There is something about the smells of India. Perhaps it is the aroma of millions of incense sticks burning or perhaps the exotic spices being used in cooking throughout the sprawling land of India. Or the multi-colored dresses on the refined women of all classes, each distinct, each full of pride at being a woman and the men dressed in every color combination imaginable with children and teenagers in school uniform. Crowds upon crowds, traffic jams and blaring horns. A good Indian must blast the horn at least twice a minute. India is a sea of movement; the entire place sways in constant motion.
What would India be without its people? Take the people out of the Grand Canyon and you still remember its majesty, take them out of Switzerland and you still stand in awe of the high Alps and charming villages, look long at the pyramids in the desert of Egypt and they will remain with you forever. But in India, it is people and the most wonderful people you could ever know.
I stood at Cape Comorin the southern most tip of India facing North with the cross on my shoulder, ready to take my first step. The cross was in the water and a wave washed over my shoes and up my leg. Water is important in India; it is a reminder to all of God. The monsoon rains must come or they will starve. It is also important in Hindu washing rituals. Rivers are also holy. For where these great bodies of water meet, the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea is a holy place to all India; the Hindus, Muslims, Sheiks and even the churches. There I began walking.
In the West, a great preacher, a man of God, is usually identified with a big church, a large organization, a national television program, and he one travels first class. But in India, holy men walk. Walking is synonymous with holiness. All great Indian holy men walked. Mahatma Gandhi is famous among other things for his walking. In Western countries when one first sees me carrying a cross, the first thought is – is he crazy! In India the first thought is- there is a holy man. I was now to start off my sixteenth year walking around the world, but more importantly, the man with a cross, was not just walking, but walking for God and carrying a heavy 12-foot cross. Everyone seemed to want to see this cross. The cross is known in India. I guess by almost everyone, but not its meaning, only its existence. It seems possible that St. Thomas, one of the twelve disciples, came to India in the first century and established churches there. The British, during their Colonial period, also built many churches in India. So the cross is seen on some church steeples, on television or in movies. I didn’t realize it at the time I began the walk how truly interested the people of India would be in the carrying of the cross.
As I stepped from the water at Cape Comorin on the southern tip of India with the cross on my shoulder, crowds immediately began to gather. That gathering of multitudes was to become constant throughout my entire pilgrimage. Hands reached to touch me, to touch the cross; faces of people intent with hunger for the meaning of my walk immediately confronted me. When I began to give out the little red Jesus stickers that I usually give along the way, hands were grabbing trying to take the stickers. It became a pushing and shoving match until it was impossible for me to give out stickers in most places. A large number of Indians speak English so there was very little difficulty in communicating. Where I needed to speak or preach there was always someone that could interpret into the local Indian dialect.
Crowds gathered immediately all along the roads in the tropically hot weather. A wave swept up from the sea and covered my feet. I knew the damage that this would cause but there was no time to stop and dry my shoes and socks. So as the first day of the Indian walk wore on my feet began to blister and by evening I was in almost excruciating pain, blood filled my shoes but ecstatic joy filled my heart as the most glorious walk one could ever imagine taking place had begun.
A businessman from Midland, Texas, Jim Sale had joined me for a
month of walking. We stayed in an Indian home the first night and
then began the second day’s walk. Early that morning crowds had
begun to gather, we had three police escorts most of the day, trying
to somehow control the crowds and to keep traffic moving because
of such response from the people.
Beginning on the second day of the walk and continuing for 10 days
I saw the most powerful manifestation of healings over a long period
of time that I have ever witnessed in my life. I do not understand it at
all but I know that in my life it seems that God moves for a certain
period of time healing people. It may be one person; it may be that
He heals everyone for one hour or two hours or one day and once
for three days.
It began here about 11:00 or 11:30 a.m. As we were walking along the road, a man came up, he had no strength in his left arm or his left leg and he wanted prayer. I prayed for him and looked at Jim. Jim came over and began to pray and I was just praying for him like you would if someone asked you to pray for him. I know that God can heal anybody anytime but normally I don’t see it taking place. Jim and I held his arm; it was completely limp with no strength in it at all. His arm was instantly healed. Complete strength returned to his arm and Jim and I were totally shocked, we looked at each other and could hardly believe it. Those around us began to get ecstatic. Then the man pointed to his leg and said that his leg wasn’t healed, just his arm. We reached down and touched his legs at about the knee-cap and instantly his leg was healed. It was just Glory, Glory, Glory. Traffic had been blocked by the masses in the middle of the main highway. Another man came up that was a Hindu truck driver and he was crippled in one of his arms. We witnessed to him but he didn’t pray with us but wanted us to pray for God to heal him. We prayed for him and he was completely healed. Another came up that had a sore on his foot for ten years. Oooh a terrible, terrible sore and it was bandaged. He said it had been running for years. Everybody knew him. We prayed for him and he was healed. That night, he came to a meeting where we preached and he was still completely well and whole. We saw the most incredible healings.
On the second day of this awesome outpouring of healing, we managed to walk only five miles, which normally I could easily do in an hour and 15 minutes. I preached at 16 meetings that day to thousands of people, it was practically unbelievable. We were in one house where they had invited us to have something to drink and eat. People were packed all around us. As we were sitting there, all of a sudden there was a commotion of pushing and shoving. An old man was carried in cradled in the arms of some people. They sat him in front of us in a chair. He looked 80 or 90 years old. He was thin, shaking, sweating, and pale. I thought he was going to die any minute. They wanted us to pray for him to be healed. I looked at Jim and he looked at me. I reached over and put my hand on one of his shoulders and started praying for him. Jim put his hand on my hand and on the man’s shoulder. As we prayed, that shoulder quit shaking. I just reached down and took hold of one or his arms and hands and started praying in the name of Jesus, that arm completely quit shaking and got stronger. We reached over and prayed for his other shoulder, it was healed and his left arm also. So now the top part of his body was healed, but his legs are still shaking and jerking. We prayed for one leg and that leg healed. Then we prayed for the second leg and it was healed. We prayed for his chest and he started breathing normally. We prayed for his head and his color became normal. The old man that had been carried in, leaped up on his feet and ran out the door and grabbed the cross and started carrying it down the road, and we had to run to catch him!
The awesome healings continued day after day and almost exclusively it was crippled people. No other major illnesses or problems were really healed just cripples. The last man to be healed was a man who came to us had an arm that had been run over 11 years before. He couldn’t move his wrist and his arm was bent in a frozen fashion. As we lay hands on him and prayed, his arm began to pop, as it straightened out. Then his wrist that also was frozen began to crack and pop. His hand opened up and his fingers moved and he was completely and totally healed on the roadside in the midst of a crowd of people. That was the last healing, it was about 10 o’clock in the morning on the 10th day and we saw no other healing in India during my entire walk through the rest of the country. Only God knows why he does what he does, and when he does it. I had no idea that he was going to begin healing at that time and I was completely shocked that he stopped when he did. In my mind I was no holier or more right with God on the first day when He began, there was no obvious sin or anything on our part as to why the healings stopped, it’s just to me the sovereignty of God and in it I thrill and Glory.
To get an idea of how I see life you must try to see it from the road level, not from a tour bus or an air-conditioned car or from a hotel window or from a tour guide you must look through my eyes at a road and traffic, trucks, cars, roaring down those roads. I am moving one step at a time, not fast like an airplane or a car or a train, but just one step. You must watch where you are stepping because of rocks, and part of the time with roads washed out, sometimes there are sticks on the road, other times the roadside is steep often the traffic doesn’t pull over. It almost hits you. There are flies, the sun baking down on your head every moment, sweat is dripping, dripping, dripping, and your clothes are wet. Every step of the cross there is the weight of your body plus the cross, first on one foot then the other, there is the constant shifting of the cross from one shoulder to the next every few minutes, lifting the weight up and lowering it down on the other shoulder. There are seas of faces in front you as you look down the road and all you see is slow moving traffic and people lined on the roadside. Thousands and thousands wanting to touch you, trying to touch your skin, trying to touch the cross, pushing and shoving. It was almost impossible to walk. Every little community or place there would be a special gathering of people where they would be waiting, many times there was a P.A. system already set up. Often you hear music and the crowd surges with you, taking you to a platform that the people have set up for you to speak when you come into the village area.
The leaders in that area would begin to garland you with flowers, big ornaments of flowers made as a garland. Some were very small and some were three inches around and then maybe three feet long so when they put that around your neck it hangs all the way down below your waist, to your hips. Then somebody else puts another garland of flowers on you, and then another one. There were times when I was so covered with flowers that I could not even see over the flowers, I would have to take the flowers off. The people desire you to carry their garlands of flowers. I would hang the garland of flowers from the cross beam and then tie the garlands along the back. There are times when I was literally covered in flowers, with flowers all the way down the cross with flowers in my arms, my eyes watering from being allergic to the pollen.
They caused me to sneeze and my eyes water. Then the people are giving you something to drink, just everybody is handing you something to drink, drink, drink, drink, drink. Oh God only knows what all I have put into my body because you don’t have any time to check it, somebody is just handing up a cup, handing up a bottle, some of it is cold, some of it is a hot, some of it is home brew. I would take at least a sip of it and you never knew what it would taste like. I tried to not look at it.
A school has turned out thousands of kids are out here, farmers have come out of the fields, businesses have closed down and there are five thousand, ten thousand, twenty thousand people gathered standing ready for you to speak. As I speak, somebody interprets into that local language and I would give an invitation for people to give their life to Jesus Christ who died for their sins, who rose again. I would explain about the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross as He bore our sins, about His death, about Him being buried and resurrected. Coming back in the same body, because after his resurrection He showed them His hands and His side and they knew that this was not reincarnation, this was the same Jesus that had lived, the same Jesus who ascended unto the Father, this same Jesus will save and forgive.
This was the constant daily progression of trying to get down the road. People always wanted you to come into their house, if you go into a house, you are overwhelmed with people crowded into the house and standing outside looking in. When you sit down to eat, you eat with your fingers. The food was hot; hot peppers, hot rice, hot curry, hot tea. You walk in the heat sweating, you sit down to eat, and you break out into another sweat.
Most days I would sit in a chair and go sound asleep with people all around me. I would sleep soundly for 15 minutes or half an hour, wake up and there were people waiting to be prayed for, waiting to touch, schools that want you to speak. The Catholics are especially strong along the coast of Southwest India, I spoke at convents, in monasteries, schools, colleges and often spent the night there also. It was just incredible the absolute and glorious response of the people along the way. I would try to tell the people that I was not anything special, the cross is not magic, it will not heal them or save them, that it’s just a symbol that Jesus died and rose again and that he died on a real cross and mine is a reminder of that. But, because it was so implanted in peoples minds that I am a holy man, there is a holy man with a cross and we want to see that cross and we want to touch that cross, we want to touch that man and maybe we’ll be blessed or we’ll be healed. I would have to explain that it is God that blesses and I would pray for God to bless them The way to be blessed is to open your heart to Jesus Christ and know Him as your Savior and Lord. The people were so loving, they were so kind.
They wore very expensive scarves. Gold scarves and various colored scarves, which they would give me. The people would give not only the garlands of flowers, but also these scarves. I tied a scarf around the cross near the beams and let it hang down and then I could grab the scarf and wipe sweat out of my face, as it became my constant companion in India.
The following are excerpts from my diary:
It is absolutely awesome. Catholic nuns came up to us and had us to speak at their school, then we went to the Convent, and then we preached to over two thousand at another school. At yet another Catholic school, to a group of about a thousand. Groups were waiting for me to arrive. Hundreds, thousands of people. When Jim and I finished the day it was absolute chaos. Everyone wanted to touch the cross, wanted to touch me, hands everywhere, the fire and the glory of God has fallen. My feet are in great pain; my shoulder is so weary from holding the cross, hour after hour as people push and shove. When we finally escaped into a house and closed the doors we burst into even more heat but at least we were away from the crowds for a few minutes before the night rally.
All day to day there were crowds, crowds, crowds. It was unbelievable. We had two police escorts as I preached at a school and a college. We ate and drank everything the people gave us. We preached and people covered us with flowers and scarves. They lined the road hour after hour for us to touch them. I preached to a crowd of about five thousand, I would say three thousand or more declared their commitment to Jesus Christ. We were up today at 6:30 a.m. and it is now midnight as we go to bed. I am exhausted. I thought I would not be able to survive.
Several years ago during a walk in the desert in Chad, Africa, I had difficulty with kidney stones. But seemingly everything had been all right for the last few years. When I went to the outdoor toilet last night, I noticed that my urine seemed to be dark and rusty, and then I put some urine in a cup and realized that it was over half blood. I went and got Jim Sale and we checked it again and I was bleeding almost pure blood. We prayed and prayed, and went to bed. The next morning I awoke with no pain. I urinated again and it was completely clear. Praise the Lord, an absolute miracle of healing.
* * *
Today as thousands of people lined the road, we lay hands on them. We sometimes had to have men holding back the crowds. I was covered with garlands of flowers. It was absolutely incredible. Glory. Seas of faces, seas of hands bent forward, reaching to touch the cross and me. Hour after hour I poured sweat, water dripped and I prayed, preached, lay hands on people. It was just Jesus, Jesus, Jesus all day. The people continued to cover the cross and me with garlands of flowers and golden wraps of cloth. This walk is turning into an awesome movement, the followers of Jesus are thrilled, and the Hindus are moved. The national and local newspapers of India have covered the walk in great detail. I was on the front cover of a large magazine, like Time Magazine in India. Television crews have been out. The cross coming down the highway is the major news of India. There is no way to describe it.
* * *
One day Jim Sale and I were walking and suddenly about the mid-morning the Lord spoke to me and said, “You must be in the city, the big city ahead by 5:00 p.m. You must be there at 5:00 p.m.” I knew that was what God told me and I told Jim and we walked as fast as we could walk with the cross. It seemed like it was an absolute miracle because we had been walking only a few miles a day because the crowds were so heavy and then suddenly no crowds gathered and it was just like a foot race to get to the city. We walked into the city and right through the middle of the city. People were everywhere but we kept walking straight through the crowd. I can’t explain it or tell you why I knew that God didn’t want me to stop, he didn’t want me to talk to anyone, just walk, walk, walk. Jim, who was just spending this month with me didn’t know why I was doing such a thing. This is the complete truth at exactly 5:00 p.m. three blocks from where we were going to spend the night all of a sudden a man ran up to me and grabbed me and the cross and said, “My name is Barry and I heard you preach and followed you and drove you from Manchester to Liverpool in 1972 when you were going there to preach at a rally.’ He had come to preach in India at a big meeting, but he was supposed to go into Bangladesh for a rally but wasn’t allowed in because he didn’t have the right Visa. He had to stay in India. He was completely and absolutely depressed, confused, doubting because he had flown from England to preach at the rally in Bangladesh and couldn’t get there. He was a beautiful warrior for God who had been wounded and disappointed and was almost ready to just quit trying to do world evangelism. He was at the absolute lowest point of his life and I talked with him, prayed with him, and he was changed, baptized with the fire of the Holy Spirit with renewed zeal to evangelize. I stood the cross up and preached, we laid hands on him and it was exactly, exactly want God wanted us to do, just to go through all those hundreds of thousands of people along the roads and city to get to this one man to pray with him. I might add that I have heard from him since and he has continued to evangelize all over the world.
* * *
Today we were at a Catholic school, great crowds and then we went to a Convent and they were so unbelievably wonderful. I will never forget the faces of those beautiful Indian nuns, as they and the students sang, “ May God be with you until we meet again.’ I cried, they cried, we all cried knowing that we probably never would meet again until we meet at Jesus’ feet. We had dinner with the nuns, laid hands on them, and prayed with them. We went on to another Convent of Carmelite Sisters where I preached again. They sang, I sang and they served us ice water – Wow! Then we went to see the Catholic Bishop. He was very wonderful to us and so full of love for the cross and us.
* * *
Today Lord Simon Reading, the Marquis of Reading from England arrived to spend two weeks on the road carrying the cross and then to visit the leaders in India at New Delhi. Lord Reading is just one of the most beautiful believers that you could ever meet. I met him years ago and then had been in his home for a special meeting last year where invited friends came to hear me to speak. His great grandfather had been the Viceroy of India or you might call the Emperor of India and this was his first visit here carrying the title of his great grandfather. Protocol would have necessitated him going first to New Delhi and him meeting with the officials, but he wanted to walk on the road first and then go to New Delhi. When he arrived out on the road where Jim and I were carrying the cross I will never forget how white his skin was from the English weather. He had on shorts and he was wringing wet with sweat, it was so hot. There were crowds everywhere, just people, people, people. We walked, preached, prayed till dark that very first day he arrived. Everywhere you looked, there were thousands, tens of thousands of people all around us. People everywhere blocking the roads, blocking the city, standing on the bridges and anywhere else they could stand.
Finally about 11.00 that night we arrived to a man’s house where we were going to sleep. The old man of the house was dying, and he moaned all night. We slept in sleeping bags on the on the floor. It was quite an introduction to life on the road for Lord Reading. Lord Reading walked on the road with Jim and I for several days before we arrived at New Delhi. The story of Lord Reading walking with the cross on the road with me was in the newspapers and many old people came up and spoke with him specifically remembering that his great grandfather was Viceroy of India. One lady had asked Lord Reading why he was walking on the sides of the road. She just couldn’t believe that Lord Reading would be walking on the roadside. And I will never forget Lord Readings words he said, “If the roadsides were good enough for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to walk upon, its good enough for me to walk upon.” I remember something else he said, “From the east and west and south and north for many countries and continents and languages, cultures, we can all come to the cross and there we are all one, it is a place of reconciliation for all mankind.”
* * *
After the days of walking Jim Sale, Lord Reading and I flew to New Delhi to meet with the leaders of India with the exception of Prime Minister Gandhi, who was not in New Delhi at the time. Lord Reading wanted to introduce me to the leadership of the country as a means of being a witness for Christ. When we arrived at the parliament building in New Delhi we were met by the Secretary General of India who then took us to meet with the Speaker of the House of Parliament. We went from office to office meeting the various leaders and that day at noon, they prepared a wonderful dinner for us with the three of us and the Secretary General Dr. Sobhash C. Kashyap and the Speaker of the House of Parliament, Dr. Bal Jakhar along with other dignitaries.
Their parliament is known as the Lok Sabha. Almost immediately after beginning the dinner the conversation turned to our carrying the cross. The dignitaries were very interested in my pilgrimage and were aware of it from the newspapers. I said to Dr. Jakhar, “You all didn’t know that we were going to arrive this day and yet within just hours, you have already arranged this dinner and I don’t understand how you could do it so quickly. I am sure you were all so busy, and we really appreciate the opportunity of being with you.” I remember the answer that he gave and that became the discussion at the table. He said, “You never know when, or in what form God may present himself to you. When someone arrives as a stranger with no appointment that person is more important than someone who has an appointment. There is a word called ATITHI, A means no, and TITHI means date A guest who comes with no date. ATITHI BOVO BHARSATI, that means a guest without prior appointment is to be treated as a god. If a guest comes to you, you are to take time to welcome him.” He was showing the importance of our coming with the cross as men of God. We were received as messengers of God and they were ready to listen. It made me think of how far away from this kind of thinking we are in most western countries. When someone comes with no appointment or someone you don’t know arrives, he looked upon as an outcast or unimportant. Whereas, in India a stranger, the guest without an appointment, is viewed as a god as you never know in what form God might present himself to you. And I was reminded of the verse in the Bible where it says, that sometimes we entertain angels unawares. Another thing they said which I’ll never forget is, “Wise men learn from fools, more than fools learn from wise men.” We had a wonderful, wonderful dinner, we had prayer together, and the speaker of the House of Parliament invited me to walk with him in Punjab whenever I came to that part of India. Lord Reading was a great blessing and a tremendous witness in India.
* * *
Back on the road. Glory, today was another glorious day with the cross, it was hot, I was tired, I preached over and over telling people about Jesus. Hallelujah. A man stopped, he did not want to talk, only to say, “I am a very selfish man, but today you reminded me of God”. So many people came to the cross crying, kissing me, it was just awesome. The crowds lined the roads; one man said I waited a week for you.
Today, I had another glorious, glorious day on the road. I preached early this morning to 2,500 girls at a Catholic college, then went to a hospital, preached there and then to a school where I preached, then spoke to nuns and sisters at a Convent. I went to carry the cross at a Leper Colony or sanatorium. We gathered all the patients together; all that could walk or crawl to the meeting. The men were all on one side and the women were all on the other side with the cross in the middle. It was just glorious. I preached about Christ’s compassion, I preached about the suffering of Jesus, how He knew pain, how He endured, and how He was beaten and scourged. I gave an invitation to commit their lives to Christ and they came up. I lay hands on a hundred and thirty lepers. Many with no feet, no hands, various parts of their bodies missing. There was so much suffering and so much hopelessness. The doctors said, “Guests do not usually come here, especially not to touch these people.” I knew that Jesus would touch them and I knew that I had to touch them also. It was so wonderful to see the smiles upon their faces. With the Sisters announcing our visit we went through the sanatorium to the rooms where people were dying and were not able to get to the meeting. I prayed individually with these patients. I will never forget the beautiful Sisters who had given their lives to care for people who were in acute suffering and various degrees of disfigurement. I thought how many people so full of their selfish desires would never give of themselves up to care for people like this. Thank you Jesus for giving me the privilege to carry the cross into the entire world.
* * *
It was a glorious day, crowds, crowds, crowds only a little walking, but so much talking. I preached to about six thousand at a school and church. Crowds just sweeping towards us, waves of people, mentally exhausted, I am in this heat and crowds. If it gets better, I’ll die and just go on to be with Jesus. This last crowd today was about twenty thousand people.
* * *
Oh, Wow! Unreal!, well if every day was like today I think I will live only about a week. It was about 103 degrees; tens of thousands of people lined the highway, bringing the wild traffic to a stop or a slow crawl. I preached in about seven Catholic churches today plus the YMCA. We estimated that we preached to at least 150,000 people to today. I preached hour after hour. We estimated that approximately five thousand people an hour were actually touching the cross or me. As best we can figure, probably thirty thousand people a day are actually touching the cross or me or I am touching them. It is just unbelievable. I cannot describe it all, except to say that it is Holy chaos. I was about to faint from exhaustion. For almost ten solid hours I was in crowds and the heat is just unbelievable. I was baking in the sunshine and there is no rest. The truth is in my mind that all I can see is faces, faces, faces pushing towards me with eyes looking, looking; my arm becoming so tired from touching people, reaching out, reaching out with my right arm, until it almost falls off. What a way to die though. The priests treat me like a holy man. It seems like now that I am almost totally Catholic. I received no Protestant invitations Ha! Oh well, I am exhausted. What a day. Glory! Glory! Glory!
* * *
Well Praise God, the glory goes on, a great day, up early. Went to the YMCA to speak there, then on to St Thomas Church in Cochin, then to the Church where Vasco de Gama was buried. There I met with the Catholic Cardinal of India. Then they had a reception at the St. Mary’s Basilica with the other Catholic hierarchy. I am absolutely exhausted.
All my family except Joel and Gina are with me in India mostly waiting in the major cities for the arrival of the cross. At times, the children came out to walk with me. Sometimes Joshua, or Jerusalem or Joseph. It is absolutely wonderful to have my daughter Joy and my cross carrying boys walking with me.
You would have had to live today with me to understand it. The
glory of God here in such mighty power. There was a feature
story of a half page in the Times about the cross and me. It was
tremendous. Up at 6:00 a.m. Carrying the cross at 7:00 a.m. We
had five big rallies before noon. A car with loud speakers
announced my arrival, crowds following. Jim Sale has now
gone back to the United States and another friend Jerry Swanson
from California is now walking with me for a month. He is also a great help.
While I am preaching, people begin to bring garlands of flowers. I am standing in the scorching sun — sweat dropping from off of me. Covered with flowers, it is impossible almost to breath. At noon we met some nuns and they invited us to the Convent where about 75 of nuns live. It was a special place, spiritual renewal for Sisters of all of India and Bangladesh. Oh, what love from those Sisters. They fed us a great meal. They gave us a bed to rest in. I took a bath at noon, Praise God. They had a fan, which was unbelievable. I took a noonday nap, then got up half an hour later and preached to a huge crowd. I sang, Jerry sang, the crowd sang and we all cried. Tears poured. Then the Sisters carried the cross for one kilometer and we were all crying on and on. More meetings. Just before dark, we came to a big St. Michael’s Church. I preached there and then I was asked me to walk around the town. I have been going 13 hours already. But I did it anyway; there was singing, clapping and Praising God. I am now at a home trying to rest. I took a bath from a bucket of water. Every few minutes a new crowd arrives. I must lay hands on them; speak a few words over and over. I am exhausted but the people pour into here. You can see how it was when Jesus was on earth. The house was full. This is just like the Gospels, unbelievable. What is happening in India now is truly of historical importance. Never has a follower of Jesus been welcomed in such a way. Reporters from many newspapers and magazines are writing and talking about the cross. It is as big as the wildest dream and much more. I would say 90% of the population is Hindu. Of these, millions of Hindus now know about the man carrying the cross. The crowds gather, everyone wants to see the cross, they are confronted with the cross, and they read a newspaper or magazine or listen to the radio. The cross is top news in India. Crowds want to touch me; they want me to bless them. We now have a car, which is a taxi type and a driver to carry water, Gospel materials and backpacks. This is a helpful luxury, Praise God. It is truly history in the making, something that will never be forgotten in India, where one fourth of the world’s population lives. The only negative words that I have heard have come from white tourists who are visiting. I don’t know what all India will be, but I know that here in the South of India, the people are listening to Jesus. As I lay here in bed, I pray, “ Lord they will be done, they name glorified, all Praise, all Glory unto you. Help me rest tonight, stop the pain, give me sleep, sweet, please Lord, I glorify you as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.’
* * *
Today was another day of wonder and glory. I met the Metropolitan of
the Church of the East in his red robe. We discovered that there was
going to be a mission that night in the largest church in India called
“The New Church’. It was the annual processional of crosses. About
1,500 people with crosses were to march through the city. We had
arrived just in time for the event. I was asked me to carry the cross at
the head of the processional. Perhaps this was one of the largest
numbers of crosses carried at any one time ever. When we arrived
back at the Church, I preached to thousands of people about the
“three crosses.’ I spoke to them about Jesus’ cross and the two
thieves. The cross of love and salvation, the cross of Jesus. Glory.
Today God gave me a special blessing. It is almost too good to describe.
Nothing had ever happened like this before. At noon, in the heat of the
day it was hot, hot, hot and I was exhausted. In a small town, Jerry and I stopped to get a cool drink. Across the road and partly hidden by a big tree, we could read a sign that said “A.C’. I knew that meant air-conditioning. It was an old hotel that had been reopened and the man was fixing up the rooms. We asked if it would be possible to rent a room for about an hour and a half and he said yes. He turned on the air conditioning, ran some water for a bath and we took a nap in the middle of the day. Wow! Glory, Glory, Glory!
* * *
Today I received a phone call from Washington D.C. telling me that one of my dearest friends, Jonathan Coe was dying with cancer. Jonathan along with his brother, David, had carried the cross with me in Greece for two weeks in Greece in 1983. Their father Doug Coe, has been a long time brother of mine, and Doug is the with the Fellowship Foundation in Washington. I immediately placed a phone call to the hospital, and by the grace of God in only twenty minutes I was speaking with Jonathan. We had a most beautiful phone conversation and then I went back out on the road the next day to walk. I was in an area that was very dry, and sparsely populated. It was so hot and as I was walking along, I was praying and thinking of this young man. He was in the character of Jesus Christ and I remember thinking, I never met St. Francis of Assisi, but I did meet Jonathan Coe, and that was enough.
I was walking along with these deep feelings of contemplation; I remembered the words that Jesus had spoken to me earlier this year. I was alone one night in France by the sea-side and the Lord woke me up from a deep sleep at 5:00 in the morning and said, “Thou art a flower to me.’ God could have said many things to me. He could have easily rebuked me for things that may not have been pleasing in His sight. I am sure that He would be able to come up with a long list of failures in my life. But somehow God just wanted to tell me that I was like a flower to Him. For God to speak those words of such beauty and tenderness was a blessing to me. I lay there and cried, covered with the glory of God for hours. Why in India on this road, why were those words were running through my mind? As I was thinking, I whispered a prayer to God and said, “Lord I wish I had a song that I could put those words you spoke to me in.’ Suddenly the words started coming to me in a tune, I always carry a pen and some paper to write down thoughts that come to me. I took my pen and I would walk and sing, and then I wrote the words. Tears were flowing down my cheeks, thinking of Jesus and Jonathan Coe and this is the song that God gave me.
“Thou art a flower to me, spoke the man from Calvary.
His crimson blood that day washed all my sins away.
It was his love for me that gave new life to me.
That’s why I shout and sing along my way.
Sometimes my heart may fear, deaths cold chills draw near.
Some things I don’t understand, don’t know the reason why.
But in His grace I trust, I know He’ll hold my hand.
Until that day real soon, I’ll see His face’.
By the grace and mercy of God I carried the cross all the way from Cape Comorin to Goa. That Goa area is very Catholic and the response there was awesome also. All I can say was that the response in India was one of the greatest responses in the world. I never had a angry word spoken to me. Everyone was friendly and eager to welcome the cross and hear the message of Jesus. I left much of me in India and carry much of India in my heart for as long as I shall live.
God bless India and may the Light of Jesus shine in every heart!
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt