In 1982, Keith Wheeler committed his life to follow Jesus. In 1985, on Good Friday, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, he began carrying a 12-foot, wooden cross. He has now walked with the cross over 21,000 miles, through more than 150 countries on all seven continents.
In 1985, as Keith was praying one night, he felt that God spoke to his heart, “I want you to make a cross and begin carrying it through the streets of Tulsa on Good Friday.” He thought this surely couldn’t be God, but felt these words burning in his heart,”Anyone can carry a cross–think about Simon of Cyrene; he carried Jesus’ cross. Anyone can die on a cross–think about the two thieves on either side of Jesus. Only One, however, could die for the sins of the world … and that was because of love. I want you to take the cross and identify that message of love along the roadsides of this world.”
Later, Keith felt God’s call, “For you, the cross is never to be a symbol of protest, but a symbol of reconciliation; I want you to be a ‘pilgrim of peace’ and a messenger of My love.”
Keith says, “This walk has not been a walk of faith … but God’s grace, in spite of my weaknesses, fears, and inabilities. I don’t have a ministry! Jesus does! It’s His ministry in my life, to my life, and I pray, through my life! I only want to be the kind of vessel that He can use to reach a lost and hurting world. It’s His ministry in our lives and through our lives touching this world. I’m not an evangelist or missionary — I’m simply a pilgrim. I only want to follow Jesus.”
“I love God and I love the people of the world. To me, ministry is simply the overflow of a life lived in love with Jesus. I feel that Jesus has many servants but very few friends. It’s one thing to be called a friend; it’s another to actually be a friend. I want to be His friend. I believe that His heart breaks for the lost and hurting of this world. I know that one day He’ll wipe away every tear from our eyes, but we have an opportunity to wipe away the tears from His eyes by loving others and reaching out to them. I want to put a smile on His face!”
Keith has carried the cross through places such as Tibet, Iran, Iraq, China and even, Antarctica. He has walked through the Middle East, North Africa, and many former Iron Curtain countries before the political changes. Keith has carried the cross through many nations at war such as Libya, Bosnia, Rwanda, the Chechen region and Bethlehem during the standoff at the Church of the Nativity. During this time, he has been arrested many times (none for crimes) and even jailed. Once, Keith was even taken before a firing squad to be shot; and yet another time he was beaten and left for dead.