Evangelist bears cross on road through Sweet Home

Sean C. Morgan

The New Era

When you call Bob Hanus an old-school evangelist, it really means old school, like the New Testament apostles or Jesus Christ themselves.

Hanus of Texas does his evangelism on foot – more than 18,000 miles of travel by foot.

He carries a prop that both draws attention and illustrates the purpose of his mission, a cross that he hoists on his shoulder, dragging the base behind him as he travels America’s roads. .

He is nearing the end of his latest trip and walked through Sweet Home on Thursday. He plans to head for the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota in August.

His current journey is a coast-to-coast, 3,426-mile walk of the length of Highway 20 from Boston, Mass., to Newport.

Traveling 15 to 20 miles a day, he has walked in every state.

“I do this for one simple reason – just to remind people that Jesus loves them,” Hanus said.

He happily shares the story of his conversion with anyone. A former cocaine addict, after three arrests, two car wrecks and one overdose, he’d had enough.

Hanus said he grew up normally enough, with no plans to become a drug addict. He held the same ambitions as anyone, going to college, getting a good job, getting married and living happily ever after.

He was born in 1965 in a small town north of Chicago. He participated in sports, Sunday School, the Boy Scouts and working in his father’s ice cream parlor. He grew up going through the motions at church, he said.

By the time Hanus graduated from high school, he was an alcoholic on a downward spiral that culminated in his dropping out of college his senior year with a $35,000-a-year cocaine habit, largely supported by dealing the drug.

As far down as he could be, with suicide on his mind, he went to dinner with his parents in Lake Geneva, Wis., in June 1987.

It was not an ordinary dinner, he said. It turned out to be a Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship meeting.

“I was thinking, ‘Great. What a bunch of wigged-out holy rollers. What did I get myself into?'” he said.

The guest speaker, a successful lawyer, got him thinking about how he had messed up his life following the gods of fame, power, money and a family name, he said. The lawyer explained that even with all of these things, he still felt empty.

Then the speaker told how he had turned his life over to Jesus and how Jesus had filled the void in his life, Hanus said.

“That night I went forward. I felt the release of all the sin in my life, and I felt God’s love come upon me so heavy that I wept like a baby. Jesus showed me that He is real, and he filled that void in my life.”

He finished college, graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, with a bachelor’s of business administration in marketing.

He and his wife, Cori, who is a speech pathologist, left potentially lucrative careers and took on a simple life traveling and sharing Jesus.

Hanus said he tries to reach people who are un-churched, dealing with addictions or other problems, he said, and he’s seen changes. He has discipled nine men, and five of them are now doing their own cross-carrying ministry.

“The reward I get out of doing this is being able to lead someone in the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ and see their lives transformed,” he said, maybe an addict who recovers or a marriage that is restored. “I’ve seen people with infirmities of all sorts healed. God’s still in miracle working,”

Hanus doesn’t represent any particular denomination, he said. “There’s only one church, and Jesus is the head of it. Jesus will meet you right where you’re at if you let him.”

Hanus travels with his wife and son, who ride in a motor home. He speaks at churches, and lives off the charity of those churches when they offer. While traveling, his wife drops him off in the morning to begin the day’s journey. She picks him up after six hours or so, and he stays in his motor home.

The biggest challenge in his ministry is “sometimes feeling disconnected from our family and friends,’ he said. Without the traveling though, he would never have met the people whom he has.

The simple reason for entering this ministry would be “God spoke to me,” he said. God placed a calling in his heart to spread God’s message.

What easier way to do that, he asked invoking his marketing background, than carrying a cross. He initially spent time as a street preacher, at length among the prostitutes and addicts of Miami, and the ministry grew and changed from there.

If he’s in a crowd of 600,000 people at rallies like Sturgis, he’s the only one carrying a cross. He stands out, and people talk to him all day long, he said.

To communicate with him, contact Hanus at P.O. Box 146, Utopia, Texas, 78884 or visit http://www.crosswalkers.com.