BIXBY, Okla. — As western leaders gear up to reveal the latest round of sanctions against Russia in an attempt to end the war in Ukraine, one man is preparing to enter the country with only a cross as his armor.
"I'm flying to Poland to Warsaw driving and then down to Chem which is the border and 15 kilometers from Lviv. If I can't get in at Chem, there are 4 other possible border crossings. I'm going to do everything I can to get in," says Keith Wheeler
In the 1980s, Wheeler felt God calling him to carry a cross, not as a symbol of protest, but one of reconciliation.
"By the grace and mercy of God, I have had the privilege of saying yes to an invitation that Jesus gave me back in 1984, and I've been carrying this large wooden cross on my shoulder around the world," he says.
Not only has his life been changed by this process, so has his body.
"Literally, my collarbone has been shaped and changed from all the years of the weight of the wood on my shoulder," he says.
The cross he carries is heavy enough to remember, but light enough not to be a burden when he travels.
"The cross breaks into 3 different sections and I tie it up with bungee cords and I put it in a snow ski bag, and it goes with my luggage," he says.
Keith says with God's help, he has been to more than 40 nations at war, or areas of conflict.
"There is no way naturally that I can get into Ukraine at this point, but there has been no way in the past that I could get into the war zones before," says Keith.
During his pilgrimage, he faced many challenges including arrest, jail time, held at gunpoint and nearly eaten by a lion in Africa. But through it all, he says his goal is to be a pilgrim of peace and a messenger of love.
"I have been in places where people have no idea who Jesus is and then to explain what this is, why He came and what He did, and how we can know Him."
He says he feels a strong calling to go to Ukraine because light shines best in darkness.
"The message of the cross is one of peace and one of light and one of hope," says Keith.
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