1976, 1988, 2000, 2004, 2010 & 2012
I carried the cross into Canada from New Hampshire on to Magog and then to Waterloo before reaching Montreal. From there I carried the cross to Ottawa, the capital of Canada.
My dear friend Aden Sowell from Florida joined me for part of the walk. He was a great help to me and we had wonderful fellowship together. We have remained friends for many years.
In the late spring of 1976, I carried the cross from the U.S.-Canadian border to Montreal, then on to Ottawa. Each day I would walk, then at night I would leave the cross some place, hitch a ride back to my old van where I would sleep. The next day I would drive up to the cross and walk again. It was cold, windy and rainy as I came into the beautiful city of Montreal. The Montreal Canadians had won the Stanley Cup and this was the day they would be welcomed home by the city. Crowds lined the streets, cheering and waving. No one spoke to me as I eased my way with the cross through the masses of people. I preached at a square in the City Center with crowds all around, but no one was listening.
In the City Center I saw a big church across from the square. I needed a place to leave my cross. Cold and wet, I approached the church, looked inside and saw a big wooden cross, about the same size as the cross I was carrying. There was a big banner across the front of the church that proclaimed, “Hallelujah!”
I walked back outside, looked around and saw a side door. When I knocked at the door, a lady opened it and some ministers were in the room behind her. I explained what I was doing and asked if I could leave my cross at the church overnight. She turned to the minister and I saw him shake his head ‘no.’
“I’m sorry,” she said. “But we wouldn’t be able to do that. ” She started to close the door but I insisted. “Please, it’s just a cross. I’m not asking for money or anything, just a place to put the cross.” She turned and whispered to the minister. “We can’t just keep everything people want to leave here.” “But, it’s a cross,” I said, shaking in the cold. I could hardly believe my ears. I said, “Just be careful you don’t pass Jesus by if He ever comes looking for a place to stay or a place to leave His cross.”
I picked up the cross and walked back into the celebrating crowds and looked at the tall church steeple. Tears flowed down my cheeks as the cross was ignored and rejected. A black man tapped me on the shoulder as I stood waiting for the light to change. He spoke with an accent. He had remembered me carrying the cross in Nairobi, Kenya, his home. He remembered the big crowds looking at the cross there, and here he was shocked to see everyone passing it by. He was on his way to the airport but he held me in his arms and we prayed together, as he was a strong believer. I felt his love so real as I walked on down St. Catherine Street and remembered his smile in my beloved Africa.
After awhile, I saw a very short lady, like a midget, coming straight at me. She was dressed in an old dress with a torn coat. “Mister, God sent me to lay hands on you and to pray for you.” “What do you mean?” I asked and bent down to her. “I was in my house and God gave me a vision and showed me a man carrying the cross down the sidewalk, and He told me to come down to St. Catherine Street, and I am to lay hands on this man and bless him. Would you please kneel so I can put my hands on your head?” Her love was overwhelming. I got on my knees and said, “Ma’am, you sure can lay hands on me,” as she lay her little hands on my head and prayed with great power. Tears flowed down my cheeks as she finished by saying, “There, now. I’ve done my job. You keep walking with that cross.” I stood and looked at her gentle face, old in years, yet radiant. Her hands were rough from hard work. “Well,” I said. “God has told you to come and lay hands on me and now I feel Him telling me to give you all the money in my pocket. God told me everything, so here it is.” She then began to weep and told me how much she needed the money for food. We both were crying and praying as she walked off into the crowds.
I started back down the sidewalk and as I neared a residential area and a park, a beautiful young girl, about 16 years old, came rushing up. She had long blonde hair and deep blue eyes. She looked me straight in the eyes. “You’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen in my life. There is a glow around your whole face.” I was amazed as she handed me a flower. I put down the cross and leaned against it. “I’m an atheist,’ she said. “What are you doing with that cross? ” “An atheist?” I smiled. “You are the third most spiritual person I’ve talked to all day. One black man, a midget and you.”
I told her my story of carrying the cross and how the church had turned me away from leaving it there over night. She kept asking questions. Finally she asked, “Where are you going now?”
I told her I was looking for a place to leave my cross so I could return and get my van.
“Oh,” she said. “You can leave it at our house just around the corner from here.”
I left the cross in the family living room and walked for hours, most of the way back to my van, only getting a ride when I was near it.
The next morning I drove back to Montreal and parked outside her house. She gave me breakfast and as I was about to leave, I asked her to let me pray. “I know you don’t believe, but I do. So let me pray for you. If there is no God it won’t hurt.” “Oh, yes,” she said. “Last night it felt so good with your cross in the house. I put a blanket under the cross and slept there. Please pray.”
We prayed together and she opened her heart to Jesus. What an experience. Uninterested crowds, non Jesus like church people, a black man from Kenya, a midget lady, and an atheist girl who turned to Jesus. Praise God, what a day!
A very sophisticated type lady stopped her car. She rolled down her window just a bit and called, “Young man did you ever go to school?”
“I sure did,”I grinned.
“Well, what grade did you finish?”
“Oh–I graduated from high school.”
“Isn’t that wonderful?” Then she added condescendingly, “But I suppose that is all the education you ever had, wasn’t it?”
“No, I went on through college and attended seminary for a while.”
The lady raised her eyebrows and looked at me a moment “Well, couldn’t you get a better job than this!”
First step-second lap around the world – December 31, 1987 to January 1, 1988:
First step, second lap around the world! A crowd was gathered in downtown Toronto, Canada, at Nathan Phillips Square near Queen and Young streets to usher in the New Year. It is a traditional time of gathering in many cities of the world, but there was something very special this night, because I was there with the cross to take the first step of the second lap around the world.
This event was organized with a TV program called ‘100 Huntley Street’ with host David Mainse.
A group of about 50 fellow believers and followers of Jesus gathered there for the historic moment. It was very cold and snow and ice was everywhere. I was bundled up yet still freezing. I prayed lying down and kissed the icy ground as I normally do, before I picked up the cross and took that historic step! The crowd cheered. I handed a Jesus sticker to a young man who was standing by listening to what was being said in our prayer. He became the first man on the ‘first step’ of the second lap around the world, to give his heart to Jesus. It was glorious! The second trip around the world was underway on January 1,1988. Hallelujah!
We have also carried the cross in many of the Canadian Provinces, including the cross walk Denise, my wife, and I did in the year 2000. We took our RV and drove and carried the cross in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Foundland, Labrador, and New Brunswick.
Denise above speaking with the Countess of Wessex Sophie, wife of Prince Edward.
We had a glorious summer of carrying the cross and being with the wonderful people of Eastern Canada. We saw many people stop at the cross and come to Jesus. We left many wonderful friends behind.
Denise and I carried the cross in Western Canada in July 2004.
We carried the cross in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
We flew into Winnipeg and rented a mini-van. Denise drove most of the time while I carried the cross. On several occasions while in the cities Denise and I walked together and this was just wonderful. The witness was powerful and we prayed and talked with many. The people welcomed us with love, hospitality, food, drink and interest.
Denise and I were carrying the cross in Winnipeg in the downtown area alongside the river. At an intersection in the heart of the city the sidewalk was closed off to pedestrian traffic. We could only cross by going down the underpass. I have done this many times in cities around the world so I put the cross by my side and carried it down the stairs where there was an escalator. So on down we went, through some doors and then there was a big roundabout to walk around and then some more doors.
We were just trying to find a way to get back up to the street. To our amazement we found ourselves carrying the cross through a ”Bank’! I stopped and inquired from a shocked lady at her desk, “How do we get out of here and back up to the street” She got up to point the way out. I handed my camera to Denise and said I must have a photo of the cross in the bank! The lady was concerned about us taking a photo, but Denise did not hear her and took the photo anyway. Ha! So for the first time I have carried the cross through a big bank! Wow.’
Vancouver Island 2010
Yukon and Northwest Territories 2012
Denise, Sophia and I carried the cross here. I crossed the historic mark of 40,000 miles walking carrying
the cross for Jesus. Jesus did it! All glory to God.
God bless Canada!
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt