28. WASHINGTON FOR JESUS
April 1980 – I carried the cross from Virginia Beach to Washington D. C. John Giminez, the founder and National Director of ‘Washington for Jesus,’ had invited me to come to Washington with the cross. We began the walk at Cape Henry where the first permanent English settlers erected a cross before founding Jamestown. It was wonderful to begin at that historic place and end the walk in Washington D.C. for the great April 29th rally.
Over half a million people gathered on the mall in front of the Capitol Building facing the Washington Monument. Ten years before I had been in Washington after walking across America. I had fasted for 40 days just a few hundred yards from where I was now. It was quite a homecoming for me. Ten years had passed and during that time I had walked around the world, had seen honor and dishonor. Many people thought me crazy. Today God chose to raise up His cross before the nation so that our leaders could give honor to Him. Everything was well planned. The program, the platform, the march. The cross was not to lead off the march but had to be near the front. Several people had spoken, then at noon the march was to begin around the mall. I stood waiting behind the platform with the cross as the 60 leaders of Christianity in America filed off the platform to walk arm in arm. Pat Robertson of the 700 Club national television program rushed over to me and grabbed my arm. He said firmly and with deep emotion, “The cross leads the way.”
“But I’m not on the program to be in the front. I’m supposed to walk farther back.”
“We go now!” he said. “I marched here when I was a Marine and I want to march beside you.”
Everyone gathered around in a wide formation with the cross in the center. I was full of emotion as I looked at the line of leaders who were excited and pleased to have the cross among them. It was staggering for me. I had been rejected so long. The cross was viewed with skepticism in the United States, although other countries welcomed it. Billy Graham had been with me in Northern Ireland. I carried it into Rome and met with Pope John Paul II. It was a vindication for everything I had fought for so long. Simplicity, no commercializing, no organization, the impact on one life. A simple wooden cross and a love for people and Jesus. After all these years, the long fast in Washington and now half a million people on the grounds as millions watched live on television over TBN, PTL Network, CBN and all the U. S. secular media, this was a day for America to repent. What better symbol than the cross to challenge us.
After marching the big loop around the area, we returned to the platform. Dottie and Reba Rambo were singing their new song, I’ll Glory in the Cross for the first time in public. The place was covered with the glory of the Lord and the thought from Galatians 6:4, “God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” crossed my mind.
I was going to put the cross down at the back of the stage but Paul Crouch grabbed me and said, “Take the cross on the stage, Arthur.” I hesitated. “I’ll take responsibility,” Paul said with the special look he gets in his eye. “It’s okay. I’m one of the organizers of this program and our network is carrying the story. Don’t be afraid now after all those years overseas.”
I began to climb the steps with Paul. He and Jan had become some of my dearest friends. We seemed to flow in the spirit in the same way. They had become the greatest friends of the cross and were never ashamed of it, they always welcomed it.
The Rambos were still singing their song as the cross appeared on the stage. It could not have been planned more perfectly. The crowd burst forth in praise and applause. With a great heave I stood the cross on end to its total 12-foot height.
I was weeping, “oh, Jesus, oh, Jesus. You must be pleased. We do glory in You and Your cross.”
After eleven years on the road this cross was being honored in the United States and pointing all glory to God. The cross stood there all afternoon as each speaker went to the podium.
Paul whispered to me, “My message will not take all my allocated time. I want to give you the last four minutes. You should be on the program.”
I looked at him. He understood everything. He knew my heart and the call of God. Fire began to burn in me as Paul spoke in great power. I felt I was aflame. The faces I had seen around the world flashed before my eyes, I remembered the battles and struggles. Now I was ready. Four minutes before half a million people and the news media in the Capital of the United States.
Paul was saying, “There is someone who is not on the program, but whom I feel should say something. I want him to have the last four minutes of my time. He has carried the cross around the world.”
The roar of the crowd began to drown out his words. They knew – Arthur Blessitt. The crowd was on its feet. I cheered along with them…”Give me a J! I shouted.
It was one of the largest and loudest Jesus cheers in history. There I was standing in my walking shoes, blue jeans and Levi shirt on a podium with men in expensive suits and ties. But I felt at home. These were my kind of people. It was as if I lived, ate and walked with my friends through the years and they knew it and I knew it.
“God cleanses us to empower us,” I preached. “There is a lost world around us. In the name of Jesus, as you have here today, tell someone about Jesus on your way home. In this desperate world God is saying, ‘Whom shall I send, who shall go for us?’ Isaiah 6:8-9: Isaiah said, ‘Here am I Lord, send me.’”
”Say it with me…everyone! HERE-AM-I-LORD, send me! AGAIN! HERE –AM-I-LORD, send me!” It was unreal! People were screaming these words with me. I’ll never forget this day– never, never, NEVER!
Paul and I had one message. It was the most incredible four minutes. I was still flaming. Paul and I looked at each other, we understood. As I walked back to the cross, God had raised up the hour. The cross and the march onto the stage, standing it up, the unscheduled message, the Jesus cheer, the call (whom shall I send?); everything that I had to do had been done. For me it was over for the moment.
I’m back to the quiet road, the little towns and villages and the simple people. No big road show for me!