The Great Wall of China stretches for thousands of miles across this vast country, for more than two thousand years, one of the great wonders of the world. China - five thousand years of history, my feet standing on the Great Wall of China - the cross-lifted up, weighed upon my shoulders. One step, then another step. Glory, Glory, Glory!
It is done, what an historic, glorious day. This is the moment, an awesome moment of history, who would ever have believed it, the cross lifted upon this Wall in this communist nation.
Glory, beyond words, the cross was carried on the Great Wall of China! This was truly an historic moment in the journey of the cross. Jesus did it. January 5, 1987. I will never forget bolting the cross together in front of the Great Wall. The glory of God was sweeping over me and excitement filled my body. This is the heart of communist China! This was the cross for Jesus being lifted up where few ever thought it could happen.
The amazed TV and newspaper reporters were in shock. I had entered China with Nora Lam an American citizen who grew up in China. We took tours into the country and had made arrangements for me to walk there. She just did not tell anyone that I was 'walking with a cross'. The news media was there to welcome the 'world's greatest walker' not the simple 'cross walker'. Ha! At last the cross was bolted together and I lifted it to my shoulders and started up the steps. Up, Up, Up I climbed with the top coming near. Then I was there! The cross was lifted up on the Great Wall of China. No one could ever take that moment away!
The security police at the Wall did not want the cross carried there. They tried to get me to pose for the press without the cross but I refused. The police were confused because they did not want to arrest us and the cross, but they also did not want the cross carried on the Wall. Jesus won and we did it.
In a country that is home for over a billion people. the big 12-foot cross was now on top of the Wall. The report and photos went around the world via the news media. Overnight the officials were about to send us out of the country, with the cross!
Jack Hunter and I had dinner in the special banquet room with some of the top officials of China! How did it happen? Jesus did it! The day before I had a young lady come up to me at the Holiday Inn hotel and ask me if I was from California. She was studying very near me at a university. I said I would help her with English. She then introduced me to her father. We had a good talk and I went to my room and came back with a copy of my book Arthur a Pilgrim. He gave me his home number and said should I have any problems just phone him. I did not know who he was, but after the problem with my having the cross on the China Wall and the fact that the man who was to direct our walk in China was getting cold feet and seemed to be backing out; Jack and I prayed and then called this man. He arranged a big banquet for us at the Holiday Inn hotel the next day and had a top official, Mr. Tao Haui of public security, highway department, tourism and sports and other top leaders at the dinner. He planned our walk with us and all gave permission. Mr. Zhuang Yanlin is a top leader in China. He was very touched and impressed with the cross and the walk. He had seen me years ago when I was carrying the cross in Africa. After that anytime we faced a problem with the local officials we just said we had to make a phone call to our friend in Beijing and showed his card. Everyone would smile and say, "No problem." Ha. Jesus did it.
Jack Hunter was a very wonderful friend and a great help in this cross walk in China. He is a wonderful 'road man'. We wept and laughed and had a great time. Thanks Jack. His lovely wife Paula was with us when we started out.
We had a bus and six attendants, two interpreters and two bicycles.
The scene changes now - the city. The cities are packed with people, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions everywhere, people, people, people - on foot, on motorcycles, on bicycles, in carts, in cars, in trucks. The sounds of horns, the sounds of talking, the sounds of laughing, the sounds of chickens, the sounds of ducks, sounds everywhere. Smells, the smell of food, spices, incense. Colors, people are wearing every color imaginable, colors are hanging in windows. In China you are never alone. It's people, and more people, now walking through the streets along the roads, bumper to bumper traffic. Cars, trucks, ox carts. One step then another, and another as the cross is carried through China.
From my diary:
Well if I never live another day - this was it. I'm really walking with the cross in China. Not just the China Wall — but on the road. Solid, blistering, hurting, dirty, sweaty, traffic jams, people jams, real road walking. Jack and I are exhausted. But thank God we stopped early and had a bath. The right side of my foot is blistered - popped it. Cut holes in my shoes, these new shoes are too narrow, but my greatest pain is in my right knee. It is truly hurting. It has been years since it hurt this way. In 1971 in the South of France and I think in 1976 in Canada, were the only times my knee hurt so bad. But I know it is only a temporary moment, not a long time pain. But let's not get off on pain and forget the history of today.
The cross is being carried openly in Red China. This is the first public manifestation of Christianity and religion in modern China in over forty years. Not since Mao Tse Tung, and later the Gang of Four tried to totally destroy Christianity. This land once swept with the blood of martyrs is now having the cross openly carried through the countryside and the cities. Mao Tse Tung must be rolling over in his grave!
The people are smiling big as they see us. Waving their hands, honking horns, some are crying, some jeer, many old people have tears, even some young people. This is not a tourist area, westerners hardly ever pass this way, and the response has been absolutely fantastic. No problems, no police checks, just Glory. We have a car with a driver and a mini-bus with a driver, a man on a bicycle that goes with us, a coordinator that arranges hotels and places to stay, a lady that helps cook, two interpreters - this is the biggest team I have ever had in all the years of carrying the cross. And Jack Hunter - Praise God for Jack, he is a friend and businessman from San Antonio, Texas, just a few years younger than me. We felt he should accompany me on this trip through China. We have two Chinese Christians believers also with us, the man we call Benji and his wife Joy. He had been in jail for over twenty years but now is a dynamic free witness for Jesus Christ.
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I woke at 3:00 a.m. with the Glory of God all around. The presence of my wonderful Lord, filling me, healing me, loving me. I feel much better in my body, sore but much less than last night. My right knee is feeling almost fine.
Up at 7:00 a.m. and on the road. Jack hurts so badly but we still go on. Oh, but do I hurt, my feet with blisters, my right knee better but still bothering me. My feet burn, my back and shoulders hurt and so on. Praise God. It has been four and a half months since I walked with the cross, so my body must break down and harden up again. It's tough. Not the time to stop and give in - press on. I want to walk every day that I can in China. Last night after supper there was a little disco, trying to learn Western dance and music. The kids wanted me to come so I went with Benji and witnessed to the eager young people who were searching for Jesus. I led one girl to Jesus. She said, "Do you have to speak English to speak with Jesus?" Another asked, "Will Jesus come into a Chinese heart?" "Yes," Benji said, "I am Chinese." Those under forty or so know almost nothing of Jesus, or nothing at all. For forty years, it has been illegal to speak or talk about Jesus. She received Christ. I gave her some material in Chinese to read. This morning after I left with the cross, a taxi drove up, she was in it, and she gave me a key chain with a Panda Bear on it, to tell me thanks and goodbye. I was almost overcome.
Traffic is absolutely mad - bumper-to-bumper, cars, trucks, tractors, people, bicycles and so on - very dangerous. In the pain of walking there is also the beauty of the smiling, waving people, it is overwhelming. We took a ferry across a big river. On the ferry there were lots of people eager to hear Benji and I speak and wanting Jesus stickers. One Chinese newspaper reporter came and took photos and did a story. Later there was a big wreck involving five large trucks. We stopped today and watched people drag in a net full of fish, thousands of fish, and I thought this is the way China is. I took a photo of it, remembering the words of Jesus as he told Peter to cast his net on the other side and they brought in a huge amount of fish and Jesus said, "I want to make you fishers of men." Later in the afternoon about five men came to me on bicycles, stopped and made the sign of the cross on their chests - I did the same, pointing at the cross and then my head and my heart. They began to weep and smile at me, touching the cross with such passion and reverence. I gave them Chinese gospel material. They began to shout to others in the field and the people came running to the cross. About fifty people were gathered, all making the sign of the cross, crying and smiling. I pointed if they wanted to carry the cross - they nodded yes.
I let the first Chinese carry the cross from the farms into the small town. It was awesome. I was pushing a bicycle and the pedal hit my leg making a big gash as the blood poured, but no matter, it was too wonderful to see these Chinese carrying the cross so proudly into town. We hugged and kissed and cried. There must have been an underground church but very alive and overcome that this was an opportunity for a public witness to carry the cross openly into their town - what courage and what faith. This was just too much - one must see their eyes, faces and the joy - Oh God what this day must mean to them only God knows. When I finally got to the bus I was overcome. From the girl this morning to the farmers carrying the cross into town, it has been a staggering day. Even in my moments of pain I am so happy, thrilled beyond words - Oh I love these people I want to live here, preach here, explain the gospel message here. Thank you Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.