The Great Wall of China stretches for thousands of miles across this vast country, for more than two thousand years, one of the great wonders of the world. China – five thousand years of history, my feet standing on the Great Wall of China – the cross-lifted up, weighed upon my shoulders. One step, then another step. Glory, Glory, Glory!
It is done, what an historic, glorious day. This is the moment, an awesome moment of history, who would ever have believed it, the cross lifted upon this Wall in this communist nation.
Glory, beyond words, the cross was carried on the Great Wall of China! This was truly an historic moment in the journey of the cross. Jesus did it. January 5, 1987. I will never forget bolting the cross together in front of the Great Wall. The glory of God was sweeping over me and excitement filled my body. This is the heart of communist China! This was the cross for Jesus being lifted up where few ever thought it could happen.
The amazed TV and newspaper reporters were in shock. I had entered China with Nora Lam an American citizen who grew up in China. We took tours into the country and had made arrangements for me to walk there. She just did not tell anyone that I was ‘walking with a cross’. The news media was there to welcome the ‘world’s greatest walker’ not the simple ‘cross walker’. Ha! At last the cross was bolted together and I lifted it to my shoulders and started up the steps. Up, Up, Up I climbed with the top coming near. Then I was there! The cross was lifted up on the Great Wall of China. No one could ever take that moment away!
The security police at the Wall did not want the cross carried there. They tried to get me to pose for the press without the cross but I refused. The police were confused because they did not want to arrest us and the cross, but they also did not want the cross carried on the Wall. Jesus won and we did it.
In a country that is home for over a billion people. the big 12-foot cross was now on top of the Wall. The report and photos went around the world via the news media. Overnight the officials were about to send us out of the country, with the cross!
Jack Hunter and I had dinner in the special banquet room with some of the top officials of China! How did it happen? Jesus did it! The day before I had a young lady come up to me at the Holiday Inn hotel and ask me if I was from California. She was studying very near me at a university. I said I would help her with English. She then introduced me to her father. We had a good talk and I went to my room and came back with a copy of my book Arthur a Pilgrim. He gave me his home number and said should I have any problems just phone him. I did not know who he was, but after the problem with my having the cross on the China Wall and the fact that the man who was to direct our walk in China was getting cold feet and seemed to be backing out; Jack and I prayed and then called this man. He arranged a big banquet for us at the Holiday Inn hotel the next day and had a top official, Mr. Tao Haui of public security, highway department, tourism and sports and other top leaders at the dinner. He planned our walk with us and all gave permission. Mr. Zhuang Yanlin is a top leader in China. He was very touched and impressed with the cross and the walk. He had seen me years ago when I was carrying the cross in Africa. After that anytime we faced a problem with the local officials we just said we had to make a phone call to our friend in Beijing and showed his card. Everyone would smile and say, “No problem.” Ha. Jesus did it.
Jack Hunter was a very wonderful friend and a great help in this cross walk in China. He is a wonderful ‘road man’. We wept and laughed and had a great time. Thanks Jack. His lovely wife Paula was with us when we started out.
We had a bus and six attendants, two interpreters and two bicycles.
The scene changes now – the city. The cities are packed with people, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions everywhere, people, people, people – on foot, on motorcycles, on bicycles, in carts, in cars, in trucks. The sounds of horns, the sounds of talking, the sounds of laughing, the sounds of chickens, the sounds of ducks, sounds everywhere. Smells, the smell of food, spices, incense. Colors, people are wearing every color imaginable, colors are hanging in windows. In China you are never alone. It’s people, and more people, now walking through the streets along the roads, bumper to bumper traffic. Cars, trucks, ox carts. One step then another, and another as the cross is carried through China.
From my diary:
Well if I never live another day – this was it. I’m really walking with the cross in China. Not just the China Wall — but on the road. Solid, blistering, hurting, dirty, sweaty, traffic jams, people jams, real road walking. Jack and I are exhausted. But thank God we stopped early and had a bath. The right side of my foot is blistered – popped it. Cut holes in my shoes, these new shoes are too narrow, but my greatest pain is in my right knee. It is truly hurting. It has been years since it hurt this way. In 1971 in the South of France and I think in 1976 in Canada, were the only times my knee hurt so bad. But I know it is only a temporary moment, not a long time pain. But let’s not get off on pain and forget the history of today.
The cross is being carried openly in Red China. This is the first public manifestation of Christianity and religion in modern China in over forty years. Not since Mao Tse Tung, and later the Gang of Four tried to totally destroy Christianity. This land once swept with the blood of martyrs is now having the cross openly carried through the countryside and the cities. Mao Tse Tung must be rolling over in his grave!
The people are smiling big as they see us. Waving their hands, honking horns, some are crying, some jeer, many old people have tears, even some young people. This is not a tourist area, westerners hardly ever pass this way, and the response has been absolutely fantastic. No problems, no police checks, just Glory. We have a car with a driver and a mini-bus with a driver, a man on a bicycle that goes with us, a coordinator that arranges hotels and places to stay, a lady that helps cook, two interpreters – this is the biggest team I have ever had in all the years of carrying the cross. And Jack Hunter – Praise God for Jack, he is a friend and businessman from San Antonio, Texas, just a few years younger than me. We felt he should accompany me on this trip through China. We have two Chinese Christians believers also with us, the man we call Benji and his wife Joy. He had been in jail for over twenty years but now is a dynamic free witness for Jesus Christ.
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I woke at 3:00 a.m. with the Glory of God all around. The presence of my wonderful Lord, filling me, healing me, loving me. I feel much better in my body, sore but much less than last night. My right knee is feeling almost fine.
Up at 7:00 a.m. and on the road. Jack hurts so badly but we still go on. Oh, but do I hurt, my feet with blisters, my right knee better but still bothering me. My feet burn, my back and shoulders hurt and so on. Praise God. It has been four and a half months since I walked with the cross, so my body must break down and harden up again. It’s tough. Not the time to stop and give in – press on. I want to walk every day that I can in China. Last night after supper there was a little disco, trying to learn Western dance and music. The kids wanted me to come so I went with Benji and witnessed to the eager young people who were searching for Jesus. I led one girl to Jesus. She said, “Do you have to speak English to speak with Jesus?” Another asked, “Will Jesus come into a Chinese heart?” “Yes,” Benji said, “I am Chinese.” Those under forty or so know almost nothing of Jesus, or nothing at all. For forty years, it has been illegal to speak or talk about Jesus. She received Christ. I gave her some material in Chinese to read. This morning after I left with the cross, a taxi drove up, she was in it, and she gave me a key chain with a Panda Bear on it, to tell me thanks and goodbye. I was almost overcome.
Traffic is absolutely mad – bumper-to-bumper, cars, trucks, tractors, people, bicycles and so on – very dangerous. In the pain of walking there is also the beauty of the smiling, waving people, it is overwhelming. We took a ferry across a big river. On the ferry there were lots of people eager to hear Benji and I speak and wanting Jesus stickers. One Chinese newspaper reporter came and took photos and did a story. Later there was a big wreck involving five large trucks. We stopped today and watched people drag in a net full of fish, thousands of fish, and I thought this is the way China is. I took a photo of it, remembering the words of Jesus as he told Peter to cast his net on the other side and they brought in a huge amount of fish and Jesus said, “I want to make you fishers of men.” Later in the afternoon about five men came to me on bicycles, stopped and made the sign of the cross on their chests – I did the same, pointing at the cross and then my head and my heart. They began to weep and smile at me, touching the cross with such passion and reverence. I gave them Chinese gospel material. They began to shout to others in the field and the people came running to the cross. About fifty people were gathered, all making the sign of the cross, crying and smiling. I pointed if they wanted to carry the cross – they nodded yes.
I let the first Chinese carry the cross from the farms into the small town. It was awesome. I was pushing a bicycle and the pedal hit my leg making a big gash as the blood poured, but no matter, it was too wonderful to see these Chinese carrying the cross so proudly into town. We hugged and kissed and cried. There must have been an underground church but very alive and overcome that this was an opportunity for a public witness to carry the cross openly into their town – what courage and what faith. This was just too much – one must see their eyes, faces and the joy – Oh God what this day must mean to them only God knows. When I finally got to the bus I was overcome. From the girl this morning to the farmers carrying the cross into town, it has been a staggering day. Even in my moments of pain I am so happy, thrilled beyond words – Oh I love these people I want to live here, preach here, explain the gospel message here. Thank you Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
I am in love with Jesus and I am not ashamed of Him or His Glory of His way of life. I glory in the cross, I choose Jesus as my Lord and Savior – Hallelujah! Oh, oh, oh I am exhausted, hurting everywhere. That long four and a half month layoff is killing me. I hurt from my neck to the tip of my toes, my feet feel like fire, so sore I can hardly stand on them. My leg muscles are sore. Oh, oh my right knee is in pain, my back hurts, my shoulder is numb, sore and tender and I just feel totally in pain and I’m exhausted. Can you believe it – 18 years, 84 countries on and on in pain and tiredness. I must be a saint or crazy! Ha! But I am smiling and hurting and it’s glory to be in China and on the road.
The people were so lovely today. Jack led the driver of the bus, Mr. Lee to Jesus. Jack prayed for him as Benji translated and also used scripture verses in English and Chinese. It was so wonderful. After he was saved he wanted to put a Jesus sticker on. It was his way of saying he wanted to be a witness. His smile became so radiant. Benji is exploding with Jesus and witnessing everywhere. The people are so eager, even grabbing for the stickers at one place.
Oh what a blessing after Mr. Lee was saved. He said Jesus told him to give me a massage today! He is a sports masseur. He and the other driver gave me a massage. The two men at the same time – Oh it was glory. As I lay here in bed I cannot think of a better place to be hurting than in China.
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Jack Hunter and I are becoming greater friends – real buddies. Praise God. I like his friendship. Today I was reading Luke 17, verses 6 through 10. And these words came to me, “The impossible is possible”. The cross is being carried in China. This walk will be a tough one to beat. Just the fact of it is overwhelming. Haven’t seen one religious thing since we left the city five days ago. No churches, no Buddhist temples, nothing. Just very kind, friendly, hard working people. Jack and I walk on and on.
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We had a long and wonderful day today, lots of miles and lots of pain. Ha! And lots of results. Jack and I are very tired tonight. I was strong through the day, but now I am a bit tired. Each day I am getting stronger and stronger. Poor Jack hurts so much, I feel sorry for him. My feet still burn hours later. We had a good witness to some of the people. There are many poor here. The first days we went through the areas where people were working in fishponds and rice paddies. Now its an area of tea and rice fields. There are also a lot of geese and pigs. The people carry a pole with a colored rag tied on the end, they shake it and the geese follow the rag. There will be 20 to 50 geese following one pole and a rag, then another batch following them. I didn’t know geese were so smart, they lead them right up to the side of the highway, stand there shaking the stick and the geese all stop until the traffic clears, then he shakes the stick and they all follow him across the highway. I guess if the Bible had been written in China rather than in the Middle East, instead of using sheep they would have used geese as Biblical examples.
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Well today was a long one. Jack’s feet are so bad and I feel so sorry for him, I really do. He is a great help and a friend, I am so proud of him. As we were going along the road Jack saw a dead man about ten feet off the road alongside the highway. He looked like a truck or something had hit him. I went down and felt him but he was obviously dead and had been dead for a long while. We walked on until we got to the bus and we told them. The driver got very upset at us, drove back, looked at the body and immediately wanted to take us out of the area. He said that they would contact the police and so that ended our day of walking. They were very concerned that we not be involved in the death of this person.
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We met a man today who rode up on his bicycle so excited. He was trying to talk to me. Benji came back on his bicycle and translated for us. The man had been listening to the gospel on his radio every night and was a believer. I went through the way of salvation with him and the man prayed aloud to receive Jesus as His Savior. He said many people listen to the radio programs about Jesus and believed. From time to time we met believers. Praise God. Oh yes, that dead man we saw beside the roadside yesterday. When we came back to begin today we noticed that he was still there and he hadn’t been moved, no one had touched him. So strange, I wonder why he had not been moved.
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What a joy today to see people’s eagerness to get Jesus stickers and to talk. Benji said that they were waiting for the cross in the town. A teacher came up and said he had seen a Bible one time. He wanted to know about the cross and what is meant. Through Benji, we told him as a big crowd gathered. We then explained to them about Jesus. It was great. Many of the people had never seen a cross or heard about the cross and Jesus, and only a few people had ever seen a white man in this area. What a tremendous blessing to carry the cross and bring the first symbol of hope and salvation here. Whatever pain I bear it is nothing compared to the sacrifice of those who have laid their lives down for Christ. There is no church or teacher of religion in this countryside.
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Praise God, this is the 10th day on the road in China. What a wonderful walk – just go, go, go. My feet feel much better now, walking stronger on my feet. No pain just tired. But more in shape and more powerful – all Glory to God. A good witness talking to the people. Also met the first two road girls as they call themselves. They are local hookers or prostitutes – got them here too in China.
As I was walking along the road today, thinking of the people, seeing the people I wrote a song that fills my heart, I sing it and cry and smile all at the same time.
“Millions, Millions, Millions have never heard.
There are millions, millions, and millions who have never heard.
They are crying, crying, crying,
dying, dying, dying.”
I tell you it is so sad how lost, how lost are the lost. And I am so proud to be here with the cross and the glory of God. Oh yes, thank you Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you. A nation so in need of Jesus as Savior.
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I lay here somewhere in China at 3.00 a.m. – awake. Something is eating me up. From my waist up to my neck are bites. It started yesterday morning, something must be crawling around biting me, but I cannot find it. Big welts, I feel better now. My back – Lee gave me a massage last night. The water is pouring through the bathroom in such a loud rush. This is truly a dump hotel. All lights are off in the city. The electricity is turned off except for a few hours. Could use some good biscuits and syrup for breakfast. Last night I bought a piece of bread in a market and made a vegetable sandwich. Bread isn’t served in restaurants. It was great. Also ate two bits of chicken. I think I can make it on that I have only a small light to write by. Jesus please heal me from the itching bites. Oh my heart is filled with love for you, My Lord and God, I overflow with the Holy Spirit and thy Holy Glory. Oh my God, my Love and My All and my Redeemer. I grieve at the millions of lost people around me, forever lost, lost, and lost. Oh the lost, Lord keep China free before me, so we can come again and again. So we can tell everybody about Jesus.
Another day of great walking. Jack was talking to Lee and he wanted to carry the cross as a testimony to Christ as His Savior and a witness to the team in China. He carried the cross four kilometers as I walked beside him.
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All Glory to God. Today I walked 52 kilometers – 32.5 miles. Praise the Lord! During the day, it was really wonderful because Lee carried the cross four kilometers and then Chen carried the cross for four kilometers, then Benji carried the cross one kilometer. So I had a total of nine kilometers from Chinese believers. Just great, glorious. Because it’s the Chinese who must ultimately win China to Christ. God will use them to inspire, to preach the gospel throughout China. I am so excited.
Chinese New Year’s Eve
This is Chinese New Years Eve, tonight at midnight is New Year. Many fire crackers blast and it’s party time in China. Four big days of festivals. All the Chinese with us wanted to take the day off, so I stayed in bed until 1:00 p.m. – ate and returned to bed until 7.00 p.m. Had a big Chinese New Years dinner with the Chinese. Came back to the room and lay down on the bed. My heart is not in the festive New Years Eve party, but full of deep thoughts and emotions that fill my being. Aloneness is the best friend I have – except for the glorious awesome presence of the eternal God. I will let the others have a party, I’ll live mine each day. Ha! So I will just enjoy missing you! And sleep into the Chinese New Year. After all these years, I have become a strange person in many ways. My beliefs, my lifestyle, my feelings, my attitude seem so out of touch in most surroundings. Of course I have always felt that way, but now it is more obvious than ever. But I enjoy being me and thank you Lord for showing me your Mercy and your Grace and your great Love.
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I didn’t sleep through the New Year’s celebration. You have to be in China to know what I mean, as the midnight time approached the city absolutely exploded, explosions by the thousands and thousands rocketed the city, every building looked like it was almost on fire with not just single fire crackers but long streams of fire crackers exploding for one or two minutes in a row, just constant…. and rockets were shooting into the air. I was in Beirut, Lebanon, at the height of the fighting but the Chinese New Year makes Beirut look like a Sunday School Class. Of course they are not blowing buildings down its just entertaining fireworks but I have never seen anything like it. The entire city was red with smoke pouring every where, you would have to be totally deaf to sleep through that.
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This morning during the walk I had an awesome moment. A man had come into town on his bicycle to get some vegetables. He was about 60 – 65 years old. He saw the cross, turned around and followed us. Finally when I stopped to wave at the people, he spoke to me in English. I suppose he assumed I spoke English. When I asked him why he spoke to me in English, he said, “I learned it years ago as a child and young man.” Benji said, “Do you understand the meaning of the cross?” “Yes, ” the man replied in excellent British English, “It is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”. When he used those words ‘Our Lord’ I knew he was a believer. I said, “You believe in Jesus as your Savior?” “Yes,” he said and his eyes were bright and wet were bright and wet with tears.
He told us, “I saw the cross – I was stunned – I could not believe it.” He was so moved with emotion, “This is the first cross I have seen in 40 years, it’s the first time I have spoken English in 40 years”. He could not believe Benji was from Shanghai and was walking openly with the cross. This man lives in a farming area far away and thought that all Christians were dead, that they had been killed or had been gone from China or stopped believing. He thought he was the only Christian left. As we shared with him about Jesus, a large crowd gathered around. I gave the man my address and he will write to me and I also gave him a gospel tract that I had in Chinese. This one man was worth the trip, how many more are like him. When I told him I was walking with the cross with Government permission he said he knew it to be true, otherwise it could not be done. He was just thrilled and shocked beyond words. Also a short distance later another man came up, a young man, though he did not believe in God, but he spoke in English and we had a great witness to him.
Praise the Lord. Today Harry gave his heart to Jesus. Jack prayed with him and he was truly converted. After 22 days of real struggle he finally accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord.
On the road today Benji took a photograph and a crowd gathered. Then a young girl about 20 years old with eyes alive, emotions overflowing as Benji tried to interpret she asked, “Was this like the cross Jesus died on?” She was a believer, a Christian and she was so excited she wanted us to come to her House-Church.
Well, you wouldn’t believe where we are staying tonight – at the Xinglong Hot Springs Guest House, a lovely place. We moved to the Presidential Building, a large palace- like place, five rooms with a huge lounge.
Tonight we stayed at a fabulous place that is now a hotel resort but Chairman Mao Tse Tung, the leader Communist Party built it as a retreat for himself. I slept in a big king sized bed that Mao TseTung had slept in. I took a bath in the biggest bathtub I have ever seen, you could almost swim in it. And I put my cross in the living room. Praise God. What glory. After Mao Tse Tung had tried to destroy all remembrances and all witness of Christianity and the message of Christ, the cross was in his living room and an evangelist slept in his bed. Hallelujah!
My bed is ten by seven feet, with an overhanging canopy. The room is at least 30 by 50 feet. The bathroom is larger than most bedrooms. The bath is about 10 foot long by 5 foot wide, with a 50-foot high ceiling. Chairman Mao Tse Tung slept here and also Chou En-Lai. All the team is staying in the other rooms or the chambers. It is just unbelievable. The biggest place I have ever seen anywhere with thick red carpet. It must be seen to be believed. We had a great Bible Study this afternoon with Harry, Lee, Benji, Mama and Jack. I taught the new converts the basics of the gospel. It is awesome, I must write a new book that is completely geared for the convert who has absolutely no knowledge of the gospel of the cross or anything.
This was just one of the greatest days of walking ever, we had some good witness to the people along the way, but today was quite dramatic. Lee, Chin and Benji carried the cross a total of 22 kms today – the Chinese Team. Jack and I carried the cross 25 kms for a total of 47 kms, of course I walked all the way even when I was not carrying the cross. Our fellows are just not ashamed of the cross or of their faith or being a public witness to Jesus. This is along the main highway of Hainan Island.
Praise the Lord – we made it – all the way to the end of Hainan Island to Sanya. We walked on Mainland China, a total of 1000 kms, which equals 621 miles. All Glory to God.
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Tomorrow we leave China. I am filled with deep, deep emotion. The cross came, it was carried openly, and it leaves freely. Luke: 16 6-10 – The impossible is possible. Oh God unto thee be all the Glory and Praise. I am not just thrilled beyond words. I am changed too. I leave so much of myself here, and take away so much of these people. Oh I weep inside it is so wonderful. Oh God it is done, I can never be the same. This morning at about 4:00 a.m. the Glory of God came upon me after I had awakened at about 2:00 a.m. and read about the Glory of God coming into the temple by the way of the East. It was just awesome – beyond words, for two and a half hours – Oh I Praise the Lord it has been a glorious, but tough trip and I am tired but I am smiling and praising God.
In 1987 when we carried the cross very few people even knew that we were carrying a cross. They thought we were sportsmen! But the cross for Jesus did come into China. It was carried in China and people came to know Jesus in China. Thank you Jesus for this glorious and humbling honor to lift up the cross in this country.
Jesus did it. All glory to God.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus
Arthur and Denise Blessitt