JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM
A tale by Johny Noer
THE ‘CHOP’ BORDER
"It must look like something ordinary. Nothing special about it! You’ve come, you’ve been here, and you leave! That’s all. Can you arrange that?"
It was an insult! I could feel the anger rising in me. They had kept us for eight days at this Ukrainian border post – and suddenly we were asked to leave, as if it had never happened. I was tempted to reply with sarcasm: "Oh yes, I think I can manage that. Would you prefer that we just disappear in the air? Shall I arrange for us to sneak away in the middle of the night?"
But I said none of these things, for in truth I was a little scared of the man seated opposite me. I had heard some chilling stories about him, and I had good reason to believe them.
So all I said was, "Yes, sir, I can arrange our departure, ‘as a normal thing’. No one will ever know." Even as I said the words, the thought struck me: He knows that I’ll know, and one day I’ll tell the story… which I’m doing now!
We were on the first floor of a concrete building at the ‘walled city’ of the military quarters at the border post ‘Chop’ between Hungary and the Ukraine. The fences around the former Soviet empire were about to be torn down, and the power of the red star was fading, - but there were other walls that kept outsiders and foreigners away. Gangs of mafia-cutthroats and drug dealers, former KGB-bosses and atheist-haters of Jews and Christian pilgrims were roaming through the crooked, narrow streets and dark stairways of the fallen system. Tourists were at that time warned to stay away, and not even the police would venture into these border-corridors and tunnels on the very outskirts of an empire, which was no more. I could hear the noises outside the window and the shrill and strange polyglot of languages that belonged to this sinister passage between West and East.
The man was studying me with cold eyes. Finally, he spoke. "Very well, I will leave the method of the departure of your Pilgrim Convoy to you!"
"Yes, sir. When are we going to leave?"
"Tonight. Before day-break…"
The large border building was the home of the Soviet security, which had kept us like prisoners for more than a week. It was locked, barred and bolted this Friday morning. All 12,500 square feet of it. Business was cancelled, the public was banned, and there were more armed military guards patrolling around the Pilgrim Convoy than we had seen in the previous week. Was it a dream or was I awake? I couldn’t tell!"
Inside there were more guards in the long corridors. Some of them stood motionless. The total absence of civil border workers gave the heart of the military quarter a look of abandonment. It was windswept, quiet, deserted, like a stadium after the games were over. The uniformed men looked like ghosts. Inside the room, where I was asked to present myself, there was an atmosphere of tension. Sitting at the far end of the room was the formidable figure of the Supreme Ruler himself. He was not in uniform. Beside him were four vice-chairmen of the all powerful entrance to the vast territory of the Ukraine. All highly experienced guards of the Western Gate. They had risen to such eminence, because they were able to discern spiritual dangers. Such as people with secret letters! Enemies of the system! They would hear no word against them…
Now the man in the middle addressed me. He was speaking carefully, welcoming me to this most secretive meeting after my eight days’ stay at the border – a gathering so clandestine that it seemed as if they had shut down the entire business for the day to avoid hindrances.
Behind him was a single four-foot high framed print of Lenin, the great revolutionary, whose only wish was for a supreme red system to stand alone against the imperial west and to combat those who believed in another kingdom. The print was a replica of the giant portrait of Lenin, which still gazed with chilling indifference from every public wall in the weakened empire. Today, it served to remind the five men in the room, that they should stop every spiritual messenger and block the gate for those, who were on their way to Jerusalem. They should in fact stop me. Why didn’t they? What was the reason behind their reluctance? What were they afraid of? Why did it take them eight days to come to a conclusion? And what was the conclusion?
Before I try to explain, I had better make a few things clear. These five men were all human beings but in the brightly lit room they cast black shadows on the wall behind them. In the light of a ten-foot-wide illuminated map-screen they became to me formidable figures of another world. The scene made it easy to believe in the words of the apostle: "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." These five men were to me, at that moment, the visible ‘stand ins’ of some evil dominions from the darkness of space; they were officers from the realm of Satan. It seemed like a night-vision, and I decided to keep a low profile and just answer the questions. I had a feeling that something had happened – something I didn’t know about but which was in favour of my situation.
… and suddenly I had a clear view of what was really going on. I had an insight into what was going on ‘behind the curtain’.
The man in front of me, one of the four, had (that was the way I saw it) recently resigned from his position as commander-in-chief of the liberation army ‘in the high places’ around Jerusalem. He was now (so it seemed to me) installed by the Paramount Ruler himself as the senior of the four vice-chairmen of some all powerful spiritual council of the East. He seemed to have leapfrogged clean over the other three members and now occupied a position of such authority that he answered only to the border chief himself. He was the man I had to observe. I didn’t recall his name, and here I just call him the ‘vice-chairman’.
The other three men in the room were to my surprise not Ukrainian. Perhaps they were Iranian? The most senior was a black-robed, bearded ayatollah, whose name wasn’t announced either. The two officers accompanying the holy man, as I understood the situation, were heads of some tactical, spiritual headquarters in the old Persia; it was all like a dream to me. Today even, I don’t know how real it was.
Let me try, however, to explain what happened at that ‘surrealistic meeting’, where for the first time I realised what was holding the border president back from sending us away – and what was the secret behind the open gate for the convoy into this part of the world.
The vice-chairman, who stood six feet tall, was by far the biggest of the men in the room. He spoke softly with a smile of friendship upon his wide impassive face. The language was English, which the Muslims understood – and the words were not addressed to me and that still makes me wonder if it was a dream.
"Gentlemen," he said, "As you are all aware, a new pipeline of spiritual influence has started flowing into our lands. It moves daily out of the west right across our great country heading south to the shores of Palestine and north to Babylon. Now, this ‘Pilgrim Convoy to Jerusalem’ is at our gates. It heralds a new dawn for the believers in the Son of Mary. But the alliance of the past between our superb nations was indeed made in heaven – and we must stop this convoy; it must not enter!"
The vice-chairman paused and opened his arms wide. He walked round to the right side of the huge table and stood beaming at the men from the Persian desert. The Iranian Ayatollah stood first and took both of the vice-chairman’s hands in his own, wishing him the everlasting peace of Allah.
The vice-chairman walked back to this position at the head of the table and glanced briefly at his notes. As he looked at me, he allowed a flicker of a frown to cross his face, but then he smiled again and continued, "I have no need to remind anyone of the danger that Pilgrim Convoy represents. I see dark clouds on our horizon. This is a plot, a diabolical Western plot to undermine our system and to allow them to dominate us, as they have always intended!"
The vice-chairman’s voice had risen during this delivery, but now it fell very softly again to the calm, gentle tones of his welcome. "The solution, my friends, is only one. Send the convoy back! Don’t ever let it cross the border!"
One of the Iranians looked up sharply and said immediately, "Mr. Vice-Chairman, you have become a tried and trusted confident of my nation. But I feel I must remind you that some divine words have been issued from the convoy, and we have been frustrated by these holy words for the same three reasons every time. One, the words are taken out of their book, which they call The Holy Scripture. Two, it seems to be a quote from the lips of Moses, whom we also consider a messenger from God. Three, well, ultimately, if we push these divine words aside, we might bring down upon us the wrath of the Almighty One."
The vice-chairman nodded and asked for the forbearance of the meeting. "Mohammed," he said, "all your reasons are correct. But now times have changed. The stakes are much higher. You and I have an unbreakable joint interest in holding back that secret letter to the Jews which they are carrying with them.
As he mentioned ‘The secret letter to the Jews’, the Iranian man shook his head. "It’s a bold plan, Mr. Vice-chairman, I’ll give you that. I suppose it might just work. But my region has been on the wrong end of the fury of Israel’s protector before! It’s not a place we want to go again. For twenty one days we were once fighting against some unseen powers in space, when centuries ago we tried to stop one of their messengers! They will raise heaven and hell to free up the routes to Jerusalem. Any attempt to stop the delivery of that secret letter will be a cause for armed conflict. They will clear our minefields, open up the convoy-routes again and send in heavy heavenly muscle to make sure they stay cleared. You just read the Book of Daniel, chapter ten, and you will be convinced…"
This last reference determined for me that the entire meeting must have been a dream. But the holding-back of the Pilgrim Convoy for eight days at the border between Hungary and the Ukraine was a fact! The ‘divine words’ were a sure thing; the story about a specific ‘saying of Moses’ really happened – and the event that brought us into this hostile region really happened. That’s what I’ll tell about now…