March and April 1997
We carried the cross in war-torn Somalia – Jesus did it! All glory to God! In 11 days from March 30th, Easter Sunday, until the night of April 9th, three times Denise and I were up without sleep and traveling for a day and a half!! A total of four and a half days without sleep! Wow! – to say much about our travels would of itself require a big chapter in a book. Let us simply say we got in and out, The area we were in is called ‘Somaliland’. It is a breakaway area of Somalia and claims to be independent yet seems to be recognized only by Coca Cola.
The land is desert with thorn bushes and herdsmen tending sheep, goats and camels. We were in the northwest area of Somalia between Boorama and Hargeisa the ‘capital’. In general the people were nice to us, but on the road with the cross the response was mixed. I would say one third were very responsive, glad to see me and very interested in the cross and the message of Jesus. One third seemed indifferent or unconcerned and one third very explosive, volatile people. Women especially, but men also screaming and waving in anger from cars, trucks, and buses along the road. At one road-block a crowd of men pushing and shoving the cross and shouting at me, but armed gunmen pushed them back and waved me on, not a smile. At another road-block one woman with a gun kicking the cross wheel and screaming, waving her gun. Other armed men restrained her but were also very angry. It was ‘touch and go’ as they debated my fate for a while. At last they let me carry the cross on.
My interpreter, Mohammed (shown second from the left In a white shirt) did not forsake me. What a young man! But without telling me until later he had defended me saying the cross was not a cross but that I carried it for my health!!! Well, I could only laugh. It happened a number of times in the Old Testament to great Bible prophets that they lied and God blessed the lie. Oh well, I will leave it up to God to judge. But three days later Mohammed was still with us and telling others, often up to 20 men about Jesus and the cross! Denise and I also went ‘off road’ down desert trails carrying the cross in old battlefields now filled with herders and load carrying women.
The people at our new little were very kind and welcoming. Also, I must say that the officials connected with Daallo Airlines were the most helpful people in helping us make it. As all of you are aware this country is torn into many different clan factions that are still fighting. Some days it is quiet and then clashes break out. They drove out the United States and the United Nations military several years ago. There is no national government. The airplane flying us in and out was the worse I’ve ever flown. They are old “Russian” aircraft in such bad shape that they even do not use them!
As the chance of being shot down or hijacked and with dirt and gravel runways, I guess the only planes they can get are almost worthless. Flying out we landed at one gravel airstrip and the tire blew out! It took a long time as the jack would not work, but finally we got up and away again. We gave away a lot of gospel material and had a clear, powerful witness in a place were almost no Americans or westerners go.
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt