Two southwest Missouri men go on walk of faith

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Two southwest Missouri men are walking across the Midwest carrying a wooden cross in an effort to encourage people to pray for America.

Mike Porter and Joe Hendricks left Memphis, Tenn., on June 13 and plan to arrive in St. Louis by the Fourth of July. They cover between 20 and 25 miles a day. Both men are members of Promiseland Fellowship Church near Granby, Mo., about 20 miles southeast of Joplin.

"We're just lifting up Jesus and encouraging people to pray for America," Porter said Monday afternoon as he walked north on Interstate 55 from Benton.

He intended to reach Cape Girardeau by nightfall and then head to the city's highest-crime area. Each evening after walking for about 8 or 10 hours, the men mingle with youth and adults in some of the worst neighborhoods of the city they're in.

"People call them the darkest places but we think they're the best places," Porter said.

The teenagers are just curious about how to find meaning and purpose in life, he added.

This is the third year that the men have walked a great distance carrying the cross. Last summer the route took them from Kansas City to St. Louis.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there is nothing illegal about walking the interstates or highways as long as it doesn't interfere with traffic.

And people along the route have been receptive, Porter said. "They give us cold water and feed us in every single city."

Since he walks nearly 10 miles a day in his job at a La-z-Boy factory, Porter said there isn't much training necessary for the hike. "It's just prayer and fasting. When you've got a plan and a vision, God can be your strength."

ljohnston@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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