Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
Thomas Helling grunted a little as he picked the heavy 10 foot high wooden cross up from the side of the highway and hoisted it to his shoulder. I had to wonder, then, what he would have done if, at the time of his spiritual break through in the parking lot of a Tucson biker bar, he would have known that 7 years later he would find himself walking down highway from Maine to Mexico — bearing a full sized wooden Jesus cross.
Jesus’ instruction to his disciples was “Walk on,” and two millennia later, Tucson, AZ native, Tom Helling has taken this directive literally, as he walks from Bangor, Maine to Nogales, Mexico with a giant cross over his shoulder. His message is simple: “God loves you.” His story is inspiring: a substance abuser of 20 years has a spiritual breakthrough in the parking lot of Tucson biker bar, and, as he puts it, “went from a Christian hatter to a believer in a moment.”
Seven years later, Helling finds himself walking across the USA, sharing his story and his message. He began this trans-continental walk, aptly called the “Cross Walk,” in the beginning of June 2009, and has already walked through Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. On the first full day of this journey, the traveling journalist, Wade Shepard met up with Helling for a road side interview, which resulted in the following story:
Shepard is now meeting Helling again on RT 1 in Connecticut, and will walk a portion of the south bound journey with him — recording the conversations, images, thoughts, and stories of the man with the giant cross, on his walk of inspiration across the United States of America.
Along every step of the way, people have flocked to Helling, and many of them have come away with a touch of his inspiration:
“My husband saw and met this wonderful man. May God bless and protect him. May we all feel the same freedom of Spirit as he does.” -Alex from ME
“My wife and family met Tom yesterday ( Sunday around 6pm) near Saco,ME still walking south. We shared with him food, water, and a little money for his walk of Faith. God Bless Him for his witness to the Lord. May he have safe travels and may God open up to him – favor with men as he travels on his Cross Walk of Faith.!” -Dana from ME
“What a powerful witness to Jesus Christ this is!” -Anonymous man from New Hampshire
“Tom has an amazing story and I felt blessed to meet him.” -Francis from So. Hamilton New Hampshire
“Met him today on 1A in Hamilton, was a blessing, happened to be my mother’s 60th Birthday, I thought it was great for her, I am always trying to have my parents find faith and I think this helped a bit!” -Kimberly from Hamilton, NH
“I saw Tom on Rt 1 in Rowley on Tues. the 15th….It was / is a blessing to witness him . . .” Diane from Rowley, NH
“Saw Tom today (Friday, July 17th) in Malden, MA on Route 99 (Broadway) around 11:15 a.m. He just happened to be walking by my house when I was going out. My daughter, Jennifer, signed the cross and spoke with Tom for a few minutes and I stopped and wished him well . . .What a beautiful reason for walking! God bless you Tom.” -Ellen from Malden, MA
“I met Tom today he was in Boston. Tom really challenged me today in the way im living. What a blessing it was to meet him when I got out of work.” -Rich from Boston, MA
“I had the blessing of meeting Tom as he passed Route 1 in Massachusetts a few miles from Patriot Place (Gilette Stadium). But here is a real hero! Someone who’s living out his faith in a courageous way, in a world that is often hostile to His message. THANKS TOM for setting an example for us all! May God bless you in your journey.” -Karen from MA
“I met our brother In Christ “Tom” on Jefferson blvd. in Warwick Rhode Island as I was driving home from work at 2:00 pm.I saw this man on the road bearing a cross and stopped to ask how long he had been on his trek. We shared each others stories on our walk with Christ. It felt refreshing talking to a man who is truly sold out to Jesus!” -Paul from RI
“I was traveling on Rt1 in Wakefield RI when I saw Tom near Charlestown so I turned around on the highway to drive back and talk to him.Great conversation! I asked he he needed any water and he replied that a Pepsi would be good. I went to the local store and purchased a large bottle of Pepsi a couple of bottles of water two sandwiches an apple and two power bars and returned to Tom for some more conversation. It made my day!” -Rory from RI
“We saw Tom Today on Rte 1 South of Charlestown, RI….July 25, He looked like he is going the distance.” -Glenda and Chuck from RI
The next towns on the path of Tom Helling’s Cross Walk are Pawkatuck, Mystic, West Mystic, Poquonock Bridge, and New London, Connecticut.
To read the step by step story of Shepard’s encounters with Helling’s journey, visit www.vagabondjourney.com/travelogue.
To read complete and ready to publish articles about the Cross Walk, visit http://www.vagabondjourney.com/journalism/.
Shepard is also available to take on magazine or newspaper assignments. If you would like an exclusive story about Helling or the Cross Walk written from a specific angle, contact Shepard at email@example.com.
To republish or syndicate anything written on Vagabond Journey Online Travel Magazine about Helling’s Cross Walk, please also contact Wade at the above email address for terms.
Thank you for your interest.
Wade P. Shepard