TULSA, Okla. — Christmas is the season of joy, but many are having a hard time finding that joy in this very challenging year.
In the Rebound Green Country, we introduce you to a Tulsa man who has unique way of spreading his message of faith, hope and love.
Keith Wheeler knows about long, hard journeys...
"It's humbling to pick this up and put it on my shoulder and walk down the roadside," Wheeler said.
This Tulsa missionary has traveled the world carrying this 12 foot, 90 pound wooden cross.
"I don't know if you can see my collarbone? The weight of the wood has changed me," Wheeler said. "That's what happens when we take up his cross."
Wheeler has carried the cross 26,000 miles now in 180 different countries.
"I've been on all continents, including Antarctica," he said. "I've been through more than 40 nations at war. I've been jailed more than 40 times. My cross has been jailed more than 50 times. I've been hit by cars. I've been stoned with rocks. I've been taken out before firing squads."
And yet here he sits with us smiling. Wheeler's journey with the cross began on Good Friday in 1985. He said that's when he felt God's call on his heart, constructed the huge cross by hand and took to the streets of Tulsa. What he thought would be a day long mission turned into a 35 year life calling.
"I say what's the first thing that comes to your mind when you see the cross? And they say 'Jesus,'" Wheeler said. "And I'll ask were you thinking about him before you saw this? No? Well then, it's working!"
The pandemic has kept Wheeler here at home spreading his message of hope and love through the streets of Tulsa this year. He's walked through everything from the recent snow to this summer's protests. He's witnessed the anger, fear and grief felt by so many firsthand.
"The noise has gotten our attention this year. The chaos, the fear. The loss. The anxiety. And that's all very real," Wheeler said. "That's not to deny any of it happened. But if we just look closer, God's working in the background."
Wheeler's advice: Take each day step by step and remember you're never alone.
"It's been about walking with Jesus. It's about sharing Jesus," he said. "It's about him capturing my heart. And it's about me seeing him in the faces of others as they travel along that journey."
There is so much more to Wheeler's story. For instance, the cross you see in my story is actually Wheeler's third cross he's been carrying it for 11 years now. He retired the second cross because it had become broken and brittle. And his first cross was lost on an airplane.
For more information about Keith Wheeler Ministries, click here.
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