Over miles and many lands, the message is clear
Rick Newton has carried a cross for many years, bearing the weight of it as it offers solace and scripture to those that stop to ask. When he carries the cross, many honk, wave, and some give him gestures that you may not like to see, but he still carries it.
“It’s not the miles,” said Newton. “It’s the people along the way.” Newton has met plenty of those people.
He says he averages about one person stopping to talk every mile in America. He’s carried the cross approximately 23,000 miles; so many people have personally talked with the evangelist, some giving him encouragement for what he has dedicated his life to, but most to talk with him about their beliefs.
Rick Newton picked up the cross for the first time in 1975 when a colleague decided they needed something to get the attention of partygoers in New Orleans, Newton’s colleague was in his forties, and Newton was 22. After he carried the cross once, it became something that he decided needed to be done for more people.
Newton has been all over the world with the 77 pound cross. Its weight is distributed on his shoulders and he does have a wheel at the bottom to help it along, but as Newton says, “It gets heavier during the day.”
Newton doesn’t let the weight stop him. He recently walked from Savannah, Georgia to Maine. He describes some of the people along the way and tell stories of their tribulations and accomplishments when they come across him. “People drive Mercedes’ to Motorcycles stop and talk,” he says.
“I’ve heard so many stories,” said Newton. “People will stop and confess some of their innermost feelings, from drugs to infidelity. I had a woman stop and tell me about having an abortion 22 years ago; she had so much guilt. We talked and I told her the Lord was forgiving, which made her feel much better, and she left me with a much better attitude about herself.
Newton tells about going to Russia and giving Bibles to the new Members of Parliament, he was invited inside the parliament in New Zealand also, but Russia was big because the Bible had been banned there for 70 years. He also tells a story about being shot at in Jerusalem. “Thank god they didn’t hit me,” he said. “But they got my attention.”
He went across “Checkpoint Charlie” in East Berlin before the wall came down. “The English soldiers that were patrolling were surprised to see me there,” said Newton. “They asked how I got across the line, and I told them I just walked, they let me in. They circled me for the whole time I was there to make sure I was OK.”
Newton spent time in Washington doing a five-day fast with others recently. “A lot of the people inside the White House came out to talk with me,” he said.
Newton says that the most enjoyable thing about carrying the cross is “When I’m able to pray with someone that receives the Lord.”
There are very few days that Newton doesn’t pick up the cross and go out to walk with it.
“Its what I do,” he says.