In December 2014, the Messenger and his wife and son set out on a journey to Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan and Israel. In spite of the risks and rigors of taking such a journey at this time in the world, there were a number of reasons for the Messenger to undertake this trip.
The Messenger felt that the past and future connection between the New Message and existing world religions needed to be further revealed by the Source. In particular, the connection between God’s New Revelation and God’s previous Revelation, represented by Islam and its Messenger Muhammad,had yet to be fully revealed and established by the Source.
By travelling to the region, Marshall anticipated receiving original revelations regarding the world’s religions and God’s Message for the Islamic world. He also felt the importance of visiting certain countries which were experiencing great religious violence and intolerance, along with the threat of war and deprivation due to the Great Waves of environmental, social and political change now emerging in the world. In these places, he would come to receive several original revelations regarding the dangerous tendencies and forces now tearing at the fabric of the human family.
At the same time, Marshall, Patricia and Reed were actively working on a number of critical projects related to the publication of the New Message and its spoken communication in the world. They sought to take these projects on the road, working as they travelled. Yet also at this time, Marshall was recovering from a number of health challenges, and these would make this journey more difficult for him.
Marshall would undertake this journey with the guidance of the Angelic Assembly, who initially counseled him regarding a number of destinations that would be important and possible for him to journey to. Yet all along the way, Marshall, his wife and son would have to carefully and objectively assess these locations. They knew from the New Message Teaching that the mind must be employed before true counsel can be received and responsibly followed. Only after this had been done would they receive final confirmation from Knowledge and from the Assembly that they should indeed proceed in travelling to a certain location. Marshall and his family had to take responsibility for their decisions, even though these were confirmed by a Higher Power. Even with this, there would be risks.
Because of the sensitivity and risk of his travel to locations where religious and political violence was occurring, greater precautions and care would have to be taken than for any previous journey of the Messenger. In fact, this would be one of the most challenging and complicated journeys he has taken thus far, requiring greater preparation to ensure the safety of his health, his physical presence and his anonymity while on the road.
In late December of 2014, the Messenger set out on this six-week journey with his wife and son.
The journey began in Istanbul, where the Messenger stayed for four days, resting and preparing for the trip ahead, still unsure where he would be directed to go. During this time in Istanbul, he would walk the neighborhoods of both the Asian and European shores of the city and make several trips up the Golden Horn to pray and practice stillness in the Eyüp Mosque, a holy site of Islam, which he had visited a number of times on previous journeys. It was on the night he visited this mosque, in the hours before midnight on Christmas Eve, that Marshall was called by the Source to receive a new revelation: The Holy Days.
It was also in Istanbul that Marshall received further confirmation from the Assembly regarding his next destination, and the destinations to follow.
From Istanbul, they flew to Cairo, Egypt, a city of 16 million people. Staying several blocks from Tahrir Square, Marshall was able to see and feel the pervasive tensions and destruction caused during the Egyptian Revolution (Arab Spring) of 2011 and the lasting political and religious turmoil that followed.
In the summer of 2013, on the street below their simple accommodations near the Ministry of Justice, several dozen people were shot and killed in their struggle and standoff with the government. A year and a half later, the streets of the area were still shut and barricaded. Tensions were high and a nervous anticipation hung in the air.
Marshall and his family would walk the local neighborhoods around Tahrir Square, seeing the burned-out buildings, broken streets and urban decline of central Cairo. From the rooftop of their lodging, they could see out across the city to the west, north and east. They noticed the shattered rooftops of many buildings, rocked by an earthquake in 1992 and still largely unrepaired.
In their few days in the city, they could see written on the faces of so many people a deep anxiety over the future. The threat of violence seemed to loom over the present moment—over the shops and markets, over the busy intersections, over the daily lives of so many Egyptians simply trying to continue on amidst growing conflict and a worsening economy. Several weeks after the Messenger departed Egypt, a series of demonstrations would take place around Tahrir Square in which several people were killed, with many more deaths in protests elsewhere in the city.
Yet there was still great inspiration. Marshall and his family went to pray and practice stillness in the Al-Azar Mosque, the oldest Mosque in Cairo and the second oldest continuously running university in the world. Nearby, they spent time in the Al-Hussein Mosque, one of the holiest Islamic sites in Egypt to both Sunni and Shia Muslims. There the Messenger prayed for the well-being of the Egyptian people and for reconciliation in the Islamic world. On the day before departing, they attended a devotional service at a beautiful Coptic Church in the heart of downtown Cairo. Though heavily guarded, the church retained a feeling of peace and reprieve from the difficult events of the outside world.
During his brief time in Cairo, the Messenger would come to receive a seminal revelation: God’s New Message for the Islamic World.
On his last day in the city, just after dawn, they would visit the ancient Pyramids and Sphinx bordering El-Giza outside Cairo. The site was almost completely devoid of visitors, likely due to the recent and ongoing violence in the country. Local people told them that the collapse of tourism has devastated the economy of the country and had taken many people to the brink of desperation with few options to support themselves.
From there, they re-entered the midday crush of central Cairo traffic. After being stalled in gridlock for over an hour, they caught their train (with only one minute to spare) north to the coastal city of Alexandria, the second largest city of Egypt.
This 3-hour train journey would take them through the wide expanse of the Nile Delta, the largest food growing area of Egypt. The Messenger was struck by the immense poverty he saw all along the way. He knew that this Delta, so crucial for food and agricultural production, was the lifeblood of the country. He could see the risk posed by rising seas to this low-lying delta, which could be fully submerged by rising seas in the years to come. He thought of what would happen to all those people living and farming in the Delta, and the 82 million Egyptians who depend upon them.
Marshall spent four days in Alexandria. With his wife and son, he would walk the streets of the port neighborhoods of the city, glimpsing brief moments in the daily life of Egyptians. He would spend time in stillness in the El-Mursi Abul Abbas Mosque and would come to visit the Alexandria Library twice, wandering its near endless book collections. At night they would sip strong coffee in late night cafes, talking to young Egyptians about life in their country, the challenges they face today and what they saw and felt on the horizon for their country.
All the while, in the mornings and evenings, Marshall, Patricia and Reed worked on the many text and communication projects central to the presentation of the New Message in the world. All the while, it felt as though the Source was there, with Marshall, awaiting the moment to speak and to continue the process of Revelation through him.
On New Year’s Eve in Alexandria, with a storm of rain and wind lashing at the windows of his hotel, Marshall received the revelation: The World Must Receive God’s New Message.
The Messenger and his wife and son departed Alexandria at night. It was a long drive inland along newly built highways and through vacant industrial zones to the Alexandria airport, which was surprisingly distant from the city itself. The airport was garishly lit and near empty except for a large gathering of Egyptian pilgrims, clad only in the traditional white cloth, boarding a flight to Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. That night the Summers family would wait several hours before embarking on a series of flights that would carry them some 2,200 miles to Karachi, Pakistan on the coast of the Indian Ocean.
They arrived in Karachi the next day. There Marshall would stay for three days. Now struggling with an upper respiratory illness he contracted in Cairo, Marshall would have to rest his first day before venturing into the city.
Able to travel only by car and only to certain areas of the city with an assigned guide, they witnessed the immense challenges facing this city of 23 million people, the largest city in the Muslim world.
Here the great tribal divisions of humanity are stark and on display, with the threat of religious and tribal conflict dominating the landscape of the city. Crime and targeted violence are a daily reality, filling the morning newspapers with story upon story of tragedy. In the single week that Marshall was in Pakistan, there were over 30 targeted killings in Karachi alone. In 2014, street violence claimed the lives of nearly 3000 people. Everywhere the army was deployed to guard the primary roads and corridors of travel throughout the city.
At the same time, looming environmental and resource challenges are straining the population to its limits, with energy and water shortages emerging day by day. By some accounts, nearly a million people migrate to the city each year, refugees of conflicts in Iran, Afghanistan, Burma or those fleeing the countryside in Pakistan for other reasons. Vast slums radiate out from the center of the city, stretching into the hills and beyond the rule of government and law.
On a day when Marshall was ill, Reed and Patricia would visit the Masjid e Tooba, one of the largest mosques in the world, as well as an historic Catholic Church at the center of Karachi and an adjacent orphanage for boys. There they spoke with the staff and orphans of their daily challenges, both as Christians and as minorities, but also their greater dreams for the future. With Marshall feeling better the next day, they ventured out to other locations: a market in Sadr, Clifton beach, the port of Karachi, and out to the Lyari River and the neighborhoods of Liaquatabad to share coffee in the family home of their driver and guide. In Karachi, they met a number of people, each with a very different life story and set of circumstances, and each with something unique to share with Marshall, Patricia and Reed.
From Karachi, they flew north to Lahore. In Lahore, Marshall had greater freedom to move about and interact with people than in Karachi. He would visit a number of places: the Badshahi and Wazir Khan Mosques, the Data Durbar Shrine and a Sikh Gurdwara. He would walk the labyrinthine streets of the old city and would speak to many Pakistanis: a class of English students, a pair of doctors, families from Balochistan, wonderfully warm shopkeepers, young people eager to connect on Facebook, and many others who expressed surprise and delight to meet him and his family on the streets of their city.
Those he met would help him to understand the life and difficulties facing people in Pakistan. They all would convey a deep anxiety and uncertainty about the future. And yet their warmth and spirit demonstrated that, even in a place of desperate poverty and tribal and religious conflict, there is a greater goodness at the heart of humanity, moving amongst the people.
Marshall would sit for some time in the holy sites of the city, practicing stillness. He found these places to be clean and pristine, places of great reverence and peace for the people who visited there.
It was in Lahore that Marshall received: The Fields of Despair: Part 1, a prophetic revelation and warning concerning the great change that is coming to the world.
From Lahore, Marshall and his family returned to Istanbul, where they spent eight days resting, studying recent revelations and working further on the publication of the New Message and its spoken communication in the world. In these eight days in Istanbul, the Source came upon the Messenger twice, revealing through him the revelations: The Fields of Despair: Part 2 and The Guardians.
The last destination of this journey would be Jerusalem, which the Source had indicated should be so. Marshall flew to Tel Aviv and traveled onward to Jerusalem. He spent four days in this city, which he had visited once before in 2007. Holy to at least three world religions, Marshall would experience the great common ground at the heart of all religions and yet also the dangerous competition for power, supremacy and righteousness that threatens to further undermine this common ground at a time when it must come forth in the world.
In the evenings, Marshall would walk to the old quarter of the city to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the place purported to be the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.There Marshall would sit for hours in the lower levels of the ancient church, in a place where he had felt a deep and abiding Presence on his previous visit in 2007. His wife and son sat with him, witnessing a Grace and a Presence that encircled Marshall and a deep well of stillness that seemed to pervade the space. He recorded a number of messages there.
One evening, they stayed many hours until the closing of the church at 9pm. Afterwards, they walked home through the dark and quiet streets of old Jerusalem and then on to their small apartment in the New City. Once there, the Assembly came to Marshall, delivering the revelation: God’s Will for the World’s Religions. Several days later, at 5 AM on the morning of their departure, the Messenger was called again and received the revelation: The Heart of God.
The journey ended with two nights in Istanbul. From there the family returned home, just in time to host the worldwide broadcast of the last night of the 2015 Messenger’s Vigil.
Further stories of this journey are forthcoming…