They said one to another, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)
After Jesus was crucified and buried, it might have seemed like the end of the world to his followers. When two of them left Jerusalem for Emmaus, little did they know that they would encounter Jesus himself along the way. Their walk showed them that he was risen indeed, and they returned with joy to the world.
When two FUMCFW members left Fort Worth for their own Walks to Emmaus, they had no idea what they would encounter.
Fred Cantu’s Walk
This past fall, Fred Cantu took his Walk to Emmaus and it turned his world upside down. Fred says that Ernie Nance, who sponsored his walk, had been gently nudging him about it for a while before he finally came around. “One of the things I have learned in my spiritual life is that the human reaction is to say I’m too busy (even though we’re all busy, it’s usually by choice),” Fred reflects. “I kept saying ‘no’ to these opportunities but then realized what I was supposed to be saying was ‘yes’ — that’s what discipleship is all about.” In that spirit, Fred told Ernie he was finally ready to go.
Fred says one of the key components of a Walk to Emmaus is not knowing much about it. “That’s part of the whole experience of being very deliberate about it,” he explains. “It’s so difficult to devote yourself or concentrate on one singular thing since our lives are so busy, and I see the wisdom in this opportunity to get close to the Lord.” You will also have the chance to become close with fellow walkers. “You will meet people you’ve never met who have different problems and are in different places in their walks,” Fred adds, “but there’s a common bond that develops early on.” He describes it as a soul-searching experience — with God and others — and this shared intimacy ties everyone together along the way. From heart-wrenching moments that brought him to tears, to comedic moments full of fun and laughter, Fred says there was some kind of magic when you put it all together. One particularly unexpected moment was so spiritually uplifting and moving that it brought him to tears, and he remembers feeling that this must be a little bit of what heaven is like.
He even compares it to falling in love. As Fred puts it, when you fall in love the world is right, so if all of us fall in love with Christ the world will be a better place. “We will not all walk away from there experiencing the same thing, but I think most of us will certainly benefit from it and who knows if we will go out to make a difference in the world by being better disciples than we might have been otherwise,” he says. “All this to say, I’m so glad I went.” Now that Fred has completed his journey, he is involved in what is called “Fourth Day” — which is everything in the life after a Walk to Emmaus. “I actually do feel that I am listening better, my heart is softer for people, and I just want to continue to have a good Fourth Day,” he adds. Fred says his goal as a leader in FUMCFW’s new Emmaus Community is to have an open mind to someone else who might be unknowingly yearning for a similar life-changing experience.
According to Fred, you need to be at a point in your life when you have a new thirst for Jesus that can’t be quenched unless you do something about it. “At the end of the day, we’re really all looking for the same thing — to get in touch with the God that we all know and need to have in our lives to amount to anything,” he declares. “I want my life to be different than it used to be, and I want that to happen to others as well.”
Bette Johnson’s Walk
For Bette Johnson, even after nearly a decade since her own walk, she says she remembers it like it was yesterday, and her experience has had a lasting impact on her life. As Bette describes it, you pack your little bag and get ready to go — not knowing exactly where you’re going, but you do know that it’s going to be a good journey — and you walk away from it saying, “That was a trip, and I can’t wait to go again!” To Bette, a Walk to Emmaus is an intense spiritual journey, and although it’s not meant to fix anybody it is definitely there to enhance your walk with God.
Ten years later, Bette continues to count the blessings of newfound friendship and passion re-discovered through her experience. “The walk itself provided me with a whole new community,” she recalls. “There are people who instantly became lifelong friends, support, mentors, and accountability buddies.” Bette says she emerged from her experience as a new woman rich with community and friends — all on fire to serve God. “One of the cool aspects is that the people who go through it tend to become church leaders because they walk out of it wanting to serve and work,” she adds. “We have a lot of servanthood within the community, and that’s a nice side effect for the church.”
Like Fred, Bette is one of the leaders in FUMCFW’s Emmaus Community, and she says she envisions many opportunities for growth. Not only will others gain her same sense of support and shared accountability from their walks, it is also a chance to serve and lead within our church and the community at large. “Step outside of your comfort zone to grow in ways that you never thought you would be able to,” Bette encourages. “It’s just another opportunity to praise and honor God, and to feel the different layers of grace.”
Your First Step
According to most who have experienced this 72-hour spiritual journey firsthand, you never know what you’re going to get on a Walk to Emmaus. There are walks for men and walks for women — all from every walk of life. Each walk is different for every individual person taking those time-honored steps — from the disciples on the day Jesus rose from the dead to Fred this past fall and Bette 10 years ago. However, one outcome is certain: your heart will burn within you to love and serve God.
FUMCFW’s new Emmaus Community is here to share this experience with others. Be on the lookout for our next Emmaus Walk Fellowship & Informational Event, and join us to take the first step toward a long walk with Jesus. This road, once traveled, promises a world of difference. For more information, contact Fred Cantu (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 817/368-5238 or Bette Johnson (email@example.com) at 817/821-2344.