Pray Wales - walking with the cross - Clive Cornish/Lathan Ball - Inspire May 2012
In July 2003, evangelist Clive Cornish started out on a journey round Wales carrying a 12ft wooden cross. But that was just the beginning, explains photographer LATHAN BALL who travels with him
There was no fuss, no send-off committee and his wife and children slept peacefully upstairs in their Cardiff home.
After praying, Clive opened the front door, shouldered the 50lb wooden cross measuring 12ft x 6ft and headed west down the A48.
Over the next four weeks Clive and I walked almost 450 miles round Wales. We wanted to tell people that Jesus died on a cross because of his love for them.
Clive’s friends and family told him that it would be impossible. But despite the physical hardship, the walk was completed in four weeks.
Since then the walking has continued. In 2004 we visited the rest of the towns in Wales, travelling 750 miles over seven weeks.
In 2005 we journeyed from Land’s End to John O’Groats, walking more than 1,000 miles in 40 days.
We also travelled with the cross to Israel in 2008. Many people warned that this could be a dangerous trip, but we both felt God’s calling and knew that he would protect us.
As we retraced the Apostle Paul’s last missionary journey from Jerusalem to Rome, travelling through Israel, Malta, Sicily and Italy, the expedition almost destroyed our friendship. By the end of it we resolved never to walk together again. But God had other plans!
Afterwards, we met regularly and worked hard to repair the relationship which had been damaged by the stresses and strains of this expedition.
One morning at breakfast, Clive returned to an earlier thought of carrying the cross up Pen-y-Fan, the highest mountain in southern Britain. The conversation drifted to climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales.
I suggested doing them back-to-back over Easter, calling the event ‘Three Days, One Easter’. I could feel my spirit jump.
Clive smiled. “That’s not from you, that’s from God,” he replied. We both knew God was speaking to us and our next challenge had begun.
Sinking into soft deep snow and skidding on ice made the ascent of Ben Nevis a physically exhausting climb. But this tough challenge spoke to other mountaineers and was a major topic of conversation among the groups who reached the summit that day.
Marathon running with the cross was another big physical challenge, but he completed the Cardiff Half Marathon in three hours and 16 minutes.
Looking back, Clive can see God’s guidance throughout his life. He was born into a poor family and his mother, brother and sister all had physical and psychological health issues. His father walked out when he was just three years old.
Clive was never encouraged, and even today his voice strains and the tears fall as he recalls how family members and teachers shouted: “Clive you’re a waste of space!” driving home the message that he would never amount to anything.
As a lost and angry teenager Clive drifted into solvent, alcohol and drug abuse. Inevitably, trouble with the law soon followed. Armed robbery saw Clive imprisoned for six years.
Clive knew that unless he changed this could be the pattern for the rest of his life. His teachers would be proved right.
Desperately, Clive prayed. He wanted to feel valued and live a life of worth. Clive knew that when he was in control of his destiny he had made a mess, so he gave the control to Christ.
Clive is now employed as a Counties evangelist working with children and the underprivileged of Cardiff, using his experiences to encourage and inspire others.
He is now planning to take part in the Marathon of the North, the Cardiff Half Marathon and a walk around Great Britain in 80 days – all with the cross of course.
• An e-book Pray Wales – They Said it was Impossible tells the inspirational story of Clive’s walking, climbing and marathon running with a large wooden cross. It is available from www.threesixteen.org.uk or by calling (UK) 02920 521890.