Crossroads: witnessing for life one step at a time
Crossroads is a pro-life group that organizes walks across the U.S., Canada, and Ireland. Its mission is to share the gospel of life in the streets like the first apostles. Crossroads started as a response to John Paul II’s call to the youth to rebuild the culture of life, at the Denver World Youth Day in 1993. Since then hundreds of students from different faith denominations have walked across North America, and new initiatives have been taken across the globe such as in Ireland.
In the Pope’s 1993 World Youth Day homily he said: “These young, people now know that life is more powerful than the forces of death; they know that the truth is more powerful than darkness; that love is stronger than death.” And the students who walk for life on Crossroads are living testaments of this.
As an experienced Crossroads walker I can attest to the difficulty of the journey as well as its rewards. I participated in Canada’s third Crossroads walk in the summer of 2011. And this summer, God has graced Canada with another one. This summer’s Crossroads team, consists of 10 students, five female and five male.
The team started on May 18 in Vancouver, B.C. and will be walking as far as Quebec City, and then backtrack to Parliament Hill to complete their journey on Aug. 11.
This year’s Crossroads walk leader for the Canada team, Patrick Wilson, describes the system they have developed to complete their walk. Like the other walks, the team divides themselves into two teams that will alternate on a weekly basis between the day shift and night shift; covering an average distance of 100 kilometers in a 24 hour period.
In his May 27 blog post, Wilson wrote explained they took part in regular church services whenever possible, “if it is available remotely near where we are camped out or walking.” He said it is an important time for the team as it is one of the only times the team will meet throughout the day.On the weekends the team stays with host families and prays outside of local abortion facilities. They also speak at local churches raising awareness and funds for their trip. In his June 5 blog post, Wilson expresses his thanks to the congregations they have visited: “to feel and receive this abundant support on weekends has helped to strengthen our resolve to walk with purpose this summer.”
While these churches serve as encouragement for the walkers, one of the Crossroads participants, Alannah Walker, told B.C. Catholic how important it is for the pro-life message to be shared amongst those predisposed to pro-life as well as those who consider themselves “pro-choice.”
To see this message being spread by youth, who are giving up their summer for the pro-life movement, is a perfect example of what John Paul II was asking for. They do it unselfishly; walker Nellie Van Den Enden shares her enthusiasm with B.C. Catholic, which covered the launch on the west coast in May: “It’s really exciting to hand over everything to God for the summer…we get to live like Franciscans (an order of priests dedicated to a life of material poverty) for a little while.”
While walking through Alberta, the team was approached by a reporter from the Western Catholic Reporter. Wilson told the WCR that “sometimes it’s hard to see exactly what good it is doing, but so far we’ve all felt that the walk is making an impact of some sort on people’s minds, hopefully changing hearts along the way.” And in his most recent blog post, Wilson wrote about a providential meeting with a couple just outside of a church in Hanna, Alberta. The woman shared that she has been adopted and had experienced some “hostility” for her pro-life views that very day from some of her own friends. The meeting strengthened and encouraged both parties, reported Wilson.
While Crossroads walkers are hopeful of changing the minds and hearts of those who witness their peaceful and silent witness, the witness works both ways. While on Crossroads last summer, I had hoped to transform hearts and change minds without initially realizing that God was working to transform me. Crossroads is the perfect response to John Paul II’s call, because it creates strong youth, it literally shares Christ’s gospel in the streets and highways of Canada, and the personal prayer and sacrifice is necessary to change hardened hearts and minds.
In building the culture of life we must promote the good life; live the life God wants us to. In the words of Pope John Paul II, in living the good life we conquer death; in knowing the truth we conquer darkness; and where there is love there is always hope.
The Crossroads team walked across Saskatchewan and Manitoba in June and will be in Toronto on July 28-29.
So pray for them as they move eastward and save lives one step at a time.
Jessica Lamb, a summer student at The Interim, took part in the cross-Canada Crossroads walk in 2011.