Cross-bearer comes to Porirua

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Twenty-seven years ago Ok­la­homa man Keith Wheeler be­gan a jour­ney that would see him beaten, jailed, put in front of a fir­ing squad, and be­come the guest of hon­our at Sad­dam Hus­sein’s palace, all while lug­ging a heavy wooden cross on his shoul­ders.

And last week he shored up in Porirua.

The self-de­scribed pil­grim says he has trav­elled 37,000 kilo­me­tres since Good Fri­day in 1985, when he was called by God to take the cross on his shoul­ders and walk.

Over the years Mr Wheeler, 52, has vis­ited 202 coun­tries in­clud­ing Antarc­tica, and 40 in wartime. Last year he was in Libya and Egypt dur­ing the civil wars, and vis­ited Rwanda dur­ing the 1990s geno­cide.

He once showed up at the Iraq bor­der with his three-me­tre high cross and no visa. He was in­vited to Sad­dam Hus­sein’s palace for din­ner, and has the pho­tos to prove it.

Mr Wheeler has been in prison 40 times – the cross has been in jail 50 times, he says.

He claims to have been stoned with rocks, beaten with base­ball bats, sawn-off shot­guns and a 2x4, and left for dead twice. He was once in front of a fir­ing squad in Mex­ico at night, he says, but the ex­e­cu­tion­ers were thrown to the ground and fright­ened by a blind­ing light.

‘‘I’ve lived more life in 52 years than many peo­ple do in 100 years,’’ he says. ‘‘I have seen the worst of the worst of hu­man­ity. My mes­sage is that the cross is where the worst of mankind meets the best of God.’’

That cross is heavy – Mr Wheeler has a huge in­den­ta­tion in his left col­lar­bone from car­ry­ing it for so long. He says God might not have lit­er­ally meant him to lug a gi­gan­tic cross around the world.

‘‘I think he’ll say ‘thanks for try­ing’.’’

Mr Wheeler does not be­long to a par­tic­u­lar de­nom­i­na­tion and does not try to con­vert peo­ple to Chris­tian­ity, he says.

‘‘I’m a fol­lower of Je­sus. I don’t have any­thing for any­body to join,’’ he says. ‘‘I love Him. I rep­re­sent Him and I want peo­ple to know He loves them.’’

He first vis­ited New Zealand 10 years ago, and came back to visit his friend, Tawa man Matthew Lai.

To see pho­tos of Keith Wheeler’s trav­els visit www. face­book. com/ pages/Keith-Wheeler

Pil­grim in Porirua: Cross-bear­ing Keith Wheeler vis­ited Porirua last week with his friend Matthew Lai, and at­tracted the in­ter­est of Ethan Ku­rukaanga, Nathan Bates, Hay­den Tun­gatt and Chris Kri­jger.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.