We received a VIP welcome on the pilgrimage of peace and blessings.
The cold wind sent chills through our light thin desert clothes as we
walked towards the VIP building inside the Iraq border. I was excited
and praying as the 12 foot cross weighed upon my shoulders and
each step was glory. Denise was smiling and saying, “Isn’t this won-derail!” Beside us was our wonderful guide and driver Mr. Amer, he did a fabulous job explaining our mission and helping us get through the borders. Also, alongside was a fairly young rifle carrying soldier who was accompanying us from the border checkpoint to the VIP welcome. Several western diplomats were leaving the VIP building and seemed in utter shock to see the arriving cross! I waved to them and as we reached the entrance. The head of the VIP area stepped forward and welcomed us as pilgrims for God, love and peace. He said, “You are welcome in Iraq! We are happy you have come to pray! We need more people like you.” This stunning and warm welcome was the culmination of another awesome miracle
of God to get the cross carried in every nation. After having made the miracle cross walk through the desert into Saudi Arabia from the UAE, we changed our flights and flew from Dubai to Amman, Jordan the next day.
Wednesday – We arrived at the Hotel Radisson where Denise had felt
led to stay as we looked at the hotels in Amman on the internet before we left. As we drove up in the taxi I saw Hisham Tours and the Lord said, “Go there, don’t even look for another. I have the trip arranged!” In the afternoon, I walked the one block to the tour agency and then spoke with Mr. Bashir Daoud and told him of our desire to go to Iraq. Either with a visa or if not we needed a driver to take us to the border
and we would try it ‘face to face’. They arrange big tours but he seemed deeply moved with the mission of the cross. We decided to meet the next day after our inquiry at the Iraq embassy. He told us that the following week everything would be closed for the Hajj. The Muslim Hajj is a pilgrimage trip to Mount Arafat and Mecca. Now was the time!
Thursday – Early in the morning we arrived at the Iraq Embassy. Denise and I had been there many times in September and October of 1990 trying to get a visa to Iraq. It is the same building but a more organized procedure. After speaking to two officials they said we must have an invitation from Baghdad. They would not even given us a visa application form. As we left, instead of being discouraged, we moved on to plan II! We returned to the hotel and talked and prayed then went immediately to see Bashir and said, “We want to go the border tomorrow!” We could feel the Spirit of God pressing us on. Bashir said he could not get this trip off his mind and knew just the man to take us. He phoned and had me speak to Mr. Amer. One of his tours had been canceled and he could take us to the border the next day. He has made the roundtrip from Amman to Baghdad over a hundred times! Everything was now set for Friday – the Muslim holy day. I prayed off and on all night.
Friday – We left the hotel at 8:00 am. When Mr. Amer arrived he wondered, “What is that?” pointing at the cross bag. I had to explain our mission with the cross and our desire to carry it ‘inside’ Iraq. He was shocked but then began to understand and got very excited about the trip. The driver took us through the desert about 200 miles on a good highway that was full of heavy trucks going and coming from Iraq. I had Amer stop before the Jordanian checkpoint near the border. I took the cross out of the bag and bolted it together. The temperature was about 65 degrees Fahrenheit with a cold wind. We have a photo album with photos of many world leaders greeting us and welcoming the cross as well as the latest Guinness Book of Records that lists this as the world’s longest walk. Amer went about and spoke to the police, and when I arrived walking they welcomed Denise and I as true pilgrims of God. We were offered cigarettes and one man was so deeply moved and gave his entire pack to us. It is very important for Arabs to give a gift. We gave our address cards with the cross and message of God. They had to phone for permission as we had no Iraq visa. Normally a person without a visa cannot pass there. The top chief of the border post wanted to see us personally, but the car must remain parked. Amer joined Denise and I as we walked to the border station. All the people looked surprised to see the cross, but all were smiling and waving at us.
We went into the office of the Chief Commander and Amer explained our mission. The Commander gave him the OK for us to leave and hoped we would have no problem. He said, “We do not need trouble at this border but since you are on a Hajj to pray for God’s peace and blessing you may go.”
He told the officer to cut all the red tape of paper work, and soon we were on our way. We passed the last police post of Jordan and then we carried the cross into Iraq! There was a map of Iraq as a road sign and we walked about 1.5 miles to the first Iraqi checkpoint. Amer explained our mission and said that I wanted to pray just inside the checkpoint. We had come with no visa but were on a Hajj to pray and carry the cross in every nation on earth. The man said OK and Denise and I walked off the highway and I leaned the cross against a fence just past a huge arch with a mammoth painting of Saddam Hussein. I lay down in the dirt and sand and prayed for about 10 minutes. “God bless Iraq. God bless the people of Iraq. God bless Saddam Hussein. Heal them, prosper them, give them your peace and salvation. Feed them. Let them know you love them!” I prayed for the hungry and starving children and people and that the boycott led by the U.S. would be broken and that they would have food, medicines and supplies needed for life and happiness. I could hear Denise talking to people. When I got up a crowd of men had gathered about to watch. Muslims bow to pray towards Mecca but never had they seen a cross carrying man lay flat down on the ground and pray towards Iraq! We were then offered more cigarettes and even two cold Pepsis. The security officer gave me a pack of cigarettes! They said to wait a few minutes. They had taken the photo album and given it to the border post ahead. After a while, they said, “The head of security and border post commander wants to welcome you at the VIP reception hall! They will send a car.” Amer explained that we are on a mission to walk with the cross so we would prefer to walk there! He had gotten the point! Ha. A soldier accompanied us and led us to the area about half a mile ahead.
There in the desert, apart from the normal customs and immigration area, was the VIP reception. The men greeted us and welcomed us in. Inside I spoke with the head of the VIP reception in English. We had a deep and profound talk. He clearly understood our call from Jesus. Tea was brought to us as we sat on a couch in the large room. Then the chief of security came and welcomed us and gave Denise and Iabout a dozen huge poster-size photos of Saddam Hussein! We had
a long talk as I showed him our photos, etc. I gave him my Leatherman Micra, a small but wonderful road knife and tool. They were very sorry that we did not have a visa but said that we were welcome in Iraq. They explained how we could get a visa and we pray that we will soon return to Iraq and on to Baghdad and Babylon.
We posed for photos in front of the huge painting of Saddam Hussein. They said that we could take photos on the way back to the border! This is unheard of at border posts in these types of countries! On the walk back we were greeted and said goodbye to our dear Iraqi friends! Oh God bless them and protect them. No way would an Iraq passport holder without a visa be accepted and welcomed in, greeted as a VIP and allowed to take photos at an U.S.A. border station!
We came back into Jordon and then drove to Amman arriving at 7:30 p.m. Eleven and a half hours of glory trip to accomplish his mission of God! Jesus did it. What an awesome and glorious five days – The Holy Spirit led us to accomplish the cross walk for Jesus all to the glory of God!
There are many people today excited about awesome manifestations of the Spirit in churches. Denise and I are seeing the mighty acts and wonders of God done in the world. Outside, in the street, war zones, roads, and trails of the nations. Where there are no churches, no religious music, or applause. For all of history except for a short time in the temple of Jerusalem and about 1,700 years of church buildings – all the wonders of God were done outside. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Gideon, Samuel, David, Solomon, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, John, etc., all seeing the mighty works of God outside. Look at Jesus, except for a few times, about all His miracles and messages were outside the temple or synagogues! May true believers and followers of Jesus allow the kingdom (rule) of Almighty God in our lives 24 hours, every day – everywhere.
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The Lord’s Prayer.
Oh God bless Iraq – they were so kind and welcoming to us. May peace and prosperity fill their land and may the horrible embargo that causes such starvation, suffering and death be lifted.
There are many churches in Iraq and I trust we may return one day and visit there and the entire nation.
God’s will be done.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt