Arkansas man carries cross for Christ

Published 4:00 am Sunday, July 18, 2021

“And he said to them all, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.’”

— Luke 9:23

On June 19, 2019, Mike Vail of Hot Springs, Ark., took up his cross as part of a mission to spread the Gospel to people across the United States, carrying it through different states in an effort to bring people closer to Christ.

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“I built this cross,” Vail said as he took a break while walking along Clay Street late Monday morning. “I had a young man, a close, close friend and brother of mine, to anoint it. That afternoon, I led a young lady to Christ. It’s been this way ever since.

“I’m 66 years old. I had a quadruple bypass the year I built the cross. My least blockage was 85 percent. The doctor and told my wife when I came out of surgery, ‘I’ve done all I can do,’” Vail said. “One year later, I walked eight miles with this cross in 100-degree weather. The Great Physician had done all he could do.”

Since then, Vail and his wife have spent a lot of time on the road, living in an RV 20 weeks out of the year with his ministry, KMV Ministries, a nonprofit Christian organization that works to tell people about Christ and get people to accept him as their savior.

“My destination is wherever God sends me,” he said.

“This is a Mississippi tour,” he said. “We did a Louisiana loop last month. We do one (state tour) on the first of each month; about a 15-day trip. We went to Louisiana and ended up in New Orleans, and then worked our way back up Louisiana. This trip, we went to Tupelo, West Point, Hattiesburg and then here to Vicksburg.”

So far, he has carried his cross through four states.

“Next month, we will be traveling to Tennessee, which will be our fifth state,” he said.

When Vail visits a town during a tour, he walks a route he calls “locally;” that means I can drive there and get back in a day and have time to walk.”

When he completes his walk for the day, he calls his wife to pick him up.

“I average talking to two people per mile. They’ll stop on a busy highway and they’ll let me talk with them,” he said, adding he spent an hour at one of Vicksburg’s homeless shelters and talked to the residents there.

“The cross draws people to it. I don’t have to talk to people. People look at it and they come to me,” Vail said. “Every once in a while I’ll see someone and tell them, ‘Come here, I need to talk to you,’ and usually they will.”

People, he said, “so much need something to lean on, and what better to lean on than the cross? If we don’t give them something to lean on the devil will. Whether it be cocaine or methamphetamine or the desires of the flesh.”

He watched the cars go by on Clay Street.

“If I can get one person to hesitate going down this busy street and they’ve thought about Jesus, I’ve planted a seed,” he said. “If I can get somebody to talk with me, I can plant and water may be a seed someone else has planted. If I can get them to accept Christ, that’s just the top of the way.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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