We parked alongside the highway and awoke this morning with the Holy Spirit guiding our thoughts. I saw a truck parked behind us, so I asked for gas. There are no gas stations open in the entire nation of Ukraine. The man was afraid of the police nearby but motioned for us to follow him. We went down the highway, onto a dirt road, through a field and behind some trees. There he filled the Land Rover up with gas from his official type truck where he had a huge tank full. It only cost about five U.S. dollars.
God told us to go through the war nearby in Moldova. Part of the country along a river that is predominantly Russian has broken away from the rest of the country that is of Romanian origin. We tried to get there one way but the Ukraine army blocked the highway. I studied our map and decided to try to go through the small roads and avoid the roadblocks. We drove for hours down narrow dirt roads and through small villages. About mid-afternoon we could see the troops near the border. I unloaded the cross; Denise and I prayed together. These are always unforgettable moments, for either of us could be killed by gunfire or land mines. She agreed not to drive but to wait for me at each roadblock. As I approached the troops Denise was out of the Land Rover talking to the soldiers. There were armed cars, troops in foxholes and huge concrete blocks in the road.
When the former U.S.S.R. broke up the soldiers went home with their guns and equipment. Some troops have uniforms others wore regular clothes. We were on the Ukraine side of the bridge. The soldiers were all friendly and we had a long talk and prayer. They said we could cross over. Denise drove around the concrete blocks and across the bridge into the break away Republic and she continued out of sight.
I carried the cross into the war zone as I’ve done many times. Troops guarding the bridge on both sides moved from their defensive position. Soon I was “in”, no one even checked Denise or me. Later as I walked on, a truckload of troops came to see me; they knew only one English word “friend”, what a lovely word to know. I prayed with them.
This area is really beautiful with clear sunny skies, fruit trees budding in spring and a perfect temperature. It’s a full moon tonight. Denise made friends with some people and we are parked in their yard. There are pigs all about grunting and chickens but for us it’s home on the road, where we lay together in love in a land of hate and war.
Today we carried the cross through Tiraspol, the capital of the breakaway Republic of Trans-Dnestr. People were friendly but amazed to see us there and especially with a cross. This is the main city they have been fighting for but today there was no shooting. We got gas from an army truck. Every group of troops has been so friendly, even though they know they could die any moment.
We arrived at a big bridge that they have been fighting over and the troops all put Jesus stickers on their rifles! They wanted Bibles and gospel material and Denise supplied them. She was going before me so by the time I arrived everybody was already a walking Bible supply store! Ha.
We crossed the bridge but in order to cross into the other side with the Moldavian army, the road was entirely blocked so the Land Rover could not pass. We had to go through a wheat field in the ‘no man’s land. Jesus led us through with no problem but we must have been in many gun sights. The area was devastated but we made it!
We carried the cross on to the main capitol of Chisinau and had a wonderful witness there.
During much of 1992 my wife, Denise and I carried the cross through Russia and all of the former USSR. The USSR was just breaking up after the fall of communism. We only had a tourist visa two weeks in Russia and no permit for the Land Rover and visa for any of the other countries! Jesus got us through all the all the borders and checkpoints with no visa or permit. We made it through over 250-armed roadblocks. God led us to places to fill up with gas, as only a few gas stations were open the entire trip. We went from extreme cold and snow to the desert heat all in one historic and glorious trip. The impossible had happened. The cross was carried in all the USSR. All glory to God. Many were saved as the cross was carried in all of these nations.
Denise drove the 4×4 Land Rover. She would drive up the road a few miles and wait for me to arrive carrying the 12-foot cross. I would have something to drink and eat and then walk on. In most of these nations we would drive part of the way and then carry the cross a few days or a week or so. We had Bibles and gospel material in Russian and local languages. The Land Rover was also towing a small trailer with food and the gospel materials. We carried many cans of gas on the Land Rover and inside was a stove. We slept in a pop-up tent on top the Land Rover. When we left England we drove and went by ship to Finland. We crossed over to Estonia and made a complete loop around the USSR and then drove back via Poland and back to England. We drove almost 11,000 miles and I walked many hundreds of miles in the USSR.
In order we carried the cross in the following countries:
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Trans-Dniester, Moldova, Crimea, Abkhazia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tadzikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Siberia and Russia.
Jesus did it. All glory to God.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt