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May 30, 2012 9:31 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Man Dressed As Jesus Journeys To Montauk

Jun 1, 2012 3:14 PM

Robert Wood sat in the shade on a metal guardrail off Montauk Highway in Westhampton on Tuesday afternoon, his head bowed and a large wooden cross fastened with a metal bolt at his side. He rested briefly before hoisting the cross onto his shoulder and setting off in steady, wide strides.

Two brown work boots and the hem of his jeans peeked out from beneath his white-and-brown robes, and a white scarf with black stripes was draped around his neck.

“I’m a blood-washed, Holy Ghost-filled, tongues-talking, Bible-walking child of God,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m drawing attention to Jesus because everyone needs him.”

Mr. Wood, 55, said his journey to New York State actually began by bus in Mansfield, Texas, in January, though he said he has been walking off and on for 22 years and spreading his message. On April 30, he left Freeport, where he grew up, and began walking toward Montauk Point as part of his five-year trek across the state. Once he hits the ocean, he plans to turn back and walk toward Brooklyn.

Mr. Wood, his long white hair pulled back into a ponytail and a long, narrow beard sprouting from his chin, noted that this is the second time he has attempted the trip east to Montauk; rain and a toe infection forced him to abandon his first attempt earlier this year.

“America needs to turn back toward God,” he said, explaining the reason for his journey.

Mr. Wood said he was orphaned at a young age and he found himself on the street at age 16. Unable to read, he said he turned to a life of male prostitution.

“Thirty years ago, I got saved,” he said, recalling the night three decades earlier when he dreamt that God told him to stop sinning.

In 1990, Mr. Wood said God told him to go to Texas, so he left his job as an exterminator in Freeport and went. It was there that Mr. Wood said God told him to begin walking with a cross. An elderly woman in Freeport sewed him a robe, he said, though it has since ripped and been replaced.

On his back on Tuesday he carried a weathered leather backpack containing only scriptures and bottles of water given to him by strangers. One such stranger, Audrey Catera of East Moriches, pulled into the parking lot of the Casa Basso restaurant on Montauk Highway in Westhampton to meet Mr. Wood on the road and give him a bottle of water. She said her husband had seen Mr. Wood earlier in the day, and it excited her because she had studied the Bible. “I had to come and see why,” Ms. Catera said.

Earlier, a man pulled off the road and hopped down from his blue truck to hand Mr. Wood another bottle of water and drove off without saying a word. Though he has never had any companions on his journey, Mr. Wood said people frequently give him food, water and even money.

“Now, all I need is a shower,” he said.

He noted that he felt most welcome in the Bible Belt, an area that encompasses most of the south and spans as far west as Oklahoma and Texas.

Mr. Wood, who was making his way across Shinnecock Hills and Southampton Village on Wednesday morning, said he doesn’t plan to stop walking anytime soon.

“It’s been 22 years,” he said with a toothy smile. “I’m not stopping unless the Rapture comes and I die in the road.”

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Don't tell Robert that Montauk is "the End"
By uncleronk (136), southold on May 30, 12 10:12 AM
2 members liked this comment
he's going to walk on water ...
By ranger (54), springs on May 30, 12 11:23 PM
The individual carrying the cross in Southampton looked different...he wasn't wearing robes, and I don't recall the white goatee...a different person?
By EQMama (29), East Quogue on May 30, 12 11:45 AM
he was not wearing a robe when i saw him but it was def him because i saw him in Bridgehampton today
By Unkown Local (18), southampton on May 30, 12 7:53 PM
Someone should give him a Tebow jersey to wear.
By C Law (350), Water Mill on May 30, 12 1:14 PM
If he's on the road to Jericho.......he's going the wrong way.......
By shadow captain (34), sag harbor on May 30, 12 3:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
Haha. The '"cross" still has the barcode on it-- presumably from Home Depot.
By johnj (1019), Westhampton on May 30, 12 4:09 PM
3 members liked this comment
Peace on Earth.
By Nero (296), Sag Harbor on May 31, 12 5:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
GOD bless him!
By Shinnecock Hills family (59), Southampton on Jun 1, 12 11:12 AM
Is that a barcode on the end of his cross?? Maybe he's planning on returning it after the apocalypse?
By Moneybogue (37), Westhampton Beach on Jun 4, 12 9:31 AM
2 members liked this comment
I half expected to see a picture of Mel Gibson ... He will need God's help to not get hit by a car ...
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Jun 5, 12 3:34 PM
Well, the outfit is somewhat Biblical. But "dressed" as Jesus is a visual stretch.
I prefer the historically inaccurate Jesus. The one that looks like that 'Barry Gibb' guy.
By elliot (254), sag harbor on Jun 8, 12 5:32 PM
What on earth drew him here?
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Jun 10, 12 11:44 AM
power tools, home improvements, building supplies, Eastern Long Island