In 1982, Keith Wheeler committed his life to follow Jesus. 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.”
By the grace of God, Keith Wheeler, a modern-day pilgrim has now carried a 12-foot, wooden cross on foot over 25,000 miles in more than 185 different nations on all seven continents (including Antarctica!) sharing the simple message of God’s love for all people. With God’s help, Keith has walked through more than 30 nations at war. Truly, this walk has not been one of great faith, but a demonstration of God’s great grace and mercy.
He began walking on Good Friday, 1985. This walk has taken Keith through jungles, across deserts, into wars, and through many struggles and difficulties. He has not walked around the world as an adventurer, or a world traveler, but as a simple follower of Jesus.
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.”
His walk has taken him through such places as Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Bosnia, Rwanda, Tibet, Bhutan, the Chechnya region, China, the Middle East, North Africa, all the former Iron Curtain countries before the political changes, and Bethlehem during the standoff at the Church of the Nativity.
He has been arrested more than 40 times (none for crimes); jailed; beaten and left for dead; stoned with rocks; run over by cars; taken to be shot (firing squad) in Chiapas state, southern Mexico; and even chased by wild animals.
Most important of all, Keith is blessed to be married to his wonderful princess, Nicole. She has traveled with him through many of these countries and to such extreme places as the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and through the Darien Jungle between Panama and Colombia.
Together, they are the parents of Aaron, Sarah, Nicholas, Hannah and Josiah.
This talk was given on Friday, January 31, 2020, as part of the Global Impact Celebration.