1973, 1985 & 1996
When I was in the Congo it was called Zaire. I was there three times.
On the first trip I drove across Zaire. I entered from the Central African Republic at Bangui and drove through the jungle to Kisangani, to Goma and then on to Rwanda. I was driving my Land Rover and what a trip it was. There was deep mud and dangerous rafts to ferry the Land Rover across the river. Plus the land was ravaged with war and poverty. Almost every store was empty and gas could only be purchased on the black market. But all glory to God I made it across to east Africa where I was to carry the cross.
On the second trip I was with Dr. Paul Crouch president of Trinity Broadcasting Network. We were working to establish Christian television stations in Africa. Dasey Osborne, an evangelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma was with us. She and her husband T. L. Osborne, a famous evangelist knew the president of Zaire. We arrived at the airport in the TBN airplane and were given a VIP welcome. We spent the night at a lovely hotel and then went to visit the president and his wife on their houseboat on the Amazon River.
We had a good visit and talked about the country and Christian TV and how it could help the people. I remember telling him about my cross walk. His wife is a very committed follower of Jesus. President Sese Seko Mobutu asked me to bring a Sunday message on the ship. I shared Jesus and the message of the Gospel. I gave an invitation to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Whether he prayed or not I do not know but he did say Jesus was his Savior.
The next time I was in Zaire was to carry the 12 foot cross. Denise, my wife and I took a boat across the river from Brazzaville where we had been carrying the cross in the adjoining country of Congo Brazzaville.
It was crowded and confusing to get to and on the ferryboat to cross the Congo River. We got the cross on the boat to Kinshasa. The boat was crowded and people were jammed everywhere. It was difficult to even get the cross on the boat. It was only a short ride until we arrived in Kinshasa. On the Zaire side we got off with the cross and after long lines and waiting we got through immigration and customs. Crowds of men were pushing and shoving to get us to do everything from change money to be our guide. I was giving out the gospel materials in French but they were interested in money. It was wild and glorious. People pulling and shoving and Denise and I were putting Jesus stickers on everyone.
We found a man to act as our guide and interpreter. The city was mostly non-functioning and people were living in office buildings and in hallways. People were friendly and welcoming. We had good talks with many people and prayed with many. Once we got into the streets the people were interested and eager to hear and try to talk with us. We gave out gospel material and carried the cross in different parts of the city. It was full of empty buildings and people living everywhere possible. It was beyond poor, if that is possible but the large buildings spoke of wealth that was not shared with the common people.
We had a powerful witness but left with a burdened heart for the poor and suffering people. This land has suffered so much.
This is one of the few countries where I have somehow lost the photos of carrying the cross in the nation. The photo below is just to give you an idea of the cross I carried in the Congo.
God have mercy and bless this nation.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt