1981 & 1990
I carried the cross in Hungary in 1981 during the days of communist rule. Jesus told me to start at the city limit sign and carry the 12-foot cross from the city of Budapest across the nation to Szeged. At that time all public witness and evangelism was banned.
Shortly after I stared the crosswalk police came and tried to talk to me. Then they left and I walked on. Two of my young sons were walking with me. I had my children Gina, Joel, Joy, Joshua, Joseph and Jerusalem with me and the family moved ahead in our car pulling a caravan to where we stayed at night.
Different ones walked with me each day. The people were friendly but we had no
interpreter. As the days passed the police would wave and smile as they passed.
One man stopped and said the people were deeply touched and interested but afraid
to be seen with the cross.
One day Joel and I were walking with the cross and came to a town called Kiskunfeleg Yhaza. We went into a restaurant to eat. People crowded about to greet us. In a few minutes a police car raced up and three officers rushed in with clubs in their hands. The spoke no English, but we figured out they wanted to see our passports. I showed them our passports and photos with Pope John Paul II. They were excited, shook our hands and left. The people saw that we were okay and now rushed to us in the restaurant and mobbed us both inside and when we left. We were like heroes.
We arrived in Szeged on July 29. The next morning I got ready to carry the cross out of the campground. A policeman met me at the gate and stopped me. Soon two top police officers arrived. A lady from the camp interpreted. They were very nice but explained that I had to have a permit to do anything religious outside a church. I could not carry the cross to the border about 10 miles away.
They said there had been discussions at the top level of the government and they found no one had given me permission. I explained that God had! They smiled but insisted that I could not go on. I said, “Let me pray.” I lay down and prayed and felt Jesus tell me it was all right to stop now. I had already walked where He wanted me to walk.
I will never forget the police wanted me to give them my autograph, a photo and a copy of my book! I even had a prayer for them. I put the cross on the car and drove to the border of Yugoslavia.
Nine years later, in 1990 I was back to carry the cross into the heart of Budapest. My wife Denise was with me and she drove our Land Rover.
So much has changed since those hard days of communist rule. It was a glorious walk as crowds of people gathered around. Perhaps the most eager people were those from the Middle East that are trading money and other things on the streets.
They were coming up wanting to talk, looking at the pictures of me carrying the cross in the Middle East. It was a great
and powerful witness. When I was here in 1981 I would go to a church near the city’s center. Only a few old people
would come in this very beautiful, but completely rundown church. I spent hours sitting in the church praying. I came
back to find the same old church but discovered that it was being refurbished, another sign of the good things that happen
when atheist communism is overthrown. From the suppressive communist rule, now democracy flourishes in this splendid city and so does the good news of Jesus Christ as we met many believers.
Jesus did it. All glory to God.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt