Message Tab

Man carries gospel coast to coast in covered wagon

 

Kay Campbell/RNS

Randy Boehmer, orginally from Arizona, travels the country in his mule-drawn covered wagon to preach the gospel. Recently he rested his four Belgian draft mules in a field just north of Hazel Green, Ala.

HAZEL GREEN, Ala. — Randy Boehmer’s ministry is powered by mule, sun, and the Son of God.

“I’m here for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ,” said Boehmer on a recent Saturday morning as he moved around his covered wagon rigs to feed his four Belgian draft mules. Signs painted onto the canvas cover of his wagons proclaim, “Jesus saves. Ask Him.”

“And I’m trying to convince people who do not read their Bibles to read them,” he said.

He lives on a tight schedule, he said, smiling underneath a ginger-and-white mustache.

“I have to be where it is warm in winter and cool in summertime,” he said.

A man of indeterminate age – old enough, he said, to know he doesn’t have to say how old he is – Boehmer has been on the road full-time since April Fools’ Day last year. He stopped here on his southward journey to give his mules a Sabbath rest and to get a new inner tube for a wheel on the wagon that hauls his water barrels.

 Most days, when he isn’t sitting on the bass boat swivel chair inside his wagon, driving his four mules at about 4 mph down the road, he answers questions of the many visitors who come up to his rig. Their questions give him a chance to testify for Jesus and ask them if they are saved.

“I’m planting seeds,” he said.

His own story is simple, Boehmer said.

Until he hit the road, he lived in Arizona, where he spent long days working as a taxidermist.

His parents died in 1991. His sister told him and his brother, when they went to clear out his parents’ home, to take what they wanted and haul the rest to the dump.

“I told [my brother] Vern, ‘I should travel the U.S. in a covered wagon and tell people about God, because there has got to be more to life than all these things that aren’t worth anything but dumping,” Boehmer said.

When his wife died in 1998 of cancer, he found himself wondering more about God and about where his wife’s soul was. He had a pretty good idea about that.

“She believed in all that Jesus stuff, so I figured she was in heaven,” Boehmer said.

But he himself wasn’t moved to open the door to Jesus until the winter of 1999, he said. He had snapped his Achilles’ tendon working on rope tricks, and his leg was in a cast to his thigh.

To get wood for his stove, he would crawl to the woodpile. He remembers lying on the ground during subfreezing weather, exhausted and dirty.

“I cried out to God,” Boehmer said. “That was when I completely, 100 percent, submitted to God. I realized I couldn’t take care of myself anymore.”

God’s care is a daily fact in his life now, he said.

Solar panels on top of the wagon he built himself power a lamp for use inside. He has a tiny wood-burning stove and a gas grill for cooking. A car battery charges the electric-tape fence he stakes out to keep his mules in at night.

And although he has money from the small stipend his church in Arizona provides, people have a habit of showing up with just what he needs, just when he needs it, he said. They show up with food for him or his animals, or offer to fetch a part or supplies.

“A man brought me four bales of Timothy hay yesterday, and said God had laid it on his heart,” Boehmer said. “Somehow, God speaks to people.”

Kay Campbell writes for The Huntsville Times in Huntsville, Ala.