The Words of the Cutts Family
On December 19-21, 2008, families from Alabama and surrounding states welcomed the long-awaited marriage preparation workshop, held in Bayou la Batre, Alabama. Rev. Philip Schanker, the main lecturer, commented that it was one of the best workshops he ever attended.
For 40 days leading up to the workshop, Rev. Terry Yamane, the local pastor, and the 25 families in Bayou la Batre prayed daily for workshop participants. Home-stay housing was arranged for all the participants, and conference meals were cooked by the local families. One of the Bayou la Batre moms, Viviane Johnston, shared, “This workshop rekindled in me the feeling I had when I joined the Unification Family and dedicated my life to God. It has a healing effect since in our daily lives we tend to focus more on external things. To see our youth open their heart and share their struggles and victories brought us all to tears.”
The workshop was attended by 44 young men and 44 young women as well as by a dozen parents. Half the participants were from Alabama, a fourth came from Florida, and the rest were from 11 other states. Patrick Yamane, who served as the master of ceremonies, commented, “This workshop was one of the most heartfelt workshops that I have ever attended,” He added, “There was a family-centered atmosphere throughout the workshop that allowed each brother and sister’s heart to open. At the end of the workshop, many participants expressed how the past two days were a life-changing experience. I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to attend this workshop.”
The participants came with a wide range of motivations. A number of participants had not been active in the community for years. Several commented at the end of the workshop that it had been a turning point in their lives and they want to get active again. On the other hand, Melinda Capps from Orlando, Florida, commented, “For me this workshop wasn't a turning point but it did change me. I would definitely recommend this workshop for others, because you might see things in a light that you never thought before. God is always trying to reach us and I feel that anyone over the age of 16 or even younger can benefit from this kind of workshop.”
Julian Palhof from Crystal River, Florida, shared, “It felt like the two years prior to the workshop was a time to somehow prepare my heart and mind for it, because I think if I attended any other time, I would not have been open to have the life-changing experience I gained from it. The workshop not only prepared me for getting married but it gave me the strength to confront my father and share with him the struggles I was dealing with on my own. I only wish I had attended such a workshop earlier on in my life. I would recommend anyone considering getting married AND their parents to attend and not let such an opportunity pass you by.”
Rev. Schanker’s presentations were especially meaningful and well prepared. It was clear that he was not teaching a religion but was sharing universal truths about God, relationships and how God designed each and every one of us. The basic materials could have been shared with almost any audience.
Rev. Schanker not only gave PowerPoint presentations but shared deeply from experiences with his own family and from his decades of counseling brothers and sisters. He also played recorded music to set the tone of his presentations and several times sang his own songs to the delight of all.
Hearts were moved on several occasions. The testimonies at the end of the workshop were especially powerful and moving. Many tears of joy and hope were shed. Rev. Schanker invested an incredible amount of love. He offered to receive the confessions of any of the participants, and more than 20 signed up. The last interview didn’t conclude until nearly midnight on Sunday, nine hours after the workshop had officially ended.
Several families reported to me that they are grateful that Rev. Inguk Seo authorized this workshop in the Southeast and brought Rev. Schanker to Alabama.
Written by Rev. Tom Cutts, who is FFWPU District Director for the states of Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.