What is the Seven Churches of Revelation Tour all about?

I have been excitedly discussing my Seven Churches of Revelation trip. However, since not everyone has heard of the Biblical book of Revelation and its predictions of doom and destruction – i.e., the apocalypse, I have been remiss in explaining the reasons for planning this tour. Research for my “Secrets of Ephesus” mystery is a significant motivator, but millions of people who are not writing books visit the crumbling ruins of these seven ancient cities, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira (see picture), Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

A little background: Around 95-96 AD/CE, the era of my books, the apostle John was exiled to the prison Island of Patmos for defying Rome and not worshiping the emperor as a god. While there, God gave him a vision–a “revelation.” At the time, the Romans were persecuting Christians and trying to defeat the new movement. The Christians were experiencing arrest, confiscation of property, economic boycott, and in many cases, death. John wrote it as a message to seven churches in the western region of modern-day Turkey. These fledgling congregations needed practical spiritual advice and a reminder of Jesus’s promise of their future victory over Rome, evil, and death. To circulate his vision among Christians yet not attract unwelcome Roman attention, John made the book a bit challenging to read by mixing in symbolism and allegory. (The Vision of the Seven Candlesticks, Revelation 1:12-20 in Ottheinrich-Bible, by Matthias Gerung 1500–1570).

This apocalyptic book at the end of the Bible has intrigued Christians and non-Christians for over 2,000 years. The seven churches have been a pilgrimage site for many Christians, especially during “world- ending” events such as wars, plagues, tyrannical governments, earthquakes, persecution, etc. Study into the book of Revelation provides insights into the lure of secular culture, faith pitfalls, and the daily struggles of Christians that still hold true today. People studying the book receive an added benefit. It is the only book that God promises a blessing for reading. The gift isn’t specified, but hope, joy, and reassurance aren’t bad guesses.
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

Remains of a 2008 attacked Christian Church. By All India Christian Council – courtesy All India Christian Council http://indianchristians.in/news/content/view/2332/45/, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4691405