BERLIN – “God has a plan. I just try to stay out of the way.”
That’s what Doc Mishler will tell you if you encounter him on one of his cross country treks. The octogenarian has spent more than a decade wandering across the country on horseback, spreading the word of the Lord and advocating for hungry children.
“This journey’s not about me it’s about feeding hungry children,” he said. “It’s not a way that’s lacking it’s the will to do it. There’s no excuse.”
Mishler, clad in a red bandanna and cowboy hat, chatted with folks in Berlin Wednesday as he gave his horses a rest in the shade in front of the Berlin library. Those who stopped to say hello were treated to a passionate lecture on the failings of organized religion and the importance of simply feeding the hungry. He directs people interested in his cause to www.churchcommunitiesinternational.org, the website of Bruderhof, an international Christian community.
Mishler says his personal journey started in 2002 after reading the book “How Then Shall We Live” and surviving cancer. His first cross-country trek went from Choteau, Montana, to Washington D.C. “by way of California.” After sharing his message in the nation’s capital, he’s continued his efforts to spread the word of God with various trips around the country.
Mishler, or “Longrider for the Kingdom,” as he’s described on his Facebook page, shares his beliefs with anyone and everyone who will listen. More than eight million children die each year of hunger, he says, while organized religion, instead of fighting for them, has become big business.
“Churches have failed the people,” he said.
And so he takes it upon himself to remind people of the messages in the Bible, particularly those in the Book of Matthew.
Though a fractured pelvis, a quadruple bypass and a hip replacement have slowed Mishler in recent years, he has yet to settle down. He continues to roam the country, relying on the kindness of strangers to help him along the way. Many are eager to give him and his equine companions, Charity II and White Cloud, a place to rest for the night.
As if encouraging people to do their part to end child hunger wasn’t inspirational enough, Mishler also stresses the importance of not giving up on dreams. It was his own childhood dream that prompted him to begin his first cross-country horseback trip.
“I’ve become the man the little boy I was always wanted to be,” he says.
And when will his journey end?
“When will the Pope sell the Vatican?” Mishler replies.