I carried the cross on three of the islands that make up the Bismarck Archipelago. The three islands are Manus Island, New Ireland Island and New Britain. These islands are now part of Papua New Guinea.
The crosswalk on these three islands was part of my carrying the cross through Papua New Guinea in 1980-81. It was a glorious time. See our link to the story of the cross walk in Papua New Guinea. With me on this crosswalk in the Bismarck Archipelago were my young eleven year old son Joshua and my dear friend Mike Ooten.
We arrived by airplane, unloaded the cross and came into the little town. It was just one of the most wonderful days that one could ever live in this world. Unreal and awesome! Crowds gathered before we got up from bed the first morning.
I preached 22 times today from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 the next day. We went almost non-stop, preaching everywhere – in the market, stores, schools, and the hospital, at a radio station, and at the government headquarters. There was a little boy that followed me all day and he called me his father. I loved him. People are coming from all over the island to see the cross. There is deep conviction, everyone wanting to shake my hand. I have never seen such hand-shakers! A committee from the Catholic Church asked me to carry the cross and speak there tonight and the Evangelical Church decided to unite with them. That night we gathered at the Catholic Church and the people were everywhere – all over the altar, all over the floor, the seats were all filled, many were standing inside and hundreds and hundreds more were outside. It was glorious singing.
It was pouring torrential rains, yet no one outside left. Hour after hour they stood soaking wet. It was awesome. I believe it was one of the more spirit-filled meetings I have ever seen. I preached in the glorious power of the Holy Spirit. I stood the cross up and began to preach as the people wept and wailed. Seven people stood and gave testimonies of having received Jesus as their personal Savior, and then as I gave the invitation, crowds of people flooded the front. People were weeping. Their hands were on the cross. It was unbelievable – hour after hour after hour. I finally went over to the priest’s house at three in the morning and we talked, returned to the church was still packed with people crying and weeping. In the early morning hours I lay down and fell asleep.
What could top yesterday? Today! In the morning I met with the Acting Prime Minister of Manus Island and then went to the airport. I’ll never forget two ladies that came all the way across the island to see me.
They had arrived too late, so they got a ride to the airport and caught up with me just before the small prop plane arrived. The ladies came running up, their front teeth were rotted out and they were chewing beetle nuts, which when mixed with lime makes a red juice – a kind of drug. Their hair was a mess and they were smoking cigarettes, but they were smiling and crying and hugging me. They were so happy. I knelt and prayed with them and they gave their lives to Jesus Christ. I think it is one of the most beautiful scenes of pure love I’ve ever witnessed, for they weren’t concerned about their hair, their dress, or their missing teeth… but they were smiling, and with open arms they embraced me. I have their photo on my office wall even today, over twenty-five years later.
Well over 2,500 people prayed to be saved on Manus Island.
Island of New Ireland
We flew to Kavieng today. It was just unbelievable. All over the Island businesses were closed and people came by boat from surrounding islands as far as 100 miles away to see the cross. Some traveled up to 200 miles on land. The town will normally hold maybe 3,000 people, but there were at least 15,000 people in the area that day. The whole town was blocked off. The police had put up roadblocks and barricades. The schools were on holiday and the government offices were closed. The pastor said he had never even seen most of the people before. Many heard of my visit from an announcement that was made on radio and others learned of my arrival by word of mouth. Deep conviction was everywhere. It’s impossible to describe the spirit of the people. I preached impassioned… the whole area was shaken by the power of God.
About 8,000 people prayed to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. This truly was a historic welcome for the cross and for Jesus.
New Britain Island
We had a glorious welcome in the capital of Rabaul. I carried the cross and preached in the streets and at a church. I carried the cross into the town market and preached to many thousands of people. Over 2,000 came to Jesus as Savior and Lord. It was wonderful in Rabaul.
We then flew west to Kimbe where we carried the cross and I preached to thousands with again several thousand confessing Jesus as their Savior. It was glorious!
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt