Joe Shortino was in Imperial last weekend, likely causing a lot of second looks as he walked Imperial’s main street, praying for the community. (Johnson Publications photo)

Man carries cross, prays for communities

Joe Shortino walks for the Lord and prays for communities.
    The former oil field worker  from Ault, Colo., gave up a six-figure income to travel to communities like Imperial with just a few dollars in his pocket, trusting the Lord will provide.
    Shortino spent the weekend in Imperial. A number of residents saw him carrying a large cross on main street, topped by both U.S. and POW flags.
    It’s a lifestyle he’s lived the past four and a half years, after he said the Lord asked him to do this.
    At first, he was unsure that it was the Lord talking to him, Shortino said as he talked about his experiences along Imperial’s Broadway Street Sunday afternoon.
    “After about three months of contemplating and prayer to make sure it was God talking, I started out in Colorado,” he said.
    That was in February 2013. He spent about three months visiting different Colorado communities. At times, he said he doesn’t know why he ends up in a specific town.
    “I go where God leads,” he said.
    Since then, he’s been in 16 states from California to North Carolina, and has walked more than 10,000 miles.
    “My job is to pray and pray with those who stop. Many are discouraged so we pray together,” he said.
    At times, he said he’s told to travel to a specific community. He was in Holyoke, Colo., prior to catching a ride to Imperial. He planned to head back that way on Monday.
    The cross he carries, supported by a small wheel at the back when not on his shoulder, was built by a retired pastor in Loveland, Colo. It has hinges, so it can be folded up for transport.
    In addition to the U.S. flag attached to the cross, another flag bears the POW-MIA symbol. He was given the POW-MIA flag from a veteran in Arizona, who’d been a prison of war.
    The POW-MIA flag sometimes brings a veteran over to visit with Shortino.
    “My heart is with the vets,” he said.
    “They may not come over for the cross but when they see the POW flag, they may come over to visit and pray,” he said.
    Shortino also carries a shofar with him, often blowing it in the community he is in. It’s a Jewish horn-shaped trumpet used in Biblical times, he said.

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