1992: Awesome, today we crossed into Abkhazia from Russia. There is war in this area as Abkhazia is fighting to break away from Georgia. Denise arrived at the border before me and had already made friends with the soldiers on the Georgian side.
There are roadblocks everywhere. We pass one and then there’s another and we never know which side we are on as all the soldiers wear old U.S.S.R. uniforms or regular clothes. People are waiting for the cross along the highway. This area is very beautiful with high snow-capped mountains not far away. The Lord told me to cross the border between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. It will be clear and clean.
Denise with family: A lady waiting on the roadside wants us to park at their house. She showed us a small corner of her living room with crosses where she would sit with her family every few days. They had no Bible and no church. At night a lady schoolteacher that speaks English and I had the privilege of explaining about Jesus and the entire family cried and invited Jesus to be their savior. We gave them a Bible and gospel material. The big question from all the people is how we got into the country and how we got through the roadblocks. Everyone must have permits or be known to the men manning the checkpoints!
Leselidze and Gagra: As we pass through this war torn area all the military men shake our hands and welcome us. They look with curiosity at the Land Rover and the cross. They were amazed we were in this war. The only gunfire we heard near us was in the night. I think the men were playing or celebrating something. A lot of bridges have been blown up and there are holes in the roads from shells. Many troops even asked for our autographs. Every side has Jesus stickers on their guns!
Tonight we are parked by a big machine gun fortification. The people are so nice and the country beautiful. What a shame the people are fighting the old wars of centuries past.
The road: All the way across the area I told Denise that we were in the government area but that part of it was breaking off. There were troops all around. Roadblocks with armed gunmen were everywhere. When we arrived at the site that I thought was the rebel area, we discovered that we had been with the breakaway Abkhazia rebels all the way from the border. Now we crossed over a blown up bridge into the Georgia area!
This was as one of the greatest surprises I have ever encountered on the road!
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 through all the borders and checkpoints with no visa or permit. 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 vehicle. 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 logged almost 11,000 driving miles and I walked many hundreds of miles in the USSR.
In order, on this trip 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 folllowers of Jesus
Arthur and Denise Blessitt