(Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan-Borneo, Sulawesi, Irian Jaya, Maluka Islands, Lesser Sunda Islands)
All of these groups are listed as island groups by Travelers Century Club and Guinness Book, so I count them in my list.
This island is one of the most populated places on earth. It is the world’s fifth largest nation and its population is mostly Muslim with only a scattering of churches.
This island is one of the most populated places on earth. It is the world’s fifth largest nation and its population is mostly Muslim with only a scattering of churches.This island is one of the most populated places on earth. It is the world’s fifth largest nation and its population is mostly Muslim with only a scattering of churches.
The Jakarta Post newspaper announced our arrival on the front page and a lovely family living in the heart of the city invited us to stay in their home. Daily we carried the cross through the jammed streets of Java, a city of about ten million people. The national television station reported our story and the people welcomed us with nothing but love and respect.
The city reeks with the smell of sewage and garbage as it explodes with an incredible building boom of high-rise hotels and office buildings. One day we walked through the zoo drawing a bigger crowd than the animals. We now know how it feels to be the one viewed rather than the one doing the viewing.
Along the streets people smiled and spoke. We talked and prayed with many each day. Many people spoke English and we made friends and helped people to know Jesus and follow him.
One day we carried the cross through the port area where the wooden
ships come in with goods from other nations. Men were unloading heavy
timber, carrying the wood down gang- planks to the dock. I was also
carrying a big wooden load – the cross. It was the place of our greatest
welcome in Jakarta. Our hearts broke as people often drank, bathed, and
brushed their teeth with sewage water, often with dead rats floating
in the water.The weather was hot but the love was wonderful, a part of
our heart and family remained when we left.
I well remember a day when my wife, Denise and I took a day off the go
the Zoo in Jakarta. It was wild. We were the main attraction! People were
at he zoo from out in the country and had not been so close to white
westerners. They were taking more photos of us than the animals!
We loved them so much.
It was Easter in Banjarmasin as I moved through the city streets with the cross. People seemed surprised but welcoming as I joined the crowded streets and then walked along the road toward the interior. It seemed there was a mosque every mile. Cars and buses stopped. Denise arrived at the airport carrying the cross. For the people to see a beautiful woman carrying the cross in a Muslim land was truly a sight to behold. Many residents spoke English and it was one of our best rallies in the country.
It was very difficult flying here but after a day at airports we finally made it to the city of Ujung Padang. We prayed at the airport and Denise felt we should go to the Victoria Hotel. She left by taxi. Once again I started walking from the airport toward the city. The people along the roadside in this rice growing area quickly welcomed me. It was a long walk in green beauty and friendly faces. People were welcoming me to eat, drink, and sleep but I pressed on to get to the city and Denise. Dark came as I walked along the roadside often blinded by the car lights. It had been raining and often I had to wait in a ditch. Finally at a police checkpoint I left the cross and they gave me a ride to the hotel.
The next day we both walked through the city. Oh, how wonderful the people were. At the hotel the woman owner came out and greeted us. She said when she read about us and the cross in the newspaper she prayed and asked God to send us to her. All the hotel staff gathered to hear us speak. It was our home as we walked
through that area. When the time came to leave there was no charge for our bill. What beautiful people there are on the earth.
Years ago I spent three months carrying the cross on the other side
of this island in the nation of Papua New Guinea. It was one of the
most responsive places on earth. We had only a few days this time
on the Indonesian side but the native people were still the same.
Wamena is a town high in the mountains and deep in the interior of this primitive jungle area. We arrived but our cross did not, it came on another flight a day later. We were flying Garuda Air! We found a room but it was so filthy we moved out to another place. It was almost outdoors but cleaner.
The native people are very resentful of outsiders. Prompted by the government of Indonesia, the people are settling the land have been relocated from Java. There is a great rebellion going on against it.
When the cross arrived I put it together outside the two-room airport. This drew a large crowd and provided me with an instant interpreter. It was a walk to remember. Some people were in western dress others were in native attire, which means almost nothing. These very black tribal people first came in contact with westerners just before World War II. It was Saturday and we were in the main market town. The women have bags hung over their heads loaded with food and babies hanging down their back. The men wore different types of headbands, including feathers. They wore only a penis gourd covering their private parts. They carry spears or bows and arrows. We were no longer considered outsiders but people of God and everyone wanted to see the cross, hear the story of Jesus and be touched! By the time we arrived at the market there was holy chaos! The local police were overwhelmed trying to keep order and the road open. Our interpreter, Titus, was in full swing. I was in earthly Heaven, this is it! Time swept by, as I was lost in the glory of God and being with these people. Carrying the cross into the market with poor, suppressed people, surely this is where Jesus wants us to be. These people felt and understood, we felt the bond of love and the power of the cross of Christ. These people with their loads and tough life welcomed us with open hearts. As the word spread, crowds poured in from the nearby villages. Everyone wanted us to come to their villages.
Denise and I finally came near our room and went inside to get more
Jesus stickers and water. That’s when the police arrived, fearing the
growing crowd and the cross. We met with police officials and an army
general. They would not let crowds gather, they deeply feared anything
that united the people or gave them hope or courage. The people’s very
lives were at stake, as the police and army would disperse them even in bloodshed. Deeply hurt at leaving but not fearing for ourselves as I’ve been in jail many times we flew out the next day to continue our walk in Indonesia
The hot air seemed like an open oven door as we stepped off the airplane at Ambon. We walked along a tar road with a view of mountains, sea, and tropical flowers. I met one of the few western people on this entire trip here as local people crowded around. He muttered, “You are crazy.” I was reminded of the culture I’d been away from for so long. The Asian person is always too polite to say such even if one might think it. We found a store in town that sold some western food, what a treat. Denise is the best
road cook. Of course, it’s just a can opener and a lot of love but we had a tin can feast. Again, we had a big reception at the airport as we left.
Bali has always fascinated me and the reality was equal to the things I’ve heard. This is a land Hindu people far from India and living in a Muslim nation. Temples are almost everywhere and most homes have their own place for worship. Each morning fresh flowers and food are put out in front of the home for the gods. The land is tropical, with lovely beaches, high mountains, volcanoes, mystical lakes and thick jungle vegetation. The flowers are beyond description.
We began the cross walk high in the mountain near Lake Bratan. Denise bought fresh vegetables and fruit in the market as I walked ahead. Then before my eyes emerged a view of beauty that was breathtaking. The lake, mountains, flowers and a hotel with cabins up the hillside. Denise and I live an unending honeymoon. Surely this is the place for those in love, I could not pass it by. I waved for her to stop as she approached in the rental car. We got a room at the hotel and I witnessed to the staff that gathered to hear about the cross. There were boats with a pontoon on each side that we could ride on in the lake. Just the two of us, with God, upon the waters. I paddled and we rejoiced together. A thick fog rolled in and it almost glowed in splendor. When it began to rain, you could hear the falling drops in the thick jungle about us. There is nothing like the sound of raindrops and the reality of the presence of God. The cool freshness relaxes the brain and everything seems to be now, the past? The future? No, only now, lost in the event of rain.
Finally, dripping wet and cold, we arrived back to our room, changed clothes and ate under an umbrella by the water looking out at big lily pads and jumping fish. We had a good meal and fell into bed in each other’s arms, in love and just so happy to be together with each other and with God. What a life on the road. God does like me! Hallelujah!
The following days took us through fabulous mountain scenery and friendly people. The flowers seemed to reflect the smile of God. Once we were invaded by a colony of monkeys. They ate from Denise’s hand but would run from the cross. I had a long conversation with one man who finally declared firmly, “Now I believe in Jesus Christ”. Another man discussed reincarnation with me, evil spirits and mediums that are common here. He renounced it all and invited Jesus to be his Savior and now wants to follow him.
The powerful explanation I use is about the resurrection of Jesus after he was crucified. One person said, “Yes, I understand, it was reincarnation”. I replied, “No, Jesus came back in the same body!” Jesus said see my hands and my feet where they were pierced.
We walked onto the seaside and along the coast road. The road was narrow and the traffic jammed and dangerous. Finally, we arrived back on the road to the airport. Car after car
Stopped, people wanted to talk about Jesus. It was a constant day of prayer. The next day we flew to Thailand.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt