In a recent Langstaff Letter, we shared the story of our friend John Halvorsen, including his recent journey to the South Pole. We also mentioned an experience he had while on his Prayer Walk America in trying to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. To set the scene, we will repeat part of the story, taken from a soon to be published book ‘The Best is Yet to Be.’
One day John came to me with a vision he had. Similar to Abraham in Genesis 13, who was told by God, “Arise, walk in the land through its length and breadth for I give it to you.” John felt God was calling him to walk across America and pray for this land, what would become known as “Prayer Walk America.” He had first thought that he was supposed to do it to raise money for missions taking pledges for each mile that he walked. But God said no to that idea. Eventually, he recognized that he was to walk and pray and to bring a warning that troubled times were coming to America and that it was time to seek God and pray. This was in the days before 9/11 and the recession of 2008.
John sought my counsel and affirmation for what he felt called to do. Dorothy and I both felt it was God and encouraged him and Sandy, who was to travel with him in a camper, to go out in faith. I felt he needed some help in the organizational side of it all and so I introduced him to Ron Olson, who unexpectedly and quickly found himself part of the team. He would be based at Antioch Christian Fellowship, our church, and would handle the practical matters, such as planning routes, media communication and rallying intercessors and churches to pray for “Prayer Walk America.” The walk would eventually take them across desert terrains, over mountains, through farmland, cities of varying sizes, and large metropolitan communities.
In 1998, John began the journey at International Falls, MN at the Canadian Border. Together with Ron Olson, Dale Sisam and Lance Wonders, I drove up to be there for the start of the journey which would, for the most part, go north to south, walking adjacent to the Mississippi River all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.
The second leg of the walk began in Oregon at the Pacific Ocean. I flew out to be with them for the commencement of this second stage of the walk across America. At that time, I remember I went with John one night as he preached in a storefront church in Salem, Oregon where the pastor was powerfully touched by God through John’s ministry. Wherever they went, they left a deposit of God with people. At various times, people from Antioch joined them for a portion of the prayer walk and Ron Olson was with them at different points along the way. There are enough stories and testimonies to fill a book from this prayer walk across America, but let me just repeat one that was an incredible miracle.
Ron had gone to Washington DC to prepare for the final leg of the walk which would involve walking across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. He was told by a friend who lived there, “I don’t think they let people walk across the bridge.” But Ron was convinced that the final route had to go through Washington DC and across that bridge. When Ron returned to Minnesota, he called the Maryland Department of Transportation and was told, “we don’t allow anyone to walk across the bridge.” Ron sought to explain what “Prayer Walk America” was all about, but that did not move the official, who explained that pedestrians on the bridge would create tremendous traffic problems.
It would be about seven months before John would be in Washington, so Ron let the need be known to the band of intercessors, believing that God could make a way where there was no way. Ron called one of the Minnesota Senators in Washington and talked with a staffer to seek the help of MN senators for John to walk across the bridge. The staffer replied, “You must be joking. Nobody walks across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.” He was told to send a letter, and they would see what could be done. Eventually, a reply came. The senator had passed on the request to the Governor of Maryland, who forwarded it to the head of the Department of Transportation, who then sent it to the Maryland State Highway Patrol, who controlled the bridge. All the answers were the same, “You can’t walk across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.”
Months passed, and they were getting closer to Washington. When they were just four days from reaching the bridge, Ron received a phone call from the head of the Department of Transportation asking, “Do you still want to walk across the Bridge?” He went on the explain, “It just so happens that we are going to shut down one side of the bridge next Monday for some repair work. If you will agree to five requirements, we will let you walk across the Bridge.” Ron immediately agreed to the five requirements; The walk had to be at night so that no one would see him; John had to walk alone. No one could join him; the event had to remain a secret. The media could not be informed, and if the officials even though the media might find out, the walk would be off. It couldn’t rain, for, if it rained, the transportation workers wouldn’t be able to do their work, and the bridge wouldn’t be closed.
Ron relayed the message to John and Sandy. John’s jaw dropped, and Sandy began to thank and praise God for what He was doing. John ended his standard twenty miles a day walk at the bridge on Saturday and would not walk again until the agreed time of 10 p.m. on Monday night. When he arrived at the police station, he went in to introduce himself and see if the police had any instructions for him. He approached the desk sergeant and explained who he was and what he was going to do. The officer replied, “You are not walking on my bridge” and wouldn’t accept any of John’s explanations that he had been given permission to walk across the bridge.
Monday night finally arrived, and they went again to the police station. A different officer was at the desk that night, and this time they were ready. A smile came across the officers face as he said, “We are going to have a police car escort you across the Bridge. We will be ready for you in five minutes.” Sandy was granted permission to ride with the police escort. It turned out that the driver of the escort car was the desk sergeant from the Saturday night, who had told him, “You are not walking on my bridge.” So John walked across the Bridge that no one was allowed to walk across. It was an extraordinary miracle.
They continued on to the Atlantic Ocean, where John was connected by satellite to Bill Bright’s Prayer and Fasting Conference. And with up to a million people around the world listening, John was asked to pray for America, that repentance would follow, and revival would come to the land.
John now has a new call and a new challenge – to once again Prayer Walk America. This time it will be from Los Angeles to New York, with the initial portion following the old pioneer trail of Route 66 to Chicago. John is seeking to commence this prayer walk on Halloween, October 31, 2018.
A website will be set up to keep people informed of John’s progress during this prayer walk. If you would like to support John by praying for him, financially supporting him or by possibly joining him on portions of the prayer walk, then you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ron Olson, who helped John on his other Prayer Walks, will be joining John again, helping and assisting him with the planning and facilitation of the walk. If you would like to support Ron by praying for him or financially supporting him, then you can contact him at email@example.com.