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Norwalk man leads faith walk in Lorain

Cary Ashby • Jul 14, 2018 at 5:00 PM

Josh Roeder said the faith walk that Martegas Boyd did recently in Lorain was “the most powerful spiritual experience” he has had.

Boyd carried an 80-pound, eight-foot-tall wooden cross he created over 1.9 miles in Lorain with other Christians. He and the 10 people who joined him handed out 30 to 35 Bibles, some prayer crosses and prayed with people they encountered. The group also distributed candy to children.

“This time was just awesome,” said Boyd, who did three other faith walks between Norwalk and Sandusky.

Roeder, of Norwalk, joined Boyd in Lorain.

“(I was) so blessed to be there that day. Martegas and I had only met a few months back, but I love where the guy’s heart is and when he told be about what he does, I wanted to be a part of it,” said Roeder, who started the local Metal for Moms ministry.

“He has became a brother quick because what he does is what Foot Soldier Ministry is all about,” he added.

In the Metal for Moms ministry, Roeder and other Monroeville High School graduates use money they get for donated scrap metal to help others. It is part of Foot Soldier Ministry, now based out of 13 S. Main St. in downtown Monroeville.

Roeder stressed the importance of “bringing people together regardless of skin color (or) background.”

“It’s about the love,” he said. 

Before Saturday’s experience in Lorain, Boyd said he kept hearing a message from God that he needed to do it there.

“It was like a throbbing,” he added. “I was at work and it came to me. I put it off for a couple weeks.”

The Lorain trip went along Ohio 58 from Home Depot to West 21st Street. The group then went to a lower-class neighborhood, where they encountered drug abusers and young women who have been involved in prostitution. 

“Nobody comes in those neighborhoods,” Boyd said. “We touched a lot of people’s hearts. … It was beautiful, man.”

Born and raised in Sandusky, he has lived in Norwalk for the last decade. 

Boyd did his first faith walk from Norwalk to Sandusky on July 10, 2016. He said that was when there was a lot of media focus on police shootings, so he considered it “the perfect time to show the love of God.” 

The first walk, which covered 17 miles, took about four hours. Boyd’s friend, Troy Lash, of Sandusky, was the only person who joined him — but a lot of people noticed what Boyd did.

“There was a lot of positive feedback,” said Boyd, who didn’t receive any negative comments. “There were people stopping to take photos.”

The second faith walk happened two months later — this time from Water Street in Sandusky to Norwalk. Lash again joined Boyd. Two other people also participated, with one of them telling Boyd “I couldn’t let you walk alone.”  

Between the first and second time, he added a seat cushion to protect his shoulders.

“It was rough,” Boyd said, referring to the durability it takes to carry or drag the cross, which has small wheels on the end. “Your legs get beat down real bad; your shoulders get beat down.”

The third faith walk went from Norwalk to Sandusky. A Sandusky woman Boyd met during the first experience joined the small group. She also participated in the recent Lorain walk.

“Each time we did it, there were more people,” said Boyd, who noticed young people who are 20 to 25 years old “ate it up.”

Boyd said he believes the Millennial generation might walk into a church and “feel like they’re being judged,” so to reach them spiritually, it’s important to connect on a personal level and go out of your comfort zone.

“You’ve got to go to the highways and the bi-ways,” he added. 

As Boyd and the others walked in Lorain, people gave them bottled water and Gatorade. Boyd said one backpack became so heavy it ripped and had to be trashed later.

“There are people hurting in Lorain and we brought some light with the good Lord’s help. Just showing people you care and planting the seeds of truth and love is powerful,” Roeder said. “We are going to be doing this a lot more because there are people hurting all over our area.”

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