The Amazon River, one of the great wonders of the world, is longer than the next seven largest rivers of the world put together. The Mississippi, the Congo, the Nile, the Ganges, all could fit inside the Amazon. The volume of water is so much that 400 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean you can still drink the water.
From Iquitos, Peru, to the mouth of the Amazon is almost 4,000 miles, yet the river drops only about 400 feet in that distance. It is almost flat. Ocean going ships can go all the way to Iquitos, three-fourths of the way across the South American continent. Most of the boats, however, are local. They are long and narrow. It is the transportation system in place of roads. The boats carry people, cows, pigs, coconuts, bananas… everything imaginable.
There are thousands of birds of every sort, huge fish weighing up to 500 pounds. And, here and there, villages dot the banks of the Amazon.
I felt led by the Lord to take the cross down the great flowing river. I flew into Iquitos with my daughter, Gina, and friend, Mike Ooten. We bought a boat from some Indians. It would carry 150 people. We paid only $1000 for it.
We converted it inside so that four people could sleep. It was complete with mosquito netting, a stove, and two 12 horsepower motors that we purchased in Iquitos. The boat was 55 feet long and 12 feet wide. The registered name was “Recieo” but we called it “The Holy Floater.” We mounted the cross on the front, and then I would take it off and carry it around the river villages, pass out gospel material, preach, and then move on to the next village by way of the boat. I always had a local guide because the river is so big with so many lakes that you
can get lost for days. Also, you needed someone who knows where the villages are located. The guides also served as interpreters.
We faced many difficult problems with paper work trying to register the boat with the authorities. At long last “The Captain of the Port” approved everything and we had our papers for the boat and we were ready to go down the Amazon. Glory.
We had no real experience with a 55-foot boat on the fast moving waters of the Amazon. One day Mike and I took the boat out for a test run. The boat took off fine as we headed downstream. But with the current so fast we almost crashed into another boat. We turned around but with one motor we could not go upstream! At full power we were headed down the Amazon not up the Amazon! What could we do? Gina
was left standing on the riverbank and we are on the way to Brazil! Ha!
Soon we learned that when we got in calm waters away from the swift currents going around the river corners we could make progress upstream. Several hours later we made it back. We knew we should get a second motor and that we did!
The other decision we had to make was to get a guide. The Amazon River is so big and has many lakes and rivers we needed some one who knows the river and could also speak English and Spanish. We found a wonderful man to go with us to Colombia.
Before we left Iquitos we had a wonderful crosswalk in the city and out to the area where the people live in houses built over the water. The people were very responsive and crowded around the cross. Many prayed to receive and follow Jesus as Savior and Lord.
The following are a few excerpts about this trip from my diary:
It began on a star-filled, full moon night along the Amazon River in Peru. The night air was cool after a hot day and in the late night, Gina, my lovely 15 year-old daughter, Mike Ooten, my friend and companion, and I decided to take a swim. The awesome adventure of taking the cross by boat down the Amazon River lay ahead. The presence of the Lord was so real as we swam and basked in the beauty of nature, reflecting the creative glory of God.
Back in the room I began to read from the book of Samuel in the Bible. “And I will raise me up a faithful priest that will do according to that which is in my heart and in my mind, and I will build him a sure house and he shall walk before mine anointed forever.” I Samuel 2:35. These words seemed to leap inside of me.
I always study a special part of the Bible on every trip, for ever as others are blessed, I too hunger and thirst for all the fullness of God and His word. Flashing through my mind was the fellowship God had in the Garden with Adam and Eve. God walked with them, spoke and listened as they enjoyed Paradise together. God enjoyed the ultimate of His creation, made for eternal union with God, but the horror of sin came. Oh, how God must still want the fellowship with us.
After our study I lay in the bed praying, “Lord, if there is anything you’d like to say tonight, you can speak whatever is in your heart and in your mind and I will do it for Thy glory.”
Words cannot express the passion in my heart for God to reveal His thoughts. An invitation. God had told me to invite Him to reveal Himself afresh. It was 2:00 in the morning as I went to sleep. At 3:00 I was suddenly awake. My watch was showing the time as I lay in my room. It was like I could see far beyond the room into distant outer space, beyond everything we knew there. A distant glow growing closer and closer, past all of the galaxies coming toward earth, growing larger and larger as this bright rolling, swirling glow (all the colors of brightness, like red, gold, yellow, orange), sweeping toward the earth. Swirling not from the top to the bottom like ocean waves, but from the bottom to the top. It was like a fiery stream coming closer and closer. I tried to cry out but was speechless. I could not move. The mighty wind of the golden glory was rushing in. I was being caught away. There was a host of people and angels just beyond the golden swirl of glory. The brightness just behind the glory was blinding… silver and ultra-white, then the words before my eyes, “Arthur, proclaim the glory of the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Those words stayed before my eyes the entire vision. It was the coming of the glory of the Lord, the glory swept over the earth, leaving it white, sparkling clean behind, then into my room and swept over me just by inches and then it would recede and return again and again. From the bottom of my feet to the top of my head like ocean waves, the glory swept over me.
After an hour Gina heard me groaning and woke up. I could not speak for a while, but finally said to her and Mike, “Can’t you see the glory of the Lord? Look! Look!” But they could not see anything. I crawled out of bed, over to Mike’s bed, putting my hand upon his eyes. I said, “Lord, Lord, open his eyes and let him see like Elijah’s servant in the Bible.”
But Mike said, “… Nothing.”
I sat on the floor and prayed, “Lord, I don’t need a vision. I love you. I will follow you. I don’t want to get off preaching Jesus into something else.”
But the Lord interrupted me and said, “Be free, fear not, receive what I am giving you. Release yourself to me.” All strength left my body and I lay as dead on the floor for four hours, until 8:00 in the morning. I cannot tell all I saw, but I can see and experience the glory of the coming of the Lord. Oh, how indescribably wonderful! If you like art, nature and true beauty, you cannot afford to miss the glory of the Lord.
Then He would let me see and experience the horror, the awesome painful horror… that first moment when one realizes he has missed the glory of the coming of the Lord. All of what life is, they have missed. Everything lost for eternity. I missed it all… oh, horror of horrors, pain in mind, body and soul. Oh I would burst into tears, agony gripped me, then the beauty and the glory of the coming of the Lord would be before me and I would thrill inside every part of my being… the glory, the glory … oh, my Lord and my God. This would change again and again as I would experience the agony and the ecstasy.
Finally the Lord spoke: “I have chosen you. It has taken a long time to prepare you for this time, but the time is at hand. Arthur, proclaim the glory of the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
I tried to protest, for I had never emphasized the second coming of Christ in its detail, I always spoke of now more than the future, trying to get all of the prophesy concerning Syria, Iran, Russia, China and all the other places had confused me. The Lord spoke again as I was concerned about correct theology. “Don’t consider anything, just proclaim the glory of the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
I thought, “Where? How? I’m not able. I’m just a road man, dirty blue jeans and a cross. You have big TV preachers, big crusade evangelists, large organizations.”
But the Lord spoke. “Don’t ask questions, proclaim my message! To this end you were born. You have always known it. Now is the time. Fear not, proclaim the coming of the glory of the Lord is at hand.”
Mike and Gina had sat for hours watching over me. Mike had assured Gina, saying, “Arthur is with the Lord.”
Now the vision receded. I motioned for a glass of water and after drinking it I could speak. My body was exhausted as I fell back into bed and went into a deep sleep, resting in the glory of the Lord.
“The power of God was so strong and the glory of God so great, you could feel the power of the Holy Spirit come like the rain ”
I lay on the bow of the ship. Oh, the glory of the Lord. What peace and joy on the Amazon. The sunset was awesome. It’s like a year’s weight had lifted from me. Into the night we ran with the drone of the motor mixed with the splashing water. The clear night, with the full moon and stars, it is easy to see the river and dodge the floating trees.
Today a storm came so quickly. Dark, rolling clouds, driving rains. Strong winds and huge waves. The boat, with its grass roof and wooden walls, is top heavy. The motors would rise completely out of the water and it was hard to get power. We almost sank, but we finally made it to shore.
We stopped at a leper colony against the protest of our guide. Gina, Mike and I went ashore with the cross. There were about 5,000 people in the town. The colony was built on poles above the swamp. They were so excited to see us. We spent the day with the poor people, many with no hands, feet or eyes. In one building people were dying. We visited the dying people and prayed for them. I preached several times in my poor Spanish. The wonderful Catholic nuns and priests that helped at the colony had gone for supplies, so we did not meet them. It is so strange that missionaries are often condemned in the west for exploitation. What is there to exploit here? Where are the leper colonies and jungle hospitals and schools that the atheists support with their donations? I read to the people from the Bible, the book of Revelation, where it says, “One day there will be no more death, sorrow, pain or tears.” How blessed are the healthy.
We sailed to the border post and then onto Colombia and Brazil. You can read and see the photos of the cross going down the Amazon by clicking on those nations.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt