By BRAD WHITEHOUSE
When Bob Hanus, Jr., says he has a cross to bear, he means it.
Despite full sun and temperatures in the 90s, Hanus hung the 70-pound wooden cross over his shoulder last Thursday and rolled it west on U.S. 20 toward Fayette. He waved and smiled at every car and truck that barreled by, and, if given the chance, he shared his message.
“The sole purpose I’m carrying this cross is to remind people that Jesus loves them,” Hanus said.
Hanus, who is in his late 30s, was a cocaine addict and an alcoholic until he became a Christian in 1987. For the past nine years, he’s been walking around sharing how his life has changed.
“I call it the one-step program: I repented, and Jesus set me free.”
He’s traveled more than 12,000 miles so far, including parts of Canada and Mexico, and every state except Hawaii.
Lake Geneva, Wis., used to be home for the walking evangelist, but now he lives in a motor home with his wife, Cori, and his 5-year old son, Timothy.
“Right now, my wife is parked at the Fulton County Fairgrounds, but we stay at a lot of Wal-Marts, because they allow RV parking,” he said.
The family is currently traveling coast to coast on U.S. 20, from Boston, Mass., to Newport, Ore. During breaks from the walk, he attends events such as youth rallies, the NASCAR Winston Cup race in Daytona, even KKK rallies.
“I see the cross as an evangelism tool,” he says. “This is actually my smallest one. I have a bigger one that is outlined with rope lighting that I use at motorcycle rallies.”
This leg of the U.S. 20 trip stretches from Toledo to Chicago, and has already provided an opportunity to reach out to someone.
“I met a guy in Toledo who was wearing a satanic pentagram around his neck. I was able to pray with him, and he repented and took the pentagram off.”
Based on his own life, Hanus believes that it only takes a moment for God to change someone. He recalls his partying days when he was at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and how his drinking buddy convinced him to try cocaine. He was soon supporting an addiction that cost in excess of $35,000 a year. He almost died of an overdose, and crashed his Firebird into an oak tree at 70 mph.
Then when a group of Christian businessmen scheduled a religious meeting at the Hilton in Lake Geneva, on June 18, 1987, his mother asked him to go. At the meeting, Hanus prayed to accept Jesus as his savior and became a Christian.
Things have never been the same since, and he says that he and his wife now have the best job possible, “telling others about Jesus on a full time basis.” Funding for the ministry comes from voluntary donations, which he believes is a result of God’s provision.
To Hanus, this provision comes in big and small ways. On a day like today, it’s important to stay hydrated, and while that’s not a problem at this particular moment—he’s standing beside the artesian well just a few miles west of the Twin Curves—he believes God is watching out for him.
“You’d be surprised at how many people stop and give me water,” he said.
• Learn more about Bob Hanus and his travels at www.crosswalker.com.– July 10, 2002