We decided to go to nearby Armenia. It was not on our route but we felt it was a good idea and after all, why not? We had a long drive in the mountains of Georgia. Sometimes there were armed roadblocks every mile. You must be the right religion or ethnic group to pass. Either they turn you back or shoot you. We crossed into Armenia and they waved us through. Later we unloaded the 12-foot cross to begin the walk through Stepanavan. The people were friendly and I had a good witness with several but I knew we were not to keep walking. Something was wrong.
We stopped and drove toward the capital stopping in front of a cathedral just outside Echmiadzin. This entire area is so poor that our hearts hurt but in the night as Denise and I prayed we felt very troubled, there was no peace, God did not want us here. I have no explanation but He did not. We remembered that the glory and peace left before we turned in this direction. We came because it seemed right and good but we did not have the special ‘call’. We promised God we would leave at dawn and go back to Georgia and on to Azerbaijan. We did. The roads were terrible and in true Soviet style the manhole covers were almost always missing. When we entered Georgia the peace and glory returned.
During much of 1992 my wife, Denise and I carried the cross through Russia and all of the former USSR. The USSR was just breaking up after the fall of communism. We only had a tourist visa for two weeks in Russia and no permit for the Land Rover and no visa for any of the other countries! Jesus got us across all the borders and checkpoints with no documents. We made it through over 250-armed roadblocks. God led us to places to fill up with gas, as only a few gas stations were open the entire trip. We went from extreme cold and snow to the desert heat all in one historic and glorious trip. The impossible had happened. The cross was carried in all the USSR. All glory to God. Many were saved as the cross was carried in all of these nations.
Denise drove the 4×4 Land Rover. She would drive up the road a few miles and wait for me to arrive carrying the 12-foot cross. I would have something to drink and eat and then walk on. In most of these nations we would drive part of the way and then carry the cross a few days or a week or so. We had Bibles and gospel material in Russian and local languages. The Land Rover was also towing a small trailer with food and the gospel materials. We carried many cans of gas on the Land Rover and inside was a stove. We slept in a pop-up tent on top the Land Rover. When we left England we drove and went by ship to Finland. We crossed over to Estonia and made a complete loop around the USSR and then drove back via Poland and back to England. We drove almost 11,000 miles and I walked many hundreds of miles in the USSR.
In order we carried the cross in the following countries:
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Trans-Dnestr, Moldova, Crimea, Abkhazia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tadzikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Siberia and Russia.
Jesus did it. All glory to God.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt