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Layman’s new faith in Christ prompts his walk across U.S.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Levi Tarapen set out on a 3,600-mile walk across the United States May 5.
That in itself is not unusual; others have done it. What makes Tarapen’s venture special is he’s doing it for the Lord.
Tarapen literally stepped out in faith because he believes strongly the Lord called him to hike across the United States, giving his testimony along the way.
Tarapen, an Oklahoma native and, now, a member of Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn., was baptized last November.
“I was so grateful for what the Lord had done in my life that I prayed for a mission that would glorify Christ,” the 44-year-old truck driver said.
“About a week after I prayed, I was driving to Indiana and it came to me the Lord wanted me to walk across America to glorify Jesus Christ,” he said.
That realization was hard for Tarapen to accept. “I tried to talk the Lord out of having me do this,” he said, citing the fact he was not in shape physically and didn’t even like to walk.
Tarapen went to his pastor, Kevin Shrum, for counsel. They decided to pray about it and, during a revival at Inglewood in April, Tarapen made public his decision to walk across America.
He said he did not have a “burning bush” experience or hear voices. But since making the commitment, he said he’s felt an inner peace about the decision.
There were important matters to consider — hard decisions and sacrifices to make. One was giving up “the best job I’ve ever had” and the other was leaving his wife, Bobbie, at home.
“I’m starting to feel it is something I’m destined to do,” he told the Baptist and Reflector, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, in an interview the week before he left.
Tarapen’s pastor said he would “be skeptical” if not for Tarapen’s attitude and approach to what he is doing.
“He has been thoughtful, prayerful and meticulous in his planning,” Shrum said.
“He wants to do this as an extension of the ministry of this church,” the pastor noted. “That lends a lot of credibility to it.”
Shrum observed sometimes God calls people to do things that may “seem to be out on the edge.”
When he pulls this off, what a tremendous testimony Tarapen will have not only for the people he meets along the way, but the people of Inglewood who have rallied to support Tarapen in his venture, Shrum said.
Tarapen started his trek from Sullivans Island, near Charleston, S.C. He hopes to walk to Knoxville, Tenn., by June 6 in time for a Promise Keepers meeting there. He will then journey to Nashville and on to California — a 3,600-mile trip that will take about six months, he projects.
Although traveling by himself on two-lane, primary roads, Tarapen will have a constant companion. “I plan to speak to the Lord every step of the way. This is a growing experience for me,” he said.
Tarapen knows it will not be easy. “I cannot do this if the Lord is not in it,” he admitted.
Churches along his route have been notified he will be coming. During his walk across America, Tarapen said, he hopes to convey to people there is no better life than one directed by Jesus Christ.

    About the Author

  • Lonnie Wilkey
    Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.Read All by Lonnie Wilkey ›