The Cross in South Africa
by Arthur Blessitt
“We must let go of hurt lest it becomes hate and consumes us in the inferno.”
If you can’t love the one that hurts you the most, how can you love anybody!
To write about South Africa is to walk into the most controversial and emotionally explosive issue. Yet, I did walk there, fast there, and as I left, part of me remains there and I take their smiles, tragedies, hurts and joys with me for all the days of my life. The following is a true story. This is not the story of politics but something bigger – the Kingdom of God. During eight of the past twelve months, I have lived with and talked to more people of all races in more places in South Africa than any other person. Of this, there is little doubt. In all my time in South Africa: living, sleeping, walking, and having carried the cross on foot through most of South Africa and having fasted and prayed in the streets for 21 days, I can make this awesome statement: “I have not received one word of hatred, not one word of antagonism or criticism. I have only received love, kindness and beauty.” South Africa is filled with some of the most beautiful people one could ever know. I have walked among, eaten, slept, fasted and preached with the people of all the racial groups. Their love has overwhelmed me. This book tells of these experiences plus the message that was so welcomely received. There is reconciliation and peace around the cross.
Seven Days Fasting and Prayer
June 21, – July 1. 1986
The government of Pretoria had declared a national state of emergency… the front cover of Newsweek Magazine blared, “South Africans Civil War.” All public meetings were banned, news press was under censorship. The eyes of all the world were focused on South Africa.
I picked up the big 12 foot cross that had been my companion around the world and gave it a pat. Joshua, my fifteen-year-old son, stood beside me. His eyes had a special glow of commitment and no fear. He shifted his cross on his shoulders and said “Daddy, let’s go.” The two cross carriers stepped onto the sidewalk in the midst of the high, modern office buildings of downtown Johannesburg. The city is over a mile high and known the world over as the city of gold for the rich gold mines that are located underneath the city.
What was our future? The future of South Africa? For now, all that I could do was take that first step. The rest was in God’s hands. We moved off down the sidewalk toward Oppenheimer Park, which was to be our home for the next seven days and nights. We had walked only about a block when a well-dressed man rushed up. Tears burst from his eyes. He grabbed me trembling “Oh, Oh,” he tried to speak with a voice broken with emotion, “I am on the way to my office and through the traffic and crowds, I saw the cross! I saw the cross! That moment, the Lord filled me with His Holy Spirit and called me to preach. I shall leave my business and become a pastor. Thank God the cross has come to us. God bless you both.” The glory of God was upon us in mighty manifestation.
“Let’s pray, ” I said and then the three of us wrapped our arms about each other weeping and praying. He said that he must rush on to work but he would see us later in the park. This was the first drop of rain in the coming flood.
When we arrived at the park, there were some people there to greet us. I looked about for a place to put the cross and I noticed a low iron fence that separated the park from the pedestrian mall. I felt that was the exact place to lean the cross. Joshua put his cross down beside mine. There were some news reporters and a couple of television cameras. The park was crowded with people sitting eating their noon lunch. I greeted many of the people personally just before the big clock began to fill the city air with its chimes of twelve noon. It was June 24, 1986. Joshua and I knelt down to pray. What a team! Crowds began to slowly gather around as we prayed.
I had carried the cross in South Africa for almost four months from October 1985 through January 1986. After returning to Los Angeles, California in February, I became very ill. I had had a brain aneurysm in 1969 just before I left with the cross, which was again confirmed in 1984 and doctors stated that I was in critical condition. Now I was in great pain in my stomach. I had seen doctors in Los Angeles, Miami, London, Switzerland, and Oklahoma within a six-week period. Finally, I was in the City of Faith Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Paul Crouch, President of Trinity Broadcasting Network had taken me on the TBN airplane to the hospital. I arrived in great pain and got worse as the days went by. Test after test was made. Finally, on a Saturday night I was in such terrible pain, in the middle of the night the doctor was working with me. All he could do was try to kill the pain. On Sunday morning, I lay in the bed as Christians all across America were praying for me, having been notified by Trinity Television Network, the 700 Club Television, James Robison, and Richard Roberts Television programs. Somehow, God had mobilized Christians by the millions to focus their prayers toward me. I knew God had a reason for all this prayer. The room was filled with flowers and letters by the box. Then I felt the Lord speak, “Your mission is not finished in South Africa.” Those words shocked me but I felt peace even as I felt pain. I looked about me, grabbed a pen and wrote these words: “Oh God, I don’t want to die in a hospital room with cut flowers; I want to die on the road with real flowers growing. I don’t want to die with air from an air conditioning but with real wind blowing in my face.” I didn’t check out of the hospital. I just left. A few weeks later as the airplane took off from New York toward Africa, all pain left and has never returned. I wrote these words:
And now I fly away to fulfill my dreams
To put my life where my thoughts are
I cannot promise I’ll return, only that I want to;
The price may be too much for my flesh to escape,
But I will not bargain with God.
I smile…here I go.
Arriving back in South Africa after an absence of almost four months, I rented a car and drove to a hotel far from the city. I stayed in the room alone in prayer for three days. I needed to cleanse my mind, purify my heart, get rid of the United States culture; be filled with the desires of Jesus. I’m back in South Africa. Lord, where do I start with the cross? What now is your mission? I had already felt led of the Lord to have an Arthur Blessitt Street University Teaching in Johannesburg, Capetown, and Durban. These were already set up. This is a training of people in how to be an effective witness for Jesus, helping Christians to help others to experience the new birth into the kingdom of Christ. Little did I know how important this training was to be. I felt I should go to Rhema Church in Johannesburg on Sunday night before my teaching was to begin there on Thursday. When I arrived, the people saw me and took me to their wonderful Pastor Ray McCauley. He was so excited to see that I had arrived. Their church is a huge multi-racial fellowship that is moving in the power of God. The building seats over 5,000 people. As the Pastor was speaking, I was sitting on the front row. Suddenly, the glory of the Lord was overwhelming and I saw a vision of me sitting with the cross in the heart of the three major cities, fasting and praying for peace and reconciliation. As I sat there in the park, the glory of God was poured out and people were saved, healed and filled with the Holy Spirit. All races were gathering around the cross as one family.
I looked up. All around me and the cross, crowds had gathered…all races…one family. That Rhema church vision was now a reality in the heart of Johannesburg. There were tears in many eyes, smiles upon other faces and a curious eagerness upon the faces of others who were now gathering out of curiosity to see the cross, and a man and a boy praying in the park. I invited the people standing about us to join in prayer. Some began to pray out loud. Then for long periods, there was silence. Then someone else would pray, then I would pray. After the prayer I made a brief statement of what we were doing there:
“My name is Arthur Blessitt and this is my son Joshua. We’ve come to fast and to pray for seven days in each of the city centers of Johannesburg, Durban, and Capetown. I have walked around the world for seventeen years carrying this cross through eighty-three countries. We’ve walked across South Africa and as we’ve walked we’ve seen people of every color, of every background gathering around the cross along the roadsides. We’ve walked in the city centers, we’ve walked in the country, we’ve walked in the desert, and we’ve walked through Soweto, Crossroads and along the beaches. We’ve lived with the rich and the poor, have eaten your food and slept in your houses and I’ve seen all people gathered around the cross in peace, in love, in equality, and in reconciliation. After walking in South Africa for four months, I returned to America but God spoke to me and said, “Your mission is not finished in South Africa.” So we have returned. I thought I would be walking again but the Lord said, “Fast and pray for peace and reconciliation around the cross…
As I look at your faces, I see representative faces of all of South Africa. I am not here for politics. I am here for something greater — the Kingdom of God. My prayer is the declaration of the angels at the birth of Christ, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” It is the prayer of Jesus to the Father, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. At the cross of Christ, the worst of man met the best of God and peace was made through the blood of Jesus between God and man. I have come with good news. God loves you. There is hope, there is love, there is peace, and there is justice.
Let the love of Christ and the blood of Christ cleanse us from our sins and free us in the Holy Spirit that we may be one. We shall be staying here day and night without food and we shall sleep in this park. You are welcome to pray with us at any time and I am willing to pray for you also that your personal needs may be met. I am happy to be in this land. The Bible says, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” This land is not the devil’s land. He can’t have it in the name of Jesus. Some of you standing here may say, “Arthur, I didn’t come here to pray for South Africa. I need prayer I myself. I don’t even know Christ. I need to find Him.” If that is the need of your life to know Christ personally, to be set free from the bondage of sin, then I welcome you to know Jesus. I would just like to ask that those of you who want to find Christ today please lift your hands and I will have special prayer with you right now.”
As I looked about at the sea of faces that had gathered, hands began to be lifted up. Almost half the crowd wanted to receive Jesus. I invited them to come closer and those who knew Christ to step back. For five minutes, I explained how to receive Jesus and led them in prayer as they were born into the kingdom of God. I asked them to go stand under a tree and there some Christians would meet them and help teach them and give them gospel materials. The response was overwhelming. I could hardly believe my eyes. People began to step up requesting special prayer for themselves. This went on and on as we continued praying. It was like I had been here forever. As the word spread through the streets people came to be prayed for and to pray.
Christians would meet them and help teach them and give them gospel materials. The response was overwhelming. I could hardly believe my eyes. People began to step up requesting special prayer for themselves. This went on and on as we continued praying. It was like I had been here forever. As the word spread through the streets people came to be prayed for and to pray.
Just after two o’clock in the afternoon, I looked up from prayer and saw Pastor Ray McCauley with Pierre de Charmoy. Pierre is the number one pop star in South Africa. He is a young twenty-four year old singer from the Island of Mauritius, and has recently received Christ as his Savior. We had met earlier and he had come to join me in prayer. We greeted each other with a great hug. South African Television SABC just happened to be filming at that very moment. Pierre and I joined together in prayer for South Africa. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion. The buildings shook. I could see debris flying not more than a hundred yards away. A terrorist bomb had exploded in a crowded Wimpy’s restaurant. There was stunned silence for a moment. Pastor Ray, Pierre, my son Joshua and a couple of other ministers went racing to the scene of bloody destruction. I remained by the cross in prayer. I had been in such situations too many times before. I knew that they could handle the ministry with the injured. I would remain in prayer to fight the real enemy, Satan. Jesus said in John 10: 10 “The thief (Satan) cometh to steal, kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Everyone from the group had now run to help the injured. I knelt alone with my arms around the cross. As sirens made their wailing cry, I also cried, “Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus and pray for the binding of the demonic spirits that seek to steal the joy of life and the purpose of life, that seek to steal the peace on earth. I pray that the demons be bound that seek to kill men, women, and children, and destroy hopes and dreams, I pray against these forces of evil. I pray Lord, for those whose hearts are filled with murder and hate that You will change them as You changed Saul who sought to kill the early Christians and brought great terror upon the early church. He was converted and became Thy great preacher, evangelist. I remember Lord, how Moses murdered and yet he became a great prophet; how David murdered and yet found mercy and became Thy great servant. So too, I pray for these to be converted that have blown apart innocent lives.” Tears poured from my eyes as Joshua put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Daddy, it’s horrible. They even blew up a little baby. There is blood everywhere.” I place my arms around Joshua.
We had been together in Beirut, Lebanon and had seen such things in 1982. I thought of how much blood and death my son had seen and he’s only fifteen, from the time he was a baby in Belfast, Northern Ireland in that war, even to this day. Again, he whispered to me, “Daddy, sorry that this happened but if there’s any place that the cross should be, it’s here in the midst of this place. The cross should be where the people need the most. I’m glad we’re here.” We prayed for those who were injured. Soldiers and police were everywhere; police dogs were sniffing for bombs. Then, unbelievably, there was another explosion! This time, in a garbage bin outside the nearby Holiday Inn. More blood, more broken bodies. This modern city was being shaken by the horror of unknown terrorist bombings. The victims were black and white. These were crowded streets and restaurants. My heart was filled with overwhelming sadness and yet I knew that there would be no out cry from the world, because, that which would be condemned were it to happen in Los Angeles, London or Rome, is condoned and accepted if it happens in South Africa.
As I looked up, there was a huge crowd. People had come to pray. No one knew if there was another bomb, where it would be and when it would explode. There was no place to flee to safety but the cross was in the middle of their suffering and hundreds gathered. There was a deep sincerity that was indescribable, as men and women stepped up and said, “I want to know Christ.” As Christians prayed all about, lifting up their country, weeping and seeking peace, there was a bond of love and glory and urgency around the cross and a recognition that the only thing that could solve their problems was Christ, because the root of the problem lies within the human heart.
The first day of the fast and prayer had begun.
The following events took place during the next seven days in Johannesburg. I will try to share a sample composite of events. If I shared them all, just Johannesburg would be a book! However, the stories that I share will be in sequence of days, one through seven, to give you a feel for what took place.
A few days before the fast was to begin, I noticed in the center of my left hand, that there was a deep yet sharp burning sensation as if a coal of fire was dropped in my hand. The sensation would last for a few minutes and then would be gone. I didn’t know what was happening. Then, about a day later, the same thing began to happen to my right hand. Joshua flew in from Los Angeles to join me a couple of days before the fast began and as I told him about the sensation in my hand, I asked him to put his hand out in front of me then I laid my hand about half-an-inch in front of his, palm to palm. He suddenly withdrew his hand saying, “Ouch, that burns.” I knew that it was the work of God but I didn’t quite understand this unusual manifestation. The night before we began the fast, the bottom of my feet at the center part of the arch on both feet also began to burn. It was like I was baptized with fire and I could not explain what I was feeling. I told one man about it and when he felt the fire in my hand, he fell into my arms weeping for over an hour. As one middle-aged lady heard me telling another married couple, who were friends of mine, about what I was feeling as we sat at their dinner table, she said, “I am not a Christian. I’ve never felt anything about God. Let me see your hand.” When she felt my hand, she burst into tears and received Christ as her Savior. She is a very famous sports person in South Africa and the world, but I will let her give her own testimony so I will not give her name.
The manifestation of the glory of God in the park was so awesome. The hearings began like this: I was praying and talking to people on that first afternoon. It was about two hours after the bombings when suddenly a lady rushed up to me weeping and smiling. “What is this? What has happened?” I said, “What do you mean’,” She said, “I have been sick for years. I’ve been to the doctor today. I was walking along the pedestrian mall right there in great pain. Suddenly, I was completely healed. I’m in perfect health. I have no pain! I stopped, looked around, and I saw that cross! What is happening,” The lady was in complete shock and in perfect health as I explained our mission, prayed with her and she received Christ. She went on her way rejoicing saying, “I’m going to send my sick friends to this park.” She was never prayed for; she was healed by the sovereign work of God. When people saw and heard this, another lady stepped out of the crowd. She was crippled with arthritis in her knees, elbows and fingers. She said, “Pray for me.” Now, basically, I am an evangelist having walked around the world preaching. I have seen the outpouring of healing mostly for a matter of hours, the longest outpouring was ten days, but for me, this is not a normal occurrence. I believe in the healing power of Christ but I have not regularly seen this on a daily or even monthly basis. So I was normally as shocked as the person healed to see this series of astounding physical miracles. I prayed for this lady. Now, often when people pray for the sick, they get loud, or long, or very dramatic. But my relationship with Jesus is as a friend to a Friend (John 15:15); I know that He hears my prayers so I resolved to pray either silently or with only a whisper. My belief is that loudness is not necessarily more persuasive with God and I decided not to make the prayers very long. God can do something in a moment. And, thirdly, as has been my custom in the past, I don’t try to make anything abnormally dramatic out of the healing itself. I don’t need to prove God. He is. That is irrefutable. But simply to let the hearings be a part of the normal everyday workings of God because the true evidence of a person’s healing is that their family and friends know it. Yet, to make a long story short, this lady was completely healed.
At about ten o’clock at night, a large crowd was gathered in prayer. A man tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Would you help this lady?” There stood a lovely black lady sobbing. I said “Madam, what is your problem?” There in front of all the people, she said, “My two brothers have just been burned to death by necking.” Now, “necking” is the new vicious and horrible way of terror that is taking place in many of the black areas. In order to intimidate these who are working at jobs, who may be paying their rent, or who will not join in violence, or who hold any position of responsibility, or in any way are branded as cooperatives with the government, authority, or business, sometimes mobs of teenagers or young men will take a person from their house or their car, put an automobile tire over them with their hands and body jammed inside the tire, pour gasoline on them in the tire, and set them on fire. This is the form that many of the killings in South Africa take. Her two brothers, who had families, had been burned to death this way that night. Someone had told her in the afternoon that they had seen a man with a big cross that was going to be staying in Oppenheimer Park. Upon hearing of the deaths of her two brothers, she said to her friends, ‘Take me to the cross, take me to that man with the cross. I need prayer.” The entire crowd was weeping. Pierre de Charmoy, South Africans most popular singer, was sitting in the crowd without his guitar. I was holding the lady in my arms. I turned to Pierre and said, “Dear lady, Pierre is going to sing to you, just you. We want you to know we love you and Jesus loves you;” and Pierre, choking with tears, sang her one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. She prayed and welcomed Christ into her life as her Savior and Lord. She even left with a smile. She came back again and again during the next week.
As the cross was leaned against the low iron fence, it became the headrest for my bed. My bed was a sleeping bag on the cold ground. Many people picture Africa as being tropical heat with hot, humid nights, which it is north of here and also during the summertime, but this is South Africa and the summertime in the northern hemisphere is wintertime in the southern hemisphere. This is the height of the winter. The nights and most days are very cold.
Johannesburg is over a mile high. The nights are usually about freezing temperature from one to four degrees Celsius and the daytime from fifteen to twenty-three degrees Celsius, with very strong cold winds blowing. This means that I was, most of the time, wearing gloves, two pair of socks, thermal underwear, a cap like a ski cap that pulls down over the ears and often the crowds and myself were wrapped in blankets. At night, after midnight, a small group of us would lay down a plastic sheet and put our sleeping bags side by side in a row and sleep, or at least attempt to sleep people kept coming all through the night for prayer. In order for me to get any sleep, we tried to have a few people awake and praying so that they could talk to the people in the late night hours. As I crawled into my sleeping bag, with my head under the cross looking up at the star filled night, I thought — there is nowhere better for me to be than in the cold, in the night, in a park, with the cross, in the heart of troubled South Africa. This is where the cross is supposed to be. Just as I prepared to go to sleep, Pierre de Charmoy arrived with his guitar and for hours we sang through the night. He would sing and then I would sing my Arthur Blessitt “road music.” He said, “I like your songs” and I told him I liked his. Then we felt we should do one together. And, there, at four o’clock in the morning in the cold, after a day of bombing, prayer, heartache and joy, we wrote the story of our dream in a song that has now been recorded by him, with a video that we made, also with me singing (Ha!) called “One Family” for that truly is our dream, as it was the dream of Christ in John 17:22 “that they may be one.”
Oh, dear God, it’s glory! I sit in awe. It is total and constant people coming to the cross. I write about this day on the third day because actually, on the second day, there was not even one moment to write. I am completely exhausted. I have had no sleep now in two nights and two days. Of course, I’m fasting so I haven’t eaten either. A great crowd had gathered and as we were praying, a drunken man came by. He was very loud and seemed almost out of his mind. Many of the people thought he was disturbing us. I stopped praying and said, “Friends, if you wanted quiet meditative prayer, you should have stayed at home or a church. The cross is in the middle of the city and in the middle of the city there are drunk and lonely people. My father had many drunk and hurting nights. Pardon me as I leave you for a moment. I’m going to take him over to the side and talk with him.” As we sat and talked on a park bench, he reached into his pocket and pulled out an old beaten-up photograph and identity papers. He had been a military commander with the British forces during World War II. The scars of war were still ravaging his life. We prayed together and he left a new creation in Jesus Christ. II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
As I sat praying and as others were praying, I was looking about at the crowd. I saw a lady and a man approaching us. The man was half carrying the lady as she was shaking and obviously severely crippled. I got up and went to meet them and we sat down together on a park bench. They had heard about the cross and wanted to come. They were both new born Christians. She had tried to commit suicide sixteen months ago and the aftermath was severe brain damage, with difficulty in walking and speaking. Her hands shook uncontrollably. When I asked if she could write, her husband said, “No.” He said only three days ago, she had to sign a document. By holding her hand, they were able to make an almost indistinguishable X. The Spirit of the Lord moved upon me to pray for her. I put her shaking hands in mine and slowly began to pray quietly as I touched her arms and her shoulders. Her hands became calm and her arms were no longer shaking and the Lord spoke to me that she’s going to be a great writer. As I took out the pen from my pocket, I said, “Here, this is your pen. I want you to write me something.” She said, “I can’t write.” I said, “I believe now that you can.” She took the pen in her hand. I said, “write Jesus,” and she did, as clear as I could have, and then she began to write more. She was so excited and her husband was ecstatic! God had performed another astounding work before my eyes. On Sunday, June 29, five days later, she and her husband came back. For the first time in sixteen months she could walk one hundred steps without support and she had written me a letter!
A man brought a sheepskin blanket and gave it to me so I slept last night after midnight and woke up at 5:30am feeling much better. I took a bath in a hotel room, but one wonderful thing happened. A pharmacist who has a shop only one block away gave me the key to their toilet, so now, we can go to the bathroom nearby.
Today was glorious, absolutely glorious! Hundreds and hundreds were converted. Crowds gathered without end throughout the day and night. Many Christians and pastors have now come to help. After inviting the crowd to receive Christ, someone takes them to the side for counseling. We now have interpreters in five or six local African languages as well as gospel material in those languages. Mr. Richard Scallan, my dear friend from Durban, came to spend the day with me in prayer.
An elderly lady came rushing up to me, interrupting a conversation I was having with someone. “Arthur, Arthur,” she cried, “I met you in Windhoek, Southwest Africa, in January. You prayed for me and gave me your book ‘Arthur, A Pilgrim’. I love you, l love you. I have written to you and you have written back.” I said, “What are you doing here,” She said, “I was visiting some friends here in Johannesburg and I read this morning in the newspaper that you were here. I came to see you.” It was such a wonderful reunion. Then she said something to me: “I am deaf in my right ear, completely deaf and it’s been that way for years. That’s why I always turn my head when I speak to you. Do you think there is anything you can do to help my ear,” I smiled, laughed and hugged her and just put my hand over her ear and said, “Jesus, this dear, sweet lady who loves You so much wants this ear healed. Now I can only ask You as a friend to a friend. She’s so sweet, Lord, if You will, heal this ear just as a special blessing to her.” I was smiling and hugging her. She was so sweet, just like a mother or a grandmother to me. I put my hand over her other ear and whispered softly in what was to be the deaf ear, “I love you; do you love me,” “Yes, yes” she hollered. “I love you and I can hear you.” She plugged up her good ear with her own finger and I whispered from far away. She was healed and I was laughing. “You must come to my house. You must come back to South West Africa. Everyone is waiting for you.” She stayed with us for a long time.
While I was talking to that lady and other people that had gathered, a wonderful young lady and friend of mine, Brigitte Hupkes, was giving out gospel material in the mall area only a few feet away. A lady was sitting holding her child. Brigitte spoke with the mother, shared Christ and the lady gave her heart to the Lord. The three-year-old boy was still sitting in his mother’s lap. After receiving Christ, the woman said to Brigitte, “Would you pray for my child?” Brigitte said, “Did you come here for prayer”‘ She said, “No, I just sat down to rest for a moment and I saw that big cross and now you have led me to Jesus. Now would you pray for my son? He is crippled. He has never walked. His right leg is stiff and his right arm is stiff.” Brigitte had never prayed for anyone to be healed so she looked for me. She saw that I was busy and the lady insisted that she pray. So with stumbling words, she prayed for the child. The child didn’t move and nothing seemed to have happened. In a few minutes, she came to me and said, “Arthur, I just led a lady to the Lord and her son is crippled and has never walked and she wants prayer for her boy and I don’t know how to pray for the sick. Would you please come pray for this child?” I asked the people to excuse me for just a moment and I went with her to where the lady was sitting just behind the cross. Brigitte pointed to the lady and said, “That’s the lady and that’s—–” She stopped. I said, “What?” She was speechless. I stood looking about for this crippled child. All I could see was a small boy about three years old, walking around. The mother was sitting there in stunned silence and so was Brigitte, standing in stunned silence. “Where is the boy?” I said to Brigitte. She stammered in her speech, pointed her finger at the little child standing alone and she said, “That’s him.” I said, “I thought the boy couldn’t walk.” Brigitte said, “He couldn’t. I felt his leg. It was stiff.” The boy’s leg was completely healed and he was walking but his arm was still crippled. I took the little boy in my lap, prayed for his arm and put him down and he stood upon his feet alone. Then I held his good hand with my hand and offered him a gospel pamphlet toward what had been the crippled hand. He reached up and took the gospel tract in his fingers. A great rush of joy and laughter burst forth from all of us.
Without any announcement, as people had seen what happened, a huge crowd gathered. It was absolutely unbelievable. Hour after hour crowds came and every fifteen minutes to half-an-hour, I would stop praying just long enough to invite those who wanted to receive Jesus to be converted and they were saved by the hundreds. We had to ask the Christians to call their friends to get more counselors to come and help.
Tonight there is a big crowd of people. There are so many people wanting prayer, and drunks that need counsel, it’s difficult to keep control. It’s just almost totally holy, glorious chaos. So many people wanted to spend the night until we had to ask some of them to please go home to their own beds because the park was beginning to look like a campground. I could not sleep all night. I would rest for a while, but not sleep. Everything is too beautiful! The stars, the moon, the sound of the chimes of the clock every quarter hour, the people of all races and the quiet glory of God. If I had only lived one day, today, it would have been worth my time on this planet. Oh, I almost forgot! A couple got married this morning and the first thing they did was come to the cross and ask for prayer before going on their honeymoon!
I tell you, it goes on. Just awesome! All day and night people coming to the park praying, weeping, receiving Christ, getting right with God, and being healed. It seems like it is raining love.
At dawn this morning, there were over fifty people praying. The pigeons are a mess. Everywhere you look there are pigeons. This is their favorite resting place and feeding place. People throw breadcrumbs on the ground and five hundred pigeons converge. The whole area is covered in pigeon squat and me, the cross, and Joshua, along with all the people. So many of the unemployed blacks come here in the daytime. Many poor unemployed and needy people are here as well as those of all races who work in shops and offices. It’s very cold today. If anyone is making their bed with the poor, this is it. The glory of God is evident in an awesome way as the peace of God blankets this area. People say that when they step on these park grounds or come within say a hundred feet of here, they can feel a complete difference. The presence of the Lord is so evident.
Tonight a lady was walking by with no knowledge of what was here. She did not believe Christ died on the cross and that He was the Divine Son of God. But as she saw the cross and us sitting around it, God gave her a vision of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and then of Him being crucified on the cross. We noticed her standing at the edge of the crowd weeping. We here all sitting down wrapped in blankets and heavy coats. I said to her, “Why are you weeping?” and she told us. I invited her to the cross. She kneeled at the cross weeping and received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior She was gloriously changed. We gave her gospel material and a Bible. Someone offered to give her a ride home but she said, “No, I will walk home. I’m not afraid. I have my gun with me,” and she held up her Bible. She came back often to visit us.
Yesterday a man came to me who owns a jewelry store. He vas very excited and said, “Next time you need to go to the toilet, please come to my store. I have something to give you.” Later that afternoon, Joshua and I went and the man gave me a beautiful gold ring with the word FAITH engraved in it and a Cross on top. I thanked him for the gift but said that I did not normally wear gold jewelry and I could only accept it if I was free to give it away if I felt so led. Hesitantly, he agreed saying, “I know this ring is for you.” The next morning after I had taken a bath, I had planned to leave the ring with my clothes but the Lord said, “Take the ring to the park. The man that the ring is for will come before noon.” I placed it in my pocket. The crowds were all around the cross, people of all races, but suddenly, one tall, handsome, black man with his wife and infant baby caught my special attention. “This is the man that you are to give the ring to,” I felt the Lord whisper. I went to him and we began to talk.
He had come from the north of South Africa in the black homeland of Gazankulu from a town called Giyani. He had heard about the cross and the man praying and they had come to see me. When he told me where he lived, I said, “That’s near Venda and I feel that God wants me to carry the cross up there.” The man got so excited. “Come to me. I will walk with you. You can preach at our church. You can stay at my house. ” Then he stopped abruptly, looked at me and hesitantly asked, “Do you sleep in black people’s houses?” Looking him straight in the eye, I answered, “No,” pausing for a moment. He stood in silence. Then I continued, “I stay in people’s houses. I don’t care what their color. At the end of the day, I sleep with the people that I’m among whether they are Chinese, Indian, European, African or whatever color.” He grabbed me and gave me a big hug and his wife said, “You will sleep in our bed.” Then I said to him, “Will you give me your hand? I have something special for you. You can do with it as you will. Keep it, give it away, or sell it.” Then I placed the ring on his little finger, which was a perfect fit. He could not speak. I said, “I’ll see you in Giyani in August.” The rest of the story will be told later in the book. His name was Piet Mabunda.
Gustar Mnguni, a black lady, has become my dear friend and companion. She was here in the park the first day we arrived. She was so dirty, it’s impossible to describe. Her poor condition was beyond words. But she received Christ as her Savior that day as Peter Rahme, a local evangelist who is helping me here, prayed and counseled with her. She has been spending her days and nights here. If people tried to give me money, I would say, “No, I don’t take money, but you can give it to that lady over there.” Soon she was in clean clothes and well dressed. She was a new person. Her smile was one of the most radiant I’ve ever seen. She was planning to go to church tomorrow and yet I saw that her shoes were only rubber from an automobile tire tube wrapped with string. I had one of the Christian young ladies take her to a shoe store and buy her some new shoes. She is so beautiful inside and out. She has become like a sister to me. She keeps the place clean, keeps all our gospel material in order, shares Christ with everybody and is a powerful witness. A well-dressed man came by this afternoon. He looked at her and said, “Is that really you,” She began to laugh. He looked at me and said, “Why, this woman is a very famous singer here. She has sung in the best night clubs and has also been a great actress in the theater.” She looked at him and said, “Jesus picked me up from the dirt,” and she smiled. She is now active in church and is singing in a gospel band at the huge Rhyme Church in Johannesburg.
It’s unbelievable. I brought several hundred dollars here to give out to the poor and needy and yet after five days, I have more money than I started with. I turn away the gifts but people keep sticking money in my pockets, or laying it beside the cross. I keep giving it away and it keeps accumulating. What a blessing to be a funnel of help to those in need. One of the greatest needs every day and night is the people who have no jobs. It breaks your heart when people ask you to pray for them to find work. One man was walking by today and heard me praying for people to be able to get a job, for God to heal and bless the economy so that there is work for people, good wages so they may have the personal dignity of a job. The man came up. I prayed with him to receive Christ. He said, “Now Jesus will go with me and help me to find a job.” He came back tonight to say, “Thank you. I’ve been without a job for five years. Now I have work. I’m laying carpet. I can now face my wife and children. Oh, thank You Jesus.”
Tonight, I saw one of the most glorious things that anybody could ever see. There was a group of soldiers in uniform who were called up from the Reserves during the state of emergency. They are on active duty doing patrols in the huge black township of Soweto with approximately one-and-a-half million inhabitants. These young men are deeply committed to Christ and I had met them in a church about two weeks ago. Around the cross were people from all over the greater Johannesburg area and there were many blacks who lived in Soweto, who were deeply committed to Christ and were there praying. Somehow, the white soldiers and the black residents of Soweto met each other. They moved away from the crowd and I noticed this group of soldiers and blacks sitting together on the grass talking, praying together and smiling. After about an hour, I walked over to speak to them and discovered what was happening- They were together as brothers and sisters in Christ talking about their children and families. As the soldiers came to know these men and women, they said, “Could we all come over and gather around the cross and pray together for the healing of South Africa, for the end of hate, death and injustice, for understanding, love, and peace? Because of Christ and the cross, we are one family.” We gathered around the cross together. A great crowd of people joined us. We were smiling and weeping and praising God. This is the hope of South Africa. This is the real South Africa. It’s only a shame that the world could not see this picture as well as the other pictures. They exchanged addresses and all wanted copies of the pictures that I took. What a glorious day!
This afternoon, the glory was so great! For two hours, we could not have a prayer for South Africa because each time we tried to pray, the lost would speak up, “I need to find Christ.” Hour after hour. Finally, I had one prayer for South Africa and then for four hours more, hundreds of people were saved. It is becoming impossible to pray for South Africa as so many needy and hurting people are coming to be prayed for themselves.
A Colonel in the South African army came to see me tonight. He said, “My men are so inspired with what is happening here, they all have your Jesus stickers. I just wanted to say thanks for coming to South Africa. Our country and my men are blessed with your presence.”
The work of God’s Spirit is almost completely out of control. Hundreds are gathered around the cross and at one time, I counted fifteen groups praying in the park, as they could not get near enough to the cross to hear the prayers.
People wanting to receive Christ awakened me at 6:30 this morning. About nine o’clock, a lovely girl named Isabel Pinto came by to celebrate her twenty-first birthday and for us to dedicate her life to Jesus.Someone had brought flowers and put them on the cross. I gave her the bouquet of flowers. I can never forget her smile.
A mother brought her sixteen-month-old boy whose feet, legs, and hands were drawn up in paralysis. It was one of the worst case you could ever see. I whispered a prayer for him. His legs straightened out, received strength and he could stand on his legs. One of his arms and hands began to work. The other one was still crippled. His mother and friends were ecstatic. All afternoon people came by the hundreds to be saved and healed – I’d say at least two out of three were completely healed. I feel very weak today but full of joy and glory.
Just a thought… the problems are so complex. It confounds the wisest of world leaders, yet so simple as a child – love and trust.
This afternoon was unreal. A constant flow of people coming to be prayed for. It was so absolutely glorious! I prayed for people so long, I did not have the strength to stand. I sat down, leaning against the cross, and put a pad down in front of me. People came and knelt, one or several at a time. They were converted and we had people to counsel them. Others were healed. People are coming from miles around. I am completely exhausted. I have never seen anything like this during a fast.
This is my last night here. Before midnight there was a small group of some of the regular people who had been helping me that were staying the night. I felt that we should have a communion and remembrance of our Lord Jesus, with the bread in remembrance of His body and the wine in remembrance of His blood that was shed for our sins. We had this powerful communion time together as we spoke, sang, ate the bread and drank the wine in remembrance of Christ who was also present with us. Since 1963, when I serve communion, I always have footwashing as Jesus did on the night that He served the bread and the wine. Afterward, He washed the disciples’ feet as recorded in John chapter thirteen. I will explain more about footwashing later. But since the night was very cold, about freezing, a strong wind was blowing and we were wrapped in blankets, I thought and then I said, “Well, for the first time in twenty-three years, I guess we won’t do the footwashing.” Since no one else had ever had footwashing, they didn’t seem to mind but I felt this inner emptiness that it just wasn’t complete. I needed to go to the toilet before going to sleep. Peter Rahme, who was spending the night also, said, “I need to go with you.” On the way, I was talking about how important footwashing is. As we entered the toilet and we were washing our hands, he said, “Well, here’s water” and I said, “Do you want to have footwashing,” He had been with me all week, day and night and is a real brother in Christ. He said, “Yes, let’s do it. I’ve never washed feet before and Jesus said we should.” We looked about for a place to have footwashing. We discovered an empty package of Dunhill cigarettes that we opened up and laid out on the footrest of the urinal. He sat down and I washed his feet with toilet tissue. Then I sat down and he washed mine. We were laughing and crying and rejoicing. It was the most glorious and best footwashing of my life. Hallelujah!
Last Morning of Fast
This morning we had huge crowds hour after hour. Massive numbers were saved but I will share just one small story. Last December, as I carried the cross out of Soweto, I met an Indian boy as I looked for a place to spend the night. He welcomed me to his home and there I had supper, met the family and all received Jesus as their Savior. I parked the cross in their house and spent the night. The next day with many tears we said good-bye and I walked on. He lived in the town of Lenasia. This morning, he came to the cross. We were so happy to see each other. I discovered that his brother, whom I had prayed with, had been killed in an accident in January and Shawn Reshawn, now eighteen years old, was looking for a job and could find no work. He is now responsible for his mother. I felt such compassion to help him. I spoke to the crowd, told his story and said, “Is there some businessman in this crowd that will give my friend a job,” One man immediately raised his hand and Shawn had his first job. I also forced him to take some money to help with his family. My heart rejoiced at Shawn’s employment but also broke at the blindness of a world that wants to see South Africans without a job and with no understanding of the personal human and emotional suffering that it brings. As the clock’s chimes rang out twelve noon, we were gathered in prayer. So many people were crying, people were kissing us, loving us, and their faces I may see no more till we meet in heaven. There was sadness and joy as I picked up the cross with Joshua beside me. Seven days and nights. The Johannesburg fast and prayer was history, but a living history. I left my heart with those people and carried theirs with me. As Joshua and I walked the few blocks back to our room, we were excited about our first meal. It was to be Japanese Sushi. We put the cross in the hotel baggage room and went to eat. On our return, going up the elevator, there was a horrendous blast another terrorist bombing! It had exploded not fifty yards from our door and just at the corner near where we had walked. Even in the midst of glory and prayer, the evil agents of Satan had placed a bomb in a garbage container on a crowded street full of all races of people. More bodies lay broken, bloody and dismembered. A grim reminder of what peace and love and understanding is up