Praying for healing and revival before walking this large corridor in south Bakersfield


“Unexplainable: Who Would Gun  down a  62-year-old Woman?”

So read the front-page headline of The Bakersfield Californian’s April 29th, 2009 newspaper, highlighting the Monday night shooting death of 62-year-old Iva Craig. Her 54- and 44-year-old-friends were also wounded by a hail of twenty some odd bullets.

As I read Wednesday morning’s article concerning this tragedy, I knew I’d be at Iva Craig’s home that very morning, hoisting the large 10-foot cross upright and right next to where she and her two friends were shot, praying long and hard for her family.

Little did I know what would take place before and during this cross walk and prayer vigil throughout this southeast Bakersfield neighborhood.

What You Doing With That F***ing Cross?


Walk The Cross’ Go-Ye-Mobile

Jesus told me there’d be days like this. Days of rage and anger. Days of hatred and loathing, of misunderstanding and misconception. Days of extreme spiritual warfare and hand-to-hand prayer combat.

But you know what? The souls of men, women and children are worth the fight.

As I parked my “go-ye-mobile” truck and began to unstrap the large cross, I was greeted with a barrage of four-letter words from an angry young man who was standing across the street with a very defiant look on his face, his posture in a pit-bull, ready to fight stance. I sized up the situation for a moment, then decided to walk right up to where he was standing. The neighborhood is well-known territory for the Crips criminal enterprise street gang.

“I’m going to pray for your neighborhood,” I explained in a nonhostile manner. “I read about the drive-by shooting death of the 62-year-old woman, and I’m also walking the large cross to her home and praying for her family and friends.” His face changed from anger to perplexity. Then he reached out his hand to shake mine. “Thank you for doing this,” he softly said.  He wouldn’t let go of my hand for the longest time.

Angels And A “Devil Dog ” Watching Over Me


Blue-eyed pit bull much larger than this one stayed with me entire cross walk

The young man watched as I unstrapped the 10-foot cross, took it down from the truck bed and then placed the crossbeam on my right shoulder. He then jumped on his bike and took off down the street, heading toward a group of young men who were also watching.

Suddenly and from out of nowhere a very large mixed breed pitbull came right up to where I was standing with the cross. The first thing I noticed were the pitbull’s transparent light blue eyes, what people call a “devil dog.” I hesitated momentarily, trying to mentally figure out what to do, and to see if this large dog was going to attack.

He looked directly into my eyes and just stood there.

I decided to go ahead and walk the cross to the corner street to see what would happen. As I walked, the large pitbull strolled alongside, tail wagging and a relaxed look on his face.

My destination was the 3500 block of Horne Street, where the fatal shooting had occurred. I decided to walk up and down each street of this community and pray for all the residents. At each corner I would also hoist the large cross upright and pray long and hard for the men, women and children living in this mid-size southeast neighborhood.

At the first corner I hoisted the cross upright and prayed. The large dog stopped and waited for me to finish praying. Throughout this one and one-half  hour prayer walk, the blue-eyed pitbull strolled alongside me, stopping each time I did and waiting patiently for me to pray or talk with people. When I would start walking, he’d start walking. When I stopped, he stopped.

I’ve been cross-walking Bakersfield since March 2006, and I have never had a dog follow me, much less wait as I prayed. And, just as important, for some reason there were a lot of loose and mean dogs in this community. Big ones and little ones. Pitbulls, German shepherds and the like. And each time one of these loose dogs would come running toward and barking at me, this blue-eyed “devil dog” would simply look each one squarely in the face, and each one would retreat. Really.

Nothing like this has ever occurred before throughout my then three year citywide cross walk.

Jesus Christ Loves Gangbangers Too!


I ask gang members to give up their street gang and join God’s Gang. Some do! Others, it takes longer.

The first street I walked down was the street the young man and his friends were hanging out on.  With God’s guardian dog at my side, I walked up to the young men and greeted each one with a firm and long handshake (as is my custom whenever I meet and greet anyone on the streets). These were hard-core gang members for sure, but to God they were lost sheep in need of a genuine, loving and caring Shepherd.

We talked for several minutes. I explained what I was doing, and they kept looking at the large blue-eyed devil dog. “That your dog?” one of the young men asked. I said no, and that for some unknown reason the large pitbull had decided to accompany me throughout my cross walk. I could tell that they were perplexed by the dog’s actions.

“Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior?” My question caught these young men off guard. Two of them said yes. The others either nodded or smiled. Of course I took a few minutes and shared why they needed Jesus Christ. Several older women (probably moms, aunts or relatives) came out of the house and in unison shouted, “Praise the Lord!” I praised the Lord right back at them.

He’s For Real And He’s Not Afraid Of Anything

gang (2)

Gangs exist not so much in the eyes of the beholder as in the eyes of the belonger

As I left I gave each young man a special card I hand out to gang members, and encouraged them to call me if they needed help or had questions. I then waved good-bye to the women and walked toward another group of men several houses away. These were older men, and I was taken by surprise by what they were about to say to me.

I shook each man’s hand and shared why I was in the neighborhood. One of the men stared at me and then asked, “Aren’t you afraid of coming into this neighborhood?” I could tell his question was meant to alarm me. Before I could answer, one of the other men quipped, ‘Are you kidding? He’s not afraid of anything and he’s for real!” He paused, then continued. “He’s for real. Has anyone else ever come out here and prayed for us, or shook our hands, or given us the time of day?”

Of course I felt good as this man vigorously defended my cross walk and reason for being in their neighborhood. The pitbull just stood there, patient and calm as can be, waiting for me to continue the cross walk. The older men and I talked for a while, then prayed. I said good-bye and that I hoped to see them again.

Who Would Gun Down a 62-year-old Woman?


Drive-by shootings take the lives of innocent people every day.

I was eager to walk to the next street, where the senseless shooting had taken place. Like a true guardian companion, the large pitbull strolled alongside me, stopping whenever I stopped, and continuing whenever I continued. Whenever a loose dog started to approach me, the pitbull would meet it halfway, and without barking or making any sound would send the dog on its way. Amazing.

As I reached the home where the shooting had occurred, I hoisted the cross upright and prayed long and hard for Iva Craig’s family and friends. A churchgoing Christian, this dear lady was now safe and secure in the hands  of Jesus. Her family and friends would be the ones now suffering from this senseless murder.

A makeshift memorial of flowers and teddy bears were placed where Iva Craig had fallen. One bullet…one death…one unsolved murder. I prayed that God would bring the killer(s) to swift and hard justice, and then asked the ultimate Judge to also bring that person or persons to Jesus (which is how I pray for all criminals).

I talked to her longtime boyfriend and I talked to her longtime best friend. I talked to her neighbors, and I talked to her friends. Tears fell. Hearts dropped. Faces grimaced. Yet, God’s love hovered. And through it all, faith soared.

A Senseless Revenge Drive-By Shooting


You cannot kill a Christian; you can only change his or her address. Still, there is much sadness and anger when such tragedies occur.

I was told the reason why this tragedy had taken place. A revenge drive-by shooting. Not because of anything Iva Craig had said or done. On the contrary. This lady was well-liked and well-respected by everyone.  But because of the gangbanging actions of a young family member not even closely related to Iva Craig,  the shooter decided to shoot  anyone related to him, even though this individual was nowhere to be found.

I was in the neighborhood for the entire morning.

From street to street and house to house, I walked and prayed and hoisted the cross upright at each corner. Then I cross-walked the entire perimeter. Whenever I walk the perimeter of a neighborhood I claim that community for Jesus. I ask God to annex the land and bring the entire neighborhood into His Kingdom. I also ask the Lord to annex the hearts of each and every man, woman and child. And I ask God to catch every man, woman and child in this prayer dragnet, bring them all to the cross and to Jesus so He can do what He did for me when I once was lost, angry and without hope in this life.

Asking God To Heal The Hurt And Pain


The Cross of Jesus: God’s Plus Sign to hurting humanity

I asked the Great Fisherman to cleanse the men, women and children with His Word and to heal those living in this community with His love. I asked the God of new life and new beginnings to save the souls of these men, women and children and to set His angelic warriors and angels around the perimeter of this besieged and grieving neighborhood.

This is exactly what I asked the Lord of hosts to do for this particular besieged and blighted neighborhood in mourning for a fallen neighbor. And yes, I will be back.

Perhaps that guardian pitbull will trot up to me then as well. Perhaps not. All I know is that this street evangelist was kept safe by the God of divine protection as he walked the cross and prayed for a neighborhood that definitely needed prayer and for a people who definitely needed to see the cross, God’s plus sign to the world!

That blue-eyed pitbull stayed with me as I walked back to my truck, loaded up the large cross, gave him a drink of water from my supply of cold bottled water, hopped into the cab, started the engine and took off. As I drove off, I  watched him from my side-view mirror. He just stood there watching, then disappeared completely from sight just before I made the next street corner. Amazing.