“Rebel With a Cross” walking across America

39-year old Jeremiah Wagner is on a cross-country trek, carrying this cross.  Photo by Patricia Beech.
39-year old Jeremiah Wagner is on a cross-country trek, carrying this cross. Photo by Patricia Beech.

Wagner claims to have had supernatural experience

By Patricia Beech

You may have seen him. A lone man walking along the Appalachian Highway, waving as vehicles fly by honking their horns, or stopping to chat with people who pull over. He’s hard to miss – a long red beard, a determined gait, and a cross resting on his shoulder. He is 39 year-old Jeremiah Wagner, and he says he has found his purpose, and he is determined to carry it through.

“I am doing this so that everybody thinks of Jesus when they drive by me,” he says. “They may not have woke up thinking about Jesus, they may not have Jesus in their lives, but once they drive by me and see this, they think of Jesus.”

Wagner says that he intends to walk across America carrying the wooden cross crafted by himself and a friend.

“I’m going to Washington D.C. first where I’ll pray in front of the Capitol for our country, our nation, and our president, then down the east coast to Charlotte N.C., and then across the country to Los Angeles”

He says that when his journey is complete his path will “look like a shepherd’s hook to God’s eyes”.

Before beginning his long cross-country trek, Wagner, a union carpenter, and his wife Nicole quit their jobs and gave away all of their possessions to the poor. He explains that he had a supernatural experience with God that motivated him to take up the cross. “This is all about bringing souls to the kingdom, having people give their lives to Jesus,” he says.

Thanks to social media, word of Wagner’s mission has spread quickly, forcing him to make frequent stops to talk and pray with people, many of whom ask to carry the cross. Wagner is chronicling his journey on Facebook at NeverforgetJesusJeremiahWagner.

“When I started I thought I’d get 20 miles a day, but now its becoming apparent that 10 miles is a pretty good stretch,” he says, adding that he’s had to extend his estimate of the amount of time it will take to complete his journey from eight months to two years. “I’m suspecting that I’m going to do this for the rest of my life, go around the world, or whatever the Lord puts on me, I’m going to obey,” he says simply, “That’s what I’m here to show people, that when God tells you to do something, you do it, and when He promises He’ll take care of you, that’s what He’s going to do.”

While Wagner travels on foot, his wife drives ahead of him in a car (their only possession other than the clothes on their backs), often she too stops to carry the cross, and when night falls, they camp, or if they can afford it, they get a hotel room.

Their lack of money and lodgings doesn’t seem to burden them. “The Lord said he’s going to provide,” Wagner says. “When you’re living in the will of God anything is possible.”

Wagner admits he didn’t always “live in the will of God”. In 2oo2 he was sentenced to five years in prison for selling drugs.

“When I was growing up I wasn’t the best person, you know, I didn’t make the best choices,” he explains. “My Dad was a drug user, and he was a violent guy, but my mother kept me in church, then when I became a teenager I started hanging out with the wrong people. I thought I knew it all, I didn’t need church. At that age, I knew about Jesus, but I didn’t think it pertained to me. I thought it was just something that happened in our history that people were trying to teach me about. Now that I’m older and wiser, I know that it’s got everything to do with me I’m a living testimony that if God can save somebody like me, there’s not one person on this world that he’s not willing to save.”

Wagner describes the transformative, supernatural experience he says led him to take up his cross.

“I walked out of my house one night, and looked up at the sky, it was about 7 p.m., and the sun hadn’t quite set. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky except for one little perfect snowball cloud, right in front of the sun. It blocked the sun just perfect like it was put there by God himself. The sun’s rays were shooting up into the sky, and it looked like a crown that was sitting on the cloud. That got my attention, and about that time, the silhouette of an angel pops out from behind that cloud, no mistaking it was an angel either, I turned for confirmation, there was a car at every gas pump at this UDF, but there wasn’t one soul that could look up there and say they’d seen it too. So I knew that was like the answer to my prayer cause I’d been praying for God to give me a sign about what he wanted me to do. Then that angel turned into a wooden cross in the middle of the sky, and so I’d know that He was talking to me, God took that cross from all the way up there, and brought it right down in front of my face and it dissipated, and the power of that cross went into my body, and I had no choice, I fell flat to the ground.”

Wagner said that when he was growing up he wasn’t allowed to show emotion.

“I was a real cold-hearted kind of guy, but God flooded me with unconditional love in that moment, and He let me pour out every single tear that I ever held back in my whole life, on the spot. When I got up from that experience, I was a changed person. I wasn’t the same Jeremiah Wagner that I used to be.”

After his experience, Wagner said he suffered from insomnia for two months. “I was working 10 hours a day, but God was in my house making me read the Bible from the minute I walked in the door, all through the night until it was time to go to work the next day. I was living off the supernatural power of God, I wasn’t sleeping, but I was never tired or weary.”

Wagner said that while struggling with insomnia, he read the Bible from beginning to end. “Things progressed from there, and God told me to build a cross and carry it until He tells me I can’t carry it no more. I didn’t tell anybody about my supernatural experience for a couple of months, but then God spoke to me and said you tell everybody about it for your story might help save one person, and now, that’s why I’m on this mission. People who pull over and don’t have Jesus are attracted to the cross, there’s been some who gave their lives to Jesus and changed their lives forever.”

He says he has no doubt that his experience was real. “That could only have been God reaching down to touch me for a specific reason. And now I know what that reason is.”