Man, Mules And A Message: On A Cross Country Covered Wagon Journey
March 30, 2009
A trip ends. But a journey goes on forever.
Randy Boehmer is on a four mph, four-mule powered covered wagon journey across the country — a journey to spread the Gospel one person at a time.
Sunday afternoon found Boehmer camped out alongside Highway 31 east of Atmore, about two miles to the north of North Escambia.
“I’m traveling the country to tell people about Jesus,” Boehmer told NorthEscambia.com. Wednesday marks one year since he pulled out of Bedford, Indiana, with his four Belgium draft mules — Frank, Jesse, Dick and Jack — and his dogs Shep and Proverb.
A man, four mules and two wagons covered with large signs draw a bit of attention as they cross the country. And that’s the point.
“Jesus Saves Ask Him” and “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 16:31″ are painted in large letters on the wagons.
“I intend on doing this the rest of my life; I would not doing anything else,” he said, looking out across the ditch he would call home for the night. “I will go and spread the Word and testify about Jesus.”
The seeds for his spiritual journey were planted in 1990. He met an evangelist that was traveling the country in a covered wagon. He bought the man lunch so he could talk to him awhile. He found the idea of a simple life with few possessions to be intriguing.
When his mother died in 1991, Boehmer and his siblings were cleaning out the garage, going through the belongings of his deceased father. A relative told them to keep what they wanted and take the rest to the dump.
“The fishing rods. The tools. Everything he had, all of the worldly things, meant nothing anymore,” he said.
The defining time in his life came nearly a decade later when his wife Lois died from cancer in 1998.
Her last words as she died…
“Life here on earth is short compared to eternity.”
He knew that his wife had accepted Jesus and was in heaven.
Boehmer was not saved at the time. He said he knew about God from his upbringing, but he wanted to know more about the God that had his wife’s soul. “I wanted to know how to spend eternity with her.”
He turned to his Bible.
“It said I had to turn away from my sins and accept Jesus. And that is what I did.”
He spent two years in school studying the Bible formally. That, combined with the chance meeting with the traveling evangelist and the garage revelation that worldly possessions mean nothing compared to treasures in heaven, led him to his mission. He was going to spend his life traveling the country in a covered wagon telling the story of salvation.
Gone were his 15 hour days at his 40 year career as a taxidermist. He found his first two mules — Frank and Jesse — in a two-year old issue of Mules and More magazine. They were still for sale in Bedford, Indiana. He drove his Geo Metro from his home in Arizona to Indiana. The car carried his remaining possessions in life, including his two dogs Shep and Proverb.
He spent time working and learning to shoe mules and horses, earning little money along the way. But he learned a wealth of experience and respect for the huge animals that can weigh 1,500 pounds each.
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He pulled out of Indiana on April 1, 2008, on his journey south to Alabama, spreading the Gospel to anyone that would listen along the way.
“I am just a simple man with a simple message,” Boehmer said. “There is no other name than Jesus by which a person can be saved.”
His simple wagon has a gas stove, a small wood burning heater, and solar panels on top, charging batteries in the wagon. He uses the solar power for a few modern conveniences — to charge his cell phone, a light, a TV and a radio. He’s quick to admit, however, that he has not watched the TV in some time.
“I do know that Obama is the president now,” he said. Other than that, the news of the world has pretty much passed him by during the last year.
As people pass Boehmer on America’s highways, he knows that his hand painted Bible verses on the wagons reach people. But, people often stop and talk, giving him more of a chance to witness.
Sunday afternoon, several people stopped during NorthEscambia.com’s visit with Boehmer. Three teens from Brewton were the first.
He chatted with them about the wagon and the mules. Then, like a good preacher, he slipped in the question.
“Do you know about Jesus?” he asked.
The teens replied that they did. He pulled neatly folded copies of a newspaper article about a trip from his pocket for each teen.
“That will tell you more about me and my trip.” he said. “And search for my name on the Internet. You will find lots of stories about me.”
He paused for a moment before digging around in a compartment on the wagon.
“Here you go. It’s a genuine worn-out horse shoe. It’s got a lot miles on it, and isn’t worth anything. But I want you to keep it to remember me and remember the message about Jesus.”
He passes out the newspaper clipping copies to everyone that he meets. Often, he hands out coins with Bible messages on them. And he’s always spreading the Gospel.
His presentation of the Message is low-key. It’s not a high pressure sell, but a laid back approach from a friendly man in cowboy hat. There’s no loudspeaker, no large group, no speaking engagements in front of church congregations.
It’s just Randy Boehmer in a ditch alongside a road somewhere in America spreading the story of Jesus Christ.
And people respond.
“I’ve had a grown man come to me crying, telling me that he wants to learn more about Jesus. People always ask me questions about the wagons, the mules. That makes it easier for them to ask that question about Jesus.”
He moves just a few miles each day, about three to four miles per hour. Boehmer never knows where he will spend the night. He just prays, and he says the Lord always provides.
He does receive a small amount of support from his church back in Arizona. Otherwise, he has found that the people in his path provide.
Bags of oats. A load of hay. Bags of food. They were all donated to Boehmer along Highway 31 Sunday afternoon.
“God provides,” he said. “Everyday I thank God for the day before, and pray without ceasing for the day to come.”
Boehmer plans to remain camped through Tuesday alongside Highway 31. If you want to visit him, you should find him in ditch near Dugout Lane, that’s just east of the bridge over the railroad tracks between Canoe and Flomaton.
Wednesday morning, he plans to hitch up the mules and head through Atmore and on toward Jackson, Mississippi. It won’t be a continuation of his trip, but a continuation of his journey.
“A trip ends. But a journey goes on forever,” Boehmer said. “It’s all about an eternity with Jesus. I will continue this journey until I die, telling other people about Jesus.”
“I’ll make a lot of friends along the way. That’s the hard part about all of this, having to leave those friends behind when I pull out. But we will all be one big happy family in heaven one day.”
That’s Randy Boehmer’s message. Jesus Saves. Ask Him.
Pictured top: Randy Boehmer is crossing the country on a lifelong journey to spread the Gospel. Pictured middle: Boehmer and his wagon. Pictured lower inset: Boehmer shares the story of Jesus Christ with a couple that stopped along Highway 31 Sunday afternoon. Pictured below: Boehmer and his mules Frank and Jessie. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.