A stranger appeared in our midst...


Submitted by Mulkey McMichael, member Buena Vista UMC

It was a typical Sunday morning at Buena Vista United Methodist Church.

As usual, Carolyn Moye was unlocking outside doors throughout the church. It was 9:25 a.m. as she unlocked the church’s front doors. On the church’s front porch, under the columns, a stranger had slept. No one knew that the scriptural verse of Hebrews 13:1, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware," would dominate members’ thoughts that day.

On November 20, 2011, David Holmer, 42, had spent the 41st night of his spiritual walking mission on the cement porch of Buena Vista UMC. Holmer was a guest that day in the adult Sunday school class. He shared that, for 20 years, he had wanted to do a walking mission. Three friends had planned to walk from Coloma, Mich. to Cape Canaveral, Fla.  As the time neared for their departure, one friend decided not to make the trip and the other grew quite ill.

“I knew then the walk was only going to be God and me,” Holmer shared. “It was our spiritual journey together. What a trip this has been," said the faith filled young missionary.

The 1,000-mile walk had been carefully planned. The route was determined with careful routing to visit the homes of U.S. Presidents. Holmer shared stories about the weather he had endured in the first weeks of his walk. 

"I have traveled on old US 31 through Indiana, Kentucky and down through Warm Spring and now highway 41 to Plains. Here I am with you all today," Holmer said.

The young crusader walks eight to 30 miles each day.

"I had the most trouble with my first eight mile day of the walk,” he said. “I carry a small New Testament Bible and refer to the book of John for direction. I have maps and plan my route each week after prayer and direction from God. He really is there during some difficult times when I am walking in the rain and dark. God really is my navigator and keeps me safe.”

When walking through an unsafe stretch in Tennessee, a man approached Holmer to tell him that he had just walked through one of the most dangerous areas of the town.

“I guess that he knew that I had special protection during this time of my walk,” Holmer said. “The first night of my walk was dreadful but I continued on.”

The third night, he experienced a torrential downpour. He prayed, “Lord, keep me warm.” He was wet but slept warmly all night.

“I have many more stories that I could share with you,” Holmer said.

He planned to walk south and be in Albany, Ga. on Thanksgiving, in Tifton by December 1, and continue south to visit a friend in Jasper, Fla. His goal was to meet family in Cape Canaveral, Fla., by January 2, 2012. He plans to meet his brother for the trip back to Michigan.

At Buena Vista UMC, word quickly spread about the stranger's stop. Church members were eager to meet and greet Holmer during the service’s greeting time. After the worship services, Holmer joined Paul and Francis Davis and Mulkey McMichael for a light meal at Subway.

There, Holmer shared additional inspiring stories of his first 41 days.

"I have a small recorder to remind me of my meetings and memories along the walk,” he said. “I plan to take some time off and write a book on this trip. Next, I plan to kayak from Canada to New Orleans. I am sure I will meet some great people on that floating trip," he said.

Many strangers have appeared at Buena Vista UMC for monetary donations and handouts of food and clothing. Holmer asked for nothing and only shared his belief in God and his mission to share God's grace with all he met on his walk of faith. We will see him again. This next time, though, he will not be a stranger in our midst and we will entertain him!

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