50th Year Reflections of Carrying the Cross by Arthur Blessitt!
I start the 50th year of walking carrying a 12 foot cross around the world at the age of 77. 1968-2018. My mind is focused on Jesus! 84.5 million steps, over 19 billion pounds carried. Over 42,279 miles (68,041 km) including every nation, major island group and territory all with the cross all with the cross. For the Glory of God. Jesus did it.
The faces of millions of people I have seen or met along the way flood my memory. As a young pastor the night Jesus called me to full time evangelism as I prayed on a hilltop outside of Elko, Nevada. Jesus showed me the sky filled with the faces of people I had never seen before. People of all colors, races, cultures and religions. It was to these I was called. None of these faces I had ever seen before. His call to me was the world! I have now seen almost all the faces I saw that night. I believe when I see the last face Jesus will call me home.
This took place about four years before Jesus called me to make the 12 foot cross and take the first steps with it. I was then 27 years old. I had no idea what lay ahead or that my life would become so intertwined with the cross. I got a taste of carrying the cross in 1968 and 1969. But little did I know it would consume my life when I walked out of Hollywood, California down Sunset Strip on Christmas Day, 1969 heading east toward New York and Washington DC.
I was to become a fool in the eyes of many and a saint in the eyes of others. The road with the cross would lead me through wars, jungles, deserts, cities and to every continent, nation and major island group and territory.
I walked into the world to meet people face to face. To hear the hurting and lost calling out to hear the message of love and hope as well as the screams of hate, anger and rejection.
Along the way I was to kiss the lepers, touch the sick and diseased. I wept with the hurting and shared hope with the lost and dying. I saw the love of Jesus manifested in peoples lives and rejoiced with them along the roads. Sometimes one person and at other times with tens of thousands of people.
The people of the world have welcomed us or we would not be here. We ate their food, drank their drinks, slept on their mats or bed and were welcomed as family the world over. However, neither the cross or Jesus or ourselves were always welcomed.
The curses rang out, knives at my neck, guns at my head, a firing squad with guns pointed at me, spit on my face, beaten and so often in danger, arrested 24 times and in 54 nations at war. My life became a saga of struggles and triumph, praise and damnation. Attacked from every direction beyond what anyone could imagine. Don’t ever think that carrying the cross around the world will only attract applause.
I’ve carried in my heart the suffering of the poor, the hungry and wept with the pain of seeing injustice, discrimination, hate, killings, wars and persecution. The attacks on the followers of Jesus in our world is so common. Lack of freedom of religion is rampant. It has been a true miracle that Denise and I have gone openly into all these nations that have sought to destroy and restrict the Bible, the cross and the message of Jesus. Yet Jesus led us in and led us out.
The cross the devil hates. Anything to destroy the cross or the cross carrier is open game. I had to reach the point where criticism and praise affect me the same.
There were no bodyguards to protect. The way of the pilgrim is not to defend yourself but to bless your enemies. To love in the face of hate, lies, evil and discord. This has been for us to live out and put into practice as Jesus has asked us to do.
Our life of walking with the cross and sharing the message of the cross… Jesus has been hard for many to comprehend. My wife Denise and I are too religious for many of the secular and too secular for many of the religious. The cross shakes everything up. I’ve been turned away from leaving my cross at over half the churches I’d asked to leave my cross at overnight but was never turned away from leaving my cross at a bar.
I want to clearly say that my wife Denise is fearless and loving yet strong and a true follower of Jesus. So often she is in front of me and faces the dangers first. God knew that I could not make it without her. She is as much a part of the cross mission as I am. We are one. How awesome to have been blessed with Denise by my side.
Many don’t know where we fit. I’ve been welcomed and kissed on the cheek by Yasser Arafat in the middle of war, spent the night at Prime Minister Begin’s home in the Sinai, received the Sinai Peace medal in Egypt at the Presidential Palace, met with Pope John Paul II in Rome, took Billy Graham into the battlefield in Belfast, prayed with George W. Bush in Midland, Texas, preached on stage during the 1960’s with Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan talked with me in the park as I preached in Miami, have been welcomed by the President of the United Nations General Assembly and preached at some of the largest churches and stadiums in the world. On and on I could go.
The path of the cross winds it way through every nation in the middle east and the world including North Korea. Our lives as pilgrim followers of Jesus has led my wife and I and also my children to feel that the world is our home. Fifty years with the cross has changed me as well as it has changed others. I feel as much at home in a crowded Indian market as I do in Los Angeles. I feel more at home kicking a ball made with rags by African children than I do at Disney World. I love to preach on the roadsides with no time clock and live stream on the internet for as long as I want to. It is too hard now to fit me into an 18 minute sermon inside a lovely building with a time clock that turns red when you go overtime.
On the road I returned to my early young days of preaching in jails where there was no music. So I have preached the world over with no music groups or worship music to warm up the crowd. I just speak and the people who want to hear will stay.
When I walk, I walk with Jesus. Wherever we go we share Jesus. Whatever we do we seek to lift up Jesus. That is my passion. I am just a simple Jesus loving gospel preacher and a lover of people the world over. We love all people. We share Jesus and when people meet Him He gives them a new heart and life. When the heart is changed the life starts to look more like Jesus. I stay focused on letting Jesus change people, not me.
Another thing I’ve learned is commitment to the call and mission Jesus gives for us to live. To stay determined and to go forward no matter what is ahead. I learned early on that ‘circumstances don’t alter the call’. We are to act and not live our life reacting to the events, words or actions of others. Follow Jesus.
I am a work in progress. Jesus has been grinding me to powder so that He can blow me where He will. I’m a saved sinner. Every day I pray and repent and say “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me a sinner.” I love the Holy Spirit showing me where I have failed and welcome God being the Potter molding me and making me more like Jesus. I want to be convicted of my sins, things I may do or things I did not do or thoughts that are not from the Mind of God. I truly love to follow Jesus.
I love the Bible, the Word of God. I quote scriptures as I walk, sing songs to the Lord along the road. I worship and praise God. Jesus likes my company too. I love to live in the Presence of God the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
One day soon I shall take my last breath and will step into the glory of Heaven and onto the streets of Gold to meet my God the Lord of Hosts.
I feel that I’ve had the most blessed life in the world. From a child I’ve sought to follow Jesus. I recommend Jesus to you.
See your sin…Understand your need, repent and welcome Jesus who shed His Holy Blood on the cross for my sins and yours. Ask Jesus to save you and come to live in your heart right now. Start following Jesus without shame. Tell others the message of salvation in Jesus.
The greatest value in this world for a follower of Jesus is to lead a lost person to Jesus to be saved. I live from one soul saved to the next. A person’s soul and where they will spend eternity is the most important thing in the world. Jesus said “what shall it profit a person if they should gain the whole world but lose their own soul.” If we say we love others yet do not care where they spend eternity, something is very wrong.
Together we shall see a world-wide awakening as the cross is shared and Jesus lifted up in all the earth.
The cross has been with me for so long my body has been changed by the weight of the cross…my shoulder, my feet and my knees, etc. But most of all the weight of the cross and the Presence of Jesus has changed me, my heart and life.
I close with this thought. Simon of Cyrene was in Jerusalem at the time appointed by God to be there to help Jesus carry the cross to Calvary. Simon was a sinner like you and me but he could help Jesus on the way to the place where Jesus was to die on the cross. Simon could help carry the cross but Simon could not die for the sins of the world. Only Jesus, the Word that became Flesh and lived without sin could do that. God gave Himself and shed His Blood for our salvation that whosoever will may come.
After the cross and the resurrection and Jesus ascending into heaven those that know Him as Savior are to be His witnesses.
We are to carry the cross into all the world with the message of Jesus.
I don’t know why but before Jesus called me to carry a large life-sized cross on a long journey, it to my knowledge had never been done before. Sure some had carried the cross at Easter and others a few miles. But I have never been able to find any historical evidence of a person carrying a large cross across nations or continents. I am so humbled and truly unworthy to even carry the cross. But I learned that Jesus’ call makes me worthy. I have learned not to follow the normal but to be willing to step out and break through the walls that have been holding back the bold and daring in their journey of following Jesus and His radical callings.
Now there are thousands carrying large crosses in nations and cities all over the world. What Jesus called me to do has opened the floodgates and people will be carrying large crosses until Jesus comes. May God bless all those who are or will be carrying crosses for Jesus as a witness to others and God bless all the pilgrims who are following Jesus. I encourage you on your journey. Remember this world is not our home. We are but pilgrims and strangers “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Jesus said.
So I have chosen not to have a big celebration of my carrying the cross. No Golden Anniversary Celebration. It is just another step on the long journey with the cross for the One that is truly Worthy! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!
Worthy is the Lamb! Amen. All Glory to God.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt, Luke 18:1; 2018
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Arthur Blessitt Evangelistic Association
Paul’s testimony and call is given in the book of Acts 3 times.
Acts 9th chapter; Acts 22; Acts 26.
So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said,
‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose,
to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.
I will deliver you from your people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,
to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’
“Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. Acts 26:15-19
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and became in the likeness of men;
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient as far as death, even the death of the cross.
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him a name above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess (acknowledge) that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.