1989 & 1990
I have carried the cross in what is today Germany several different times. As you may know back in the 80’s there was the country of West German and a different nation of East Germany. Then there was West Berlin and East Berlin that was controlled by the four powers of United States, United Kingdom, France and the Russia. The Berlin Wall divided the city of Berlin. These account for three nations and territories in my cross walk.
November 1989: When the Berlin Wall came down on the historic day of November 9, 1989, my son, Joshua, and I were in Rome, Italy, trying to get a visa for Iran. The Lord spoke to us and told us to go to East Germany and on to Berlin carry the cross. Joshua and I went to Basel, Switzerland and got our Land Rover and drove to the East Germany-West Germany border near Leipzig, East Germany. Jesus did it as we got through with no visa! We crossed the border and drove on to Leipzig. We had contacts in the city and went to visit them. They arranged an interpreter for us.
The impossible is possible. Joshua and I are in East Germany carrying the cross today, November 26, 1989, in Leipzig, East Germany, hallelujah. Years ago, when I was in West Berlin at the 1981 rally at Olympic Stadium, I climbed to the top of the stadium with the cross and lifted it high above the stadium looking out over East Germany. Now years later, I am carrying the cross in East Germany. Just a few days ago in Frankfurt, West Germany, I was praying and the Lord spoke to me these awesome words, “Everything east of here is open.”
Surely those words from God are true. The East German border did allow us to pass through with the cross, now we are carrying the cross through the second largest city of East Germany. There was a big snowstorm today with sleet, rain, and strong winds. It was slippery to walk. As vehicles would pass a big spray of sludge on the road would cover us, cold and windy, but a real good day for walking. I was ecstatic. It was so cold that Joshua and I took turns carrying the cross. People seemed shaken at the sight of the cross. I spoke with them, some spoke to us, but most just looked in stunned silence, and they could not believe their eyes. There are so many historic changes taking place now. At this moment, it looks like the government of East Germany may allow democracy to take place. Things are swiftly changing but the people are unsure, afraid that the Russians will move into the streets, afraid the East German Army will be called out; no one knows what will happen. Tonight I preached at a Catholic Church rally. It was an ecumenical rally for all charismatic people in the city. Tomorrow there will be a historic demonstration at the old city center.
November 27, 1989: A man and his fiancé want to interpret for us tonight at a big demonstration. We met them at 4:30 and carried the cross to the Saint Thomas Church. It is where Bach, the great musician, went to church. It was full of people and the whole city was astir. We walked on toward Karl Marx Stadt a huge square where the rally would begin. As we walked through the streets the people seemed to watch in stunned silence. I did not know what their thoughts and feelings were, but of course after 45 years of total communist, atheist domination, it must have been
awesome to see the cross openly carried down the streets of t he city. These demonstrations have been taking place every Monday night for the past several weeks.
When we arrived at the square it was about 5:30 in the evening. There were already hundreds of thousands of people gathered. People gathered around where I stood with the cross and I began to speak to them with the girl interpreting. Shouting, I spoke one sentence, “I have been carrying the cross around the world and have come to join you”. I paused and she translated, the crowd went crazy with excitement. They began to mob me, shaking my hands, kissing me, kissing the cross. I tried to speak to them, but they couldn’t hear because of their clapping and cheering.
Joshua was trying to take pictures and film the rally, but he was knocked down. The group of men around us was so excited they grabbed and pulled the cross from my shoulders and lifted it up. When the hundreds of thousands of people saw the cross lifted up, they began to cheer and clap. Strong men from the coal mines and steel mills began to push the cross forward to the platform. Everyone was standing, bodies pressed against each other, it was impossible to walk through such a crowd, but they passed the cross hand over hand. The cross began to move and soon I lost my grip on it and for the first time in my entire life, the cross got away from me. I stood on my tiptoes watching the cross as it moved toward the front of the crowd of about cheering 300,000 people. It was one of the glorious moments of my life. The crowd exploded in cheers as the cross was lifted up behind the speakers place. They were shouting, “The cross, the cross, lift it up, lift it up.”
It was more than 15 minutes before I was able to catch up to the cross. Men were pointing to the platform for me to speak but I had lost my interpreter. It seemed to be very spontaneous. Whoever had the most strength seemed to be the one to get behind the microphone and deliver a message, one person after another spoke. The men were pushing me toward the microphone. Finally I was standing on the speakers’ platform itself. The crowd had already begun to move and far in the distance the sea of people in the cold wet night poured from the square into the streets to begin walking around the four lane highway that made a circle around the downtown area.
A leader seemed to say to me, “Come with.” I grabbed the cross, stood upright somehow in a miraculous way, stayed on my feet as we surged off the platform down the steps into the square and then into the street. Joshua finally reached me. We began moving along the street with the sea of bodies. I had the cross on my shoulder, but around me a tough group of men were protesting, “No.’ I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. The men took the cross from off my shoulder while we were walking and stood the cross straight up with the wheel on the ground and the cross straight in the air and they began smiling. In the face of over 40 years of atheism, what a glorious declaration that the people of East Germany had not rejected the cross, they had not followed atheism, they wanted the cross lifted up for the entire world to see. For hours we went around the circle carrying the cross with the people. People were kissing me, kissing the cross, hugging, shaking our hands, crying, loving, happy. It had to be one of the most glorious moments in all the years of my walk around the world with the cross.
November 28, 1989. After the glorious night at the demonstration, Joshua and I drove through the night to get to East Berlin. We arrived and unloaded the cross from the top of the Land Rover. I was overwhelmed with excitement. There I stood in East Berlin with the cross in ready to carry it through the Berlin Wall! Glory.
We took turns carrying the cross’¦Joshua and me. People gathered about and the feared East German police just stood in amazement and let us walk, talk and preach! Then we came to the historic Brandenburg Gate! We took photos and then carried the cross through a hole in the wall and back, then walked on to Check Point Charlie and into West Berlin. Joshua was driving the Land Rover. We had a wonderful time and were almost in a state of shock. We had carried the cross last night with 300,000 people and had it lifted up in front of the crowd and the next day we carried the cross through the Berlin Wall. All in less than 24 hours!
For the story of the cross in Berlin please go to Germany Berlin on our website.
All things are possible! Glory
My wife, Denise and I carried the cross from the East German border with Czechoslovakia to Dresden and on to Berlin. At this time communism was falling in the country and it was now the time when East Germany was uniting with West Germany. It was a time of excitement and joy.
I will never forget when Denise and I carried the cross into Dresden in the city center was a big truck that was a mobile ‘Burger King’. Crowds of people were lined up to get the western food.
On July the 16 th Denise and I carried the cross through the Berlin Wall. It was now more than six months since I had carried it through the first time. However it had not lost its thrill! But things were becoming more ‘normal’ and the cross did not create quite the stir it did just after the wall came down.
The first part of the day I was in Czech Republic bearing the cross up a mountain, it was cold and windy and wet. It was a difficult climb up the steep mountain with the wet roads. As every vehicle passed, I would be sprayed with water, but I kept walking. At the top of the mountain pass was the East German border. East and West Germany are now in the process of reuniting after the collapse of communism. The border stamp is still East German but that will soon end, goodbye to the G.D.R. The border guards were shaking my hand and asking questions, it was a wonderful victory to see that communism in East Germany is out and democracy is in. This week West German currency, the Deutsch marc, has now become the official currency of East Germany. The people now have hard currency. Normal western food has been rushed into many of the stores and crowds are gathered around every store, people are smiling, and buying things like crazy, it is just like a Fourth of July party. Oh, I just realized today is the Fourth of July, the United States Independence Day, but more than that, it was the Fourth of July six years ago when Denise gave her heart to Jesus Christ in a London park. Thank You, Jesus, for the day that You brought Denise into your eternal kingdom and made her Your child forever.
I carried the cross a long way today, down a long winding mountain road. It was a tremendous day for witness because there is a motorcycle motor cross race taking place just along the side the highway. Thousands of cars and tens of thousands of people are here for this race. Also, this is the week of festivals in Dresden. All along the streets, people are selling things they’ve brought from West Germany off the backs of their cars. As Denise and I carried the cross into the middle of the city, we discovered a Burger King in a mobile truck in front of the train terminal. And, this is only the first week of western commerce in East Germany. People were lined up by the hundreds trying to buy burgers. We carried the cross through the city jammed with hundreds of thousands of people, with bands playing and beer being sold all along the streets. It was a party in Dresden. We went through the old area that was bombed during World War II and for many blocks it remains almost exactly as it was left at the end of the war. I am sure it won’t be this way for long because the Germans will have this place looking like a mint in a very short time.
Today it rained almost all day, would let up a bit, then rain again. Finally the inevitable happened, Denise and I got lost, I took one road and she took another. I walked and walked and she drove and drove, finally she found me, Hallelujah. I walked by a huge Russian military base. Some of the troops came out and tried to talk with me. I gave them all gospel material and they seemed so happy to be able to get the gospel. One man showed me a cross around his neck as I had seen them do when I was in Moscow. He was a follower of Jesus from Armenia. Tonight Denise made a good decision. She cooked red beans and rice and curry.
Falkenberg camping: Up at 6:30 a.m. and on the road. My feet and back are hurting so much, but it’s good to get in a long walk. This is such a wonderful long walk from Prague and now only a few days to Berlin. I’ve passed by more Russian military bases. This afternoon, I carried the cross through Herzberg, one of the most responsive little towns along this highway. At the edge of the city three girls and a boy met me with a cup of something to drink. They wanted Jesus stickers and gospel material. Also many men came out of shops and places where they work, gathering all along the way, as the word spread that there is a man carrying the cross along Highway 101. The people are saying that it has been in the news, so I presume that somehow some of the radio stations are reporting it. In the town a newspaper reporter came up to do a story and take pictures, he couldn’t speak any English, but finally I think we communicated most of what I was doing and he understood it. We asked the news reporter where there was a camping place, because we wanted to be able to take a bath. He showed us where there was a camp on the map so we drove about ten miles to the campground. There were no signs but it was a beautiful little camping resort with no tourists, all East German campers. It had a beautiful lake. We drove in on the walking path rather than the driving street. We couldn’t read the signs and got completely lost. Tonight we discovered that this is really not a public campground that it is some kind of retreat for East Germans who are sick with disease and warts. But everybody seems very happy to have us.
Tonight we stayed in Juterborg. I don’t really feel like doing a jitterbug, my feet are very tired, it has been a long walk, but people have been blowing horns, waving, flashing lights, stopping trying to talk all day. It has been good all along the highway, many men are in the fields here harvesting wheat and they’ve been gathering along the roadside shaking my hand and picking up the cross. I love to be with these hard-working men who are not afraid to express their love and admiration for Jesus Christ. I had rather shake the tough, worn hands of these working men along the roadsides of the world than the famous hands of the world’s greatest religious leaders, these are the real people of the world and they’re my friends.
We then carried the cross on into Berlin! Glory
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt