A Cross to Bear

by Karen Topakian

They say that the Lord works in mysterious ways. And she surely must when she told 33-year-old Joshua Sarhan to carry a 40-pound cross across America. The ex-Marine totes it on his shoulder while telling people the good news about the Gospel.

Starting on Feb 17 in Arkansas, he has already crossed eight state lines with many more to go as he heads up the East Coast.

Of course he has a FaceBook page. Take Up His Cross, with more than 1,700 followers.

Joshua is not alone, however.

Keith Wheeler has been carrying his cross around the world for the last 25 years visiting more than 185 countries on all seven continents. 

Arthur Blessit spent 40 years carrying his cross more than 38,000 miles. 

Evangelist Joel Crompton carries a 10 ft cross as part of his street ministries.

Tom Alexander has carried his 10 ft cross through more than 100 cities in California though his sports a wheel from a movable fence. 

All of these people said that God told them to do this. That their lives changed for the better as a result. Giving up addictions and party boy behaviors. Turning away from a life of crime.

The cross helped them become better people, they say. It encouraged them to pray for and help others.

Not being a religious person on any level, I find this behavior to be quite curious. 

It surely raises a few questions.

If the Romans had more sophisticated means of capital punishment, like lethal injections, would these devout men be carrying needles around with them instead? Would it have the same impact?

Not meaning any disrespect but what possesses people do such things? And how do they know that it’s god talking to them?

Anybody have any insight into this behavior?  I am truly curious.


  1. It’s interesting to note that for several centuries the cross was abhorrent to early Christians- like a swastika is to Jews living today. They would never have such a thing in their midst when they gathered. Constantine had a solar cross – like a plus sign, as a representation of the sun. He didn’t so much “convert” to Christianity but rather accommodate the merger of the Jesus movement, his cult of Sol Invictus (the invincible Sun) and Mithraism. The deal was, move your Sabbath Day to Sunday, make Dec 25 your main holiday, and change the story so Romans are the good guys. It was too good a deal for them to pass up.- All three agreed to the merger.

  2. All I know is that I’m my mother’s cross to bear 😉

  3. Richard "Skyking" Dillman says:

    I get a lot of cross talk and static on my god channel but from what I can make out she’s telling me I should have another slice of pie.

  4. Steven Short says:

    Have you seen the versions of the big crosses that have little wheels on them? Helps cut down wear & tear, I guess, for both the cross and the bearer.

    Karen, admitting that you’re not religious already shows that you aren’t going to understand this type of behavior. I would say the thinking is: if Jesus died this terrible death in order that you might live beyond your sins, then it’s worth reminding people about that. And this is a dramatic way to do it. Somehow, though, I think the WWJD rule would not approve of this plan. But let those without sin cast the first stone.

    John comments that early Christians shunned the cross. Embracing it later has recent parallels with the gay rights movement: homosexuals in World War II were forced to wear the pink triangle in shame; now it’s a mark of defiance.

    The part of the Cross Worshipers that I don’t understand is why people seem to get “stuck on the cross.” Jesus died for our sins! He carried all that pain for us! Hallelujah! We are free, and forgiven! So take Him down off the cross already! That was the transition part – now we’re liberated on the other side! Churches should celebrate the Radiant, Saved Jesus in front of their congregations, not the form of punishment. In a word, Rejoice!

  5. chris pritchard says:

    Visit mental institutions—there are a lot of Jesus’ in each, I am sure.
    God told Joan of Arc a lot of stuff—look what happened to her.
    Some say if you stimulate certain parts of the brain with electrodes or a tumor, you will have religious experiences.
    I would like to carry around the electrodes for insta-religious experience. Or maybe just a pile of mushrooms. The church of christ without christ (remember
    the film Wiseblood?).

  6. When it comes to following Jesus, the cross doesn’t symbolize suffering, but the death & ressurection of Christ. Jesus loved us so much that he died on the cross, a horrible way to die, in order to save us from trying to live our lives without God. His message is a message of amazing love. I happen to know Keith Wheeler and another guy in Waco, TX who carries the cross. And both of them felt like Jesus led them to carry the cross to tell others about what Jesus did for them and how much He loves them. The message of Jesus is so impactful and life changing that once you experience that change it’s hard not to tell others about it because of the love and freedom it brings to your life. He’s changed my life and I will never go back to the way I lived before. He’s worth carrying a cross for and anything else He may ask of me.

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