1981 – 1984
I can only pray that the readers can comprehend the beauty of the Polish people, their unshakeable faith in Christ, and their deep love and compassion.
I carried the cross there four years-1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984. The welcome I have received in Poland, and the understanding of me and my pilgrimage with the cross, is one of the greatest that I have known in the world! I can look in the eyes of the Polish people and they know me, they can see the struggle, the hurt and the living faith in me, and I can feel their struggle and hurt and see their battle for faith.
The Polish people understand the cross as those in no other nation that I have ever been through. They are not ashamed of the cross, they are true friends of the cross; they have enriched my life and taught me so much. Poland is a Christian nation. The year 966 marked the formation of the Polish state and the nation’s acceptance of Christ and the Catholic Church.
The existence of Poland has been threatened time after time; the Mongols, the Turks, Swedes, Russians, and Germans have tried to consume the nation, but the Church and the Polish faith in Christ has always rallied. Czarist Russia, Persia and Austria divided up Poland in the 18th Century and Poland disappeared from the maps of Europe for 125 years, but the Church did not die. It kept alive Poland’s sense of nationhood; Poland was bathed in blood during World War II, millions were killed in the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, yet the nation, their faith, and the Church survived.
Since World War II Poland has had a Marxist-Leninist government, yet the Church is alive, vibrant and growing. Christianity is greater than anything in Poland. “Poland is Christian,” said Reverend Jerry Popieluszo, the martyred priest in Warsaw, who was murdered in October of 1984. I pray you, too, will feel the throb of Polish faith that is and will be shaking the world. It is reflected in Poland’s greatest gift to our modern world, Pope John Paul II. He is a mirror of what is happening in Poland.
At Heathrow Airport in London, England, I checked my cross in and they put a baggage claim around it, not asking a word. It was just like everyone was checking in crosses! I got on the plane. I don’t know if anyone can understand, but it has happened to me over and over and over again. When flying into a situation like Poland, there is this awesome feeling you are going to land and you don’t know one person. All you have ever heard is that the people have to smuggle in Bibles, and here I have a 12 foot cross, going in alone, and not one person to meet me at the airport. Nobody knows I’m coming. I don’t have anything, but it is one of the most glorious times because it is just me and the Lord. I know God is here, I feel the glory of His presence and in a sense, there is an excitement and expectancy in me that is greater than any other kind of living. I love to live at the edge; if there is anything I don’t like, it is mundane living, everything being secure. Many people say, “If I didn’t have security I’d die. I want security.” But, for me, I don’t want security, other than my soul being secure in the Lord, or my family loving me or my loving them. I don’t want to know that everything in my life is taken care of. I don’t want to know that I’ll have all the money that I’ll ever need, that I have all the plane tickets that I’ll ever want. I don’t want security. I like the edge, I like to wrestle with God. I like to live by faith.
This is my first visit to a communist country. When I arrived in Warsaw I left the plane and went through Immigration okay. When I got to the Customs officer, she asked, “What is this?” I answered, “It’s a cross.”
She said, “Are you going to take it with you when you leave Poland, or are you going to leave it in Poland?” I said
“I’m taking it with me.”
She wrote on the back of my papers in Polish, “Brought in one cross, can take out one cross.” She then stamped the papers and waved me through. She was the last government person I was to see until I left the country. No problems at all.
What do I do now that I’m in Poland? This is my first struggle. I have found that most of the time you put all of your energies and prayers into the first thing ahead, and then when that clears, you look at the second. You pray about Immigration, then you wrestle in the name of Jesus against every demon of hell that doesn’t want you to get in. I don’t pray about something way down the road or something that may happen a few days from now. You fight a spiritual battle of clearing Customs, then you walk out and say, “Lord, what do I do now? Do I start at the airport with the cross or do I go into the city? Where do I go and what do I do?” Then I stand, kneel or lay down, and the Lord just said,”Go to the hotel and start in front of the Cathedral.” Just like that. Start in front of the Catholic Cathedral on Monday. I arrived in Poland on Friday. I tied the cross on top of a taxi, went to the hotel and checked in, then went out and walked around the city. I met so many nice people. People are so warm and hungry for fellowship. I could feel the prayers of everyone in an awesome way. Paul and Jan had announced on TBN television that I was going to Poland. I had flown into Warsaw. No one to meet me, no one but God. No friends. A stranger in a strange place. No tour guide, yet I had the Supreme guide … the one Who created Poland, who knew every road that I must walk. Hallelujah!
I came into the country and in two days the head of the Baptist Church, Reverend Pawlik and the Acting Primate of the Catholic Church in Poland, Bishop Miziolek, welcomed me to country. Bishop Miziolek gave me a letter of blessing of the Catholic Church in Poland, saying I was an evangelical brother and for all churches and priests to welcome me in the name of Jesus, as a brother, and to help provide for my food and lodging.
It’s Monday – The unbelievable is real. I carried the cross in Poland today. The people are warm and friendly, glory to God. I got up at 6:00 a.m. and went to the Catholic Cathedral. There is a big stone
in front of the Cathedral that is located in the old town ofWarsaw. It has on it
a date of 966, the year that the gospel first came to Poland. That stone was
the beginning of Christianity in Poland,and for me today, it is the beginning of
my cross walk.
I unloaded the cross, tied my backpack on and leaned it against the stone. A
group of ladies, about 70 or 80 years old, saw the cross and began to cry and
came up to me, kissing me and kissing the cross. They didn’t know me, they
just saw the cross and I said, “Czestochowa,” and pointed south. I started cry-
ing too. The glory of God came down. It seemed like I was floating in a cloud
of glory. People started putting flowers on my cross and kissing me and I kissed them, then a man came up and started interpreting, so I shared with them about Jesus and we prayed together. I told them goodbye and started walking.
I walked into Victoria Square and there was a huge flower crosslight in front of the Military Headquarters and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Pope and Cardinal Woszinsky had spoken here. I went there and prayed. The newspaper and television reporters gathered around me for they had seen me out the windows of the Victoria Hotel.
As I walked through the streets I saw long lines at the stores. During this time of food crisis, there were long lines going one block, two blocks, sometimes longer… people were trying to get sugar, cigarettes, chocolate or anything; there was basically nothing you could really buy to eat except tomatoes or some other local vegetables.
At the end of the day I went to a hotel. It was one of only two or three privately owned hotels in all of Poland. I walked up to get a room. When the people saw the cross they gave me a room, a meal, and welcomed me in the most wonderful way … all with love. The people were crying and welcoming me and feeding me. I finally fell into bed exhausted, but full of thanks.
Today my feet burn, my face burns, my shoulders hurt, my back hurts and my legs hurt, but I go on, smiling. Almost at dark my cross broke down with a flat. I had to take the wheel off as crowds of people came around. I showed them a picture of me with the Pope, and the letter from the Bishop. None of the people spoke English, but they began to cry and they kissed the cross and me. They covered the cross with food. It’s unbelievable. Meat was hanging everywhere, beer, bread, tomatoes, candy … it is now so heavy I can hardly pull it and we are all crying. I have enough food to last the whole trip, but where do I stay? I think I’ll sleep in a field. I came to a small village and young people were by the roadside. They started to talk to me but we could not communicate. They wanted to give me a place to sleep, so they took me to the church, but no one was there. Finally, a young boy and girl took me to their house. It was 10:00 p.m. when we got there. They had a dictionary and I witnessed and shared Christ with them. They put me to bed in their living room. Oh, glory to God. I hurt, but I know I am where God wants me to be and I am with the people God wants me to be with. Hallelujah!
Well, TODAY THE GLORY FELL!
I know it is strange, but there is a moment on almost every walk in every country when the glory comes, when there is liberty there is a breakthrough. Almost every time I can point to a special moment.
I was on the road at 6:45 a.m. and I did a long walk. Hot. I hurt so bad I could scream. My feet burned, my legs hurt, my face burned, my back hurt so much and my shoulders are sore. I had to hold my breath when I put the cross down. I can hardly start walking after resting because my feet became numb and lost feeling. At about 1:45 p.m. I came to a little town called Czerniewicr. The priest came to me on a motor-
A group of workers came out of a plant and I gave them Jesus stickers and then went on into the village. There were ladies talking to the priest and they stopped, came
up to me, and began to crowd around. I was at the church for two hours and there was a steady flow of people coming in and crying. The lady who helps the priest cannot speak, but she is so sweet. Her tongue was cut out by the Nazis when she was in Auschwitz. She cried and cried. I could not speak to her, but tried to. She fed me and then I left and entered the village. Crowds lined the streets. The poor, hard-working people, men and beautiful women, came to me without fear. Even along the roads the faces of those that were waiting for me were eager with smiles and tears. I was invited to eat and drink. As I did the crowds got bigger. Everywhere down the road there were groups of people. Men, women and children on bicycles
were following me. There was a big open field and as I walked I could see people… thousands of people … coming from every direction across the field. They were running toward the cross. I could not believe my eyes. People were leaving their work, they were coming on foot, on bicycles and in cars, on horses and in wagons. They were crying, smiling and laughing. It was awesome. At the edge
of a wheat field, without a house for at least a half a mile,
and a town further away than that, a huge crowd had gat-
hered and cars and trucks were stopped on both sides of
the road. I believe the traffic jam must have stretched for
half a mile, it was completely unbelievable. All at once the
glory had come. The power of Satan had been broken,
the floodgates had come down and all the people were
coming from every direction. It was a constant flow. The
cross was being carried in Poland and now an awakening
Crowds and crowds of people were there, but none spoke English.
I showed the picture of the Pope to them. I could only cry and they would cry, and then suddenly I heard a voice with a British accent. I couldn’t believe it! A Polish lady had come on a bicycle and she spoke English. She had heard about me and had come two kilometers. I explained what I was doing and then began to preach as she interpreted. The lady invited me to their farm. She lived in Warsaw and was on vacation with her family. Her husband is an English professor in Warsaw
Finally I left the huge crowd and followed her to the farm. There, they washed my clothes and the crowd flooded the yard and all over the area. I had a hot bath in a tub and went to bed, but another crowd gathered, so they awakened me. The Town Council and government leaders had come to welcome me. They put flowers on the cross and I preached to them. They asked questions and I led them in prayer on their knees. For all the sermons I preached, at every one of them, I would ask the worshipers to get on their knees. Oh, to see their faces .. tears and smiles… as they came to me. They asked me to come to their church for the 7:00 a.m.. Mass the next morning. I’m not sure what they want me to do at the church.
Back in the first town there was a girl about 20 years old who had come to the church when I was there with the priest. She had finished work and while riding her bicycle she told everyone within hearing distance all along the way that she had seen a man with a cross. She called all the people off the road and was the one that had gotten the interpreter for me. She was the one God used to reach down and begin this holy explosion. She couldn’t speak a word of English, but was going down the road on her bicycle, yelling to everyone and telling them that the cross was coming. She told them to telephone everyone else. God had used a 20 year old girl to start this holy explosion. The Lord at this moment in time had broken through. He used a priest, a girl, a sore foot and a tired cross carrier. I wish someone could have witnessed all that happened today. I’ve never read in anyone else’s life such glorious things as I see with my own eyes.
Lord, I can’t say what you have in mind, but I just ask You to continue until Poland is shaken for Christ. I fall asleep in Your arms, Lord Jesus. Stop the aching, Lord, in Jesus’ name. Glory!
(I might note here that the 20 year old girl, from all indications, wasn’t even saved until we had the other lady to interpret and led her to Christ. But the spirit was drawing her and using her.)
I could tell story after story. I could write a book on how the Lord has used the unsaved to open up things around the world.
July 9th – Praise the Lord! This is one of the most glorious days in my life! I am at 10:00 p.m. totally exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally. I have cried all day with people. They have cried and kissed the cross and me. I have been with crowds from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. II only walked a few miles, but I was mobbed by thousands, and the glory has come. I have never witnessed this exact response in all the world. The people are so unreal, and I’m so exhausted I can’t think. In all my time on the road only a few times have I been too exhausted to write. This is one of those days. It is impossible. I fell into bed. I like to think about what is happening, but I’m so tired and uncomfortable, all I can say is, “This awakening is killing me. Praise the Lord. What a way to die!”
I went into a place to get a drink today. An old lady used her ration coupons and gave me some milk. A crowd gathered at the cross and soon filled the restaurant. They brought food. I could not eat it all it was so much. The sidewalk was soon blocked, then the entire street was blocked. Finally I came out and the people began to cry and kiss the cross and me. For almost two hours thousands came by as I moved along the sidewalk, then a Catholic sister led me to the church. We put the cross in the overflowing church. The priest led in prayer and I was overwhelmed that the people were so hungry spiritually, wanting to know Christ. You can’t imagine how happy they are to see this big cross in Poland, it is so unbelievable. The priest took me in for lunch and then brought me back out to the front of the church to try to speak. The crowd overflowed the church and it was impossible to speak to the whole crowd for there were blocks of people. The streets were full. People were kissing me. They were saying the Holy Cross was in the street. The man with the cross is in town. Everywhere you could see cars and trucks coming, loaded with people. Taxis were full. People were getting out crying and kissing me. Finally I got out of town and a girl who could speak some English and interpret went with me. She interpreted and prayed with the people.
Late in the afternoon I arrived at a village and went into a house. There the people fed me and the house overflowed with people, the yard was full, and the girl that could speak some English interpreted and stayed at the house. For hours, by word of mouth, the word spread and it was just wonderful. Finally I went to sleep on the couch.
I was in the Warsaw newspaper and people had been reading about me.
I awoke at 7:15 a.m. A crowd was outside my window. I ate a huge breakfast prepared just for me. There was a shortage of everything. I had eggs, meat and milk. I didn’t want to take it, but they insisted. Outside I prayed with the crowd.
Finally I was off and there was a huge group of ladies, many pushing baby carriages. Others were on motorcycles, young and old. I was a four-way divided highway and we take up one entire lane. At every village people have come up to the road and are waiting for me. You can see them coming across the fields. They arrive and begin crying and kissing the cross and me. I give them a sticker and they line up like at communion and wait their turn… like I brought the cross to them and the Church and Jesus. These are working people, strong men with tears; hour after hour, men and women crying. I’ve never seen anything like this. It is awesome. A flood of tears, the presence of the Lord is so strong.
A car stops with press people from the biggest newspaper in Poland, and a Cardinal from the United States. The Cardinal steps out and carries the cross for a short while. He has heard the news of me carrying the cross. I’ve arrived here at a town and was taken to the church. I didn’t know what was happening, or why I was at the church, but a man who could speak some English came up. The cross was covered with flowers and food was piled on it. It was unbelievable. They have even tied water on it. They gave me ice cream and tried to give me cigarettes. The stores are completely empty except for rationed food. I had more food hanging on my cross than on the market shelves. I was taken to the priest but he didn’t speak English, but he tried to question me. Then he looked at the picture of me with the Pope and read the letter from the Bishop, and he became all excited. He took me in and sat me at his table as the other priests were eating. They gave me a scarf, a little badge, and a number, and they were excited. I didn’t know what was happening. They took me to a room and were trying to tell me that tomorrow morning something was going to happen. Finally they brought in an old man who had been in World War II. He was one of the Polish underground, had lived in England and had helped organize the Polish Freedom Fighters. He parachuted back into Poland and helped lead the Polish underground against the Germans; he could speak English. He explained to me that the next day there was a pilgrimage going from this city to Czestochowa. I had arrived that afternoon, so everyone thought I was going on the pilgrimage the next morning. I knew nothing about it but there were about 1,500 people planning to go. He told me, “You just don’t know what it means for you to have a big cross in Poland. The people have struggled and fought to even have a pilgrimage. Many, many times the authorities have tried to stop the Polish people having pilgrimages to Czestochowa. They used to not even be able to carry a hand cross. They would have to slip them through the forest trying to get them to Czestochowa and then to see you with the 12-foot cross coming down the highway, it was just the most wonderful thing, they simply can’t believe it. Everyone wants to see the cross. They want to see you and your smile. They can’t believe anyone can be carrying the cross and be smiling and happy.
Today I walked 31 kilometers, I would have to say that this is indescribable. People were coming from all around Poland in cars to have a look at the cross. They gathered along the roadside in town after town and during the entire day I was mobbed. The people were crying and kissing me and trying to touch me. The Holy Spirit is moving. Everyone wants me to eat and drink. It is awesome. Not a moment of rest. They feed me meat. Almost all the people have just a little piece of bread, but they give me meat.
I am at someone’s home tonight. There is a girl named Joanna who can speak English. She is the first person I’ve meet on the trip that can speak English and that I can communicate with. She has become my interpreter. She is eighteen years old and from Gdynia. I explained the gospel to her as we walked along the road. She couldn’t understand how Jesus could love her without her having to earn His love. She thought she had to do something to get the favor of God. I explained the love of God, friendship of Jesus, and then finally we arrived at the church. I’ll never forget as we were sitting there, she whispered to me, “Will you ask Jesus to be my friend?”
I said, “Yes. Not only will I ask Him to be your friend, but I’ll introduce Him to you.”
We prayed together and she gave her heart to Jesus after I had read from John 15:15, “Jesus said I call you friend.” As we left the church, she took off her necklace and gave it to me and said, “You have given me Jesus and I want to give you something. It’s not worth near so much.”
I cried and she cried.
Today was like every other day. In the villages people were waiting to see the cross. They came crying and kissing me. Men and women saying, “Now I believe. Now I believe. I want to pray.” The priests were telling everyone about me. We walked through fields of wheat and grain, and forests, with so much love, oh, and I loved them too. They want to tell me everything, but I can’t understand them. My interpreter is almost worn out. The grace of God is all I can share.
A nation is being shaken by the glory of God and the power of God and the Holy Spirit; a simple piece of wood and a simple man with a simple message of love and a simple faith in Jesus Christ. It is awesome, but across this nation in a time of crisis, the cross is on the move and I’m nearing Czestochowa from Warsaw.
Glory to God! Tonight I’m sleeping in a field. Life goes on and today is like all the other days in Poland. I am under some trees because I want to be alone under the sky with just Jesus tonight.
I felt Him tell me to be alone with Him. Maybe it’s preparation for
tomorrow, but I must be alone for a time. I need wisdom for tomorrow
and Satan to be bound and the Holy Spirit loosened. I have come to
know why the people feel the way they do about me. They have strug-
gled against the authorities that tried to forbid these pilgrimages, so it
has sent a surge through the whole country to know that I am here
with a big cross and that I’m walking with it. They understand the dan-
ger, the risk, the struggle. I came by one church that was built last year
in one day and two nights. The government had forbidden it to be built,
so the people started on Saturday night, worked all day Sunday and
Sunday night. On Monday morning it was complete. The police came,
but the church was finished. Poles understand the struggle and they fight
against atheism and understand my struggle with the cross.
God told me to sleep here and I spent the entire night in the fields with
God and now tomorrow I will know why.
I was up early. I was wet with dew but I had a good time alone with the
Lord in the field.
As we left the church, the priest said, “Let’s walk in silence for the next several kilometers and remember what Arthur Blessitt said.” All day there were tears and smiles, now they made me walk in front of the entire crowd with the cross. When we arrived at Czestochowa I was covered with flowers. Flowers were all over the cross, all I could hold in my arms, and other people carrying the flowers I couldn’t hold. There were so many. People were crying and kissing me. Many had driven for miles to see me and the cross.
When we got to the church at Jasna Gora there was a picture of a Black Madonna holding the Christ child Jesus. Her face is scarred where it had been damaged during the war. For almost 600 years people had been looking at this Madonna. Priests took me to the front of the church, right in front of the Madonna. They led me inside the altar which is reserved for the priests, the most holy spot in the cathedral. I laid all the flowers that had been given to me on the altar. The whole front of the church was piled at least knee deep with flowers. Thousands and thousands of flowers and thousands of people, filling the entire church. Outside was the overflow. The priest took my cross and put it behind the Madonna to be kept overnight. Unless you are a priest, you are not even supposed to enter the altar, let alone carry the cross there and leave it at the altar.
Several hundred years ago Poland was invaded by Sweden. All of Poland was captured except the city of Czestochowa, where the picture of the Madonna is inside the Cathedral. There seemed little chance that the few Poles could withhold the army of thousands of Swedes that attacked, but the Poles won and Poland’s independence was saved. Many attribute this to the Madonna inside the Cathedral. Then one of the Kings of Poland declared that the picture of the Virgin Mary is actually a picture of the Queen of Poland. In the minds of the Poles Czestochowa is like the American flag, the Constitution, church, religion, the Bible, Plymouth Rock and the Statue of Liberty wrapped into one. In many ways, Poland is wrapped in Czestochowa and what it stands for.
Well, if I were a liar I could not even dream up what is happening in Poland.
Up at 6:30 a.m. I left the room and went to the church. I was mobbed by hundreds of people waiting for me. They were crying and kissing me and this went on for an hour before I could pull myself away. The priests prayed for me and the people kissed me. I can’t tell you how they loved me. All I can say is that in 12 years I have never had such a send-off… tears, food, chains and crosses. I arrived at the edge of the city and said goodbye to most of the people. They were crying, I was crying. I can’t describe it, it is too much. I’ll always carry their faces in my mind.
I feel I am gaining weight. An old lady gave me all of her food coupons. I tried to give them back but she wouldn’t take them. The cross is now covered with food. I can hardly carry it. Late in the afternoon I was walking along the highway and there was a small lake with white geese, lush green trees, a beautiful hill and a blonde girl sitting by the water. It’s looked just like a picture. You would never see a more beautiful picture with all the geese and the pond of water and this golden blonde girl. She saw me with the cross and began to run up the hill toward me like out of a dream. She grabbed me and was trying to talk to me, looking into my eyes and crying. Finally she led me along a little path to a house. She went to get me some boysenberry juice and I sat down to drink it. She was so excited. She was motioning to me and then ran off. A big crowd gathered around and I was there for a little while. No one could speak English. I cried and they cried and finally I moved on.
About half a kilometer later a car stopped and it was the same girl. She was with her mother, father and brother. They had come to get me to take me to their home. She walked with me and I carried the cross to their place, about a mile away. They gave me a hot bath, good food and we got a dictionary and a Bible and I explained the gospel to them. We all got down on our knees and I helped them pray. They were crying and I was crying. What love, what beauty and warmth for God to send a young maiden running out from the lake of wild geese and an old lady with her prized food coupons and all the people I left back in Czestochowa, crying and loving me. It’s just glory!
Today I walked all day and the girl with the golden hair walked with me this morning until noon. One of the most beautiful things I remember is that we couldn’t talk, but just before we left we were sitting beside the roadside. I drew a little heart like a love heart in the dirt, then she drew a little love heart. I took two popsicle sticks and made a little cross and stuck it in the middle of the heart. She did the same thing in the heart she had made and then I wrote, “I love you.” She must have figured out what it was, because she wrote something too, in Polish, and pointed to her heart and made the heart. I did the same thing. I then made one big heart that enclosed the two hearts and that is how we said we loved each other. She was crying and I cried. Her family arrived to pick her up and take her back home.
Today was a good day…but a long and sad one. It was cold, rainy and wet. I was carrying the cross along the road when a Volkswagen van stopped and there were three young men in their early twenties. They asked, “Are you Arthur Blessitt?”
“Yes,” I said.
“God bless you, hallelujah,” they said. “We can’t believe it. What are you doing?”
“I’m carrying the cross!”
“We know that,” they replied.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
They said they were on vacation. I asked them if they knew Jesus and they said, “Oh, yes, we know Him.” and they began praising the Lord.
“We have seen you on television and are very thrilled to meet you!” they said.
I looked at them. “You aren’t on vacation, you are smuggling Bibles.”
They looked at each other and said, “How do you know?”
“Listen,” I said. “I’ve been on the road for years. You have a Volkswagen full of Bibles.”
Is that a word of knowledge?” they asked.
“No, it’s experience. What are three young men in a VW bus, praising the Lord and on fire for Jesus doing on vacation in Poland? What’s your problem, you look very nervous.”
They looked at each other and I said, “Go ahead, tell me.”
They confessed that they were smuggling Bibles, that they were supposed to go to a certain point and leave the Bibles, but when they got there no one was there and they didn’t know what to do. They had been back to the place for three days, but no one had shown up.
“This is wonderful,” I said. “See that big smokestack up there, that is a town. Drive up there, get the Bibles out of the van and I’ll be there in a few minutes. A big crowd will gather around and we will give them all Bibles. Praise God, I have needed Bibles!” But they were very afraid. One of the young men said, “We are smuggling Bibles.”
“I came in to the airport in Warsaw with a cross and no one bothered me. I’m walking down the road with a 12-foot cross and you are worrying about smuggling Bibles. Just get out in the middle of town and give them out.” They were so afraid that I didn’t even get one Bible from them.
Later that same afternoon I carried the cross to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. I went right in through the barbed wire and the buildings to the place where the horrible ovens burned the bodies of millions of people. I looked all around and prayed. Other people were there. They were deeply moved by my bringing the cross to that place. My prayer was that this would never happen again… that this kind of holocaust against Christians and Jews, and others, would never happen again.
Over and over I met many priests and nuns and other Christians in Poland that had been in Auschwitz. The concentration camp was not just for Jews, as many people think, but it was for all enemies of the Nazis. Millions of Christians also died in those places. Jesus, may it never happen again.
Poland 1982 – In 1981: when I carried the cross through Poland for the first time, Solidarity was very prominent. Wherever you went, people were wearing Solidarity pins. Later that year, the government recognized Solidarity as a legal movement, but in December 1981 they imposed martial law. Solidarity became illegal, so when I arrived in 1982, Solidarity was illegal and the country was under martial law. It was technically called a state of war. That gave the military and the police complete authority. All protests, crowds, gatherings and public assemblies had been banned.
I went to see the Baptist pastor in Warsaw. We had a wonderful time. We talked and prayed and cried and hugged. So much love and tears, for we knew each others’ struggles. I gave him some money to help him in his work and he said they could not come and see me off with the cross. He said, “You’ll be arrested tomorrow. We don’t think they will allow you to go to Czestochowa, but we are with you in our prayers.”
Sunday morning, August 1, 1982 – I began with the cross at Victoria Square in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National Military Headquarters. Since last year the people have been making a big flower cross, but each night it is swept away. I went to the place where the flowers had been taken away and knelt to pray. Television and news reporters rushed over from the Victoria Hotel, then I put the cross on my shoulder. I knew that a terrific struggle lay ahead, but I could not be detoured from the path that Christ had called me to.
After I had walked perhaps 200 yards, a police car roared up in front of me and stopped. Policemen jumped out, grabbed the cross, vans full of police and army personnel began to pull up. They arrested everyone that was in the Square. They took the cross and threw it into the bushes. I knew that I was going to jail and yet I walked out of there smiling and praising God. They grabbed my passport and all my papers, and with a policeman on each arm they threw me in the back of a van, then did the same to the NBC television crew and the other newsmen. They took us to the jail at police headquarters. The cross was lying back in the bushes and I am here. They have my passport. It is all in the hands of God.
We arrived at the headquarters and we were placed in cells furnished with narrow benches and bars on the windows. The police began to question different ones and after they realized I was alone, they began releasing everyone else. One news reporter who had been arrested was in Lebanon earlier this year when I was talking with Yasser Arafat. He is Polish and works for Polish Television. Others began to tell the police and army that I had been on Polish Television that very week. I was in jail on Sunday, but the previous Monday I had been on television from Beirut with the cross, Joshua and Yasser Arafat, so they suddenly realized that all these people were not there because of me, but were simply passing by.
One of the Polish ladies with NBC stayed to interpret for me. After about three hours, a man came in with a white piece of paper and wanted me to sign it. I was afraid to sign it without somebody explaining it, but he said’ “Oh, you are very famous in Poland and he wants your autograph. You have been on television.”
The leaders of the police and army came and told me they didn’t realize the man they had seen on their television from Lebanon was the same man carrying the cross in Victoria Square. They apologized and said they were very sorry, there was no problem.
“You are free in Poland to carry the cross anywhere you want to and at any time. Poland is your land, it is your home, you are free to go.”
They brought in my backpack and wanted me to check everything to make sure nothing was missing. I said, “Well, what’s going to happen if I get to the next town and a crowd comes around, and then I’ll be going to jail again.” But they said, “No, we have alerted all the police, and military between here and Czestochowa. No one will bother you. You are completely free.” They said there were some disturbances by lawless elements in Warsaw and for my safety, they wanted me to start at the edge of the city, outside the city limits.
“Well,” I said. “I’d like to ride back to where I was stopped.”
But again they said there were some very unruly elements and they wanted me to start at the edge of the city for my safety.
I sat there for awhile, drank coffee and ate cookies and talked with military and police officials. Then a police car took me out to the edge of the city. In a little while an army truck came up. My cross was on the back and the soldiers unloaded it, leaned it against a tree, and the police and army waved goodbye. Four hours earlier I had been arrested and put in jail under martial law. It looked like the walk on this trip was finished, but now I’m standing on the roadside with my cross and my backpack, all glory to God! I now had permission from the top of the government all the way to Czestochowa. Come back any time you want, even though we’re under martial law you are free to walk and to preach. All glory to God. He wants the cross on the road to Czestochowa. The Lord did it again!
I tied the backpack on the cross and started off down Highway E-82. People had seen me on television and stopped me as I walked. I ate at a home, then moved on up the road again. Finally I got to the George Hotel where I stayed last year and the lady was so glad to see me back. She had seen Joshua and me on television from Beirut. She gave me a room, I had a good dinner, and was in bed by 7:30. I was exhausted! I am here in Poland with the cross, on the road and free. What else can I say? I defy anyone to say that this was all by chance.
God sent me to Beirut, Lebanon, from there I was on Polish television twice to provide exposure and witness that He might use it today to keep me out of jail and do the Polish walk with the cross. Only time will tell what else, but I do believe that without the trip to Beirut it would not have been possible to carry the cross to Czestochowa. I am tired, exhausted and happy, like my first night in Beirut. What a summer… unreal, but glorious. I have been ready for it, I am ready to count for Christ. Ready to get to the front line and go for it.
Sure wish I had someone to talk to. Oh, yes, I do talk to You, Lord, and spend hour after hour with You. At the police station I was in the presence of God, not fearing but praying, trusting that everything would work out His way. If He wanted me to go to Czestochowa, He would do it. If He didn’t, then not. I totally trust Him. Like Lebanon. He had to do it all to get me into Lebanon, to get me into West Beirut, to get me to Yasser Arafat and then to get me here. Good night, Lord. I love you. Arthur Blessitt.
It’s good to be here in Poland. I am sleeping in a barn, after a good day. It has been wonderful… just great! Crowds in every village along the way. I went to church and left a gift of about $25 for the priest. The priest came to me and wanted to give it back. He said, “It’s too much, people only give a few cents.” Unbelievable. I spent a half-hour with him trying to get him to keep it. It is so good to see Jesus at work in this land, it’s great. Crowds are everywhere, just like last year.
Joanna arrived to interpret for me again this year. Her brother and a number of friends are with her.
Poland 1983 -Tens of thousands of people walking are along the highway, mile after mile, children, old people, babies in carriages, people leading the blind, families, and young people all in a massive movement. Over 60,000 people walking form Warsaw to Czestochowa, a distance of about 160 miles. It takes ten days for the pilgrimage to arrive. For hundreds of years pilgrimages have been made from all over Poland to Czestochowa. They have grown massively in recent years. There are now 17 groups that go from Warsaw, with priests watching over them and leading in the teaching and singing. Groups are organized within each group so that they can better sleep, get food, etc. About 20 miles of walking is done each day. Public address systems stretch for several hundred yards and then there will be another public address system, so one group may be singing while another one may have a speaker, and this goes on each day all day.
I have walked around the world, but this is a new experience for me. Joshua and I arrived in Poland again with many gifts of supplies and money. We rented a car and drove to see my friends and give help to them. We had driven to Poland in our car earlier this year with food, clothes and black cloth for priests’ robes and money. Joshua and I returned to Warsaw to join the big pilgrimage. We were with Group 17 in color yellow-white-yellow. Each smaller group within the main group has a color. Our priest was called Swan or Elephant. He spoke no English, but many in his group did, for it is made up of the Catholic Intelligence Club, a very highly educated group. Swan is a Jesuit priest and one of the most Christ-like and loving men I have ever met in my entire life, always smiling and loving Jesus with such passion. He was about to leave the priesthood when Jesus changed his life and made him new and filled him with the Holy Spirit, giving him this love and tenderness.
A great crowd met at St. Ann’s Church at the edge of the Old City in Warsaw and we began walking through the streets. At least three-quarters of a million people lined the streets crying, weeping and clapping. The newspaper and television strangely concentrated on Joshua and me. Almost everyone knew us from the Polish television and from the newspapers over the past two years.
Today glory fell! We were going along a stretch of dirt trail which was very dusty (many people were wearing handkerchiefs over their noses). Many of the people had been deeply moved as Joshua and I were carrying the cross. They had wanted to carry the cross themselves. So I said to priest Swan, “So many of your people have wanted to carry the cross, they can carry it through this area.”
It is an area where traditionally the pilgrims meditate upon the Stations of the Cross… of Christ carrying the cross. The priest will say something about each station during the long six-mile walk in this dirty dusty area. Tears came to his eyes as I said, “I am carrying the cross through Poland to stand with you and your love for Christ and I want the people to have joy in this group, to carry the cross, too, as we remember the Stations of the Cross and what Christ did when He died for us.”
When told they could carry the cross the people rushed for it until it was impossible for one to carry it. Tthe cross was lifted off the ground. There were probably 20 or 30 people holding it at arm’s length in the air. They were crying and other people were crying as the priest began to mention one station of the cross. After a bit, Swan was inspired to ask those who had been in prison during martial law and recently released to carry the cross. These people grabbed the cross. They were crying. After a few minutes he asked all the priests in our group to carry the cross. Then he asked all the mothers to carry the cross and then other groups of people. Joshua’s cross was also carried in the same way. When we got to the end of the dusty dirty area everyone stopped to rest for awhile. People came up to me and thanked me, and then I asked if I could say a few words to the people to express my thanks for what they had done and my love for them.
Many people had gotten their hands on the cross during this six-mile walk through all the dust as we were remembering Jesus. The priest read from the Bible what happened at all the stations of the cross.
This was the third day of the pilgrimage and I had not spoken to any group. Maybe a thousand people were sitting around as I took the microphone and started to tell them what the cross meant to me. What Jesus meant and how happy I was to be in Poland and to see their love for the cross. I began to tell them that in the previous two years I had found many people who loved the cross, who loved Christ, but did not know Him personally. It was possible to know Him, not only to carry the cross for a few steps through the dirt, but you can carry the living Christ in your heart forever. I shared how one could open their heart and Jesus would come in. You can believe in Him and receive Him now. I shared the gospel and asked everyone who wanted Jesus to come into their hearts to pray.
“This is a pilgrimage to Czestochowa,” I said. “But in a few days it will end, but there will be another pilgrimage….the pilgrimage of life with Christ. It doesn’t ever have to end… it can get better every day. It’s not a temporary pilgrimage, but it is one that is forever. If you would like to join this pilgrimage for all eternity, then let’s pray together.”
I asked them to kneel. Everyone did including the priests. They were crying and so was I as I led them in a prayer to receive Jesus. When I finished praying the people just fell into my arms. It was one of the most unbelievable things people were crying and holding on to me.
As we continued the walk, people were still holding on to me, crying and saying, “Now I know Jesus, I feel Jesus in my life.”
Priests were coming up and saying, “Thank you. We feel Christ is with us now.”
It was just unbelievable! Then that night other people came to me and they asked, “Would you speak to our group?”
I made one of the best decisions that I have ever made in Poland. I felt impressed of the Lord to say that priests must invite me personally, or write me a note before I could go. On my previous walks in Poland, when I went through a town, the priest would come out and invite me. I never invited myself. The next day the priests began to come and ask me to speak to their group. They would ask the same wonderful question, “Would you tell us what you know about Jesus?”
A lot of people in America want to hear my stories. People in Poland always want to hear what I know about Jesus. They aren’t caught up in my stories, they want to know about Christ. The priest would also ask, “Would you please pray that special prayer?”
And I’d ask, “Which special prayer?”
They’d say, “The special prayer you say at the end of your talk about Jesus coming into your heart and living in your life. We need that.”
August 10, 1983: It’s so good, the glory of God is falling. I’ve never seen anything like this except in Papua New Guinea. When you read my Diaries, many times you see my words, “This is the greatest day. It’s the most unbelievable thing.” It is wonderful to live when over and over you think its the greatest day of your life.
Today I had priests and groups inviting me to speak to thousands of people and I led them in that special prayer they all seemed to want, which is the sinner’s prayer. They are so open and hungry and there so much love.
Even into the night I was preaching and the people were crying and being saved. They have been singing and dancing in big circles, everybody with their arms locked around each other. It is just impossible to describe how open and how much love there was. I have never known such love before. It’s glorious! Another day of glory, hallelujah!
I spoke for a total of eight hours today.. As we walked along the roadside people were saved by the thousands. This is so unbelievable. I am talking and praying with people every moment. There is not a moment when people are not wanting to find Christ or grow. It is the most glorious thing you can ever imagine. The glory and power of God, salvation and praise. You would have to see this to believe it. The priests are so open and the people so hungry. Everything is wonderful, except I am about to pass out from exhaustion.
One lady had me in her house for a small break this afternoon. I must tell you about this lady. We had stopped at a church for an hour’s rest when she came over and took me to her house. She had hot water on the stove and she bathed my feet with the hot water. She and her husband had dinner for Joshua and me. She washed my face, had the couch ready for me to take a nap. Joshua also had a nap. We slept for about 20 minutes and then we had to leave. Before we left I led the family to Jesus.
I kept teaching songs and counseling non-stop… walking, preaching and teaching. You can’t believe it. I go from meeting to meeting. This is it, what I’ve been looking for, and I pray, “Lord, don’t stop now!”
August 12-Today it’s just a glory day, just like the other days wonderful. I’m tired but happy. Spoke to Polish, French and Hungarian groups today. It was great! Hundreds were led to Jesus, people crying and confessing Christ as Lord. I prayed with so many people as they received Jesus. It seems as if everyone is seeking the Lord. Really, this is wonderful! The only thing to compare to it is Spain in 1972, Papua New Guinea and also parts of Africa, but so different here, for there is deep conviction, the deep seeking and wanting to find God. I have never before experienced this in such a depth. There is something so different and special here.
The third night Joshua and I had a place to sleep in a home. Two sisters have been getting us a bed in a house where the group stays. We even got a bath!
In the pouring rain one day, I saw a girl standing in a ditch looking at me. I was dripping wet and a cold wind blowing. She was just beaming, trying to smile it’s like that girl with blonde hair by the lake, except this girl had long black hair, black eyes and she was looking at me and the cross just like love at first sight. It’s a sight I’ll never forget as long as I live. She didn’t say anything, but a few minutes later someone else was talking to me and there was this girl standing, listening to what I was saying.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hello,” she said. She spoke English but didn’t say very much.
That night it was raining. Joshua and I needed to sleep in someone’s tent for there was no room in the barn. We went to a farm house in order to get some water to drink. The lady of the house kept trying to make me coffee and I tried to tell her “No, just plain water,” for we were thirsty. Joshua was sleepy, tired and wet. Suddenly I saw a young girl. Her name was Magda, from Magdalena in the Bible. She was 17 years old and she said something to the lady, and in a moment the lady came back with water and I said, “Oh, wonderful, you understand my English, eh?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Thank you for getting this water,” I said.
Then she asked if we needed anything else. I told her we were just trying to get back out to the field to a wet tent and we were about to freeze. She laughed and said, “Oh, do you need a nice bed?”
“That would be wonderful,” I said.
She walked hurriedly away. Joshua and I left and in a moment I heard her saying, “Wait, wait. The lady of the house has a bed for you and your son.”
“Oh, no,” I said. “I can’t take that.”
“The lady wants you to,” she said. “She didn’t know the man with the cross didn’t have a bed, so we’ve arranged one.”
We slept there that night and in the morning when I saw Magda II thanked her again.
“It’s okay,” she said.
That night when we stopped, she and her sister Barbara had run ahead and gotten a bed for me. Every night for the rest of the pilgrimage we stayed in a house that the Lord would arrange for us.
As I walked carrying the cross, I stopped for a break and while I was sitting under a tree, a girl came running to me. She began talking rapidly. I asked what she was saying. My interpreter, an English speaking Polish school teacher said, “She heard that you know how to find Jesus.”
I kept looking at the girl’s bloody and bleeding legs. I asked, “What’s wrong with her legs?”
“Do you see that hill over there and the people climbing up it on their knees,” he said. “She has been climbing that hill on her knees to show her love for Christ and has been trying to find Jesus. Someone just told her that the man with the cross knew how to talk with Jesus, so she has come to see if you can tell her how to find Him.”
The girl, Anna was so beautiful. She had the most beautiful clear eyes, short blonde hair, and she was 24 years old. Just as beautiful as you’ve ever seen in a picture, with tears running down her face as she sat there with bloody legs. I told her, “Jesus loved you before you ever started up that hill and He loves you now that you have come down. All that blood was not necessary, He has already shed His blood for you. Now I know He appreciates your desire to show your love, but you don’t have to do that to prove you love Him. He can live in your heart.”
I explained to her how Christ had died for her and He offered her a gift of salvation. She could pray and invite Jesus into her heart and He would become her Savior.
Through the interpreter I led her in a short prayer. Before I finished she burst into tears, leaped into my lap and began to cry, hugging and laughing and smiling, then she jumped up and started to run away.
“Wait, wait, come back,” I called.
She turned and said, “I have found Jesus. I found Him, now I know Him. That is all I need. Now I can go, I’ve found Him. I’ve found Him!” And she ran away.
We arrived in Czestochowa for the third year in a row. Many people had come all the way from Warsaw and other places to see the cross, and before all those people the priest speaking from a large platform in front of Jasna Gora announced what Joshua and I were doing. The next day, over 600,000 people gathered. More than 300,000 had marched on foot to Czestochowa from other cities all around the Country. The priest asked me put the cross under the center of the very high platform. A wonderful priest, Gene, who spoke English and is a good friend of mine, had us sit on the platform with all the priests. When the time came to take Communion, Gene walked toward us across the platform, passing many other people to serve Joshua and me Communion first. In honor to him I made a sign like no with my hand because I knew he knew I was not a member of the Roman Catholic Church. He looked at me and said in a low voice, “You are one of us,” and served me and then Joshua Communion. It was marvelous. Afterward, it took hours to get through the crowd. People wanted to see us, to tell us goodbye, to have us pray for them, to touch us, and to see the cross. There were literally mobs and mobs of people. It was impossible to walk. We could only inch our way forward. Finally about two blocks away we got to a hotel, exhausted. We put the cross inside the hotel and the guard tried to close the door to keep the crowds out. Joshua and I could hardly stand. It is just indescribable! I know I keep using those words, but that is what it was … indescribably glorious!
In 1984 I again returned to Poland to carry the cross. I had not planned to go
back to Poland in 1984 because I had been there for the past three years. I
have carried the cross in Poland more than in any other country in the world.
I have been through Israel three times, but I’ve been to Poland four.
I received a letter earlier in the year from Father Herbert Cuma, signed by
many other people, saying it is very, very necessary for me to return with the cross this year, to bring the cross back to Poland. They had been having a national struggle to keep the cross on the walls of public places, especially in the schools. I thought, if they were having a problem with little crosses, maybe I should return with the big one. When I repeat this in Poland, the people clap and cheer. It was a very tough decision because the 1984 Olympics was in Los Angeles. It would seem the logical place to be with the cross, but I had felt the Lord telling me to go back to Poland and go with the pilgrimage again.
There were two very big movements in Poland now, consisting of hundreds of thousands of mostly young of people. One is what is called a “born again” movement of a real personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Another group is called Oasis, a very charismatic group with strong emphasis on knowing Christ personally. Both of these groups are really revival groups that have sprung out of the modern awakening in Poland. This is an awakening that is taking place in the country and in the church, and groups meet in the church many times during the week. These groups are sanctioned by a priest or led by a priest. They meet and sing choruses that are sung in evangelical meetings in the West.
Poland is my number one corresponding nation of the world. I write more letters, send more books, Bibles, materials… I don’t know of anything that hasn’t been delivered into Poland. I personally write all my overseas correspondence by hand. All I can say about this year, is that there were about 70,000 people (more than last year) on the pilgrimage from Warsaw to Czestochowa. I preach every day, all day and into the night. Many nights I would have only one to three hours sleep. It was constant, non-stop.
One day I preached eight hours. What a day! And from my Diary I wrote these words: “What a day this has been. I spoke to huge crowds, the great power of God, the joy of the Lord, unbelievable. I am tired I have not had even a silent moment. But think of all the other times and places when I have been alone and no one cared to speak, so I don’t mind the output. I thought of all those other times when no one would say a word. Poland strengthens me and gives me so much, everyone wants to talk. I stayed with wonderful families. My biggest problem is that I didn’t have enough time in the day to talk to all the groups that wanted me to talk.”
This year I think the significance of being born again has grown and grown and grown. They have taped me speaking and played the tapes all over Poland. “How does it feel to be one of the most famous people in Poland?” many people ask. “You and the Pope.”
I have come in and out of Poland this year. Last year I was here twice, once to bring food and supplies after I finished carrying the cross in Finland. I have been in and out of Poland for four years and have never had anything inspected or any harassment . When they see me they know the cross, they know me and they just
take me through. There is nothing but welcome. The churches are open, the people are open. I get letters from people, and they are constantly taking pictures. As I walk, if I’m not preaching, there is a cluster of
people around me asking questions about heaven, and what to do
about this or that.
The only thing that I might mention is that when you are traveling with 60,000 or 70,000 people, every time you want to use the bathroom there are about 500 people with you. You go to a bush and when you get there, there are about ten or fifteen people behind you. If you walk for ten minutes trying to find a private place, there are still people around, so why wait for ten minutes… just go ahead and join the crowd.
Everyone is dirty after nine or ten days on the road. Clothes are dirty, everyone is smelly. If one hasn’t experienced a Polish pilgrimage, they have missed a part of one of the greatest things in life. It is very, very ecumenical. They welcome all faiths and they love Christ.
Except for some little groups that want to fight, in this world there is only one real division either you are following Jesus or you are not. There are people who are spiritually dead and there are those who are alive, and if you are dead, it doesn’t matter whether you are Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, or Assembly, the dead are dead. And if you are alive in Christ and are seeking to follow and love Him, and are seeking to live His life in this world, you can hardly tell, on a world basis, a bit of difference between
denominations. Now, doctrine is important and I’m not trying to belittle the real thing of whether you are to be immersed, sprinkled, or what, all the truth is important. But I’m saying generally, you can have a lot of doctrine that is correct and go straight to hell! The Bible says if you don’t have love, you have nothing, you’ve lost it all. What I’m saying is either you’re committed to Jesus and seek Him and His kingdom first, or you’re not.
What has happened in Poland is that they have been through the fire of
oppression and after years of atheistic teaching, Christ is still alive and
nowhere near dead! Nothing could drown out the Pole’s love for Jesus
and now they are seeking, more than at any other time, a closeness to
Him and more knowledge of Him. Ten years ago it wasn’t as much this
way. The crowds that are on the pilgrimage to Czestochowa have
increased from 10,000 to 15,000 five years ago to 70,000 this year.
The decade of the eighties has brought unbelievable change in Poland,
especially since the time of Pope John Paul II. However, during the
crisis before them, people began seeing the real values and there
began a definite turning to Christ.
The people of Poland are my friends, my fellow companions in the way of the cross! In Poland the cross shall always be free. The Church shall not die. Polish youth shall ignite an awakening worldwide.
One man got to Rome and became Pope. Look out world!! Now, in a flood of glory coming from Poland, the world might be changed.
In October 1984 a great Polish priest and patriot was murdered. He was the Reverend Jerry Popieluszo. He was a friend of mine. On the way to Czestochowa, I spoke to his people twice. The last thing he said to me was, “Arthur, tell us what you know about Jesus.”
It is difficult for American Christians to believe that there is more freedomin Poland to carry the cross than in the United States. For instance, in the United States we have to have permits to parade, it is difficult to pass out materials, it is difficult to walk in the parks but in Poland you don’t need any kind of permit, they welcome you to walk, they welcome you to pass
out materials, they welcome you to use a loudspeaker. The freedoms are hard to-explain. The restrictions that I feel in America is not just in my walk with the cross. In America we are not free to walk in our parks at night.. In
many of our big cities, instead of teaching our young beautiful girls how to be tender, how to have homes and/or careers, it is necessary to teach themhow to kill an attacker because of the danger to their lives. It is not this way in the rest of the world
In Poland, people are free to walk at night. In Switzerland and in all of Europe, people are very free and do not need the protection that we feel we need in the United States difficult for me because I love America, just like I love the rest of the world, but America … don’t stand in judgment with a superior attitude, looking down on the rest of the world! Let us repent and thank God for what we have, but understand what others have too. There is more to life than short order fast food joints, a car, a stereo and cultural hyped religion. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light,” and that is enough for America, that is enough for the rest of the world. If we could just catch on to this truth, then our life in Him would be secure and complete.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus
Arthur and Denise Blessitt