Changing hearts, one step at a time

George Ross stands in front of the Tri-State Cowboy Museum in Gordon, where he has stopped for a few days on his cross-country walk from New York to the west coast. George Ross stands in front of the Tri-State Cowboy Museum in Gordon, where he has stopped for a few days on his cross-country walk from New York to the west coast. Photo by Rachael Huether

By Rachael Huether

When asked why he decided to walk across the United States, George Ross simply replied, “God.”

On July 27, 2018, Ross left his job as a carpenter in Syracuse, N.Y.,  and got rid of all his possessions so he could walk across the Country, hoping to encourage others to seek out God, and make a better tomorrow for our children.

“I just got caught up in chasing my tail, thinking about the proverbial dollar, and once I found God, none of it seemed to matter anymore,” Ross stated. After losing both of his parents and becoming a single parent all within eight months, he chose to seek God out rather than follow a downward spiral. “When I left, I quit everything. I left my house without a dollar in my pocket. And all my friends and family thought I was either certifiably crazy or on drugs,” he laughed.

An average day has Ross walking 20-40 miles, depending on the weather. His dog, Advay, faithfully is making the trek with him, and walks dutifully next to him off a leash. “He’s living the dogs dream! He never has to wait to go for a walk!” They stop at communities so Ross can speak to people and lift their spirits. He also enjoys helping people with various tasks while they are stopped, oftentimes putting his carpentry skills to work.

Ross plans on walking all the way to the west coast, where he will watch the sun set, then he will turn around and walk home. He says the sunsets have gotten more beautiful the further west he travels, so he is excited to make it to the coast. “God will put the right people in my path. I’m not a beggar. I won’t have to ask for anything. I’ll get to the coast and back on faith alone,” he asserted.

“There have been days that I have received money, and God knew that I’d run into someone else that needed it more than I did,” Ross said. “I left with two pairs of shorts, two t-shirts, and my bible, and I haven’t been without. I have a winter coat now. I’ve got gloves. I didn’t even have a tent or a sleeping bag when I left.”

Ross also encourages people to listen to people, just to hear them and understand them, rather than listen just to respond. He also would like people to love more and judge less. “I used to be so prideful, and thought I could do everything on my own. I don’t want to be a part of being conformed to that worldly lifestyle anymore.”

“I don’t read scripture to people, because I’m not a teacher. I just tell them to go home and read for themselves. Talk to God. Get a one-on-one connection. That’s the only thing God ever wanted from us anyways, is a friendship,” Ross said with a smile.

While he doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring, he is happy to follow God. “I’m going to do the same thing tomorrow. I’m going to put all my faith in God and he’s gonna provide and make sure I have everything I need,” he stated. 

Ross spoke of missing his children immensely, who are with their mother and her fiancé, as well as missing the youth he coached in football. “My kids don’t fully understand what their dad is doing, but they respect what their dad is doing, and that means more to me than anything,” Ross said. “Me and my kids, we have a very special bond, and that’s the hardest part of this journey, is that I’m away from my kids.”

Ross stated that what he has learned on this journey that he would like to take back to his four children (George, 17, Dustin, 16, Cody, 11, and Mikayla, 8), is that less is more. “Love genuinely and open-heartedly.”

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