The Words of the Choi Family

Learning Gratitude in Rwanda

Nam-shik Choi
December 2007

When Family Federation members were dispatched to two hundred nations around the world, I was sent to Rwanda. In the attempted genocide that occurred in Rwanda (April -- July 1994), some 1.5 million people were massacred and many Rwandans lost parents, brothers, sisters and children. The Korean War, which lasted three years, resulted in more than 3 million deaths and over 10 million divided families. Looking at these Rwandans, and thinking of Korea, I spent day after day praying in tears, feeling God's heart for all of us as brothers and sisters.

On August 23, I left with Rwandan National Messiah Yoon Young-tae from Incheon International Airport and finally arrived in Rwanda after a twenty-six hour journey. The Rwandan Family Federation and the Japanese missionaries, who had arrived before us, welcomed us. Directly after arriving, we visited the New Hope Technical School, established ten years earlier by Japanese missionaries and Rev. Yoon. Japanese donors, who supported the school through WFWP, arrived shortly after us, and together we attended a welcome party, where Rev. Yoon thanked the Japanese delegation for their support and encouraged them to continue to take an interest in and support the New Hope School. He conferred the title Ambassador for Peace on numerous people, including the Japanese donors and members of the Rwandan Parliament. A deputy mayor of Kigali, the Rwandan capital, offered some congratulatory remarks. The 9 PM national TV news broadcast the welcoming celebration the following evening.

Among the 1.5 million massacre victims in Rwanda was the former Unification Church president, who stayed to look after the church building rather than escape with other members. Armed men threatened his wife, who was from the Philippines; they told her if she divorced her husband her life would be spared because their tribal differences had nothing to do with her. She answered that God had made their marriage and it could not be broken by human intervention. In taking the stance she did, of her own free will, she chose death and is respected as a martyr.

The community normally holds Sunday service at the school, but on this day, they held a service and conducted a Blessing Ceremony at two separate locations. Japanese missionaries Marie Nozaki and Nomura Kaziyo took charge of the event in the one location, while we traveled some three hours along an unpaved mountain road to a backwater village in Bugesera District.

We held service there, at a mainstream Christian church, with their congregation. We arrived later than expected, but they had waited for us. As soon as we arrived, they began dancing and continued to welcome us with singing. As soon as we had introduced each member of our group, George Mpamyabigwi, the FFWPU president, briefed them on the background behind the founding of the Abel UN, and explained why we had traveled so far to see them. Rev. Yoon conducted the Holy Wine Ceremony, and offered a prayer of benediction with the pastor of the church. At the Blessing Ceremony, I felt the presence of God, the saints and angels of heaven, who were endlessly pouring down grace on these simple country folk, whose hearts and souls were so pure, and on us. As we observed their simple purity, we could not stop tears from falling.

After all the services were finished, Rev. Yoon spoke to the missionaries in tears, saying, "I have seen the bottom of hell. I've lived in the remote countryside, far from anywhere. What sin have the people who live there committed? If they cannot go to heaven, who can? Aren't they more qualified than others? If they cannot go to Heaven, God must not exist."

After Sunday service, we went back to the residence in Kigali, where the Korean, Japanese and Rwandan members responsible for organization discussed an upcoming seminar and deliberated over the organization of the Rwandan Church.

On August 27, Georgette Umubyeyi, the WFWP-Rwanda president, invited us to her home. She told us she had lost her parents and siblings during the attacks, a total of twelve people, and now there was only she and her younger brother left. Shortly after, five of her associates arrived and welcomed us. Among them was a twenty-one-year-old Muslim woman, and a female entrepreneur named Madam Bora.

The next morning, we visited an out-of-the-way village in Byumba District. After traveling for some two and a half hours on an unpaved road, we arrived at the place where one of our members had established a clan church. The member, John Ngarukiyintwari, had won the hearts of all of his relatives in the area. He now runs a clan church. Mr. Ngarukiyintwari had joined our movement after listening to Unification teachings over the radio in 1997. He went to Kigali, located our church, joined and received the blessing.

The members of his church greeted us at his outback village, which is at the top of a hill. Though it was a simple affair, what they gave us was the most wonderful greeting possible. They warmly embraced us, full of emotion. The building reflected the poverty of the area. Nevertheless, even there, they had made a beautifully clean prayer room in which to attend God and True Parents. As a whole group, we offered a bow to True Parents. We bowed with tears, and we bowed with all our hearts.

Rev. Yoon turned to Mr. Ngarukiyintwari and asked, "How often do you go to Kigali?"

"I go once a week."

"The buses don't come this far. How do you get there?"

"I go by bicycle to where the buses come."

We had driven here by car, going up and down a number of different mountains; yet he traveled over them on a bicycle.

Up until then, I had never understood how sinful it is for me to live so comfortably and eat so easily at home in South Korea. Here, I came to understand -- not with my head, but with my heart -- the words of Jesus, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." I also felt in my heart the meaning of True Father's words, "Don't complain and don't gripe, but always live with a grateful heart."

After visiting country villages in Bugesera and Byumba, I came to feel that the advanced nations are truly committing sins. I felt we have to quickly bring the benefits of civilization to these places.

At the start, we all felt a bit awkward and ill at ease, but once we had eaten, conversation began to flow, we laughed and shared gifts, until the atmosphere was so high, it was almost painful to say goodbye. Who, other than True Parents, could link us in this kind of relationship? True Parents' love breaks down even the walls in our hearts.

In order to prepare for the seminar inaugurating the Abel UN, we poured out all our hearts and souls. The Japanese missionaries were busy for days preparing the event, and Rev. Yoon put all his inspiration and effort into preparing his lectures, even while managing and directing the overall operation.

Mrs. Shin Oon-soon, wife of the church director in Doonpo, Korea, accompanied us on this trip. She is fluent in English and French, having spent the last sixteen years working as a missionary. In preparation for interpreting at the event, she read the entire Exposition of Divine Principle in French, reorganized important sections of the Cheon Seong Gyeong text, and invested herself in memorizing a French translation of Rev. Yoon's lectures.

On August 31, we visited the school and observed the students learning cooking, baking, hairdressing, dressmaking, sewing, and so forth. Principal Anociata Ngoga told us, "Sixty-four percent of our graduates go on to good jobs, something we are both proud of and happy about.

Of course, we teach the students technology and skills, but we also give them Pure Love lectures twice a month.

The response is very good. When we looked into the motivation of the students applying to our school, we found that many of them came at the recommendation of our graduates, who apparently said, 'At this school, you don't only get skills training; the teachers really look after you, as your own mother would, and they teach you about purity, too. You really should apply.'

"One student had lost his parents and siblings in the war and was living quite lost and without purpose, but we welcomed him and taught him, so he is very grateful. Many of the students are very grateful to the school. Also, our school has been well covered in the media. Every year, they cover our graduation ceremonies."

The principal continued, "We have a good technological education program here, so the Rwandan Department of Education asked us to teach former soldiers. We teach a new group of people every six months. We are cooperating well with the government. The education we give here is also good for the nation."

Rev. Yoon instructed the principal to establish an alumni association in 2008, the tenth anniversary of the school's founding. He also said, "The teachers here should educate their students with the spirit of true parents, true teachers and true owners. This is the essence of Rev. Moon's Three Subject Partners Principle. Also, please teach them that this school is dedicated to bringing about world peace and peace in Rwanda, so that they can volunteer themselves with that spirit even after they graduate."

In the afternoon, I purchased some clothes and handkerchiefs made by the school's students as gifts for the church members back in South Korea.

The Ambassadors for Peace Seminar to Inaugurate the Abel United Nations took place at the Umubano Hotel in downtown Kigali.

There were some twenty participants, including five members of parliament and the chairman of the Rwandan Association of Christian Churches.

Rev. Yoon told the audience that Africa would become a source of hope for the globe in the future. "The advanced nations of the twentieth century possessed military or economic power. However, in the twenty-first century, advanced nations need to have well developed moral and ethical strength. My hope is that African countries can foster a movement for spiritual revolution and establish true families even as they join the ranks of the advanced nations in the twenty-first century."

Furthermore, he entreated them, "Over the years, Rev. Moon has established a number of organizations, and through these, he recently established the Abel UN. Already, the Universal Peace Federation is implementing this agenda. As Rwandan ambassadors for peace, please take heart and join us in pursuing these goals."

Rev. Yoon's inspiring lecture and the excellent interpreting by Mrs. Shin seemed to move the Rwandan leaders, and many requested a summary of the contents.

After the lectures were finished, we appointed a new board of directors for the Ambassadors for Peace Association. Member of Parliament Semuhungu Athanase was elected chairman. In accepting the position, he said, "Even though we may lack the strength of other nations, let us invest our effort and catch up to them. I will do my best to lead this organization well, relying on guidance and counsel from

Mr. Mpamyabigwi. The world is gradually becoming one, and everyone can benefit from peace. It is important for both politicians and religious leaders to harmonize for the sake of world unity. Together with our elected board members, we will work to realize a world of peace with each step forward. We should receive Rev. Moon's teachings; he is working both for our sake and for the sake of the whole world. We should lead the way in passing on his teachings. I hope that we will be able to receive Dr. Moon and the members of UPF here in the future."

On September 2, we attended Sunday service, with a congregation of about a hundred, at which Rev. Yoon announced a reorganization of the Rwandan church. We left Rwanda the following day.

For ten days, Korean and Japanese missionaries had shared meals and lived with our Rwandan members. With this time now behind us, we left Rwanda and went to Kenya for three days, where we met African Regional President Eiji Tokuno. We reported our activities in Rwanda to him.

My visit to Rwanda, a poor nation that underwent a horrific tragedy, leaving some 1.5 million dead in its wake, reminded me of the suffering of Korea. There I came to understand the real meaning of True Parents' movement for peace.

I truly love our Korean and Japanese missionaries, and the Rwandan members! I will embrace your hearts, and be a conduit for your hearts here in South Korea.

Rev. Choi was blessed in the 30,000-couple Blessing Ceremony; he is director of the Seocheon -- FFWPU 

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