Cross walker De Wet Swanepoel, 38 and veteran prayer warrior and street evangelist Charles Probert, 64, reached Port Elizabeth this week after walking together for 1 000 km bearing a 4 m cross, weighing 30 kg.
Their unusual and eye-catching partnership in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus on the road began after they met three months ago at a function in Harding Natal. From PE, Swanepoel will continue his cross walking mission alone.
The former Mpumalanga farmer who has trudged 7 500 km with the cross since January 2012, believes he was destined to carry a cross from an early age.
“My journey started when I was 5 years old and I was dying of meningitis. I called out to the Jesus from the ‘Jesus Mountain’ to heal me and He did,” said Swanepoel, referring to a hill near Lydenburg, where in 1965, a farmer laid out rocks to display the word ‘Jesus’.
Swanepoel explained that when he was in Std 7, he saw a man walking with a cross. The spectacle made a big impact on him. “I thought this man just walks out of love for Jesus!”
Always knew he would walk with a cross
He gave his heart to the Lord at the age of 22. But he said he always knew that he would one day walk with a cross.
“Later I met a girl who told me her father’s in ministry – he’s called but he does not have a church. She told me ‘my father is walking with a cross!’ That was the guy I met next to the road when I was in Std 7!”
The older cross walker was Gert van Niekerk, and Swanepoel ended up marrying his daughter but the marriage ended shortly thereafter.
“I had a lot to learn,” he confessed. When he was 27 years old, Swanepoel was called to Gauteng where he ministered for seven years, in preparation, waiting for the Lord to tell him when to begin his mission.
“God spoke to me on the 6th January 2012 when Government was holding a Centenary Service in Bloemfontein,” said Swanepoel who believes that the sacrifice of various animals at the event was a ritual that placed a curse on SA for 100 years. At the time media reported that Zuma said: “We spill the blood of these animals in the hopes that our ancestors will help us prevent spilling human blood in the future.”
Believing that the ANC animal sacrifice event was a sure sign that he needed to begin the mission God had spoken to him about 14 years earlier, Swanepoel began his journey at the foot of the ‘Jesus Mountain’ on the Long Tom Pass near Lydenburg.
“The Lord told me to intercede for our nation.” He explained. “We need to unite as the body of Christ and take back the authority given to us through Christ so that we can start winning the lost and breaking the spiritual strongholds over our country!”
Explaining how he joined up with Swanepoel after they met in Natal, Probert said: “De Wet asked me if I would like to join him on the journey until we reach Port Elizabeth, and I first spoke to God about it before telling him that I will do it.”
Ministering for 24 years
Probert, who has has been ministering on the streets of South Africa for more than 24 years, said his mother was a prostitute in Johannesburg and he never met his father.
“When I was 8 years old, I was raped. I had this anger inside of me about it but I didn’t take it out on man,” Charles explained, “I hated God.” Charles later gave his heart to the Lord at a meeting with Pastor Theo Wolmarans and worked through his rejection issues. “All of a sudden I had a father! God was now my father!”
In 1986, Probert moved to Durban to minister to prostitutes and drug addicts. “We would first walk and pray and then evangelise. We first plough the ground and then we sow the seed.” Prayer walking and evangelism has been Charles’s heart passion ever since. He started prayer walking alone through the country in 1990, until his chance meeting with Swanepoel.
Probert has shared several posts on Facebook about lives that have been touched during their cross walk. Just outside Grahamstown they were able to minister to men in a rehabilitation centre. Near Port Alfred they ministered to a group of young men who had just been through circumcision rituals; the men accepted Jesus into their lives
Swanepoel said he does spiritual warfare and intercession as he makes his way across the country with his cross.
He said he waits on God to show him when and where to walk. He has a backup vehicle for logistical support. He also experiences kindness and support from communities along the way.