One man with a tale to tell

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

It doesn’t take much for someone to throw a wrench into the normal day’s events in a small town.

For example, let’s say a grown man walks down the community’s busiest street hauling a white plastic cross on his back.

That would probably create a distraction, and draw people to see what was going on.

That happened on Monday afternoon when “Cross-Carrier Chuck”

was spotted along Armory Drive when no one knew his title.

Alesia Davis took Chuck’s picture on her cell phone camera Monday but did not speak to the stranger walking through town.

Shirley Cutchins, however, did when she saw him on Tuesday morning. She walked right up to him and asked about him — why he was here, why he was dragging a cross attached to a set of wheels to make for easier pulling.

Cutchins claims she’s not shy. “When I go to a mall,” she says, “I talk to a lot of people.”

For whatever reason, Shirley Cutchins said she was “compelled to find out what he was about.” And so she approached the man who was toting the cross through the city.

This fellow — “Cross Carrier Chuck” with a last name of Johnson — turned out to be conversational. He said the Lord told him to spread the word across the country, and that’s what he’s been doing for the last eight years.

His mission is to continue for two more. He said he started in New Mexico and has been top all of the 48 lower states.

Cutchins said Cross-Carrier Chuck told her he never asks for money, but that people donate willingly, or let him sleep on their property or take a shower.

He also never stops long in any one place.

“He told me quite a few stories of how he met other people,” Cutchins said.

He plans to write a book one day, she said.

“He asked about me,” she said, “and I shared” some stories with

him. He, in turn, shared some of the stories he’s seen. The two shared religious beliefs, Cutchins said (she’s a Baptist).

“God puts situations in front of us,” Cutchins said. “I could not ignore this.”

She said she wasn’t sure how she felt about their conversation, but, “as a Christian, I felt uplifted.”

She gave him a ride in the back of her pickup to the intersection of routes 258 and 58, and Chuck Johnson was on his way again, this time to the east.

Before he arrived in this area, a newspaper reporter in Salisbury, N.C., north of Charlotte, caught up with Johnson and recounted a tale Johnson also told Cutchins on Tuesday.

Johnson said that years 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.

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.

Said Cutchins: “I felt like I didn’t talk to him as much as I wanted.”

One man walking through a small town changed one woman’s day.

Paul McFarlane is the Editor of The Tidewater News. His e-mail is