Joshua, my son, and I went to the Philippines to carry the cross in 1982. We began the walk in Manila, the capital.This was Joshua’s first time carrying his own cross. He had walked with me many times during his life, but now God had called him to carry his own cross. We had carried the crosses to Luccena and were now on a boat.
Yesterday Joshua and I looked at the map and saw two little islands hundreds of miles out into the sea.” Joshua,” I said. “That is where we need to go. The Lord has a boat waiting to take us there tomorrow.” Willie, my interpreter, said there was no boat there. There was no port at this town where ships could go ashore.
Well, I carried the cross through the little town and there was great response. The people said there was no ship going to those islands, but Joshua and I carried our crosses to the sea and there, where a river ran into the ocean among the small fishing boats, was a larger boat.
“Where is that boat going?” I asked.
When we inquired we discovered that it was going to those two islands – – – Romblon and Sibuyan. It never stopped here, but there had been a typhoon and the boat made a stop to take on emergency supplies to take to the homeless on those two islands that had been devastated by the typhoon.
Friday, January 29-Sibuyan Island-This island is being shaken. Carrying the cross now for two days here, up the mountains yesterday with so many primitive people, it is just awesome. It is a very poor place with no electricity and only a few single generators for private homes. Today, I preached to hundreds of people, had dinner with the Catholic parish priest at his church, and tonight I am spending the night with the Evangelical Church people.
Late this afternoon, three ladies arrived at the little house where we were staying. They had one of the few vehicles on the island, and had driven for two hours trying to find us. They were sick and wanted to be healed. One of the ladies had huge, swollen legs and the other two had crippled hands. They believed that they would be healed. I explained the gospel to them, we prayed and they gave their lives to Jesus. One of the ladies was in charge of the school system. As I knelt to pray for them again I knew that God could heal them, but I didn’t know for sure that He would, because most of the time I don’t see the people healed. I remembered other mighty miracles that I had seen. I started to pray louder to compensate for doubt. I started to pray longer, hoping that time would make my prayers more persuasive, but then I cast that all aside to speak frankly to Jesus.
“Lord, I know you have the power to heal these ladies. I don’t understand why most of the time I don’t see people healed, but I know You can. I don’t know that You will, but I ask You to, I trust them into Your hands. Heal them right now in Jesus’ name.”
“It’s a miracle!” they cried out.
I looked up. The lady’s legs were in perfect condition and the other two ladies’ crippled bands were absolutely healed! I was shaken. They begged me to come to their town and pray for more sick people. “We need you, we need Jesus,” they said.
I had planned to leave in the morning, but the people said there were crowds of people coming down from the mountain. They are planning to see you on Sunday… you must stay, you must stay. The three ladies left praising God, and I lay on my little bed shaken by the glory of the healing power of God.
Saturday, January 30-Wow! What a day! Just unbelievable and glorious! People arrived in the morning and said, “You must go to Cajidiocan. The people are waiting there for you … great crowds of people.”
I planned to walk with the cross, but they said you must go now, so they put the cross on a little three wheel motorcycle and with two of them, we made our way to the town. There were crowds of people waiting all along the streets. They took Joshua and me into a house and then into an upper room. As we walked into that room everyone was gazing at us. I tried to meet the people, but they were very hesitant. I didn’t know what was happening but something very strange was going on. In a moment they brought in a little boy and sat him down. He looked at me and began to speak. The whole place began to weep and people rushed up and began to touch me. It was an unbelievable sight. I said, “What’s going on?” This is the story they told.
“Yesterday at 11:30 in the morning the school turned out on the other side of the island in a little town called San Fernando, about 45 or 50 miles from where I was. As the school turned out, little children went back to their houses for lunch. One of
the boys came up to a man who was carrying a cross with a wheel on it, an American white man with a beard and long hair. The man gave him a Jesus sticker, smiled, and said, “God loves you.” The other children saw the same thing. The little boy ran into his house and said, “Mama, Mama, there is a man outside with a big cross!” His mother looked out and couldn’t see anything. She went out into the street and could see nothing except the other children and they said, “Yes, he was here just a few minutes ago. He went down the street.”
Her husband was the chief of police, so she went to him and asked if he had seen a man carrying a cross, and he said, “No, but I’ve heard reports that there is a man with a cross on the other side of the island. The island is 90 miles around, but he’s not over here. I think he is at a Catholic church on the other side of the island.”
“No,” she said. “The children have just seen him here.”
Well, they had brought this child and his mother to the town today to see if I was the same man that had given the child the sticker and the child said, “This is the man that gave me the Jesus sticker.”
But about 11:00 I was preaching along the road outside the Catholic church and was ready to have dinner with the priest at 12:00. I began to feel very faint and very tired and exhausted. I thought I was going to pass out. I said, “Joshua, we’ve got to try to find some place for me to sit down and get something cool to drink. I’m about to pass out. I’m very sick.”
We went over to the house where we were to have dinner with the priest. He wasn’t there at the time, so I sat on the porch and drank a little water. Crowds were all around me, but I lay my head on the railing of the porch, very exhausted, completely tired and faint, and for half an hour I slept. At 12:00 they woke me up, saying the priest arrived for dinner. I felt very weak but stronger, so I ate. I went to the house where I was going to spend the night and lay down until two or three ladies came, wanting me to pray with them to be healed.
I don’t remember anything at all about taking a trip or going in my mind to the other side of the island or anything. I just have to think that it was a vision for I was here, Joshua was with me. But the boy had a Jesus sticker and they said the whole town over there is waiting for you to come. Well, here in this upper room for a total of seven hours, I prayed for the sick. They came from towns all around. It is indescribable, one person after another being healed, hundreds healed, all the people they brought.
They then put the cross on a three wheel motorcycle and me on another and we went over onto the other side of the island to the town called San Fernando, where I got to the edge of the city and unloaded the cross and carried it into town. Now, driving with the cross is not my normal way of travel, but something was happening that was so strong and powerful that it was indescribable. I carried the cross through the town and was preaching and all the people were out to see me because their children had said they had seen me with the cross the day before, and many had Jesus stickers. They were taking me to a house where they said there was a man who was dying and this was their main mission.
I arrived in front of the house and stood in the street to preach before I went in to see the dying man. The priest had given him the last rites. They said there was no hope, for he hadn’t been out of bed for weeks and it was just a matter of time until he would step into eternity. As I was preaching and Willie was trying to interpret, suddenly the crowd was just in a state of shock.
“What’s happening?” I asked.
A man stepped up and said, “Don’t stop now, keep on.”
I didn’t know who the man was, but I started preaching again and he began to interpret perfectly. In just a moment he stopped… he was touching himself all over and said, “What’s happened… what’s happened?”
“Man,” I said. “Don’t stop now, you’re doing a good job. I’m preaching.” “I’m supposed to be dead,” he said. “Are you the sick man that was dying in there?” “Yes,” he said. “I went to sleep for the first time in weeks… sound asleep… without pain. And when I woke up I looked out my window and I could see a cross and a man with long hair and a beard.”
He said he thought it was Jesus that had come to get him, and he leaped out of bed and ran out in the yard to meet Jesus. He didn’t know that it was me, and then he started interpreting, and he was perfectly well. He was healed! The people were crying and weeping. They called the Catholic priest. He came and looked at the man. We talked for a bit and he said, “Would you preach in the morning at my church at the 6:00 A.M. Mass? We’ll spread the word. People are coming in from all around the villages and coming down the mountain, for they have heard you are here.”
I agreed to do so, and Sunday morning, January 31st, I preached the 6:00 Mass at the San Fernando Catholic Church. Huge crowds filled the church and overflowed outside to see the cross. The man gave his testimony of how he was healed, and what the Lord had done. All the people knew him, for he was one of the most prominent men on the island. I was crying. The people were crying. People were healed. I had refreshments with the priest and then they got me a ride on another motorcycle to take me back to the other side of the island. I got back late in the day, exhausted and sleepy. God had moved in mighty healing power and salvation for three days. Every person I had prayed for had been healed. All glory to God! But this was the last healing I saw in the Philippines. God had moved for three days in healing power, but I wasn’t to see such a thing again for many, many months.
Today, I carried the cross to the seaside and was just beside a little boat with long poles on each aide, like you see on a typical South Sea island pontoon boat. There was a crowd of people that I preached to and after I had finished preaching and praying, I carried the cross toward the boat. There was a long board from the side of the bank to the boat which was docked about 15 feet from the water’s edge. I thought surely I could carry the cross on that board. As I stepped onto the board and started walking with the big cross toward the boat, I realized I had made a mistake. “Oh, Jesus, help me.”
A big wave crashed into the boat and the board took a high rise and
then a deep dive it was too much for me. The cross and I both plunged toward the water. I gave the cross a push so I wouldn’t land on it and both of us crashed into the sea. Thank you, Lord, the cross floated. I grabbed it and swam back toward the bank. People helped me up. There I was, wet and embarrassed. Some of the local people grabbed the cross and hoisted it onto the boat, and Joshua and I got on, dripping wet.
It was an hour and a half trip from the island of Sibuyan and Romblon. After about a half-hour the water began to get rougher and rougher, with waves sweeping over the boat as a storm sprang up almost immediately. For hours we fought the waves. Joshua and I were on top of the boat with about 50 other people inside and out. I had my arms wrapped around Joshua and around the cross. Huge waves came completely over the top of the boat. Everyone thought we were going to sink. We almost crashed against the rocks. Men would rush out to the edge of the pontoon to try to balance the boat, holding onto the ropes as the waves swept over them. I prayed … everyone prayed, and God saved us from the storm. It was an absolute miracle. Even the captain of the boat said he thought we were going to sink.
Joshua and I were carrying our crosses around the island of Romblon, famous for its marble quarries. When the trail ended we were on a little track going up over a high hill through the dense jungle. When we arrived at the top I was carrying my cross and Joshua was carrying his. I stopped, breathing heavily, and looked back. Joshua was making his way slowly behind me. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as that precious 10-year-old boy was walking with his cross.
“Joshua, what’s wrong?”
He gritted his teeth, his eyes looked straight ahead with a determined look on his face. He said, “I’m okay, daddy.”
“Joshua,” I asked. “Joshua, what’s wrong?
Stop. Where are you hurting?”
He just stood there, and I asked, “How are your feet?”
He didn’t say a word. I said, “Take off your boots.”
He took off his walking boots and as he did, I saw blood soaking his socks. I looked at his feet. They had blistered and the blisters had burst and had blistered again, and now it was just open wounds and blood oozing from his feet.
“Joshua, why didn’t you tell me?” I asked.
He looked at me. “Daddy, I decided I would walk as far as I could until I couldn’t take another step.”
Tears poured down my cheeks. Here I was with Joshua, my precious 10-year-old son. Jesus had called him to take up a cross and carry it beside his father around the world. This was his first trip with me. He was walking beside me.. me with a 12-foot cross and he with an 8-foot cross, and not a word of complaint about food, a bed, or even blistered feet. I was almost speechless. The commitment of this holy child!
“Joshua,” I said. “When we get to the next village we will stop and spend the night and I’ll try to help you with your feet.”
He said, “Daddy, Jesus told me not the next village, but the next village. Two villages from now, there is a three-wheel motorcycle waiting and we can get a ride to town and spend the night in town and leave the cross in the village.”
“Well,” I said. “Let’s go!”
A motorcycle and a three-wheel motorcycle in two villages where there was no way even for a bicycle to he ridden!
We kept walking and arrived in the next village. I said, “Joshua, let’s stay.”
“No, daddy,” he said. “In the next village, there is a three-wheel motorcycle waiting for us.”
After sharing Jesus in that village we walked on along beautiful, beautiful cliffs overlooking the ocean. As we reached the top of the hill and started down, there was a wide trail. Crowds of people were in the village and when we drew near I could see a three-wheel motorcycle. Joshua and I rushed up with our crosses. A man stepped out of a little hut and said, “I am a doctor. Welcome to this village.”
He explained to us that once every four or five months he comes to these remote areas. This is the last village he can get to on his motorcycle. When he comes to a stream, the village people wade out into the river, put the motorcycle over their heads, and carry it across the stream, then when he goes back, they do it the same way.
Joshua said, “Could we leave our cross here and get a ride on your motorcycle back to town so we can spend the night in town?”
“Yes,” the man said. “I’d love for you to.”
We left our crosses in the village, rode back into town with the doctor on his three-wheel motorcycle. The revelation of God to Joshua was accurate and true and I can say this, in four years of walking with Joshua, I had never known him to speak of anything the Lord told him that did not come to pass!
Cebu City,Phillipines – Well, today is an historic day. The first cross
to be carried on foot around the world, together with the first cross
taken to the other side of the world by Magellan. It is now mounted
inside the city in an enclosed area. As I looked at the cross, thinking
of the first time that cross came to Cebu City, an historic cross, but
also another historic cross… this one, carried by foot around the world.
I remembered the Christ who died on the cross. Tears, sadness and
joy filled my heart. Hallelujah!
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt