From my diary: It was a beautiful sunshiny day in the Canary Islands as the ship slowly moved from Pier 16 at Las Palmas Harbor. On February 12, 2 p.m. 1973, I began my African walk, thousands of miles from people I knew. The Holy Spirit fills me. Glory! After all, 32 years I’ve lived, I am going to West Africa to Sierra Leone. It is a total and complete new start.
The splendid beauty of dawn has just come and the city seems covered by low overhanging mountains. It’s misty and cloudy and the air is warm. The majestic trees with stand in perfect form welcoming me in beauty. I have arrived in Freetown, West Africa. God has prepared a welcome for me in His own way. Lined along the waterfront I see black faces everywhere. Low yellow roofed buildings are streaked along the shore. The Land Rover is now in ropes, soon to be lifted to the sky and then lowered to the deck. Already I feel a strange sensation, one I’ve never felt before. I welcome it all to the glory of God. I slowly feel at home, it is almost like a Louisiana swamp feeling, the warm, thick humid air. We have come into the port, now it is 7:17 a.m., I’m in Africa in person – glory! In Jesus’ name, Arthur Blessitt has arrived.
A missionary from England, Phil Cheale was waiting for some supplies from the ship. He saw the cross come off on a crane and noticed the wheel. He knew I must be arriving in Africa. He greeted me and invited me into his home.
He helped fix my Land Rover for the African crosswalk. He helped build a bed in it and helped me with supplies. He organized a send off rally and found a driver/interpreter to go with me. Don’t know how I would have made it without
he and his lovely wife.
I lie in bed under a mosquito net reading my Bible by lamplight. The missionaries told me, “You can’t walk across Africa… especially carrying a 12-foot cross! You can’t eat the local food, you can’t drink the local water because you must boil it to purify it. If you sleep with those people you will have all kinds of bugs, diseases, and worms.”
I lay praying, searching for an answer. As I read Luke 10 , I decided four things:
1. Into whatsoever house ye enter, say, “Peace be Unto this house.”
2. In the same house, remain eating and drinking whatever is set before you.
3. Go not from house to house.
4. Heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, “The kingdom of God has come near you.”
Every time I eat or drink, I pray. “Lord, kill them all! Lord, if there is anything in my body that should not be there, cleanse it. If there is anything I need and it is not there, put it in. In Jesus’ name.”
One little boy asked, “Mister, does God like children?” I began to weep and said, “Oh, yes, He does.” They all gathered around us as I told them how Jesus loved children and gathered them in His lap and blessed them. I put my arm
around him and cried.
Well, I’m in the bush. The African walk is on. The hunger of the people is insatiable. I’m resting under two large trees by an abandoned house. I slept and rested during the heat of the afternoon, from about noon until 4:00 p.m. It gets about 100 degrees in the shade and from 120-130 degrees along
the road. It is hot, I say HOT. I traded my wide-brimmed hat
for a wild drooping hat.
Boy, it is hot. The soles of my shoes are melting. I don’t think they will make it to Monrovia.
I had problems getting water. I bought a Coke in a village, but it was hot. There is no electricity. My feet are very bad, a sea of blisters all over the top and bottom of my right foot. They are now bloody. I can hardly stand having my shoes off,
much less on. God will give me relief very soon. It takes some guts to go into this country, the heat is so intense, water is scarce and everything to drink is hot. Sleeping is hot, feet hurt, poor living conditions and everything a terrific struggle, but I glory in the Lord. Anything less than the love of God and I would cast it aside and go back to the air conditioning, but my lot in life has been to leave the luxuries of life and struggle on in the power of Christ, to know the life of the poor, the hurts of the wealthy, to cross the many rivers and be obedient to the Master and even
here in this jungle, to preach the gospel.
I was mobbed by people hugging and kissing me, many trying to touch my hands. I could not move. Finally some young men formed a circle around me and then pushed me through the crowds. Oh, what a joy to be sharing Jesus. Hundreds were following me, so my walk turned into a march for Jesus, with songs, cheers, and people passing out Jesus stickers. Thousands of people lined the streets as I came in, waving, singing and clapping.
Today it is hot, hot, hot. Just outside town ten children met me.
Then about 100 construction men came around; hundreds of people came over the bridge from the city to see me. The crowd grew bigger and bigger, blocking the highway. People were trying to touch me. I was led to the City Hall where about 2,000 people were waiting. I drank a Coke as the city leaders gathered. With a man interpreting, I preached and hundreds were saved – it was glorious.
I carried the cross through the town to a secondary school where a bell was rung. Five hundred students mobbed me, including hundreds more from the rally. In the afternoon, I took off my shoes and wrung blood from my socks. I doctored my feet, took a bath and fell into bed for a nap. I awoke at 6:00 A.M. and preached at 6:30 A.M. Many were saved. When we finished eating, about 30 women came dancing in. They all had their faces painted, shaking all kinds of things that rattled, and beating drums. They danced around, and then a woman came in dressed as the devil. I began to share Jesus with them – repent, Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The sound of this devil band echoed through the night as I tried to sleep.
I came to a river today where many men and women were bathing in the nude, men on one side and women on the other.I stopped to spend the night on a hill, the sky was clear and it seemed as if millions of stars were putting on a light show. A cool breeze was blowing and I had my shirt off. I began to sing as loud as I could. I sang and sang, my voice echoing through the hills – it blended perfectly with the sounds
of the night. After about an hour of singing a huge crowd had gathered to hear my voice and the message in song of this strange white man with the cross.
When I finished preaching I noticed that on one side of the village, women were rolling on the ground and crying, throwing dirt all over themselves. Someone had died and the people were grieving. The women beat the ground. This continued for hours.
The nearest kin gathers and then they bury the dead. Usually the person is buried the same day or the next day. I tried to give them a message of consolation and hope, but in their primitive religion death is a great and possibly eternal separation.
I carried the cross from Freetown on into Liberia.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt