Pastor With Religious Message Carries Cross For Over A Month
Chicago minister is taking a unique approach to Lent, carrying a cross through his neighborhood talking to people about God. The lunch-time walks started on Ash Wednesday, March 5th.
"The first day I went out there was four inches of snow on the ground, which at the time I thought was a problem, but it actually turned out to be great, because the cross drags a lot easier on snow," said Pastor Kevin Bruursema, with New Life Community Church in West Lakeview.
Bruursema said the inspiration for his cross walks came after a time of prayer earlier in the year.
"It terrified me to do this, I walked out the door the first day and I could hardly breath," he recalled while walking along North Paulina Street.
He's been asked many times in the last month why he's doing this.
"I used to give a long answer, now I have a real short one," Bruursema said, "I just want to point people to Jesus in my neighborhood and I can't think of anything that will do it more than a cross."
He gets a lot of strange looks, and is sure that some people think he's crazy.
Natalia Rimareva wasn't sure what to think when Bruursema walked by.
"The guy was just carrying a cross. I didn't really pay attention first, but then when he smiled at me, said hello, then I paid attention that he's carrying a cross. I don't know what that means," Rimareva said.
Reactions have run the gamut.
"I've had people spit, I've had people shout at me from vehicles a couple of times, but really a lot of it is either indifference, just act like it's the most normal thing in the world, or there's a curiosity and engagement, and it leads to a conversation," Bruursema said.
Thursday he ran into a woman who said she was a Serbian journalist. Bruursema invited her to come along Friday when he will do the Stations of the Cross during his walk. She agreed.
Bruursema said he's been able to pray with people from all around the community. Thursday he was stopped by a man in his church who asked for prayer for his eight year old son who has cancer.
"Had people share things that I think they don't share with anybody, very often, you know it's just funny, you put a cross on your shoulder and suddenly people will talk to you about something.
Bruursema also ran into a woman at an insurance agency, who's come out to support him several times in the last month and who was excited to introduce her son to him.
"The first day we saw him it was like an angel brought to us because we were going through a hard time," said Bruursema's new friend Grace Urcino.
When he has the chance, at intersections where three or more people might be standing around, he shouts out a short message like an old-fashioned street corner preacher.
"Jesus says I am the way the truth and the life, he invites you to follow him. I pray you hear his voice this weekend, Easter," he preached from the corner of Lincoln and Belmont.
As Bruursema arrived back at his church, at Damon and Wellington, he got a hug from a member of his congregation, and a few honks from people driving by.
"You know I think people expect me to be shouting hell, fire and brimstone," he said, "but I just really want them to hear the voice of Jesus, that's my goal."
On this day, they certainly did.
205 N. Michigan Avenue Ground Floor Chicago, IL 60601 Station Operator: (312) 565-5532 Newsroom: (312)565-5533