that voyage partly inspired his current trip.

He first found his faith in 1987 when he was baptized in San Jose, Ca.

Johnson said as he was lifted from the water he knew he had been “saved.”

“I heard angels,” he said.

Johnson counts on the offerings of strangers to help his cause whether it be a generous donation or a lift to the next town.

“I’ve gotten thousands of rides,” he said.

Johnson said one of his most unusual ones came from a minister on a Harley Davidson.

And where ever he goes the cross follows behind—even into motel or hotel rooms he rents when he’s saved up enough money.

Johnson said for the most part everyone he has met has been kind to him.

“Sometimes you get people throwing stuff out the window,” he said.

Johnson said the biggest thing he has to contend with is the weather. He added he tries to stay south during the winter and north during the summer.

“I always take the heat over the cold,” he said.

Johnson has overcome other obstacles, including going without food for three days in New Jersey.

He said donations started to come to him after he appeared on local news outlets.

To Johnson it was another way God has come through for him.

“I carry the cross,” he said. “God does all the work.”