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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Texas man has cross to bear, headed for Branson

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A man walking along Highway 62/412 between Agnos and Salem caused quite a stir on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 25 and 26. Well, maybe it was the nine- foot cross he was carrying that grabbed people's attention.

"There's a man walking on Highway 62, carrying a big cross," a female caller reported to The News. "I stopped and talked to him, and he is walking to Branson. He seemed real sincere."

A few minutes later, an e-mail and another call came in regarding the man and his cross.

This reporter encountered him walking near the J and J Greenhouse, and he said he didn't mind stopping to talk, since a flip-flop had rubbed a blister on one of his feet.

"My name is Brian Leslie Walters," the man said. "I've been going from East Texas, a little town called Phalba, and I've been traveling by foot for two years now."

Walters explained he had a "rough life" growing up -- raised in a troubled family, and seeing his mother and father die in their 30's due to drug use. "Meth got them," he said.

According to Walters, he "got tired of that lifestyle," and one night, as he sat on his porch, God spoke to him.

"He spoke out to me and said, 'Matthew 22,' very loud and as audible as you and me are talking right now. It (Matthew 22) says to go out in the highways and byways. I'm having a marriage festival and feast. I want you to gather a crowd for me. I sat there on the porch for a long time and thought about it and said (to God), 'You want me to go walkin'?' Walters claims God told him to give his possessions away, and step out in blind faith and obedience.

As he followed that guidance, Walters got the idea of making a wooden cross to carry with him.

Walters said he first walked from East Texas west, to Colorado and New Mexico, returned to circle around Texas, go through Oklahoma, then east, eventually walking to Florida. He figures he has walked more than 4,000 miles in the past two years, always traveling light and taking his time.

"It's not about progress. It's about being a witness," Walters said. "You want people to pull over, so that they can either give me a prayer, or I can give them a prayer or testimony."

Walters said he travels on a "the Lord provides" basis. He has no regular income, and carries just a small backpack and tent. Walters added he does not ask for money or assistance, but accepts it "if the Lord puts it in people's hearts to bless me."

During the conversation, a man came out of J and J Greenhouse to offer an ice cold bottle of water. Walters prayed with the man in return.

Has this summer, with its record breaking heat, been more difficult than usual?

"All them in Israel, the Disciples, wandered in the desert where it was hot, dry and no water. They didn't have air conditioning or vehicles. If they could do it, God can give me the strength to do it," Walters said.

Walters explained that, about three months ago in Tennessee, he was told to head for Branson, Mo. "I have a really amazing gift to sing, and I've pretty much put my life on hold, but the Lord has put it in my heart to go sing. I'm going to Branson and take it by storm," Walters said.

But he is not in a hurry to get there. Walters did not reach Salem, from Agnos, until Wednesday afternoon. He was spotted walking along Main Street near Preacher Roe Park, and later on the square. Thursday, July 26, he was seen near Salem City Park, heading toward Mountain Home.

"I'm not allowed to take a ride for no more than 50 miles at a time, so the progress I make is in God's hands each day to day," Walters explained.

Bearded and heavily tattooed, Walters admits he is not your usual traveling evangelist.

"Whether I have tattoos, whether I've lived a bad life, He can forgive anybody," Walters said. "Through the obedience of faith, you can do anything. Along the way, He has used me to do various miracles, to heal people."

Walters' Myspace page on the Internet offers proof he apparently has walked the U.S. with a cross on his shoulder. Several people have left him messages asking where he is, including several postings from a woman identifying herself as Shylah Walters, Walters' wife, saying she misses him and hopes he is okay.

Walters also has a page on the Rainbow Family website.The Rainbow Family is an informal group of free spirts who hold gatherings in national forests each year -- gatherings to pray for non-violence and world peace, which are also know for wild partying, drug arrests and damage to forests.

If Walters does make it to Branson, and you hear of an up and coming performer who carries a nine foot cross, you know who to give the credit to.

"I have been persecuted. I have had people pull over and say, 'Satan loves you.' People have spit on me, and honked at me," Walters said. "But I have had people tell me, 'Don't stop what you're doing. You have the powers of God in you.'

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