Unification Sermons and Talks
Rev. Antonio Betancourt
Faith and Present Challenges
Sunday message given at Unification Church of Washington DC
February 22, 1998
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it, the men of old received divine approval. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God so that what is seen was made out of things which do appear. And what more shall I say? For the time would fail to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets -- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated of whom the world was not worthy wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect." Hebrews 11: 1-3 and 32-40.
Good Morning. I would like to ask the congregation to follow with me. Blessed be the name of our Heavenly Father. Blessed is the Name of our True Parents who he sent to save us.
I chose this theme, "Faith and Challenges" because as I surveyed our friends in the Washington area and across America who are embarked in this historical enterprise which is to build God's kingdom under the direction, the love, guidance, and tradition of our True Parents, I see that there is a very high degree of confusion. This confusion is created by the transition in which we are living today.
The Age of Confusion
Every time there is a major shift in our lives, it brings confusion. If we were perfect, if we were already to a major degree an embodiment of True Parents, then there would be no confusion. But because we are so short of the standard and the expectations of our Heavenly Father and True Parents, there is confusion during this transition period between the Unification Church and the Family Federation for World Peace. It is the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. The transition between the age of what for many of us was considered the age of wilderness of forty-fifty years, and then the beginning of the Completed Testament Age which is the beginning of the settlement into Canaan. It brings confusion because it is an end of patterns of thinking and behavior, a way of doing things and a new beginning to embrace. What is new is the great hope for this transition through our True Parents, not because of the legacy of words that will be there after they are gone, but because True Parents are here with us and they embody those words. They embody the tradition they are trying to implant in each one of us.
We live in Washington, D.C., and therefore my words are more specifically geared towards this city. Washington, D.C. is America. America is the world. So what happens in Washington, D.C., the dynamics of Washington, D.C., affect us all and since we recognize that the United States is the melting pot though the "Washington Post" today is challenging that with an article on the myth of the melting pot. But the melting pot is a fact. Washington is also the melting pot of America just as America is the melting pot of the world. Washington as America is the recipient of the world.
What is good of the world -- the promises, the hopes, the expectations, the traditions, the customs, everything that is positive and noble and good within the melting pot is in America and is in Washington, but also everything that is bad in the world, the contradictions, the disease, the immorality, the failure, the inability to govern ourselves as one people under God. With one nation under God, all of these failures are also part of the melting pot and are also part of Washington, D.C.
So therefore, Washington, D.C. presents to us a bigger challenge than the challenges of other cities across America and we have to be aware of this because we have to confront the difficulties of Washington, D.C.
Washington is not Chicago, New York, nor Los Angeles, though we have similar problems that they have. This nation symbolically represents the world and where ever Washington goes, so will go the world. That is why our True Parents have invested so much of their energy, resources, sweat, the best of their people and human resources. They have invested in this city.
Judgment of America
We are living forty years of judgment of America. This judgment began in the 1960's. For me, I will say 1960. From 1960 to the year 2000, this is a very difficult time for America. In these last forty years, America has lost her purpose, direction, and greatness to a large extent. Why? Because the popular culture of America today is a culture that has very little to do with the tradition that was left by the founding fathers in this nation imbedded in two documents -- the "Constitution," and the "Bill of Rights."
The Constitution is like Father, invisible Father, and the Bill of Rights is the invisible Mother. For those who say that the democracy of America is a community of brothers and sisters fighting for each other, they don't really understand the depth of what this nation is. Hearing from me who is an American by choice. I was not born in this nation. I selected this country to be my country. America is great because it has this tradition of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But the Constitution and the Bill of Rights can only stand as a nation under God, as a nation under the Gospel of Jesus Christ and with the inheritance of Judeo-Christian values, the Ten Commandments, and so forth. As we forget and make irrelevant that tradition, that foundation of Judeo-Christianity, then that invisible Father and Mother as those invisible True Parents that are the documents that make America be united, that document cannot withstand.
The America that we know in the last forty years is a nation that does not reflect what America is all about, the greatness of this country. In the last forty years, we have seen through the sexual revolution and through this self awareness, self movement or self development without having God as the center, the movement that goes through a self-gratification, self immersion, self absorption, avoidance of discomfort, a focus on entertainment, a denial of suffering, a great worship all over the country but without sacrifice.
The nation has become totally, totally secular and even religion in the country has become not a devotion, not a priesthood for those who lead religion, but has become a business, a job, something to fulfill their financial needs and to advance themselves even politically. We see many who exchange office of Reverend so-and-so, but is also a very important political figure, this nation is under a tremendous suffering. At this time there is a great pain in the nation. The rate of divorce is unparalleled in the history of the world, the rate of child abuse, the rate of crimes, the rate of abuse of parents towards children, children towards parents, parents towards each other, children towards elders in schools, the abuse of the each other is unparalleled. America is in big trouble and the judgment that comes to America from our True Parents and from our elder Koreans is based on this America that they know. They know very little of the other America. They don't know of the other America that made a covenant under the Constitution and under the law a nation that respects the law, a nation of sacrifices, a nation that perhaps the biggest crime was the crime of slavery and racism, but within that, there was a nation of an agreement to live under the law of God imbedded in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, a nation of respect for the law and respect for one another.
This nation needs to be resurrected and this nation can only be resurrected through our True Parents. Through a unity of religion in America and Hellenism in America with Our True Parents. America is the heir not only of the best of Hebraism, but also the best of Hellenism. It has been upon the unity, the harmony, the good give-and-take of these two tendencies of Hellenism and Hebraism that we built this mighty nation. The unity of Hebraism and Hellenism has given to the world the best from points of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, centered on God.
We have to understand these things. We cannot forget these things. We cannot confuse the America of Clinton with the real America. The America that we need to resurrect is the America that gave to this world the most beautiful movement for the fulfillment of happiness, the pursuit of happiness. The most beautiful movement that was the evangelization of the world centered not on the protection of the despot, or the protection of the dictator, or the King but a movement of the evangelization of the world centered on democracy, not the democracy that we know today, this democracy that is decadent that is self-centered self-serving, self-absorbed, etc., etc., but the democracy that is centered and waiting for the True Parents who embody the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
As we wait for the final constitution of heaven, not everything is so bad about America, modern America. I want to quote from Our True Parents for those who may feel, boy, the situation is so bad, how can we ever win? How can we ever move forward?
Fathers words: May 1, 1997, Tarrytown, New York
In 1972, by undertaking the Day of Hope tours, I launched the spiritual condition of declaring God's message throughout America. Do you think I was victorious? America had never seen such a man. For three and one half years, I moved like a whirlwind through every state in America meeting this nations leaders and receiving many proclamations from mayors and governors, including Jimmy Carter who was then governor of Georgia. At that time, I received a spiritual acceptance from America. This was a most fortunate condition for America to make even though many Americans have since become very negative. America at least welcomed me when I first came. In the future, some Americans will beseech, God, please forgive us even though people don't understand now, please remember God that as a nation we gave Reverend Moon more proclamations than any other nation. By the end of 1974, I successfully completed the Day of Hope Crusade in Los Angeles and on December 26, 1974, I returned to Korea. My return was needed to directly link to Korea the spiritual victory that we won here in America on the world-wide level. My world-wide victory must finally become a physical one. In order to do that, I have to reap a spiritual victory here in America, bring it back to Korea and then begin the physical world-wide dispensation from that land.
We gave our True Parents the world wide victory. On that base, True Parents could launch the world wide crusade in 1975. In 1975, Father opened up Chung Pyung Lake with the famous "End of Resentment and the Liberation of the Entire Spirit World." All of that was on the foundation of the victory in America. We have to have pride on what we have given to True Parents, that America has been great. Of course True Parents keep pushing and pushing and asking us to do more and more and more and more, and many of us by lack of training, preparation, understanding, selfishness, you name it, find it very difficult to cope with our True Parents request, our True Parents call for sacrifice more and more. But we have to understand why Our True Parents are doing this. What do they want from us? Why are they pushing us? Why do they push us to the verge of breaking us? Is it a break -- either you swim or sink? I would like to quote again from True Parents.
Why do we work so hard? Why? In Father's speech on "Myself," it was very much geared toward the American people in Tarrytown, New York, January 13, 1980:
Now I can give you a little more explanation which will make it easier to follow. Why do I train you on earth instead of later in the spirit world? Why do you have to struggle on earth in order to learn? Of course, you have to restore yourselves, but you must love your family more than yourself because it is a bigger cause, even though it is painfully difficult and you may not be able to carry it out. On earth, you will be given credit for doing your best, then when you get to spirit world the path will be open to accomplish it successfully there. When the family has to be sacrificed for the world and you tried your best, even if you are not completely successful on earth, a crude road to finish it will be open in the spirit world. If you don't even try on earth, however, there is no road for you in spirit world later. You are in hell when you find yourself with no avenues open at all. Then you are living in complete isolation and are unable to go where you have to go. You can see ultimate happiness around you and it looks within reach but in reality it is too far, too far away to seize. If you can get along with a certain person on earth that relationship will carry on into the spirit world and be heaven. If you cannot get along with a certain person on earth that relationship will carry on in the spirit world and be hell. You will know you could have experienced happiness with that person but because you didn't make it happen on earth, you can't do it in the spirit world. The most important reason why I work so hard pushing you and trying to inspire you to do the difficult road is that I know about spirit world. If you can unite and follow then there will be at least a small road open for you in the spirit world. If you are successful in loving people of all races, all spirit world will applaud you and welcome you. Wherever you go in the spirit world, spirit men will tag along. Our life here is short but we can accomplish much in order to claim happiness in the spirit world. Your status in the spirit world is eternal. This is one of the reasons why we suffer willingly. The purpose of a business is to gain profit by investing some money. If we invest very much pain then we profit a hundred times more. In the lottery one dollar can win thousands but here there isn't even risk. We are guaranteed to win. Taking one step after another we lengthen the sections of the bridge of love. We are building it inch by inch and though there are miles to go we keep going. No matter what opportunities there are for you in life, you will rather follow me right? Why? I don't give you money or time or power. You say it is for love but have you seen that love in your eyes? I am like a parent nagging you to study after school and pushing you to study again and again even when you have finished. You get frustrated, I know, but still I tell you to keep studying. That is love. You might be comfortable if you didn't do it now, but for the sake of the greater purpose you choose to sacrifice anyway, that is goodness. It can be good to spank a child if it is intended to secure his eternal well-being. That is logical. True love is worth the hardship. Now you know about the individual, so let us decide when we will like to be in that position ten years or a hundred years from now. Now sounds pretty close to no, and no sounds close to know do you know or not? Can you go this path alone? Who do you need? Will you rather have a yoke on your neck to be sure you go the correct way? Should I just allow you to do whatever you want. Now we are secure and comfortable, but because we know the objective, but the problem is only half-solved, you also have to accomplish the goal and you think you need someone to push you because you can't do it alone. You feel you can be a champion if only you have a trainer. A trainer is someone who gets after you and nags you all the time. At some point you will get so aggravated that either you will confront your trainer and give up or you will become the champion. That is the reality, don't appoint only one trainer. Because you will have free time when he is away which is no good. Appoint a dozen trainers -- one Chinese, one Korean, one Japanese, one American, one German, and so forth, maybe one Hispanic. Then wherever you go, you will bump into a trainer and he will chase after you. Perhaps you could tolerate one person kicking you but what about twelve people kicking you at one time? If you are determined to survive, you will be a champion after they get tired of kicking you. This is no ordinary life to believe at whim. It is more serious, not only for our generation but for all history. All Unification Church members know they each have a spirit self that lives eternally in the spirit world. You have never been to spirit world so you are persuaded through logic, that it is so because you start at the lowest part of life there is no place to go but up. The thousands of people outside the church who study us can't figure us out because they don't know the reality of the spirit world.
The Liberation of Chung Pyung
In 1975, Father liberated the spirits in Chung Pyung. Twenty-one years later Chung Pyung has been elevated to the place of liberation of the spirit world. Many of us, many of you have participated in the liberation in Chung Pyung. We need to believe. We need to have faith in the promise made by our True Parents. We need to connect with the spirit of our True Parents and we need to connect with the spirit of Chung Pyung. We need the help of angels. We cannot do this work alone. We have too many problems as families. As couples we are far from being a True Family ourselves. We are far from being harmonious. We are far from being happy and if we declare that this is the prerequisite, the achievements of all these things in order to go out and bless people and fulfill forty million people for America, then we are missing the point, because the perfection, the achievement of our true self and the true couple and the True family, the achievement of all of these things that have been promised by God through the True Parents can only be achieved as we work along, as we tag along. If worst comes to worst, if we can just offer the people we encounter the hope that rests in our hearts, if it is not the reality of a harmonious relationship between husband and wife, then at least the hope that has been promised by God that things will be okay, if we unite with him, if we unite with out True Parents.
We have the Completed Testament Age teachings. We have True Family Values. We have the Blessing. We have the Tradition. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Each one of us, one way or the other, is the recipient of an accumulated indemnity directed by our ancestors by thousands of years and in connection with our True Parents to the whole providential history. Each one of us has been the recipient during the time that we joined, whether it is six months or whether it is twenty five years or thirty years or forty years, we have been the recipient of enormous outpouring of our True Parents -- spiritually of an incredible energy of salvation, physically of millions and millions, tens of millions of dollars that have been invested in us for the purpose of using that foundation, that Blessing, that resource within, in order to go out and save the world.
No Preconditions for God
We cannot put a precondition, "God, unless I have harmony with my wife, unless I have harmony within my situation, I cannot go out." You will never be saved. You will never resolve that situation. As we confront our situation facing people, talking to people, trying to love the unlovable, trying to love the enemy, the one who is out there who is my enemy. The situation with my family, with my central figure, all these things eventually will fit into place. Father is asking us to fulfill Blessing 98, forty million for America. According to the estimates of some of the experts, forty million couples in America implies a big chunk of the total couples in America which is fifty-eight million. America has two hundred and fifty million inhabitants, population, but from these two hundred and fifty there are fifty eight million families, fifty-eight million couples. Father is asking us to go after forty million.
If we were to bless one couple a second, one, two, three, four it would take eleven years to bless these forty million. So in order to bless these forty million, we will need an extraordinary power, which is not in us. It could be if we team up with our True Parents, if we team up with the Divine Spirit world, with the heavenly angels with the heavenly spirit world that is pouring out, is coming down after Chung Pyung sent directly by Heung Jin and Daemonim. We don't have that power. They have the power. To do this, we have to enter into self-reflection very, very serious self-reflection.
I am addressing those who are confused like I have been. Those who have legitimate or illegitimate complaints of mistreatment, who have been hurt, abused -- imaginary or real. We cannot allow the experience, real or unreal, deserved or undeserved mistreatment that comes as part of the process, of the path of restoration through indemnity. We cannot allow these things to interfere with the business of what we are supposed to do, which is to bring salvation to America. By bringing salvation to America and to myself and my family, we need to have very serious self reflection, self evaluation and make a determination to go, and as our True Parents said, if you cannot do it all, do part of it, but do something. God will take the heart that goes behind your offering, if your heart is for only a small offering, God will understand that. But the important thing is you have got to do it and whatever you do, you will open a path for the spirit world to help you and that path will be there in the spirit world when you get there. This is very, very important. We have to use the best of our creativity, ingenuity, American ingenuity, in order to fulfill these forty million.
Some people are saying we have to forget about the 185 and focus on new people. In the latest conference that we had in Barrytown which was a very unique, historical conference. For the first time, Americans came to discuss what to do with America and to reflect on 1997 and to move towards what to do in 1998. One of the things that most people agreed upon in that meeting was we need two strategies. One is the very personal one, the other one is the grand strategy that is determined by our leaders, by True Parents.
Individual and Grand Strategy
The individual strategy has to do that you have to go do the 185 to relatives, friends, contacts, and as you do that, you unite with the grand strategy which has to do with how to reach out to forty million couples in America. We cannot bring victory by traditional means of going out door to door. We will not reach the forty million, it is impossible. But after we unite with True Parents direction, then we have to use the best of our creativity, the best of our ingenuity to see in which way we can inject the change into the situation, whether it is in the neighborhood, whether it is in the 185 couples neighborhood, whether it is in the county, community, city, and so forth, and so forth.
We need to communicate these ideas. We need to expand these ideas. We need to project these ideas. We need to create a momentum that unfortunately we missed in 1997. If there was a lot of self-reflection in that meeting on what happened in 1997, it was very unfortunate that we missed the opportunity to create a momentum in which the Blessing will be something that everybody will talk about, think about, investigate, research, and read about it in a positive way. But unfortunately we didn't do it. This is the time and the opportunity to do it. But True Parents cannot do it, the leaders cannot do it. Reverend Pak, Mr. Joo, Rev. Yang, Phillip Schanker, they cannot do it. We have to do it. The community has to do it under the direction, the inspiration, the guidance, the support of our leaders. We have to put ourselves together and call upon divine guidance, especially calling upon the spirit world to help us, and especially to call upon that spirit world that is waiting for perfection through us. I am not talking just about evil spirits or the challenging spirits, but the good spirit world, the divine spirits. They will not reach perfection unless they connect to somebody on earth. We have to make the conditions, the foundations to invite them, connect with them and to work with them, so they can reach perfection through us. Let us build the environment for a victory of forty million this year. Let us own this forty million by investing in it. Let us use our creativity to fulfill Blessing 98 and through that, we can save our families. We can save ourselves. Let us make Washington, D.C. a winner for America and as Washington wins, so America will be a winner, the world will win, and we will bring great joy great comfort to God and Our True Parents.
Let us Pray
Our dearest Heavenly Father, Father blessed be your name, and blessed is the name of Our True Parents. Father, I am so grateful to you and I humble myself before you Father, that you allow me to speak your words and to find some reflections on how to address the situation of the Washington Family Church, the Family Federation for World Peace Father and what to do about it. Father, we really need you. Without you Father our life is shaky. Heavenly Father, our life has no meaning without you, beloved Heavenly Father. We have no purpose. We will be lost. We need you Father, so we want to apologize before you and before heaven for our failures, for our selfish misery. Heavenly Father, we deeply repent before True Parents. We ask you and we ask Our True Parents for their forgiveness and we ask Father that the spirit of Chung Pyung, Daemonim and Heung Jin Nim and all of those Divine Spirits and all the rest of our ancestors can come and help us, so we can build, Heavenly Father, the momentum that will move this city, this country. Father, we pray for clarity of mind, clarity of purpose, clarity of ideas, clarity to know what needs to be done, clarity to understand how to bring them about and clarity to see myself and what role would I play in all of this enterprise. Father we really want to own the blessing. We cannot own it unless we work for it. Heavenly Father, we have to teach the spiritual children that we got in 1997 how to walk this path, but we cannot do it unless we walk it ourselves. Guide us Heavenly Father. Show us the way, but above all Father, we pray that you will protect and bless the True Parents. Bless the True Family, Heavenly Father. Father we want to offer this prayer to you. We offer this service in the name of our precious True Parents. Amen
Antonio joined the Movement in 1974. He was a member of the New Hope Singers for six years and was very active in the Spanish church. Antonio is one of the founders of CAUSA International and "Noticias del Mundo." For many years, he was special assistant to Dr. Bo Hi Pak. Our True Parents trust Antonio very much, and in fact, gave him the title of Ambassador to North Korea. Currently, Antonio is responsible for several missions: the Summit Council for World Peace, AULA (the Association for the Unity of Latin America), and the Federation for World Peace. Last year, he established the World Institute for Development and Peace which is developing programs for the poor in America and around the world. Antonio was blessed with his wife Kyoko at Madison Square Garden in 1982. They have four children.
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