Evangelist Arthur Blessitt made the Guinness Book of Records last year for completing the "world's longest walk": a 40 year, 38,102 mile trek around the world, all while carrying a 12-foot-high cross. His story has been turned into a documentary, "The Cross," which was released last month. He wrote this story for ABC News.com
In the spring of 1968, I made a 12-foot-by-6-foot cross to hang on the wall of our Jesus Coffeehouse on Sunset Strip in Hollywood, Calif. The young people coming into the building were deeply touched to see a huge rugged cross. I would carry the cross on short trips along the streets of Hollywood and share with people the love of Jesus.
Then in the fall of 1969, I felt the call of Jesus to take the cross off the wall and carry it across America to identify the message of Jesus with people where they are. On this walk, I felt at home on the road and with the people as I saw the hunger of people for the love and hope of Jesus.
Soon after, I did my first overseas crosswalk through the United Kingdom and Ireland in 1971. From there it was on to the world.
I have now walked and carried the cross through 315 nations, territories and major island groups, this includes every nation and continent covering 38,102 miles, which is more than 1½ times around the world at the equator. The journey has gone through cities, deserts, mountains, jungles and 52 nations at war.
I was chased by elephants, attacked by baboons, a crocodile and a green mamba snake. I have been arrested, jailed or taken in for questioning two-dozen times. Once I was taken out to be shot before a firing squad. This has been through rain, cold, snow and extreme heat.
My passion and mission has been to obey the call of Jesus and lift up the cross and the love of God to all peoples. The welcome has been glorious with villages and towns gathering to greet the cross and hear the message of Jesus.
I have walked around the world but I have carried a cross. The cross is about Jesus and Jesus is about Love.
As people come to the cross they feel this love and hope. No matter what nation or religion people are equal at the cross. Even in the most hopeless places wracked by hunger and war, people would gather at the cross.
Bringing Hope to War Zones
As I carried the cross through the war in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1982 and prayed with Yasser Arafat, I came upon a place where a bomb had exploded months earlier. One single flower was blooming in the ashes of war, death and destruction. I sat and cried and smiled for out of the ashes of war, pain and suffering, a flower was blooming.
The cross and Easter and the resurrected Jesus are all like that flower offering hope, love, forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ.
In a world of war, suffering, suicide, depression, greed and revenge, the cross and Jesus suggest a place where all may come and find life.
Sure it has been difficult walking the road with a heavy load but people are worth the sacrifice. I am not a sportsman but a pilgrim with a mission. Many people need hope and God more than anything. People can welcome Jesus into their lives and come to know Jesus in a personal way.
What causes me to go on? The prospect of the next person I may meet! I love God and I love people; I try to keep it simple.
I have spent most of these years on the road with the people. My wife, Denise, drives in front of me -- she goes a few miles and waits with water and food. We have been together in such places as Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Pakistan and North Korea. She is tender yet fearless.
Often one or more of my children have been with me.
I have hundreds of stories and am thrilled that now the story is being told in a new documentary called "The Cross" now showing in theaters across America. It contains film footage and photos I have gathered from around the world.
I hope it helps people see that God loves them and that Jesus was and is 'sinner friendly'. Jesus welcomes every person no matter what their struggle or failure.
I am just a sinner living in the mercy and grace of Jesus. I'm just a donkey carrying a wooden load in the form of a cross, lifting up Jesus knowing that he will draw all to himself.
Peace, love and blessings to all at the glorious Easter season. Let us focus on Jesus and the power of his love to change this world and each person in it.
After 40 years on the road, I am more excited and optimistic than I was when I started!
Jesus did it. All glory to God.