A sign of hope, in imitation of Christ

A sign of hope, in imitation of Christ
GREGORY RIPPS "” Local resident Pete Zigmond helps evangelist Joshua John Fitch position a cross after digging a hole for Fitch to plant it. The evangelist, from Virginia, carried the cross for 26 kilometers "” one kilometer for each member of the First Baptist Church congregation killed by a gunman Nov. 5 in Sutherland Springs.

Twenty-six kilometers with a large wooden cross on his shoulder.

One kilometer -- a little more than six-tenths of a mile -- for each person who died Nov. 5 at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.

“It’s my token of suffering for all who have passed,” evangelist Joshua John Fitch said Nov. 9 at the conclusion of his walk.

He attained his 26-kilometer goal by walking alongside U.S. 87 from Sutherland Springs toward La Vernia and back.

Fitch, a veteran and a violence victim, has made similar walks carrying a cross as part of The Cross Loves You Ministries, based in Roanoke, Va.

“He is called to show love, give love, and show the Word of God,” Danielle Green, Fitch’s associate, said. She explained that his walk with a cross, in imitation of Christ, was “a sign of hope.”

During this walk, as Fitch was returning to Sutherland Springs, he encountered a good Samaritan -- or maybe a Simon of Cyrene.

Pete Zigmond, who lives between the two communities, was driving by in his pickup when he noticed the unusual sight.

“I just stopped to see if there was something I could do to help,” Zigmond said.

Green, who was following Fitch in a van, asked Zigmond if he had a shovel. He answered no, but he did have a posthole digger in the back of his truck.

The tool was to come in handy at the end of Fitch’s walk -- where he began at the intersection of Fourth Street (F.M. 539) and U.S. 87 in Sutherland Springs, as close to the church as he was allowed at the time.

At the corner were 26 small white crosses, each bearing the name of one of the shooting victims. Zigmond used his posthole digger to create a hole for Fitch to plant his cross behind them.

“I was just in the right place at the right time with the right tool,” Zigmond said.