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A couple’s daily exercise in faith

With more than 200 Bible verses mentioning the word “walk,” one Jonesborough couple is literally putting that word into spiritual action, turning their daily exercise into a way to share their faith with others.
Pastors Alan and Doll Evans have become familiar sights to motorists who drive along Persimmon Ridge Road in the morning.
That’s because the couple walk the 3-mile route every day, rain or shine, passing out smiles and waving to everyone they see along the way.
So far, the two have covered 3,240 miles during their 40 months of walking and praying.
Covering miles is nothing new to the couple.
They returned to the area in 2009 after Alan retired from the U.S. Army following 25 years of military service. During their time in the Army, he and Doll started their ministry service working alongside chaplains.
Doll, a native of Johnson City, worked in prison ministry while they were stationed in Hawaii, serving as a chaplain for five different women’s prisons.
Both were ordained as ministers in 1998 through the Independent Assemblies of God International.
Doll is a graduate of Leadership Bible Institute in Hawaii, while Alan has his master’s degree in pastoral counseling. Both have had several leadership courses from different churches.
They have started a non-denominational church located on Grover Street in Johnson City called Faith Miracle Sanctuary Christian Worship Center.
Ultimately, Alan, who is a native of Jonesborough, says his goal is to bring ministries together, with Jesus at the center of everything.
“We need to break down the barriers — cultural, racial, social and denominational,” he said. “People need to know someone cares and that there’s a church that cares about them.”
For the Evanses, that caring spirit has turned into a faithful routine which starts early every morning.
“We usually get up about 4 a.m. to pray and have our devotions,” Alan said. “Then one day, the Lord just put it on my heart to take a walk and pray. I did it for a couple of days and then the days turned into weeks.”
Not long after that, Doll joined Alan on his walks. On June 2, the two will celebrate four full years of prayer walking.
“When we walk, we pray for salvation,” Alan said. “That is the initial objective. Then we pray for our nation, for people who are passing by, families, marriages, revival — so many things.”
Although they now receive warm greetings from motorists passing by, in the beginning, Alan said, you could see the skepticism on many of their faces.
“You know, at first I think they thought we were some kind of politicians, out looking for votes,” he said with a grin. “We would smile and wave at them, and they would slow down and you could see them sort of checking us out. I think they were looking to see if we had campaign signs.”
But now the smiles and waves are returned.
“They’ve gotten used to seeing us out there. Sometimes the police hit their sirens and truck drivers honk at us,” Alan said. “They know now that we’re just out there walking and praying for people.”
They’ve met some pretty neat people over the years, too. “We get so many positive comments, and some even stop and ask for prayers,” Doll said. “We’ve had a lot of people who roll down their windows and holler ‘good morning’ and “God bless you’ at us, and we’ve even had people stop and give us bags of fresh vegetables.”
They have even been told they have inspired others to start walking.
“One lady told us she had seen us and had decided to start walking as well,” Doll said. “She told us she has lost 18 pounds and says she feel so much better.”
All of this, they say, has inspired them to keep on walking.
“The Lord has blessed us with a home in Jonesborough near the walking trail, so we’re going to continue to do this,” she added. “We’re just out there, loving people.
“Who knew that something as simple as exercising and praying could turn into something so wonderful?”