In a few months, Pastor Gilbert Owens will embark on another spiritual journey. He’s looking for others to take the path with him during The Walk to Emmaus.
“People that go on the walk, they will be meeting people that they never met before,” Owens said about about the three-day christian-based activity. “But by the time they leave the walk, those people will be their friends for life.”
A walk for men is scheduled for Sept. 13 through Sept. 18 in Kenly at the Church of God Convention Center. The women’s walk is scheduled for Oct. 13 through Oct. 16. During the event, attendees worship, pray, sing and participate in several challenging activities. Phones, watches and other electronics are not allowed.
“You’re completely isolated from the outside world,” Owens said. “The focus is not on any preacher or spiritual director. The entire focus is on Jesus Christ.”
Based out of Nashville, Tenn., The Walk to Emmaus is based on scripture from Luke 13-15: “Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;”
As of January, he was selected to become the Community Spiritual Director by an anonymous vote from the Cape Fear Emmaus Board of Directors. His primary is to provide leadership and oversight of the regional program. Duties also include assisting the board of directors in the development, training and nurturing of clergy, primarily pastor. To accept the position, Owens had to put a lot of things the side such as working with Roseboro’s NC Small Town Economic Prosperity initiative and organizing a senior citizens day celebration.
“This position is more important than anything else I’ve done because it actually changes the lives of people,” Owens said. “It is changing bit by bit, the body of Christ, within the Cape Fear region.”
He was introduced to Emmaus by the Rev. Bobby Herring, pastor of Roseboro United Methodist Church. After being sponsored by Herring and taking the walk, he was elected to serve on the board of directors from 2013 through 2015. From a personal standpoint his involvement in the program has completely transformed his life in different ways.
“It has transformed my whole way of thinking,” Owens said.
Owens said the walk has spread from community to community and crosses all denominational lines and races of people.
“The walk to Emmaus is a movement of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “From generation to generation, the holy spirit breaths new life into the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit raises up people by which the church is reintroduced to the reality of God himself. This has been a movement for the 20th and 21st centuries.”
The deadline to apply is mid-August. Participants have to be 18 and a member of a local church. For information about sponsorship and fees, contact Owens at 910-379-4562; Herring, 910-590-4372; or Board Chairman Benji Oates at 910-592-3328.
“I encourage every believer to attend one of these walks,” Owens said. “Their lives will never be the same.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.