As 32-year-old Matt Mitchell walked through Anniston with nothing but a wooden cross on his shoulder and a cell phone in his pocket, cars slowed down so passengers could stare.
“I’ve had a lot of cameras shoved in my face,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he was compelled to carry a cross down the road because on Saturday, God asked him to complete a task that would be hard for him to do.
Mitchell said that God only asks those who lack faith to complete difficult tasks so their faith can be restored. His schedule for the past few weeks had been hectic due to school and work, so he had been unable to find time with God.
“I had to get out and spend some time with him, one-on-one time, and this is one of the ways God showed me this morning when I woke up to do it,” he said. “I was going to look for a job and he said ‘Take the cross with you.’ It was just lying out back and I grabbed it up and took off.”
Mitchell said his brother had made the cross during the weekend and carried it himself for about 11 miles on Saturday. Though Mitchell didn’t know its exact weight, he said it is at least 50 pounds, and by praying to God for strength, the cross has become lighter.
“You just pray and you ask God for power and strength and he gives it to you,” he said.
Mitchell said his quest began around 10 a.m. Tuesday and since then he has traveled down Bynum-Leatherwood Road, Lenlock Lane, McClellan Boulevard and U.S. 431.
“I don’t know how far I’m going; it’s really not about that,” he said when asked if he had a destination in mind. “The time with God is unreal, it’s just beyond all understanding.”
Mitchell has been living at the Center of Hope Ministries, a faith-based addiction treatment center, for 11 months, and though he’s blessed to be there now, he said he didn’t always believe in God.
“Before I turned my life over to God I didn’t believe in nothing,” he said.
Mitchell said it was when he finally hit rock bottom and wound up in a situation he couldn’t get out of that he discovered God. After losing his job, getting divorced, and winding up in jail for prescription drug and heroin abuse, Mitchell discovered God through a fellow inmate at Jefferson County Jail.
“It was like an angel sent him to me. The guy was in there for nothing and it was all to bring me to Christ,” Mitchell said. “What was crazy, was after he sunk it in my head that Christ was going to be my only way out, and that I needed the Lord, then a day after that he was released.”
Mitchell said that ever since that day, he’s had a burning desire for God. After being released from jail, a friend introduced him to the Center of Hope. Mitchell has been clean of drugs for 18 months, he said.
Even though Mitchell said he knew his walk would bless people, it was never meant to be about him. It was always meant to be about God.
“Jesus loves you, he loves every one of us,” he said.
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.