In the summer of 1989, after walking through Ethiopia, I went to the adjoining desert country of Djibouti. It was a wonderful experience to carry the cross in Djibouti, a very small country by the Red Sea, joining Ethiopia and Somalia. Basically it is a French army outpost. The French have their Air Force, Navy, Army, and thousands of troops stationed in Djibouti ready for war. These are tough troops, the African Corps and French Foreign Legion. Even though Djibouti is an independent country, you might say that the French government controls it. It is a chaotic desert land made up of peoples from many different tribes, a large number of them refugees from the wars in Ethiopia and Somalia.
I began carrying the cross from Arta. The poor folks out in the desert are about the poorest people I have ever seen anywhere. It is so bad even the camels are about to starve to death. It’s very, very hot, about 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The people in Djibouti are not nearly as friendly as in Ethiopia. Perhaps it is their resentment against the French. When I neared the town, I saw people drinking water out of holes, as big beautiful cars go by. What a contrast in living.
I made it with the cross through Djibouti and into the city. It was one of the hottest walks that I’ve ever made. Whatever life may be from here on in let history record I carried the cross through Djibouti. Up at 5:00 a.m. to carry the cross in the desert. Wild camels are along the roadside; it is hot and dry, then to the city with poor huts for the people. Just tin or cardboard boxes cover the people from the heat. After all the years the French have been here, too.Not even a supply good running water is inhumane. There is only one business and that is the military – war and weapons. The poor live in the most terrible conditions; it is a shame on the human race for such unbelievable poverty to exist in the midst of so much wealth. The French troops themselves were very friendly to me. They have been stopping, waving, giving me water, wanting Jesus stickers. I can only speak a few words of French, but some of them can speak English. A lot of the local people have been very cold, even beyond that very hostile – shouting at me, waving at me, screaming at me.
A few could speak a bit of English, shouting, “Get out of Djibouti.” Instead of stopping or making any detour I went straight into downtown right down the main street of town. I may die but I will never be intimidated. A German military officer, an advisor for the Djibouti Department of Defense stopped. He had read about me. He gave me his military badge and invited me to his birthday party.
Finally I arrived at the Sheraton Hotel where I was staying. It created quite a stir. Everyone seemed happy except the manager, who said that the cross could not be kept in my room even unbolted. He was so nasty. The porter showed me where the cross could be kept in the service hall. He and the desk manager were very angry at the manager of the hotel saying, “Why they even let the guests keep dogs in their room, why not let you keep your cross in the room, it is unbolted, it causes no damage, there is no problem and the baggage room is empty.”
I decided to leave this hotel. It is a battle to make it on the road, it takes a quite determined, harmless, tough road fighter to do it, praise God. God chose me. Ask Him why, but by God’s grace, I’ve carried the cross down the devil’s throat around the world. He is so angry and is throwing a fit, doing everything to stop the cross. It is for God and by God’s grace that I fought, struggled and have gone on all these years, through wars and jails, and miles and continents and I am not going to stop now. Hallelujah, Glory to God.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt