Here we are here, in another war. Soldiers are stationed every 100 meters or so along the road and in the bush. Blown up trucks and cars can been seen along the roadside.
With me is my son, Joshua who is just 18 years old. We stopped at each place and gave food and Jesus stickers to the troops. They were smiling and happy. When we arrived at the border it was glorious chaos. On the Swaziland side, there were crowds of people swarming all around us. They had seen us in the newspapers and on television and heard us on the radio. They all wanted to meet us and shake my hand and have a prayer of blessing. I also preached to the customs and immigration officers.
When we crossed into the Mozambique side, things were very different. The formalities of the border crossing were chaotic. Mozambique was a Portuguese colony and it has been independent for about 15 years, but during the last years of the Portuguese colonial period, there was civil war. When independence was granted, the civil war continued with one group fighting another and has continued to this day. So the chaos had made its way to the border post. No one seemed to know or care who we were or what we were doing. It seemed that if you were alive, you could come enter Mozambique and you could remain as long as you could stay alive!
We had rented a car in South Africa and were using it to carry gospel
materials and food into Mozambique. The car was packed to the roof with food and supplies. We had our sleeping bags over the food so that people would not see it and take it all at one time. We came through the border with no problems. Mozambique is a communist country and the people are far less responsive than in Swaziland. As I walked along the roadside near the border army troops were every-where, crouched down to hide from sniper fire coming in from surrounding areas. A news reporter arrived with his camera, but he needed some film for it. Once I was convinced that he was a genuine news
reporter, I gave the ecstatic reporter a roll of Kodak film. However, he only took one or two pictures with it. I think he was more excited about
the film than the story. Everyone is so poor and seemingly, the only modern things in the country are the weapons of war. Here, as in so many countries, they beg for aid then spend the money on new weapons while their own people starve. All along the roadside, the troops were covered with bullets and carrying the latest weapons, but they were eager to receive Jesus stickers and the word of God.
Today Joshua and I arrived in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. We carried the cross into and through the city. Since the Portuguese left, everything is simply falling apart. Surely there have been no repairs. No lights even work on the streets. The streets are in a sad state disrepair and buildings are crumbling down. People are living anywhere they can find. High-rise buildings are filled with people who have just moved in and squatted. Children play in water that pours through open sewers. It was the most
shocking thing I have ever seen in my life. We had food in the car to give away, but it was very difficult to find someone alone that we could give food to without creating a mob that would just attack and destroy all the food. So we gave it only to small groups of people, then crowds
would gather and begin to shove and push, Joshua would have to drive away. We later learned that ours was one of the few public witnesses that had happened in Mozambique since the communists took over power 15 years ago.
As we arrived into town yesterday, we met some people who told us of Rev. Dynamite. He knew who I was, but when he heard that we were carrying the cross through the city, he almost had a heart attack. “Oh, you must have permission to do this in Mozambique.” I said no, we have already come from the border; we have already carried it through. We carried the cross to the church and spent the night with him. He was so wonderful. We felt that giving the food to the church would be the best way to distribute it. The church had a program to give out food in the city on Christmas Eve. It also had a soup kitchen that gives out food every week to the children living in the poor areas. Joshua brought the car and began to unload it and it created quite a sensation. The government is so poor that when you buy a postage stamp at the post office, you must supply your own glue!
Joshua and I were up this morning and carried the cross through the city and down the beach. It was so lovely with trees and sand. Fifteen years ago, this must have been one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There were such beautiful beach apartments and hotels, which are now in shambles. After Joshua and I finished the walk, we returned to the church and took the pastor’s wife shopping for food. There is one huge store where you can buy almost anything if you pay for it in US dollars or South African Rand. These
are the only two currencies that are accepted. I had to laugh because as communists they hate the capitalists and the Mozambique government hates South Africa and yet they take the South African Rand and the U. S. dollar. She could hardly believe her eyes as she went through the huge two-story store. She was buying soap, washing powder and sugar, things that you cannot buy in the city. Whatever she selected, I followed, putting in twice as much as she had selected. It was one of the most inspiring times of Christmas giving that I have ever experienced.
December 24th, 1989:
This morning Joshua and I were at the church where we preached to over 4,000 children and then gave an invitation for them to commit their lives to Christ. Afterward, according to its plan, the church gave bundles of
Christmas clothing. The clothing distributed had been shipped in from Japan and the candy was part of the food we had brought from Swaziland. It was a well-organized pro-gram and a tremendous witness for Jesus Christ.
December 25, 1989 :
Yesterday I completed twenty years carrying the cross. Today I began the 21st year and by God’s grace, I am alive. Twenty years after I began on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California, on December 25, 1969. The cross goes on, no one can ever take that away, all glory to God, peace on earth, and good will toward men. In all of history, no one has ever carried the cross on foot entirely around the world and for twenty years now the cross has gone on. How could I be happier, not that I am happy to be in a place of war? How beautiful it would be to be carrying it in a place filled with peace and in love. But, what better place for the cross to be in the entire world than in suffering, war torn, poverty stricken, hate filled Mozambique. It is in this place that Joshua, my son, who was not even born twenty years ago, and I celebrate the birth of Jesus. We put the cross on the Land Rover and drove back to Swaziland and on to South Africa.
There were many roadblocks and troops along the road back. They were different soldiers than those that were here when we carried the cross through this way. However many of the troops were drunk and demanding money and food and supplies. We gave them gospel material and food to the people along the way.
However there was one roadblock I will never forget, where Joshua and I were stopped. The soldiers were drunk and demanding money and they were putting their guns in our faces and screaming and shouting at us. We gave them some food and gospel material but it was getting worse. I felt that should we stay any longer they were going to shoot us. I told Joshua to get in the Land Rover and I was going to drive off. I told him we might die but he said it was okay.
I simply got in the Land Rover, started the motor and drove off. We were praying and Jesus saved us! What a feeling of suspense and calmness at the same time. On we drove through the battlefields to the border.
All glory to God. Jesus got us through. He has more missions for the cross and us.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt