Colombia – Panama – U. S. Panama Canal Zone (at that time)
1979 (soon 2018)
The Darien Jungle
Ten years after God told me to carry a 12-foot cross around the world, I found myself confronted with one of the world’s deepest, darkest, and most inpenetrable jungles.
The famous Darien Gap faced me. Approximately 400 miles of mountains, jungle and swamp … the only place from Alaska to Argentina without a road; a place of five-layered forest where the sunlight often never gets to the ground. The footing is often wet from heavy rains. The leaves rot slowly and often you stand up to your knees in the decaying leaves. It’s hot and humid during the day, and at night it’s cold and one needs a blanket. There are deep narrow rivers, rapids of water, waterfalls; a rainfall of about 180 inches a year. Steep cliffs covered in vines, grass and thick brush bordered along the streams. Saw grass, which will cut you to pieces; undergrowth in places that is so thick it is almost impossible to get through. All kinds of disease, leeches, rabies, fungus, mosquitoes, and ticks. The six-foot coral snake, the Fur-de-lance snake that often bites feet and ankles and can kill you. The Bushmaster, which lives in trees and strikes you in the face or neck with two-and-a-half times the poison necessary to kill. Most of the Darien snakes will kill you in a short time with venom that paralyzes the heart, causing cardiac arrest.
There are all kinds of spiders, scorpions, and ants, besides other wild animals like panthers and wildcats. The Darien Jungle is along the narrow stretch of land that joins the South American hemisphere with the North American hemisphere. It has a steep backbone of mountains going steeply down to the sea into mangrove swamps; the few tribes of people are Choco and Cuna Indians. They live along the rivers, but seldom cross between the rivers over land. They just travel to the sea and back in hollowed-out logs called piguawes. The total number of people that have crossed from the Panama Canal to Turbo, Colombia would probably number in the hundreds.
There are no reliable maps; cuts and scratches are difficult to heal; most of the water and food is contaminated; disease is common.
Now I faced all of this with a 12-foot cross. It is easy to take a ferry boat from Panama to Colombia, or even a small boats that stop at the villages along the shore, but to walk with the cross through a jungle? Of course! Here is the question: Do the unknown circumstances we face cause us to re-evaluate the call? Of course not. I accepted the call of God to walk from Mexico to Colombia. There was never any thought in my mind that I should go around by boat. There is only one way… walk!
Two men came from America to help me. I thought it was necessary, but I was to find out otherwise. I shall call them Tom and Jerry. Tom was a doctor from America who spoke Spanish and brought along all kinds of anti-venom in case of snake bites. He had first aid supplies, enough to do an emergency operation. Jerry was a businessman, a very good friend who had accompanied me on another trip.
We spent one day in training at the Sherman Jungle Training Center for U.S. Rangers, Green Berets and Special Forces in the Canal Zone. Colonel Hale Alderman and his lovely wife helped us immensely with information, supplies, good home cooking, and especially love! Everyone said it would be impossible for me to carry the cross alone to Colombia, but with a well-supported team it was possible, though very, very dangerous.
The walk began from Panama City, Panama, on January 25, 1979, a continuation of the walk I had started in Mexico City in 1977. Tom and Jerry were carrying backpacks loaded with supplies; I was carrying the cross with my backpack tied on the back of the cross. It was the heaviest backpack I’d ever had on the cross, over a 100 pound load in almost 100 percent humidity, and 100-degree temperature.
The story of the Darien walk would be a book in itself, so I shall select highlights that deal with different aspects of the struggle. These following events are taken from my diary in the order they occured.
* * *
We left Panama as a three-man team. I never considered it to be temporary; to me we would live or die together. There was only one direction-south to Colombia. There was a highway going south a few miles, then gravel, then dirt, then a trail for a road.
Tom and Jerry had blisters on their feet and were sore from their backpacks. We did some good witnessing: Each day things grew more primitive. After five days Jerry told me that he did not feel this was his calling. We prayed about it and he decided to fly back to his wife and children. I missed him.
After Jerry left, Tom wanted to rent a truck and carry supplies as far as he could drive. He drove and I carried the cross, with the road getting smaller and smaller. It finally stopped at a river after two days of driving. I said I’d wait for him to drive back and return to me, or we could leave the cross and I’d go back with him to turn the truck in, then we would come back together. He said he would go back in the truck and then fly to meet me in Yaviza several days walk from here. There was a small airstrip for private planes at that jungle town. He would fly in with supplies and join me there. I was in shock. “Hey, we must do this together.”
“Arthur, we can go around by boat or fly to Colombia. I’ll drive back and join you in a few days.”
I could hardly feel, I was so numb with shock, pain and aloneness. How could anyone do this? For me, the question was never why, but how. For me there could be no turning back. I might die, but I’d never turn back.
At a midday crisis, I had to decide what to take with me. What was really necessary? A week ago we had to have bandages, first aid, snakebite shots, food, and so much that was necessary, now it was all irrelevant. There was only one person with all the presence of God, a big cross, a river ahead and an almost inpenetrable jungle. Yes, I needed my Swiss Army knife, a hammock, two rolls of Jesus stickers, my Bible, the clothes I had on, my passport, my money purse in a plastic waterproof bag, a tin of lemon drops, two canteens of water, and my machete. As I stood looking at Tom, tears poured down my face. This was an impossible mission. All human reason was again being cut off, only faith remained. I said a brief prayer and looked at the truck and Tom. There was the road back. I could sleep in an air conditioned hotel tonight or the jungle. Oh, glory Father, Thy will be done. I remembered my commitment and started to walk. I’d rather die in the will of God than live outside of it.
I said goodbye to Tom, “See you in a week.”
I turned toward the jungle and began to wade through the water. Joy flooded my soul. It was me, the cross and Jesus. That’s the way it should be. As the darkness of the jungle shadowed me, I went on.
* * *
I walked all day. Hot … so hot … what a day! Made it to Santa Fe. Walked from 6:55 A.M. to 8:30 P.M., 13½ hours, carrying my cross. I cried a lot today. I don’t know why, but tears just kept dripping, so did blood. I’m bleeding from several deep cuts. Tired, hurting in my back, my feet burned a lot, but I made it through and I’ll make it on.
At Santa Fe, a construction company village, the people welcomed me with an offer of a cigarette and a steak. One black man could speak English and said he would find me a guide to Yaviza. Only a few had been there by boat. The man offered me a place to lay on his floor; I pulled the mosquito netting over me thinking, “Maybe I carry on my back, feet and shoulders part of the pain of this world, but I bear it gladly. Oh, I love you Jesus, I’m so happy to be here. It’s so beautiful to see the hand of God. These people will never forget that they saw the cross. Good night, Lord, thank You for keeping an eye on me.”
Well, I made it another day, here by a small stagnant river. All day we’ve been drinking water from nearly dried-up rivers and muddy holes. This is what I bathed in this morning, but, after four days without a bath I could not stand myself. Mano joined me today; he knows the way to Yaviza. He is very sweet, about 20 years old. He received Christ several years ago. I out-walked him, but he is good finding and at carrying water. The biggest problem is that all the people want me to preach. I do, but it is 10 minutes stretched out. They want more, but I have no more words in Spanish. I don’t have Bibles or an interpreter; my heart cries out; I can hear the voice of Jesus crying out, “Whom shall I send, who will go for us, the harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few.”
My feet are blistered, blood flowing out of my heel, all I can do is keep going and not stop. I must go on. My back is in constant pain, my legs ache, my skin burns, my shoulders are sore, and if you touch them they hurt. But if I lift up my 12-foot cross and whisper, “Jesus, I can start off again.”
About dark we came upon a small house by a river. The people were waiting for me. We went in and a lady gave me some beans and rice and the entire village gathered around and I preached and led in prayer. As I write this, little Indian children are looking over my shoulder. Their faces glow, their eyes sparkle, the light from the oil lamp shines; it is right out of the book of yesterday. The houses are straw huts. A bony pig is rooting all over the floor, frogs scream and the animals of the night sing their songs. It has been a good day for God. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else at this moment for this is the will of God. I sat up hurting. I lay down hurting. Maybe I can fly. Sure could use a good faith healer. *Ha!* No, I’ve got the best. I can’t believe except by God’s grace that I’m not sick. I tell you, what I’ve put in my body the last few days would kill a native!
Where we got water once today, the local people would not drink it. Had to drop a pill of iodine in it and then drink it. In the house I drink the water straight. In the Bible it says, “Eat and drink whatever is set before you.” I do, and I pray, and keep walking. I’m still not dead. Lord help me to sleep. It is almost as tough trying to sleep as it is to walk. It hurts so bad not to have a bed. Well glory, I’m going to try it.
Monday the fifth was one of the most incredible days of my life … wow! I was up at dawn after a night where I shivered in the cold. I remember looking at my watch at least every hour. I didn’t even bring a blanket, trying to save weight. The lady gave us some cooked pig or something and we left. Everybody said it we would get to Yaviza in two days, but I decided I could make it in one day if it took them two.
A small hand-painted sign pointing into the jungle read YAVIZA. This is a jungle, no storybook tale, it’s for real! We blared through it. It was up and down to a dry river-bed, grass growing so high there was no way to watch for snakes, but being from Louisiana and as a boy raised in the swamps, Dad and I would rush through past the startled snakes. We did the same thing today. I can’t believe it… it’s so hot. We drank 12 liters of water in the jungle, all from stagnant holes. We met two men who told us the water is no good.
Once we both worked and lifted the cross across a deep ravine overlooking a hole of green water. The cliff gave way as I was crossing and Mano was plunged into the green hole of slime. On and on we went like this, fighting for each step; banana leaves slapping us in the face and vines cutting us.
Pulling up the mountain was incredibly tough, but the Lord was leading us. Mano is the toughest walker I’ve seen on the road except for my late friend, Jim McPheeters. He hung in as he could not believe my pace. I said, “Tonight we will sleep in Yaviza,” but at 4:00 I knew it would be impossible. We were making only about two miles an hour and I was totally exhausted. At one time I thought I could not move. I said “Lord, I’ll walk one more mile, but please do something. I haven’t asked for much these nine years on the road, but this is the toughest walk I’ve ever had and I can’t move this body much more. I have pain with every movement, walking or sitting. You said you would prepare a highway in the wilderness, do it now, please Lord, I don’t want to sleep in here tonight. Bless me, if You please.”
Mano was lying on the grass, too tired to even care about insects as they crawled over him. I heaved up the cross and started up the mountainside. When I got about a mile I was ready to set the cross down and stop, but I saw a trail and it got wider, and then I saw a track of a double-wheeled truck tires and the grass was beaten down along the trail. I began to race down it. It looked like a freeway. I was going downhill. It really was still dense jungle, but no doubt these were tracks and they had to come from somewhere. Finally, I stopped and waited, but no Mano. I went back looking for him and there he was struggling up the hill. I said, “We are almost there, let’s go!”
He shook his head but sped up. I walked at a fast pace to get through the jungle before dark. As I rushed through the bushes my right foot caught in a vine and bush, and the cross, plus the backpack on it, pushed me downhill. I fell into a pile of grass and bush with the cross falling on top of me. I was stunned and my left arm and shoulder felt broken. Slowly I got up and discovered I was only hurt, but not broken. It was the first time I had fallen down, not because of the roads, but because I was now in this jungle. Praise the Lord!
The trail forked. Mano said, “We go left, it will take us to the city, but at least three or four hours of mountains.”
I said, “How about right?”
“It goes to the big river,” he replied.
I looked at the roads left to the mountains, right into the jungles, and we had not a bite to eat. Up and down, right or left. I thought, I’ll follow that truck and we can get to a boat. I said “derecho” (which means right). From 5:00 to 5:50 I walked wide open about four miles. I was exhausted and in almost unbearable pain. The Lord kept saying, “I’ve got it all worked out.” Suddenly, I turned the corner of the trail and there was the Chucunaque River. I cried, “Glory to God!”
Two men were by the river. I asked about a boat to Yaviza They said, “Maybe tomorrow.”
It was getting dark. I took some pictures and then Mano came up and they talked. I stood by the bank and watched. One boat went by on the other side going the other direction. Then a motorboat made out of a hollow log was coming up the river. I called and they turned around and pulled up. I had the cross ready to go. I said, “Yaviza, es necesario, it is necessary, I pay you.”
They looked at each other and I came hauling the cross down and put it on the boat and jumped in. At 6:30 we were walking up the main street of Yaviza, this jungle frontier town. Glory to God! Everyone here knows Mano.
I got a hotel room, such as you would expect, but nonetheless a bed; got washed from a barrel, but I’m clean; ate some rice and beans for a dollar.
* * *
I went down to the river and talked with the women washing clothes. Little children everywhere were sick, their sores were so bad; teeth rotted out; and the mothers had me pray for them. I cried inside. I tell you, this is where we need the faith healers with all their miracle services; out where people are really sick, not in an expensive suit and tie in front of the television camera, or in an air conditioned hotel with a “Mighty Miracle” service, or at a Civic Center. I tell you, the poor and sick need help. God have mercy. Jesus said, “The poor you have with you always.” How true! What can one say. The world is full of sickness, injustice, disease, poverty and death … yet there is another world of fullness and well-off people. We see the deep ravages of sin and its effect upon the world and everything in it. How it must grieve God, yet in His inexplicable way He allows this to happen, for He is God. I only wish I saw more instant healing of obvious things, but we probably couldn’t stand it.
I stayed with a missionary family here. They are so wonderful. The jungle airstrip is nearby; Tom was to fly in today. The roar of the airplane engine gave me a mighty thrill. Now the interpreter will be here and I can preach better. No! No Tom! Only two boxes and a bag with an 8mm camera! But, where was Tom? The pilot didn’t know. He called on the plane radio to Panama and learned that Tom had gone back to the United States three days ago with no explanation. I looked through the bag and there was a letter from the Aldermans saying they had said goodbye to Tom and put him on the plane. Not a note from Tom. He had sent my billfold and the rest of my money. He could have sent a brief note … but nothing! Jerry left me and now Tom had left me. I get the feeling that I am in this alone. I tell you, I was shocked, hurt, and was crying inside. Why did Tom leave without even a word of explanation?
My deepest hurt was that the gospel was not going out and what I wanted was to preach in all the villages with Tom interpreting and Jerry filming. But God has His own way. It was me, Him and the cross here. God seems to want me to do this alone and has put me face-to-face with Himself in a beautiful way. What a joy it is to face the struggle of life alone with God. This trip is for me, if for no one else. Like Moses on the mount, or Jesus in the wilderness, it is my time of inner revival and refreshment. I return to the simple-God, me, the Bible, the cross, and a struggle to live. How powerful! It refreshes the inside to make me unshakeable. Never a thought of not going on-only the question of how to do it, which way to go. This mission will be carried out. I will make it with the cross through the Darien Gap!
The Grindstaffs, beautiful missionaries, and the nurse, Maude Backker, had received me as a man of God, fed me, loved me and let their home be my home. My heart also was thrilled by their little six-year-old son named Davis, reminding me of my own children.
* * *
These jungles are incredible…no more towns until Colombia. Now sometimes you think you can hear the roar of a waterfall, but you can’t see it three feet in front of you. At other times it’s clear for maybe fifty feet. Under the trees nothing grows. There may be a steep cliff ten feet to forty feet straight down. A stream would be only ten feet or fifteen feet wide then straight up on the other side with vines, grass and bushes so thick you can’t see. Now, try to get the cross down that cliff and up the other side. Time and again the vine would break and I’d cry, “Jesus!” and push the cross one way and I’d fall the other, praying I’d not land on a rock or a log and splash into the mud and slime. I could not see the snakes… probably they were as afraid as I.
Often I would hear a noise in the trees, but would not see what was moving. I did not worry about food. I fasted for 40 days once, so it takes the fear away. I figured even with the energy used in these jungles, I could go for weeks without food. I think the reason people starve to death in such short periods of time is they are in anguish rather than content.
The walk was a across streams running to the sea. Between each stream was another mountain to climb up and then down, a long stream, then over another ridge. Near the sea it became mangrove swamp. The feeling in the jungle is awesome. Many people lose their minds. They can’t stand the pressure of the feeling; the vast forest encloses you; the greatest battle is in the mind… not to panic.
I made maps for the U.S. Department of Agriculture when I was attending Mississippi College, plotting cotton acreage on aerial photo maps. This was great training for me… perfect sense of direction is one of God’s gifts to me and an endurance that I must go on when there is nothing else.
Being a Southerner, I always felt I could find my way by going south!
I remember one village in the thick jungle beside a river. Everyone ran in fear. The people came back as I played with the small children. The houses were high up from the ground on poles; the women and men wearing only small “G” strings. My heart was broken that I could not speak to them. When I spoke Spanish they did not respond. I wanted to preach. It is my passion. But how? I felt the Lord wanted me to do a drama and show the crucifixion. With the people sitting on the ground all around, and a few standing. I took the Cross and leaned it up against one of the houses. Then I put up my hands and showed them how the nails were driven in. They did not have any nails, only cords, but I tried to explain. I was speaking in Spanish and in English. “Oh, Lord, I don’t mind struggling my way through this jungle, but I want them to understand,” I prayed.
Tears flowed from my eyes. I was in agony. The reality of what had happened at Calvary seemed so powerfully real I could hardly stand it. The Lord had me with my hand outstretched upon the cross crying. I was exhausted, wet with sweat and dirty, a machete strapped to my side. “Oh, Jesus, help them, oh, God.” I opened my eyes after awhile and in front of me was an old lady with no teeth. She was crying, tears coming down her face. Then others began to cry. Soon the entire village was weeping. The glory had come.
I went to the children and began to say, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” touching their beautiful little faces and finally got one to say Jesus. I leaped with joy. Others said “Jesus,” then I would shout “Jesus.” They would all repeat “Jesus.” I’d point to the cross “Jesus,” then toward heaven “Jesus,” then toward my heart and their heart “Jesus.” Their faces of tears and love will be my constant companion. Only God knows what they understand. This drama became my common means of witnessing.
* * *
February 9 – Tonight I sleep in a primitive Indian village in a house on high poles. As I lie here I can see the faces of the people watching me, the entire village is sitting here as I go to sleep. From the light of a can of burning oil I study their faces; the women are topless, the children with eager eyes, perhaps never having been so close to a white man. It is just wonderful, but I was surprised when I came into this primitive village… there were several cases of empty Coca Cola bottles.
* * *
Today I heard the sound of a motor. It sounded like a power chainsaw. Was I hallucinating or was it real? I headed toward the sound and called out. The answer came back in English. We cut toward each other in the jungle, then we were face to face. It was a group of men traveling from the tip of South America to Alaska in two four-wheel drive vehicles. There were about 17 of them plus more than 20 Indians. They had support air drops, all equipment was sponsored by different companies, and some were reporting for National Geographic. They felt like Columbus exploring virgin territory; then me. (Link to Arthur’s Diary)
“What are you doing?” they asked in wonder.
“I’m carrying a cross.” I said calmly.
“From Mexico to Colombia.”
They could hardly believe their eyes. Me with a cross! And I could hardly believe my eyes either – two four-wheel drive vehicles! We had a lot in common. They let me preach to them. I was a sight to behold: a headband, dirty, torn clothes, a cross and a machete. They fed me a great meal, filled my pockets with food, and then I went on. Later they sent me photographs and a letter to my Hollywood, California, address. It showed what they saw when they arrived in the village that I had already been through. Mostly naked people with my little red “Smile, God loves you!” Jesus stickers on their chests. Guess I was doing my little bit for morality!!
* * *
I’ve been on the road for 21 days and finally made it to Pucuro. We were received by the New Tribes missionaries, the Browns. They have been here five years, trying to learn the language and being witnesses. There is a small airstrip, one of the two airstrips in all of this jungle. They are just so sweet; they gave me a room. I took a bath in the river and she fixed me supper with iced tea…wow! We talked and now I am in bed, a real wooden bunk bed. It makes me feel good. I have a lamp of my own, a room and a sheet. I feel like a king, and the closeness of Jesus is near. I feel I could look back and He would be standing there. Jesus, the Holy Spirit and His angels have been with me every step. I thought it was all planned out. I had worked on it. Everything was ready for us to be a great witness in the Darien. Jerry to film and photograph, Tom to interpret in Spanish, so we would have great rallies, preach, teach and sing. We got all these Bibles flown in, but then God seemed to say “I have something else. I am interested in you, Arthur, you and me in here. It’s not what you do for me, it’s who you are that I’m interested in. It’s your heart, your love, your peace I care about. Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit. Yes, everything to make this a great success is here. The means to film, photo and preach, but I have another way. You alone, the cross, a simple witness in this jungle, and stickers nothing more. Everyone will hear about the cross; this river walk is total. All will hear. I’ll use you in a simple way and I want you to just spend time with me. Don’t get so involved in preaching, witnessing, television, news, Sunset Strip, and cross-carrying crusades, that our time is lost.”
It is so great and glorious what God is doing in my heart. He has stripped me of everything but the cross. As for my supplies, Tom didn’t even send my wrench. If I had a flat I could not fix the cross. I didn’t have a patch. (I went all through the jungle and never did have a flat.) He sent me the weirdest things, but he didn’t send the wrench or the things that I needed the most. Not even a first aid kit.
I can only carry a few tracts, a few Bibles. It is just me, the cross and the power of God. Surely, it must look like a prophet out of the Old Testament coming through.
I ran out of water today and ate the last can of food for breakfast. Must live by grace, where I sleep, what I drink, what I eat; I must depend on Jesus for strength to climb the next hill; for His safety not to slide down the ravines and stick a spike in my body. I must trust Him to give me balance as I walk a log with the cross over a 20 foot ravine; I must trust Him to restrain the snakes, the bushmaster and the fer-de-lance.. .both deadly…. as I walk through tall grass and climb over logs.
I must trust Him that the water is not diseased, that I find a guide, that I don’t have an accident, that the cross or the wheel doesn’t break. Back to the simple, it must be God, for my Spanish isn’t good enough to save anyone and most of the Indians don’t speak it anyway. It is all through Jesus. No great story appeal or the right moment for the altar call… no great sermons.
I have written a book, “Arthur Blessitt’s Street University,” preached and witnessed on television and God has now put me in this jungle where He has cut me off from all my interpreters and says, “Now be My witness; love, care, and let the people see the tears. I want you to hurt, to cry and communicate, but I can’t get through. This is the way I feel. I want to speak to the people in the world but they can’t hear me. I speak the language of the spirit, of life and of heaven. There’s a speaking of the language of the flesh, death, hell, and suffering. I cry, I weep, I want to communicate,” it seemed God was saying. “Look around at all the people you know in evangelism and in the ministry who are doing great things for God, saving souls, teaching, healing the sick, prophesying. But think for a moment. You know many of them personally and the home life of some of the great leaders is but a shallow shell; the real spiritual life is empty; you know this. Now what they are doing is trying to make things too big for me, bigger and bigger, but I’m interested in their lives, their hurts. I want to heal their frustrations. It is just a disaster, yet they try to lead My people. I want their hearts, their emotions, their love, their interests. Not so much their time or big plans. I’m tired of hearing what people want to do for Me. I just want people to love Me, to love each other… then I will do what I will, for I am God. Everyone wants to plan a crusade or go somewhere, but few seem to have time for Me. Arthur, I’m more interested in who you are than what you do for Me. The world will be blessed as a result of the overflow of our relationship, but some would rather talk about Me than visit with Me or live with Me. Who will wash My feet with their hair? Who will anoint My feet with costly oil? Or, who will give a cup of cold water in My name, or a place to sleep, or visit a prison? Who will speak My name dripping in love? Who will bind up the broken hearted with friendship? Everything must flow from the heart of God or it is in vain, no matter what the result. The question is ‘who are you?’ not what is the result. We’ve come to believe that the end justifies the means in Christian circles, that, if people were being saved, we say it’s a successful ministry.’
Look at the size of that church, God must be blessing it. Not so, for Paul said, “Lest as I preach Christ I myself be a castaway.” Oh, Lord, keep coming, I’m hearing you clearly. Tune me in, I don’t want to miss anything you are saying.
“What I’m asking you to do is to obey Me, love Me, follow Me. It doesn’t have to be successful, you don’t have to have a bigger or better story than ever before, just be My disciple today. Sometimes I teach you, sometimes you share it. Always you live it. You have come this far by obeying Me, loving Me and doing the simple things. The Sunset Strip was the story of little things, like taking drunks home, spending hours with runaways and drug addicts. The walk has been one step at a time, day by day, not with television following you, or a book, or fame. You are now tempted to try to force success. You haven’t done it, but you are close. You must succeed, you are the expert. All the people want something. The pressure is to give it to them. But, no, I want you the way you are. Simple, complete and powerful I don’t want you to have to be captured on film or spoken of on TV or reported in newspapers; do everything only for me, for the good of the people…. only for the good… not for the glory or the fame. Interest will follow, not because you tried to get it, but it will always be because I did it.
“Like the other day in the heart of the jungle, I got you on television and they will put a story about you in a book or a magazine. You are in My will, you have not gone astray. But be warned… stop and clear everything else from your mind. Serve only Me. Do it only for Me. Let that be the criteria and I will use you to shake the world.”
You see, the thing is, that you are always tempted when you are known, to come back and tell a great story. You’ve got to have success. That is what has happened to so many evangelists. They have to have more conversions this month than they did last month; if you give an invitation, you can’t afford for no one to come forward; you are on television, people will think you aren’t getting any results. You have told everybody that if they don’t help you the financially work of God doesn’t get done, so you’ve got to produce. You know the whole financial thing as people have to get more stations, they have to get more “help me to save the world.” At every meeting a healing evangelist must have someoney healed (he can’t afford not to … it would be such a put down). Your whole ministry is at stake. God has to come through at this particular moment. He may choose to heal in the morning or whatever, but no, He has to do it at 9:00 at night after the invitation and if you don’t have any healings you have to stretch it so the whole ministry becomes sort of unethical in the sense that you are emphasizing a few high points (or you are producing them when they are not there).
And as for prophecy, there are not enough things happening that there are totally new revelations of prophecy every day. There isn’t enough in the Bible to fulfill all of that, but most of these prophecy teachers have to come up with something every week, a new revelation, or a new thing. It is conjuring up something because you have a weekly TV show and you have to have a new prophecy, you can’t just repeat the same old ones all the time. And all of Christianity has been caught up with this struggle and God is teaching me and you are the same. You tell them how to witness because you wrote a book. There is only one constant and that is … loving God!
* * *
I love you my Lord, my way, my life, my sunshine, my day, my night, my Father. You give all glory, not that I try to glorify You, You are all glory. It is just that I pray Your glory is reflected off of my life. Having You in me so that the glory is from You and to You and am blessed in the process of being in between.
This is powerful! We are just caught in between. His glory comes down and we reflect it back. See, we are not really working it up, glorifying Him. He is all glory… we just reflect a little of it.
Oh, thank you Lord, for caring about me enough to teach me more, to reveal to me more. I thank you that I am not as a machine producing decisions for Christ, not just a tool for You to use, but You are interested in our relationship, not what I am doing for You, but in me, a personal relationship.
It is like loving your wife and children so much that you want the best for them and you go to work; you want her to have a good home, a good car, television; the children good clothes, the best schools, and a college education. You work, you take a second job and give all of your time getting and giving to them, Meanwhile you neglect your wife and children, you are seldom at home, and when you are, you are tired and don’t ever enjoy your family. You don’t make time to play or spend time together and before long your life is wrapped up in what you are doing for your loved ones; you wake up and your relationship is destroyed because you did everything for them and nothing with them.
So it is with God. We get so busy studying, preparing, preaching, here and there in getting decisions and healing and praising God, doing everything for Him until we realize that as a person we are empty, our relationship with God is not really there. God got me into the jungle alone to talk with me, to cut me off from the noise of others and from any selfish effort of my own, to get my full attention, to moisten my heart, to equip me for battle, to clear up my head from the Los Angeles smog. Thank you, Jesus, continue to refresh me for witnessing. It’s like the Father said, “I don’t need anything you have. There is love me.”
I want you Lord, totally. Gloria. Adios.
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February 12th – A father gives a child a toy, but how it breaks the heart of the father if from now on the child loves only the toy and loses interest in the father
See, that is what a lot of people have done with the ministry. God gave them a gift or a calling and now they spend all of their time talking about it or thinking about healing or evangelism or planning crusades, and forget who gave them the gift! You can see God is getting hold of me.
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Lord help me through this jungle. My body aches, my toes are bleeding. You, Lord are the only one who speaks English – It’s good Father, for us to go on together from struggle to struggle.
I’m here somewhere in the village Paya. just me and these Indians with rings in their noses. I’m back with the Cuna Indians now; they sleep in hammocks. About 15 people live in this house, all having hammocks in this one room, young and old.
Oh, and I’ve been eating a lot of iguana. It’s good meat. I carry the iguana eggs with me. They roast them over a fire. People fish from the stream, drink its water, bathe in it, and go to the toilet in it, all at the same place. When you enter a village they give you a bowl of juice to drink. All day, as the women work, they chew corn, spit it into a big pot, add palm juice, let it sit in the sun and ferment, then they serve it. It is a must to receive and drink. Spit, chewed-up corn, palm juice…not so good, but prepared with tender loving care. Ha!
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February 15th – Oh, what a day! Nine hours walking in this jungle. Oh, my sweet Jesus, I need your help. I cry unto you. It is tough. Lord, I almost didn’t make it. I was struggling, lunging, crawling, falling up cliffs and mountains, wading through water and grass. It was the hardest struggle per hour that I have ever had. Some of these mountains I had to crawl up, pushing the cross a foot or two at a time. It was unbelievable. Going down I would fall, slip or slide.
I crossed nine rivers today. As I walked along the bank of one of them, it gave way and I fell into the mud and water. What a mess! I struggled on. I felt like an ape man, it was simply a battle to survive. I cut with my machete until my arm could hardly hold up the big knife. Vines wrapped around the cross; at times you could not even see the ground. This cross walk around the world is one of the most incredible trips ever undertaken by man. I tell you, I’ve lived.
I refuse to die in this jungle. If God wills in His power, I will make it. My heart is so tender, my mind is tough, my body is in pain. But, I’m going to make it by God’s grace.
I paid two men from the village to go with me to the river that flows into Colombia. It is a small stream here but if you miss it is hopeless. There is no way out of this mangrove swamp. As I reached the stream I dropped the cross and just fell into the knee-deep water, exhausted. I’m back to civilization; a pigpen beside the stream; the ground is wet and swampy so I put some boards across the top of the pen to sleep.
I write this by the setting sun. Tonight I sleep in the “Pig Hilton.” Those pigs never slept; they rooted and grunted and bumped my boards. They would even rub their backs on my boards. It was grunt, grunt, grunt, bump, bump, bump, all night. Plus all the sounds of the night and the awful smell. What a life!
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Some men from Colombia came by in a boat with long poles to push through the rock and swamp. They agreed to give me a ride south for some money. After awhile a motorboat came by. It was a Colombia government warden on his once- or twice a year tour of this area. He gave me a ride on his boat. What would have been a two or three day trip was accomplished in one day. Hour after hour we pushed with poles through the swamp, then we’d get to a clean area and he would run the motor. Finally to the big river Rio Atrato and then to the village of La Trevesa.
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I stayed with the wonderful black Colombians for two days trying to get a boat to Turbo. I think every person was converted to Christ. Finally, a banana boat came by, passing me up as I waved my shirt. I was praying it would turn around and let me on… cross and all. It turned around and let me on … cross and all.
They could not believe I had come through from Panama. All this area is swamp, no way to walk, a boat is a must. This banana boat along the river gives me an unbelievable feeling; the sound of the water, the vibration of the engine, the sun setting in the distance with a red glow on the water, me sitting on deck with the cross, surrounded by bananas and rope. What glory! What a wonderful, unbelievable feeling! Oh, thank you, Jesus.
When we got to Turbo it was almost midnight. The boat stopped and anchored, too dangerous to enter at night. Robbers and murderers so common on a Saturday night, they said. You could see the lights in the distance about a quarter of a mile away. I said, “No, I go.”
Finally, I paid a man $5 to take me to shore. He and a companion took a gun. As I got off the boat and onto the shore there was a crowd of big, tough, drunk and doped up men gathered. After the Darien Jungle, there was no cause for fear, but I knew it was dangerous. I looked at the meanest man, shook his hand and told him what I had just done, where I had come from and why I was carrying the cross. I said, “Where’s the best hotel?”
I then lifted the cross and put it on his shoulder. He was shocked, but the two of us walked into the center of that wild town, me with my machete swinging by my side, long hair, a full beard, a little bag with my hammock, and those big black men in a town of blacks……. what a sight!
The best hotel was so filthy I hung my hammock rather than lay on the bed but I’d made it. Glory!
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The next day I got a ride in a small plane to a big airport at Medellin, then flew to Bogota, spent the night, and on February 19, 1979 I was flying 35,000 feet on Avianca Airlines non-stop from Bogota to Los Angeles. I had made it from Mexico City to Colombia on foot! It had taken a year and a half. I was ready to get home. Tired and dirty, but full of joy. All glory to God!
I also carried the cross in Columbia the next year as I took the cross by boat from Peru to Brazil on the Amazon River. I would stop and carry the cross in villages and towns and cities along the way. One of these was Leticia, Columbia.
My daughter Gina was with me. We carried the cross all around this frontier town. The people were just great and the response was thrilling with many coming to Jesus.
My son Joel was with me when I carried the cross through Panama all the way from Costa Rica till we arrived at Panama City.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt