‘Cross Carrier Chuck’ passes through Rowan
By Steve Huffman
Chuck Johnson ó better known as “Cross Carrier Chuck” ó passed through Rowan County Monday.
He wasn’t jogging, but he was moving at a rapid clip.
“Just from one town to the next,” Johnson said when asked where he was heading. “I sort of play the weather.”
Johnson, 46, is a native of Anaheim, Calif., who has for more than eight years been doing nothing but toting (well, it’s on wheels, that’s true) a plastic 12-foot-long cross.
He’s visited all 48 lower states and even made forays into Mexico and Canada. Johnson has crossed the United States 11 times.
He’s not the kind of guy to dawdle, reminding those who stop him that he’s got miles to go and plenty of information about his travels can be found on the Internet by Googling “Cross Carrier Chuck.”
Johnson said he’s working on a book ó tentatively titled, “I Carry the Cross, God Does All the Work” ó about his adventures.
Johnson said he’s “loved Jesus” since the age of 3, but said it was 1987 “before I got saved.” He worked as a loader/operator for Southern Pacific Railroad at the time and said that for a number of years he lugged his cross (his early versions were made of solid wood) only on weekends.
Johnson started on his current full-time endeavor in March 2000 and said he’s now on the road “365 days a year, through rain and shine and just about everything else.”
Johnson said the cross he’s carrying is the fourth he’s hauled since getting into his full-time venture.
He survives off donations.
“If I get a little money, I’ll get a cheap room,” Johnson said. “I need a shower like anyone else. If I don’t get the money, I’ll sleep in the woods, on the side of the road.”
Johnson said he’s based his travels on a Bible scripture, Luke 9:23, which reads: “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
On Monday, Johnson was heading north on U.S. 29 through downtown Salisbury and Spencer. He was wearing hiking boots, shorts and a ball cap that read: “Jesus Christ.”
Johnson said the past eight years have been interesting ones and laughingly admitted, “I’ve got thousands of cross stories.”
He said he often shares those tales with church groups and others. It’s not unusual, Johnson said, for people to stop him on the road and ask him to pray with them.
“I don’t preach to people,” he said. “I pray with people and tell cross stories.”
One of those stories, Johnson said, happened years ago when he was traveling through Bakersville, Calif. A young man stopped and asked Johnson if he’d like a ride.
He said the motor in the young man’s pickup was making a fuss and he asked if he thought the vehicle would make it down the road. The driver laughed and said he was wondering much the same.
Johnson set his cross in the bed of the pickup and climbed into the cab. They continued a couple of miles before the pickup broke down in front of a service station.
Johnson said the young man giving him a ride had just been fired from his job and had no money. Johnson had no cash, either.
But no sooner had the pickup died and Johnson climbed out than someone pulled up and handed him a $300 donation. Johnson gave it to the young man who’d offered him the ride.
That, Johnson said, was the precise amount it cost to get the pickup back on the road.
“The Lord works in mysterious ways,” Johnson said, laughing as he recalled the story.
He said he’s covered as much as 43 miles in a single day, though he also admitted, “That was back in the days when I was feeling strong.”
He now averages, he said, about 15 miles a day.
Johnson also laughed about the fact that his crosses have gone from being made of wood to plastic. “As I’ve gotten older, the crosses have gotten lighter,” he said.
Johnson said Monday he was working his way north in hopes of escaping the South before the heat of summer arrived.
He said both his parents are dead and he has no living siblings. Johnson said he’s never been married and has no children.
“It’s just me and the cross,” he said before cutting short the conversation and heading north again.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or email@example.com.