The Walk With the Cross in South Africa
From late October 1985 through January 1986, I walked with the cross in Southern Africa. I returned again in 1986 from the first of June through August. Part of that time, I was fasting and praying with the cross in the city centers. The rest of the time, I was carrying the cross. Most of the time, I was walking in the Republic of South Africa and in what is called independent countries, sometimes known as homeland states like Ciskei, Venda, etc. Yet their independence is recognized only by South Africa and not the rest of the world. Other countries like Lesotho and Botswana are recognized internationally though I only walked in those two countries very briefly. I will share with you some of the highlights of this walk and also some typical days along the road that will give you the flavor of my life and the response in South Africa.
Joshua and I were looking at a map of South Africa. We were in the camping van that Mr. Richard Scallan had arranged for us to use. As we prayed, suddenly one place leaped out at us, Port Edward. We knew no one there but it was located along the coast, south of Durban. The Lord said, “That’s where you are to begin and you will get your driver at Margate.” It is a large holiday town north of Port Edward. With great joy, we headed toward that place to begin our walk with the cross.
The next day, we arrived in Margate and stayed in a hotel. When I woke up, the Lord said, “Go walk around the block. Turn left at the hotel; go down to the corner, down one block, around to the right and back to the hotel. I’ll lead you to the driver.” I told Joshua I would be back with the driver and I left. As I walked around the block, I spoke to probably ten different people on the sidewalk or in shops. Everyone said, go to the Unemployment Agency on the main highway- I began to walk slowly as I was now only a few feet from the hotel. What I’m going to tell you is the total truth. At the last parking place before the hotel entrance a white pickup truck pulled in front of me and stopped. As he opened the door, I told him that I was looking for a driver to drive my camping van. I explained nothing else. He looked up and said to me, “My construction work is a little slow at this time. I have a driver free.” His name was Mr. John Williams. After a short conversation, he said, “If you’d like, we can drive out now and make all the arrangements, but first could we stop by a house that we are remodeling,” I said, sure. When we arrived at the house, he said, “You’re welcome to come in. It’s very hot in the truck.” The house was located in Southbroom, which is perhaps the most prestigious resort center in South Africa with homes built around a golf course by the seaside. Inside the house, I met a young man in his mid twenties named Mark Barnett. We sat down and began to talk. He asked me what I was doing and I said I needed a driver to drive my van and Mr. Williams was taking me to arrange it. Mark said, “I’ll be your driver.” But I couldn’t afford to hire someone like you,” I said, looking about at the luxurious home. He said, “Oh, I’ll do it for free or for anything you want to give.” I said, “But there’s another thing.” I explained to him that I was walking, carrying a big cross and that Joshua was walking also with the cross and every other day, Joshua would be doing his correspondence school work in the van. We had thousands of pieces of gospel material that we used the van to carry for us to give out to the people. I asked him if he knew Jesus as his Savior. He said, “No. I’m just your normal sinner but I think I maybe an alcoholic “He was such a lovely man and I heard God whisper to me, “Take him, this is your driver.” Mark can speak the local African language of this area, Zulu, very well and he told me this story: “Last week, I was sitting in London in a pub drinking. My life was totally messed up. Then for the first time in my life, something spoke to me ‘go back to South Africa and get involved with driving American visitors around. Go now.” He said, “I knew that the tourist business in South Africa was in disastrous shape, yet I knew I had to go.” He flew to Johannesburg then drove down here and now I arrived. The Lord had brought me from America, to Johannesburg, to Margate, to a walk around the block, to a house being remodeled, and had brought my driver, and soon to be buddy, from a pub in London to Johannesburg, to the beach house.
Mark did not receive Christ that day, but the next morning, he arrived at my hotel early. He was an awful mess. He had been drinking all night. He had a terrible headache and was sick, yet I knew he was to be my driver. Joshua and I unloaded our crosses at Port Edward and before we began the walk, we put our arms around Mark and we knelt along the roadside and we prayed. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was his first public prayer meeting and it almost scared him to death. That day, as crowds gathered, Mark served as my Zulu interpreter. Late in the afternoon, Mark and I prayed together and he received Jesus as his Savior and was born again. He said, “I am a nenw man ” and sure enough, he was!
Two weeks later, we baptized him in the Indian Ocean and he traveled with me for two months and is now doing a lot of witnessing as he runs his father’s insurance company in Johanesburg.
I tell you, it has been glorious. All along this highway, car after car stopped. Blacks, Indians, whites, poor ladies working along the roadsides and ladies in Mercedes Benz, but the awesome thing is that all people are waving, smiling. Glory to God! A young lady in her boutique shop had just received the newspaper. She had it lying on the counter in front of her and was reading the front page about the cross. She whispered, “God, I can’t find You. If only I could meet this man.” She looked up and there in the rain in front of her shop was Joshua and I. She called out to us. We went to her and she gloriously received Christ.
Another day I write, “Well, glory to God. It’s great and glorious. The walk has turned into a slow crawl. People stopping, cars stopping everywhere. Sometimes there is literally no place for another car to park. The roadside is jammed. People so hungry for Jesus, eager for God of all races no problem at all except how to deal with so many beautiful and eager people.”
Joshua and I flew to Johannesburg to preach at the huge Rhema Church. We arrived for the Sunday morning service late expecting that I would only attend the morning meeting because I was scheduled to preach the night service. When the pastor saw me, he said, “God has told me not to preach. We’ll sing one more song, then you preach.” I was shocked but of course, ready, and God gave me a powerful message from Revelation, the first chapter, where John said, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day.” It was a glorious meeting. At night I preached on the words of Jesus, “I will be with you always.” I took off my shoes during the sermon and showed the people my feet where by the grace of God, there are no marks, no scars and even no calluses. And they were amazed and so am I at the constant miracle of God in my feet. In Romans 10:15, it says, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things.” The church is such a blessing. They run over 5,000 people a meeting. It is completely multiracial. How blind the world is to the beauty of such multiracial gospel churches as this is in South Africa.
When I arrived in Durban, I preached at the Durban Christian Center, which meets in an old theater in the center of town. Here again, is a huge multiracial church of thousands with associated mission churches all over South Africa, all multiracial and moving in the power of the Holy Spirit under the direction of a beautiful, powerful man of God, Reverend Fred Roberts. When I started out of downtown Durban toward the beach, we spent all day and only made three kilometers (about two miles) because person after person was stopping us in the streets. Crowds were gathering. The response was great, powerful and it is almost completely impossible to walk because of the eagerness and hunger of the people.
It was a great day today! As I went through this black area, people rushed from their homes, children poured into the streets and we saw the beautiful love of the people as they welcomed the cross and the message of Jesus and the joy, life, peace, hope and salvation that He gives.
Today, I ate in the home of an old Hindu Indian man. He was excited beyond words to see the cross and compelled me to come into his house. He took me in to his bedroom where there was a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall and he told me this story. He said just a few days before he’d had a vision. He saw the cross rising up from the ground and he was coming to it. He heard a great crowd of people singing and praising God behind him and he came with a great garland of flowers to put them on the cross. Then he heard a voice from behind the cross that said, “Soon the Big Father will come to you, soon you will know the Big Father.” Today the cross did come to him and we prayed together and he welcomed Jesus into his heart and now he knows “the Big Father.”
This area is very much like what I was in earlier this year in India. The population is predominantly Indian all along this coast north of Durban. The people welcomed me in the deepest way possible. There is great understanding of a man walking on foot with the cross. Tonight I left my cross inside a supermarket and ate in the home of the Kader family, who run the Shell station. Almost all the people in this area are Hindus or Muslims.
Tongaat Next Day
Tonight I stayed with the lovely Naicker family who have a Mobile gas station and market. She gave the most beautiful meal you could ever eat and treated us so kindly. We had wonderful Bible study about Jesus and I prayed together with her entire family. They put “Jesus stickers” all over the station and market and welcomed me and Joshua and the cross with open arms.
What a glorious day it has been along the road with the cross! All the people are so lovely and the response continues to be overwhelming. I know that it’s difficult for people to comprehend this because most people think that South Africa is exploding in a blood bath every day. They have no idea how much understanding and love and what beautiful people they are of all races that live here.
Last night, just before dark, I arrived in a village. The crowd of people led us to a small house where there was a man filled with demon spirits who fell on the floor and began to froth at the mouth and scream. I prayed over him along with Joshua. The demons were cast out and he was set free This morning he was in his right mind. And today along the roads, it has been so hot, oh, so hot! About mid afternoon, the owner of a sugar cane plantation stopped and said, “My house is just there and I have a swimming pool. You are welcome to spend the night with us tonight, have a good swim and a meal. It was absolutely fantastic as we splashed and swam and laughed, Joshua and Mark and I. We thought for a moment that we were on holiday. Ha! And in some ways, I guess veryday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before!
Well today was unbelievable It was so good! People, people, people. Car after car, truck after truck. I’m now in the Zulu area of South Africa. It’s the historic homeland of the Zulus. It is the largest tribal group by far in South Africa with over eight million Zulus They are the most unbelievable people in their welcome of the cross. I do not exaggerate by saying you could look to your right and see crowds coming toward the cross; you could look to your left and see crowds coming to the cross; look straight ahead and see crowds coming to the cross. When I arrived in this town, which I think is one of the most lovely small towns in its physical beauty and one of the greatest towns in their hearts to welcome the cross, crowds of people swarmed around the cross. They came from everywhere and emptied store after store. One owner of a clothing store even invited me inside the store to preach. I preached in the street over and over and we gave out thousands and thousands of pieces of gospel material. Tonight, I also preached at the Rotary Club to the businessmen of the city. It’s a day I can never forget in this beautiful mountainous area seeing all the people running to the cross and crowds of blacks and whites gathered together as one family.
Well, today was indescribable. I preached eighteen sermons as well as walked. I began with the cross at 4:45 in the morning. Can you believe it in these mountains, and yet it vas so hot and at every hill or valley, there was a group of people rushing to the cross.
It was fabulous. South African television came and filmed a program in Zulu and English. I will never forget at one mountain pass, there were about fifty Zulu ladies selling fruit just off the road. As I arrived with the cross, they began to clap and sing and dance. They were singing a Zulu gospel song. They forgot about their marketing and they all gathered around me bursting forth in joy and praise as I had climbed up that mountain. I talked with them as one lady interpreted and they gave me a huge bag of fruit. The fruit seemed to be heavier than the cross and I couldn’t wait to catch up with the van to put the fruit in! But those people so full of joy, I just wish I’d had a camera to record it. These people feel so deep, they can’t believe that I’ve come so far bringing the cross to them. And they are all excited that I’m going to see the chief of the Zulus in Ulundi very soon. Often the cross is completely stopped. It is impossible to walk. When I got into Mammoth, there was complete and total chaos and I’m not stretching this at all. All the children left the school and were gathered by the highway. Because my walk was so slow the entire morning there were no classes while the students waited for the cross to arrive. In the middle of the town again, all the stores were emptied and near the bus station thousands of people were welcoming the cross. Big black men weeping, white women crying, people smiling full of joy, bursting into singing. I cannot imagine any response greater than this.
As I made my way along the road to Ulundi, there was total chaos. Everyone knew that I was on the way to meet Chief Minister Buthelezi. I carried the cross to the Legislative Assembly, as this is the capital of Kwazulu. Chief Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi came out personally to escort Joshua and me into the Assembly. In the Assembly that day there were gathered approximately one hundred of the top leaders of Iinkarta, which are the ruling leaders of the Zulu people. Chief Buthelezi said, “We have had many people come to visit us. They come by plane, they come by car, but this is the first man to walk to us and he brings with him the symbol of our hope and salvation, the cross. We welcome him with all our hearts.” As I stood there looking at these men and women my heart was filled with deep emotion. Before I could speak tears burst from my eyes and the people too began to weep. I shared with them the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ, the dream of the angels – peace on earth, goodwill toward men and pointed out that in Christ there is unity, justice, equality. There is no discrimination. I commended them for their stand of peace and love. I read to them Scripture from the words of Jesus, shared how God had burdened me to come with the cross and walk through South Africa praying for peace and reconciliation. Finally, on one of the few occasions of my life, I knew that I had to do this special thing. I got down on my hands and knees beside the cross, took my knife and cut two small pieces from the cross and I gave it to Chief Buthelezi for his courageous stand against violence and for his desire for there to be change and reconciliation without bloodshed. He said that this was the greatest gift he had ever received. I then kneltto pray for him and the people. Suddenly I noticed the entire Assembly had knelt together and we had one of the most glorious prayer meetings I had ever been in. Afterwards, Chief Buthelezi invited me to have dinner with him at the Holiday Inn. Joshua and I, Mark Bernett, Chief Buthelezi and his sister Ruth Makiwani and Reverend Dr. Alphaeus Zulu shared a meal and our hearts with each other. Chief Buthelezi is head of the largest grouping of people in South Africa; much larger than the white population of approximately three and a half million and represents approximately one-third of the entire black population. Iinkarta is the largest organization in South Africa with over one million dues paying members. Chief Buthelezi said these words to me: “If I didn’t have Christ as the rudder to give me direction when things are difficult I wouldn’t have survived up to now. In this country, we have many leadership roles, nations and race groups that are in conflict.My commitment to Christ teaches me that all the people of this country, white or black, are all God’s children. Our conflicts are not unique; they have happened in many countries and nations. I therefore believe, as a follower of Christ, Christ loves me as much as He loves the state president, Mr. Botha. I would say politically we are in conflict. I realize that he is a brother because he believes in Christ. I am not happy about the way he rules me and my people. Without Christ I would have thrown my hands up in desperation and quit. I think that the Christians in America can help by praying for us. The problems of this country can be resolved peacefully. The problems of this country must not be resolved by bloodshed but by peaceful means We are challenged by the law, Christ said was above all laws; by loving our neighbor as ourselves.”
I laid hands on him and prayed over him for the blessings of God, the wisdom of God, and his safety. We shared together our deep companionship in the pathway of Jesus Christ.
On The Road, Somewhere
Today I preached fifteen times. I am getting nearer to Johannesburg now, closer there than back to Durban. It was very hot climbing on mountain roads all day, then it began to rain. I saw this big black cloud and I knew it was going to pour rain. Just as the cloud burst, I looked for somewhere to get shelter, and there was a small village of only a few houses. They were mud huts made round with a thatch straw roof. As I approached the first house, I saw two men sitting inside and I asked if I could come in. They said, “Yes.” One of the men could speak English and I sat down on a large empty can and joined them around the fire. The man asked me what I was doing with that big cross and I shared with him. Then he said, “I know why you’ve come. I know why the rain came, so that you would come to my house. Next door is my home and my wife is very sick. She is about to die and there is no help for her. Please come with me and pray for her.” I went into the house, laid hands on the lady and she was immediately healed, stood up and joined us with her two children. Because of the downpour of rain, Joshua and Mark came driving back in the van to find me. They saw the cross outside the house and came in. There was a time of great rejoicing as the lady was healed and then as they all received Christ. He said, “I know now God likes us because in the Bible when Jesus came into town, He saw one man who was a great sinner, in a tree. He called down Zacchaeus and said, ‘I’m coming to your house.’ God has sent you just like that to us today.” We were all weeping and felt such a bond of love.
My shoes had completely worn through at the soles and the day before I had bought a new pair of shoes to protect my feet from the rough, rocky roadsides. I gave this new pair of shoes to this poor man with great joy for it is more blessed to give than to receive. I knew in all his life he would never be able to afford such a pair. He was happy beyond words. I don’t like to say much about it but I bring with me, whenever possible, thousands of dollars to give to needy people and to special ministries, pastors and to help the poor. Day after day, I have the privilege of doing this as people have shared their generosity with me, I pass it on. Joshua and I went to the van and we got food and clothes and supplies to leave with that family. I only wish that I had enough to give to everyone. Somehow I think that it must be easy for the affluent western woman or man with all their needs supplied, to want to bring economic suffering upon the South of Africa; but they have no idea what suffering really is. To be poor and discriminated against is a tragedy. To afflict the poor even more is heartbreaking beyond words.
Soweto – Johannesburg
After arriving with the cross in Johannesburg just before Christmas, Joshua and I felt so excited. We had done a long walk of almost a thousand kilometers now and yet the mission with the cross walk was not over. I knew there was one place that I must go – Soweto. Day after day along the road from Durban toward Johannesburg, cars and trucks and buses had stopped and so many had said, “When you get to Johannesburg, you must come and visit us in Soweto” This is the largest black township in South Africa known the world over for their riots, boycotts and problems with the police and military. Joshua had felt he should be home before Christmas and so as he left to go back to his mother, brothers and sisters. I prepared in my heart to go to Soweto and then on to Namibia, Southwest Africa. I walked into Soweto on Sunday morning, December 22nd. It was a day I will never forget. So many people feared for my life. There was a state of emergency in that area and Soweto was under marshal law. All public meetings and news media were banned. As I walked over the hill, I could see Soweto lying in front of me in this great valley plain. It is difficult to describe what happened, but I knelt looking at the city and then lay down upon the ground and prayed. The glory of God covered me. I walked in alone except for God and His holy angels. I had a large bag filled with gospel materials and thousands of Jesus stickers tied to the cross.
As I approached the first houses, people began to respond by coming to the cross. Many of the people had seen the cross on television as we had been in the news and also in the newspapers. It was Sunday, so men, women and children were home. It was just a “Jesus day.” Over and over again, it was a constant flow of people as I walked down the main road through the heart of Soweto and then off to one side, and then another; blocks out of the way as people would invite me to their house to have something to eat or drink. This happened in home after home with the whole yard and street filled with people. Many of the people could not believe that a white man would walk through the center of Soweto but they were happy that I had come. I don’t believe that I’ve ever, in seventeen years, eaten more food and drank more drinks in one day, than this day. This had do be the world record!
Even though there are needs in Soweto and great tragedies have happened there, I found a reservoir of love that is indescribable. This area is not a squatter’s camp like Crossroads, which is basically a settlement without sewage or normal services, as it is technically an illegal settlement. But Soweto is different with very neat, clean though modest homes with sewage, running water, electricity and most homes with televisions, radios very different from what I had imagined it would be. I did not receive one word of anger or hatred, only welcome. I’ll never forget this one scene and even though it was forbidden to take pictures, I had brought my camera along to record the fact of my walk through this area. I have a photograph of the following scene. As I walked into an area where most of the mini buses, taxis, and large buses are concentrated, crowds of people were all around me as I preached and shared the good news of Christ and the message of the cross. As I preached and prayed with people, I noticed that I was surrounded almost entirely by men who were the drivers of all these buses and vans, which carried the people into the cities. As I was finishing and speaking to the men who were crowded around be, I noticed that someone was collecting money and that the people were putting money into a hat. Finally, the man approached me with this money made up of small coins. He said, “We want to give you this money to help you on your way with the cross.” I said, “I don’t accept money from the churches along the way where I am walking, nor from individuals. I’ve come to give, not to receive and certainly I couldn’t take money from you in Soweto because the needs here are so great and I know the needs of you and your families. Tears were pouring down my cheeks. I had never seen a greater gesture than these poor men wanting to help me. And yet they interrupted me, all of them shaking their heads, “No, you must accept it” They began to speak. I’ll never forget what they were saying. “You brought the cross to us You brought hope which is more than anything. You brought us the cross; you came yourself to be with us in our suffering. Our situation is so difficult and seems impossible but we can see and feel that you understand We are poor men and we have suffered under the apartheid system, under discrimination that we’ve received in the past. And yet, we suffer also from the hand of some of our own people We have children and families and we must work to feed them but the youth gangs they have no work and no families They try to keep everyone from working. They try to burn our buses and vans and taxis. They’ve tried to burn us. They drag women from our buses and pour out their groceries because they bought them in town. These gangs try to burn our houses because be work and they want us not to work. But if we don’t work, we will all starve to death, so we must work. But every day we face discrimination from one part of society and we face violence and death from another part of society. It seems hopeless for us. What can we do? The only hope is what you speak about the love of Jesus, the white and black can love each other and that black will learn to love black and that we will try to help each other. We have no voice, we have no vote. The government does not seem to want to hear us and the youth gangs do not want to hear us. Will you speak for us and tell the world we only want peace and justice? Please, you must take this money. It is the only thing that expresses what we feel in our hearts.” Those black men began to hug me and cry. How could I refuse? I raised my hands and said, “I want us all to get on our knees and pray again.” We knelt together and I prayed, crying, as I asked God to bless them and give them peace, protection, justice, that discrimination and violence would be gone. I stood and looked at them, I knew their love, I could feel the injustice that they felt and I could comprehend their fear because there was a huge boycott on at that very moment and anyone who was working or shopping in Johannesburg did so under the threat of death because if any were found to have merchandise that they had bought in the city, they’d have broken the boycott. These men and hundreds of thousands like them were in a desperate situation. I said I would take their money and would give most of it to other people that I met that were in need in Soweto. And yet as I put some of the small coins in my pocket by my heart, I said, “I will take this money with me and I will keep it as long as I live and I will carry you in my heart forever and I will never forget you.” I picked up the cross and walked on and they walked back to their buses and vans and every time since when I read that another bus has been burned or the driver burned to death or hacked to death, I wonder if it’s one of the men that I prayed with.
Shortly after this, a group of young men were around me and I was explaining to them what I was doing. One of the guys said: “Would you come with us to our house and have something to drink?” I could tell that these young men were very rowdy and possibly very dangerous, yet this is what it’s all about. These are the kind of people I need to talk with. I said, “Yes.” And I went with them. They came to a small house several blocks away and the house soon filled with young men, no children, no women only young men. One man said, “Don’t you feel danger? Aren’t you afraid,” I said, “No, I feel that I’m among friends. I come in peace with the love of God What do you guys do?” They looked at each other and began to laugh. “Well, we rob, we burn, we kill.” I said, “Then should you say that you’re the toughest group in Soweto?” With seeming pride, they said, “Yes.”Again they laughed, and so did I. I said, “So if you guys are my friends, I guess there’s nothing I have to worry about.” They looked at each other, they looked back at me and I said, “Jesus loves you, so do I” As I began to speak to the entire group the message of Christ, they interrupted me saying, “Oh, our mothers go to church.” I said, “What about you,” They said, “No, we don t.” But one of the men spoke up and said, “Would you pray for us,” I looked them all in the eye and said, “No, but I will pray with you. There’s a lot of difference.”
I dropped to my knees beside the couch, looked up at them and said, kneel down and I’ll pray with you.” They began to look at each other. Finally one bowed and then another, until the entire house of young men were on their knees and I said, “Let me teach you a prayer.” And as I begin to lead them in the Lord’s prayer, I noticed many of them already knew the words And then I led in a prayer of commitment to Christ. Only God knows who did and did not I mean it in their heart. I stood and then they began to ask me questions about what the rest of the world was like; what America was like, about my family. They had seen my son on television. They were asking me about him and we became good friends and even exchanged addresses. I left going back into the streets with the cross as they said, “We’ll spread the word. No problem, Preacher, no problem.”
I will never forget one lovely lady, whose address I somehow lost, but she runs the old wrecking yard where you buy parts from old cars. She had me in for tea and we spent such a lovely time together. Another home that I was in was a minister who directs an interdenominational youth movement called “Youth Alive.” He grabbed me and said, “I know who you are. We once had Rosey Grier, the famous American football player, former bodyguard for American presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy and now a committed preacher for Jesus Christ.” I had a lovely meal in that minister’s home with all of his family. There was crowd after crowd gathering as I preached over and over again.
It’s a day that I will never forget and a day that I’m sure the people will never forget as a white man walked with the cross through Soweto. I arrived at a police station. A large crowd of people was gathered around me and I preached, praying with them and leading many to receive Christ. They were all watching me. Would I go to the police station, or would I avoid it? The large police station was all black policemen and they were standing back from the fence probably feeling certain that I would not come to them because for some people, to be a friend with the police, is to automatically become their enemy. But Jesus did not discriminate against the authorities of His day even when He healed the Roman Centurion’s son. I knew that this was one of the most important things I would do all day because there is much hatred directed toward the police in Soweto. I walked with the cross straight toward the station and up to the gate. Two guards standing there were looking at me in startled amazement. I gave them “Jesus” stickers with a picture of the cross on it saying. “Smile, God loves you.” Other police began to gather. Soon when they saw that I was not their enemy but that I loved them just as I loved the people outside, dozens of police gathered and I preached to them sharing the love of Jesus Christ, how we are to be kind, peacemakers; we’re to love our neighbors as ourselves. I shared the same message – that Jesus washes away our sins and can give new life and can make us one with the people that I had shared with across the street. I then asked if they would pray. Everyone took off their hat and bowed with me. When I finished, they began to ask questions. They couldn’t believe that I was actually in Soweto. But the most amazing thing, they couldn’t believe that I would speak to them because they felt that everyone hated them and they began to share their hurts that they had families and children and they were threatened at all times with death in their families. And I could feel their suffering as well as the suffering of the crowds outside.
A man, who was perhaps the commanding officer, looked at me and said, “Now what are you going to do?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “You can’t go back out there now that they see that you are our friend.” And I said, “Certainly I will go back.” I said, “Jesus loves everybody, no matter who they are or what side they’re on or what they’ve done. There must be peace to have peace, I must go to all sides.” They said they would be praying for me and I walked across the street where a huge crowd had gathered. I gave them the same kind of stickers I had been giving to the police “Smile, God loves you.” I preached them the same message I had preached to the police with no problem. Finally, the day came to an end and then the night as I slept in a family’s home. I had walked through Soweto. The cross had gone through another place of critical need by the grace of God. I was filled with emotions, joy, beauty and peace; and hurt, sadness, and pain. But so is life on this earth and the way of the cross.
January 1, 1986 – Windhoek
Well, I lived to see a New Year and I am here in the desert getting ready to leave with the cross. I feel the pain of deep passion for the world but a joy to go on in even more radical living. “It’s further back than ahead.”
What a day! I tell you, if all of 1986 is like this, it’s awesome. My driver carrying all our gospel material is named Peter. He is from a local tribe here and a wonderful man The glory of God was all around the city and along the road, all races gathering around the cross. As I walked through the city of Windhoek, we gave out thousands of gospel tracts and stickers and I reached over and over. Tonight we sleep in a little home almost eaten up with mosquitoes.
Oh, it is hot! I saw the sky turn brow. It was a windstorm. Indescribable. I crawled under a bridge and covered my face with my shirt. The sand was choking and blinding All traffic stopped Then there was a flood of rain for about three or four minutes. Then it was all over and the most beautiful double rainbow filled the sky. It’s the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. It was so bright and stunning.
I was on the front page of the English newspaper in this predominantly German and Afrikaans speaking country. South West vas a former German colony before World War I and then became a South African protectorate. There is great controversy and a war that is being fought concerning its independence. But here, the facilities, its hotels, etc. are mostly multiracial.
Well, it is hot, hot, hot! The road is steaming hot. Hot wind. I drink hot water. I’m baked almost black from the sun. The Namibia Desert is the oldest desert in the world but all along this road cars and trucks have been stopping. I have led so many men to Jesus. It’s mostly big ranches and mines out here and very kind people who have a barbecue, which they call a ‘braai’, which they prepare most nights for me.
The nights out here in the desert in the Southern Hemisphere are, without a doubt, the most glorious in the world. I have been getting up and walking at 4:00 o’clock in the morning so that I get two-and-a-half hours of walking through the desert with the cross at night before the daylight.
What a fabulous day of witnessing in the desert. From the normal temperature of 115 degrees out in the desert, here by the seaside, it is very cold. I actually had to wear a coat. There is a thick, wet fog and a strong wind I preached four times today at local African churches. One meeting was at a local Dutch Reformed Colored Church.
What a glorious day through the desert with the highest sand dunes in the world on one side reaching up to 3,000 feet high and the cold Atlantic Ocean on the other side wills the water currents coming up from the South Pole. The people in South West are some of the greatest I’ve ever known and the beauty of this desert country is wonderful.
Today. I met Reverend Allan Boesak at this church where he is pastor. He is also the President of the World Council of Reformed Churches, Chaplain to the university in Capetown and Head of the UDF Party. He has just been released from three months in prison where he was in detention. He was waiting outside the church to greet me. Accompanying me was Reverend Neville McDonald. We went into his office where we were seated and he asked me about my work with the cross, about the response of the people and what I had been seeing in South Africa. I gave him my book, Arthur, A Pilgrim and he gave me one of his books. Then I asked about his life with Christ. He said there had been a great renewal within his life in the past few months, especially during the time he had been in prison. He spoke of how Christ was so real to him now.
He talked about his early life and how difficult it is oftentimes to bring hope and comfort to those who have suffered injustices and been discriminated against under the apartheid system. Even though he is one of the top political leaders in South Africa, we only talked about Jesus. I remember looking at him as I could read in his eyes that he was wondering what direction our visit would take. I read to him these words from Revelation 1:9: “I, John, who am also your brother and companion in tribulation and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the Isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” I said, “I have only come as your companion in Christ. Relax. I am not here to debate you, or to advise you, or to drain you, only to lift up your hand in the name of Jesus and pray for you and share hope, love and joy. Jesus is the answer. May our lives reflect Him to the troubled world as we seek to establish justice, equality and God’s kingdom in the hearts of all the people.” He shared with me his struggle to seek to live out the teachings of Jesus. After two hours, we decided to have prayer. He came around from behind his desk and knelt down beside me. He gripped my hand with his two hands as we prayed. We both wept. It was wonderful. I understood his struggles and he understood mine. We both shared a level of understanding and love that transcended our spoken words.
Crossroads squatter camp
Today, I carried the cross through Crossroads, the last squatter camp located near the Capetown airport. The government has tried to tear down the temporary shelters as it is considered an illegal settlement with no sewage or water, etc. But it has been strongly resisted by the local inhabitants. Much conflict with the police and army and also great conflict for territory between the different black African tribes that collect there with local headmen or chiefs controlling various sections. Crossroads and Soweto are probably the most well known trouble spots in South Africa. Yet today, I walked through there with the cross. There was a special reconciliation prayer group I that met at the local hospital clinic sponsored by the Christian churches. There were eighteen men there, representing all the racial and religious groupings of the area. They invited me to have prayer with them. Their mission is reconciliation but when I suggested that they walk out the door with me into troubled Crossroads, there seemed to be complete panic. “Why, it’s dangerous. We would be killed.” Every excuse imaginable. But I said, “I have only found people gathering in peace around the cross.” I said in love and kindness, “Do as you feel led but I must go with the cross.” Not one black, or colored or Indian in that group dared to walk into that sea of shacks to bring reconciliation, but three white men did, including my dear friend and businessman, Mr. John Bridgeman. It seemed to me that the reconciliation group only wants to be with those who are already reconciled.
However, in I the horrible physical conditions of Crossroads, the people were so lovely to me. No problem at all. Crowds gathered as we preached, gave out Jesus stickers and then I took a group of men to a store and bought food as they said, “We can’t find a job. We’ve only eaten white bread and no meat for weeks.” It was one of the most beautiful days I have ever spent. And when the severe fighting and killing broke out a few months later, I wonder what happened to all my friends there.
Wow! What a day! What a year! I am awake at 4:00am. I can’t sleep. I’m so tired. I’m exhausted. This morning, I preached at the Good Hope Christian Center that meets at Three Arts Theater. It is a new fellowship, only a year-and-a-half old, completely multiracial with congregation, band, choir and pastors. They run about 3, 000 people each meeting. A young couple, Neville and Wendy McDonald are the main pastors. It was a glorious gathering. Many of their people walked with me and the cross as I arrived in Capetown.
Tonight, I preached at the most important Dutch Reformed Afrikaans speaking church in all of South Africa. It is the church where most of the South African government cabinet regularly attend, including President Botha. The pastor, Dr. Ernst Van Der Walt is a beautiful man of God and I have had great fellowship with he and his wife and lovely children. I’ll never forget as I carried the cross into the church. The Dutch Reform in South Africa are ultra conservative, usually with no cross in their building. The minister is always in suit and tie and his hair is certainly not as long as mine. Their meetings are conducted only in Afrikaans, even though most people also could speak English, so it was indeed a revolutionary thing to be invited to preach there and to come carrying the cross into the worship service, of course, without a suit and tie. The pastor led me into the church saying, “Follow me.” I preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sharing the message of Christ, of salvation, of His unity and peace, and of my walk and ministry among all the peoples of all races in South Africa. I concluded with an invitation for people to receive Christ. Then the pastor dismissed in prayer and I stepped down from the platform. The people were turning quietly to leave. Then spontaneously, just as if it had been planned, the entire congregation turned to the front, rushed toward me and began to sing in English, “We Love you in the Love of the Lord.” They began to raise their hands and praise the Lord. I was weeping. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I said, “You’ve sung me a song. Now let me sing you a song,” and I sang them one of the songs I had written, “Thou Art a Flower to Me.” I was weeping and smiling and so were they. For over an hour, we were bathed in the glory of the Lord. What a way to end this trip of carrying the cross in South Africa!
Day before yesterday, I was with Allan Boesak, considered by many to be a radical leader. Yesterday I walked in Crossroads even as it was under marshal law and then preached in the main park in downtown Capetown. This morning. I preached at a multiracial church and tonight, I preached in the most influential church in South Africa in a denomination that has traditionally, though it is changing, been the major proponent of the apartheid system. Who could believe such a schedule! I have been with the richest and the poorest, the most radical and the most conservative, all in the last three days. God has led us through South Africa since October. Now I’ll see my family soon.
Giyani, Capital of Gazankulu
This is where I am to be. After meeting Brother Piet Mabunda in the park in Johannesburg and giving him that special ring I now arrived to carry the cross through his area. They were very excited at my arrival. This is a totally black area and it feels so wonderful: to be among them. At my arrival in his village called Ngobe, he had me immediately carry the cross through their neighborhood. They have electricity, and now running water only installed last week. This is great progress for them as construction and development is going on everywhere changing this area from a sleepy African village to modern new shopping centers and beautiful homes. Many were converted in the front yard of his home the first night. The next day, we walked into Giyani. Then more crowds welcomed us and I preached many times. Tonight at our meeting in the open air for the first time, all the churches of this area came together. The various churches had been very noncooperative with each other but now they all gathered around the cross. We had a great crowd as many walked for miles to come. It was awesome as the sea of faces filled the front yard and bodies packed together. As I was sitting in a chair just before I preached, I saw one of the most beautiful views. Directly in front of me was the cross; secondly, masses of people all around the cross, even into the darkness; thirdly, the clear quarter moon in a sky full of stars. I have never seen a more beautiful sight. I thought the cross represented the gift of salvation, my love for Jesus and my life on the roads. Secondly, the masses of people, their faces smiling, eager, represented the world. I love them all. Thirdly, the moon and the stars represented the glory of God in the universe and my love for the beauty of nature. Many were saved and many were healed and as I went to bed in this lovely family’s home, there were African drums beating and people chanting. It was like an all night disco! Ha!
What a day! Up at 6:00am. and on the road. Piet took off from work and drove for me and interpreted. He is just great. Crowds gathered all along the road. Many people were healed. One man who had been in great pain for years was healed. He went and got his sick wife and she too was healed. Two policemen stopped and were talking to us. One was a preacher, the other vas unsaved. I led the one policeman to Christ and he said, “I want to quit smoking but I can’t. I spend most of my money on cigarettes.” I said, “Where do you keep your cigarettes.” He pointed to his shirt packet. I went to the Landrover and got a pocket Bible and put it where the cigarettes had been. We all began to laugh and he said, “I think this is better.” I spent the night kith a local evangelist and his house filled with people so we had to have another meeting. That made sixteen meetings for the day and I had walked twenty-five miles. I lay here in the penthouse, which is a simple tent that folds, up on top of this truck. I am now using the Landrover that we imported from Europe and has been outfitted as a four-wheel drive camper with built-in P.A. system, beds for four including a refrigerator, stove and sink. And I can carry an awesome amount of gospel material to give away.
The road is now dirt as I go into the homeland country of Venda. The buses and trucks throw up a blinding amount of dirt as they pass.
Selebi-Phikwe – Country of Botswana
When I was coming out of Soweto last Christmas, I met a wonderful minister from this road. They have a very good church where they help feed the poor children, teach typing and various community services as well as preached the full gospel. The pastor Reverend D. T. Monaheng had invited me when I came back to South Africa to come and see them. I drove over to their city which is a new mining town located at the edge of the Kalahari Desert. When I arrived at the church, there were children everywhere. Mrs. Monaheng greeted me and was so I excited that I had come But the pastor was gone evangelizing in another country for two weeks. We gathered all the children together and I preached to totem and then she said, “Yesterday some people brought a paralyzed child to us from one of the villages. We prayed for the child last night. He is about twelve years old. He is lame in his right arm and right leg for four years. You must come and pray for him.” I took the cross down from the Landrover and we walked through the streets. There at a house, I prayed for this boy. His arm had no use, but as I prayed, he was completely healed and for the first time in four years he could bend his arm and hold apiece of bread between his fingers and eat. We walked around the yard and he used his hand perfectly. Going back to the church, word spread and there were people waiting to be saved. I was only there for two days, but it was glorious. It was very strange that in this short trip, I went through five army roadblocks where everything in the Landrover had to be unloaded in the boiling sun and the vehicle was thoroughly searched. Some roadblocks were only a few miles from the next. It was good to get back into South Africa where I never saw a roadblock in eight months or was ever searched coming or going, not even at the airports.
Thaba Nchu – Country of Bophuthatswana
As I carried the cross through this area of the country, I was greeted with tremendous response as crowds gathered. They were so eager to hear the message of Jesus. Everyone, it seemed, wanted me to spend the night with them.
Maseru – Country of Lesotho
As I walked through this capital city and toward the interior of this mountain land, the response was very great, especially the children. They would gather and I would preach and sing and they would sing. I remember one car that stopped and a teenage Indian girl came up. Her father is a professor at the university here but she saw me and heard me preach at the YMCA in Cochen, India last year. I remember one night here in the mountains; it was minus 9 celsius (or 15 F). There was ice and snow and it is very beautiful but extremely poor country.
A Mountain Valley in the Country of Transkei
Just south of Ramp’s Gate, is a beautiful valley coming down from the mountains. It was so responsive mostly women and children because the men have left for the cities to work. This is one of the major problems in South Africa, the men go away and work returning only for short times during the year. But I was so well received here. I had been buying and giving away much food in all of this area as well as gospel material, These were a very loving people.
Durban – Last Day in South Africa
I spent the night with my good friends, Richard and Lorine Scallan. My plane was leaving on the night of August 21 to London. A bishop, David Pytches, an, Anglican minister, who served in South America and is now at St. Andrews Church in Chorleywood, England and his wife and another couple arrived just before I was leaving to stay at the Scallops. We sat talking about the great move of God’s Spirit in South Africa and about how to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Then I spoke about worshipping in spirit and in truth. The glory of God was so strong. We all were on the floor praying, weeping and praising God. It seemed as if ml heart would tear out as I remembered all my friends and the things that I had seen. I remembered the words of Jesus in Luke 10:23,24, “And He turned to His disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes which see the hinge that you see; For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.” I left weeping, and yet rejoicing. My Landrover is still there and I am returning in December, God willing, with Paul Crouch to open the television station in Ciskei.
I am sitting beside the beach in South Florida as God has instructed me to write this book even before I get home to Los Angeles. Two of my children Joy, 17 and Jerusalem, 6 are with me here even as my heart misses the people and the children especially the children of South Africa.