Pastor stepping out on faith

Published 9:56 am Sunday, January 31, 2016

He was walking along Hwy. 84 in Lawrence County when I met him. He was hard to miss, with the 10-foot cross draped over his shoulder.

Steve Epp is on a mission to walk across the country, carrying a cross and the message of Jesus with him.

I asked why he was doing it. His reply was simple: “I’m spreading the hope of Christ. It’s about faith, hope and love.”

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Epp said he had been a pastor, church planter and a host of other religious-sounding things. But he said a few years ago, he left his home in Oklahoma on a mission to reach the “younger generation.”

“They have no faith left in the church, because the church is not the church, this is the church,” he said as he pointed to the cross. “I took off for North Carolina, and walked from North Carolina to here.”

He travels with his wife Saundra. They were camping at Lake Mary Crawford this past week. Saundra drops off Steve with his cross, he walks about 10 miles per day, and then she picks him and they camp. That routine has been repeated hundreds of times since the journey began.

His route has taken him from North Carolina, through South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. He plans to hit I-20 in Louisiana and finish out west. He expected to be walking another couple years.

During my short visit with him, several motorists stopped to talk with him and pray. He shared Jesus with those who
were curious.

The suspicious journalist side of me is always skeptical of people who are going to such extravagant lengths to do something that doesn’t seem to require such lengths. After all, Steve could preach the gospel from just about anywhere, so why do it on the side of the
highway carrying a cross?

Is he looking for money? Is he looking for attention? Those questions were flying through my head as I spoke with him on Hwy. 84.
Who knows the answer, but I left our brief meeting with the feeling that this man was genuine.

He believes that God gave him this mission, and he had enough faith to accept God’s challenge. He believes in a God that will protect him as he walks along busy highways and interstates. He trusts in a God that will equip those he sends out.

Steve has more faith than most religious folks I know — including myself. I doubt I would be willing to leave my job and
home and walk across the country carrying a cross.

Carrying a cross (with two small wheels on the bottom to make the work easier) just sounds ridiculous I know, but once you talk to Steve, it seems less so. He’s a man on a mission from God. Who can question that?

Luke Horton is publisher of The Daily Leader. He can be reached at