Baku: We are in the capital of the Muslim nation of Azerbaijan beside the Caspian Sea. It’s also a land at war with Armenia over the area called Nagorno-Karabakh. The enemy is supposed to be the church and here we are carrying the cross into the capital. Jesus did it. No problem.
We drove for hundreds of miles across the dry desert. We safely drove through every road even near fighting as helicopters flew overhead. We heard a strange knocking in the engine of the Land Rover. Before I could stop, smoke was boiling up from under the hood and the motor began to bang loudly. We pulled off the road where a couple of buildings stood in the vast stretch of desert. Disaster had struck! Oil was all over the smoking motor. A huge cloud of black smoke poured from out of the exhaust. What would we do now? The engine had blown up and there were no Land Rover parts for thousands of miles! Oh, Jesus, help us.
A man came over shaking his head and looked at the motor. He could speak no English but indicated he was a mechanic and would try to fix it. We got it over to his shop, a building with a ramp. He only had four wrenches! I had a tool kit. They were amazed at the kinds of tools I had. The man had a helper and as they took apart the motor, Denise and I prayed. They lay the parts out on the sandy ground!
A crowd of men soon gathered and I knew they would never find the parts to put the engine together again. Several of the rods were very badly bent. They used a hammer to beat them straight and I had a spare head gasket. Then they put it together, often having to look for a place to put an extra part! There was also a big crack in the manifold. When all was done I turned on the ignition and the Land Rover started up like new! They did not even want any money but I put one hundred one dollar bills in the mechanic’s pocket. He could not believe his eyes, perhaps this was six months wages. We gave all of them Bibles and gospel material. This had taken only five hours! It could have stopped us for a week or even a month.
We had a great crosswalk in Baku with many people coming to try to talk. The crosswalk through the former USSR goes on now to cross the Caspian Sea.
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 for two weeks in Russia and no permit for the Land Rover and no visa for any of the other countries! Jesus got us through 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.
See Arthur’s diary of the events in Baku.
In order we carried the cross in the following countries:
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Trans-Dnestr, 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 & Denise Blessitt