Roy Scott has crossed the nation and is on his way back, dragging a 12-foot cedar cross on a small white wheel and a baby cart that holds his few belongings.
“God told me if I did this, ‘I can fix everything in your life,’” Scott told The Baptist Paper.
Scott’s “everything” includes the unspeakable anguish of inadvertently causing the death of his 4-year-old son, who’d slipped unseen behind the tractor Scott was driving to level his motocross track.
That loss was followed in time by the loss of his 18 acres of Georgia farmland, his business, and his wife and four other children.
He responded by joining the Army, planning on dying by enemy gunfire, but returned home with an honorable discharge in hand.
Back home, he rediscovered the love of Jesus he remembered learning about at Mount Salem Baptist Church, Flowery Branch, Georgia. He’s still one of the 279 members the church reports on its Annual Church Profile.
During a revival at a nearby Pentecostal church, a sermon redirected his life, Scott said. He was to take up his cross — not only his struggles and burdens, but also a physical cross — and follow Jesus across the nation, “from ocean to ocean.” It was a word from the Lord, Scott determined.
It’s a trek he started in the fall of 2010. He’d gone from Augusta, Georgia, to Little Rock, Arkansas — about 675 miles — when a fierce December snow storm “scared me” and adapted his plan, he said.
Ten years passed, during which he ended up in Seattle — minus his cross — to be near his sister, and his “ocean to ocean” vow fell onto the backburner of his life.
While recovering from a knife attack at the property he managed last summer, Scott remembered his decade-old promise to God.
“My last doctor’s appointment was Sept. 10. I left Sept. 11.”
He left from the eastern outskirts of Portland, Oregon, with the latest cross he built, made of 4×4 cedar beams, 12 feet long and 5.5 feet wide, and is headed to Little Rock where he got sidetracked 10 years ago. He’s gone about 1,000 miles.
“God has taught me how to love myself,” said Scott, who is 55. “You’re not ready to love somebody until you love yourself. [The Apostle] Peter never felt worthy of God’s love, and I was like that when I first started out. Now I’m like John, [known as] the disciple Jesus loved.
“When you get how much Jesus loves you, you’re never the same,” the trekker continued. “Knowing nothing can separate you from Jesus’ love, you can begin to — to learn to — love yourself.”
Scott spoke of the guilt, resentment and unrelenting sadness God cleansed him of as he walked. He thought he was “permanently broken,” Scott said. But God has taught him how to live unbroken.
Learning to forgive
“Forgiveness sets you free from the trauma,” Scott said. “You can’t move forward until you forgive. You’re stuck. If you’re stuck in hate, you’ll never have joy.”
As he travels, Scott meets people drawn to the cross he carries. He lets small youngsters — perhaps about the age of the son he lost — climb onto his shoulders. He lets everyone sign the cross.
He lets those who think they’re strong enough shoulder the cross.
He tells his story to individuals, families and in churches, such as First (Southern) Baptist Church, Pleasant Grove, Utah, after Missions Pastor Steve Sidwell saw Scott walking with his cross and took him to church to tell his story.
“He’s the real deal,” Sidwell said. “Genuine. Humble. Committed to do what he believes God wants him to do. He won’t let anyone give him a ride; [he] had me take him back to where I picked him up. He’s walking the entire way.”
Scott walks between six and 10 miles a day, depending on the terrain and the weather, and takes a break from time to time. He hopes to make it to Cortez, Colorado, by late May.
“It’s pretty obvious he’s had the Lord speaking to him,” Tim Hunter told The Baptist Paper in a telephone interview. Hunter is the pastor of Georgia’s Mount Salem Baptist. “What he has gone through has become his testimony, a witness of how to persevere, to endure.”
Pastor Dick Pacheco of River of Life Christian Fellowship south of Moab, Utah, said, “I think Roy’s story is when God calls you to do something, you need to do it. That’s obedience, which brings restoration.
“Recovery is taking back what has been stolen,” Pacheco said. “Roy thinks he’s guilty of so much, but Jesus took that guilt upon Himself. Roy now is walking in freedom.”