Ivory Coast


I carried the cross through West Africa from Sierra Leone through Cameroon. I had a Land Rover with supplies and a bed inside. In each nation or language area I would hire a driver that could also be my interpreter when I preached. I would stand on the hood of the Land Rover and preach. The driver would go in front for a few miles or to the next village and wait for me to arrive. Should it be a village I would preach. Most of the time almost everyone in the village or town would gather to hear the message and see the cross. Often in a day I would preach to from a few thousand to tens of thousands of people. Many hundreds to thousands of people prayed the sinner’s prayer to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord and to become a follower of Jesus.

Every day was hot. I poured sweat and had to drink, drink, and drink, not to dehydrate. Sometimes I was in open country but much of the time I carried the cross through bush trees with small farms along the roadside. Then every short distance was another village. I could see crowds of people around the Land Rover looking and waiting for me to arrive. I would arrive, get some water to drink then stand on the hood of the Land Rover and preach. Then I would do a brief Bible study to show how to live for Jesus.

Then I would sit and rest a few minutes before walking on. People were crowding around trying to talk with me as I rested. Sometime I used the interpreter but often the people who came up to talk spoke English.

In most villages and towns many people would walk through the streets with me. Sometimes I would have hundreds leave town walking and would slowly loose the crowd, as we got further out of town.

Oh, I loved the people! Often the village people were bringing me food to eat as I rested.

Ivory5Late in the evening we would park the Land Rover in a village near a house and spend the night. I liked to sleep in the homemade bed we had constructed inside the back of the Land Rover. With the windows open it I had a breeze and all my supplies were nearby. I had a radio and could pick up BBC and Voice of America radio. This was my way of keeping up with the world.

My main diet was canned food and fresh fruit. In each major city I could find a store with Western food. I would stock up.

I lived each day in the Glory of God and in the presence of people. I remember that nearly every night I went to sleep with people gathered around the Land Rover peeking in at me. Ha!

What a wonderful way to live. I walked from dawn until night almost every day. I would lie down and rest for about an hour or so at noon. This helped refresh me and also got me out of the hottest time of day.

I think the team of angels that looks after me must get very special merit badges for dangerous duty. I am ready to go Lord, but first let me have a glass of cool fresh water.

The small villages and towns are something to behold. The small shops and markets sell everything from wraparound sunglasses to coconuts, harmonicas, Superman T-shirts, little mirrors, etc.

A short way out of town I almost got a new wife. She and her son joined me on the road and they wanted to go with me. “Oh, I’ll be your African wife.” I said, “Well thanks, but no thanks.” She said, “Do you speak French?” I said, “No,” and she replied, “Well, I do.” It was kind of funny but sad. Here was an offer of a wife, a kid and an interpreter all in one. I said, “No thanks,” and continued on down the road.

Today is Easter, the day of the cross. This day we remember that Jesus carried the cross at Calvary. Were it not for this day there would be no hope, no salvation, no life for eternity. But because He died I walk to spread the word of His life. As I pause this day at noon I am exhausted, perhaps as tired as I have ever been. I hurt all over and am so hot. I am so weak I can hardly stand up. I made only 11 miles this morning. I am so sad. I don’t know why except the thoughts of Jesus dying for my sins and the sins of the world has filled me with the overwhelming realization of Jesus dying on the cross. I cried and cried and cried. I think of my Lord Jesus, and of all the lost people. The world is so lost and few Christians really care.

I remember the sign we hung over the cross when I was fasting in Hollywood for 28 days. The sign said “Does Anyone Care?” Well, we could hang that sign on the world. Oh how I long to feel the total presence of God in Heaven and I pray I will be a light to the world, way out here in this distant bush.

Today I entered a village where a huge crowd was pushing and shoving. I decided to cook a little food and I had to change the burner on my tiny butane gas stove. As I started screwing in the gas tank, vapor started squirting up. I had gotten it in wrong and had punctured a hole in the can. As the escaping gas rushed by my hand it began to freeze, so I had to let the tank loose. It began to squeal and like a jet, spray white vapor all over the ground. As it flashed and screamed and raced through the village the people had never seen anything like it. It took off and they took off screaming and running for their lives. I lay on the ground rolling with laughter. It was so funny!

I walked past an airport runway today; big modern jets were flying over straw huts along the highway and coconut trees by the seaside. It was a picture to remember. Two Africas, the modern and the old.

One day I was carrying the cross along the road. A blind man and a little girl were waiting by the road. When I approached, the blind man wanted to be healed. He had waited two days for me to come.

I prayed for him fully believing he would be healed. He had great faith and had come to the cross. I know the power of God can meet every need as well as heal completely. The man was not healed. At least during the time I was with him. I told him about Jesus and we prayed the prayer to receive Jesus as Savior.

I went on down the road very broken hearted. I was walking along the seaside and I saw a log where I sat and cried. I was asking the Lord Jesus ‘why’ the man was not healed, was it my lack of faith,
the man’s or both or what? Jesus spoke to me words like these. “Arthur you walk
on. Just pick up that cross and walk on. You prayed, you believed, you did what
you are supposed to do. Now leave the results to Me.”

Wiping my tears I picked up the cross and walked on.

A many days later I carried the cross into Abidjan the capital. A big crowd of people gathered around the cross as I started into the city. I preached and then started to walk on. There were some missionaries from local churches with me, as well as local church members and good interpreters. A blind man stood in the crowd. He wanted to be healed the interpreter explained. I could see he did not even have eyeballs. I could see in my mind the blind man back down the road that was not healed. My mind was filled this time not with faith but fear. Not being able to avoid the man I prayed a short prayer. Lay hands on the man and ask if he knew Jesus as his Savior. He said he was Muslim and would not respond further. I soon walked on through the crowd. A short distance away I heard shouting and the crowd pushed wildly about me trying to touch the cross and me. I was almost knocked down.

“What is happening,” I cried out. The missionaries rushed up and said the blind man was healed. He has eyeballs and can see! Because of the crowd now growing into the thousands I could not get back to see the man. The street was blocked with thousands of pushing, shoving people trying to get to me. People were being knocked down and stepped on by the mobs of people. I went into a store with the cross and out the back way to another street. The police asked me to come back the next day to carry the cross on into town so they could provide me protection and crowd control. We put the cross on top of a car and drove off.

To make a long story short, the next day I carried the cross into the city with tens of thousands lining the streets. We stopped to preach nearly every block or two. Instead of just staying in Abidjan a few days I stayed several weeks! Carrying the cross into a different area each day. It was a time of Holy Glory!

My family flew in to see me including my children,
Gina, Joel, Joy and Joshua.

God bless the beautiful people.

Pilgrim followers of Jesus,

Arthur and Denise Blessitt
Luke 18:1