The Words of the Kagawa Family

Religious Harmony in Malaysia

Genie Kagawa
June 1987
Based on an interview with Angelika Selle

Rev. Byung Wooh Kim, regional director of Southeast Asia, with Mr. Kirpal Singh, president of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship.

Malaysia, at the southernmost part of Southeast Asia, was colonized by England for 80 years, and the British were the ones who brought in the Chinese and Indian population. This is how Malaysia came to be such a multi-racial and multi-religious society.

It seems obvious to me, however, that there is no hope for Malaysia's future unless its many and varied religions can truly respect each other and unite. Religious confrontation here is an everyday thing. Muslims and Chinese often live next door to one another, so when the Chinese cook pork, which is highly offensive to Muslims, the Muslims must endure the smell. In the past there have been terrible religious riots.

The official religion in Malaysia is Islam. As you may know, there are two branches of Islam -- the Shiites, who are more fundamentalist, and the Sunnis, who are more broad-minded. Although the form of Islam practiced here is Sunni, it is still illegal in this country to try to convert a Muslim to another faith; if found trying, you will be arrested and taken to court. If a Muslim-born Malay converts to another faith, his bank account, car, or house may be taken away. Muslims receive many privileges, such as bank loans for businesses and government favors. It is very hard for us to invite Muslims to come to our center, because they fear losing these privileges.

Most Christians in Malaysia are as dogmatic and intolerant as the Muslims. They have made themselves the enemies of other religions. Christians have been known to hand out tracts right in front of Hindu temples, saying that Hindus are pagans and sinful idol worshippers possessed by the devil. Some Christians have even tried to destroy the statues in Hindu temples. The Hindus, however, would never do that to any Christian church.

Religious Tensions

Recently the government set up a national interfaith council to help sort out these inter-religious problems. Top religious leaders were on this council, but they all ended up fighting with one another, even insulting one another. Rather than listening to others, the evangelical Christians could only say, "We believe it is God's will that all people convert to Christianity, because Jesus is the Way!"

The self-righteousness of Christians has done so much damage that when we first started visiting Hindu or Buddhist temples, we were thrown out. Not because we were Moonies, but because we were Christians. They told us they couldn't trust us. We had to pay an incredible amount of indemnity for the behavior of Christians before in the third world. It took us a long time to emerge from that dark tunnel of rejection.

I started our inter-religious effort in Malaysia three years ago to try to reach religious leaders. We had many young members but no native professionals or community leaders who could speak up for us in times of difficulty. I decided to organize a day of prayer for national unity and inter-religious harmony. Our goal was to get 100 temples to participate. We began by visiting the Hindu and Buddhist temples. The difficulties were great, but we finally came across some John the Baptist figures.

One was the head of a national Hindu society, comprised of 600 to 700 Hindu temples with a membership of 2 million. He mobilized all his temples to pray with us. In 1985 this man had gone to the Assembly of the World's Religions and came back very inspired, telling everyone about Father's tremendous inter-religious work.

One reformist Hindu group, the Sai Baba, which has a lot in common with our movement, mobilized its 95 temples. Smaller groups like the Divine Light Society and the Baha'is also participated. In all, 800 or 900 temples and spiritual centers joined in our day of prayer on November 16, 1986, and we had only hoped for a hundred. What happened was beyond our expectations -- a miracle.

Mr. and Mrs. Takashi Kagawa and Rev. and Mrs. Byung Wooh Kim in front of a Buddhist temple.

A Visit to True Father

Through this inter-religious work with various leaders, I met a woman known as Mother Mangalam. She is like the Mother Teresa of Malaysia and does a lot of work with orphanages. She introduced me to a Sikh named Kirpal Singh, who had met True Father many years ago.

Mr. Kirpal met Father through a friend of his named Anthony Brooke, the last son of the British hereditary ruler of an island in Malaysia. Mr. Brooke was a spiritual seeker who knew we were living in a new age and that a great leader would soon come to unify the world. Mr. Brooke met Dr. Young Oon Kim in 1964. Just before he left for Korea to see Father, he told Mr. Kirpal that he was on his way to see a great religious figure with tremendous spiritual powers but who was as yet unknown. He told Mr. Kirpal to go see this man.

So Mr. Kirpal went to Korea and spent two full days with Father. Father shared with him about the time God showed him a vision of the entire world in which he could see all the sin and suffering of humanity. Father was so overwhelmed that he began to weep uncontrollably. Puddles of tears collected on the floor, and the members came upstairs to his room to ask why Father was washing the floor because water was leaking through the ceiling. That was how much Father was crying to see the pain of the world. Mr. Kirpal never forgot this story.

Since then, Mr. Kirpal has gone on to visit all the great spiritual masters of the world, yet he has remained a strong supporter of Father for the past 20 years.

Left to right: Mother Mangalam, Mr. Kirpal Singh, Mrs. Genie Kagawa.

Interfaith Fellowship

Mother Mangalam received an inspiration to begin an interfaith movement in Malaysia. She asked Mr. Kirpal to be the president, because he is extraordinarily knowledgeable in world religions, being well versed in the Bible and the Quran and the scriptures of every conceivable spiritual group. He got representatives from about 30 religious groups to join this movement, which they called the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship. The Christian and Muslim leaders of Malaysia were invited to join, but they refused.

When Mr. Kirpal met me, he received a revelation to invite the Holy Spirit Association, as we call our movement here, to be part of the Interfaith Fellowship. There was a lot of resistance on the part of the other participants to our joining the group, especially because Mr. Kirpal wanted us to be part of the subcommittee that formulates policy. He faced a difficult task in convincing many of them, especially a certain Buddhist priest and an important interfaith journalist, both of whom were very negative about Father. Mr. Kirpal spent many hours on the phone testifying to Father's great spiritual power and his work.

At this time I decided to organize an Introductory Seminar on the Unification Movement (ISUM) for professors and religious leaders. Mr. Kirpal was excited about it, and he told me, "This is the best opportunity for me to convince this Buddhist priest and this journalist to get you into the Fellowship. They should listen to what you have to say" So he asked me to invite everyone in the group to the ISUM and he telephoned them all and persuaded them to come. Eventually almost 50 people came, including professors from Thailand and Singapore. There was a wide spectrum of traditions represented: Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Sikhism, Eckankar, Hinduism, Christianity, the Sai Baba Movement, the Divine Life Society, the Pure Life Society, Rosicrucianism, Sri Aurobindo, and Zoroastrianism.

The ISUM was an amazing experience. Phillip Schanker brilliantly presented the Principle in an inter-religious context. He examined the concept of evil in Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions, and then presented the Unification view as a synthesis of all of them. The participants were just fascinated by the power of the Principle.

The first lecture was supposed to last little over an hour, but it extended to two hours because the audience was so responsive. Then they asked questions for another hour. They were glued to their chairs; we even had to force them to go to lunch. I've never seen anything like it; the atmosphere was just electric.

Interfaith Fellowship meeting.

"I want to write the truth"

The journalist, whose name is Joachim Ng, was completely changed. By the third lecture, he understood why our movement is so controversial and gets such bad press coverage. "Now I know why orthodox Christians persecute you',' he said. After that he began to introduce the Principle in his column, which he writes for the Sunday Mail, a major newspaper in Kuala Lumpur. Every article of his contains some aspect of the Principle, such as the dual characteristics of God. One day Mr. Ng told me, "I'm going to write about Jesus, and I will say that Jesus did not come to die' He wanted to quote Father in the first sentence and write a very strong article. Because it is a national column, I was apprehensive, so I said, "Some Christians may be offended and might overreact." I gave him some advice on how to present the same idea more comprehensively.

He did two full pages on Jesus, using the idea of the dual prophesies of the mission of the Messiah. At the end he quoted Father as a Korean evangelist who is one of the proponents of this alternative view of Jesus. He also quoted other authors to support that view.

Mr. Ng even presented the Fall of Man in his column. To other people it seems as if he is presenting his own ideas. He has received many negative letters accusing him of being an Antichrist, but he prints these letters and then writes his response to them. I warned him before he began writing that he was going to be persecuted. I said, 'Are you ready for a thunderstorm?" "I don't mind getting wet;' he told me. "I just want to write the truth."

Because of the success of the ISUM, we were finally accepted into the Interfaith Fellowship. Meanwhile, Mr. Kirpal was looking for a place to hold the meetings. Since we have a big center, I offered it for that purpose, and now, twice a month, we have 80 or 90 religious leaders meeting for interfaith dialogue right in our center! Sometimes I difficulty believing the miraculous things that are happening in Malaysia.

Mr. Kirpal Singh, Mr. Joachim Ng, Mr. Thong Hon Keong, and Mother Mangalam.

Representing Father

Mr. Kirpal received a revelation from God that I should be the secretary of the Fellowship. I was quite hesitant about this at first, but I felt that I should follow his revelation. Since then I have had a very public role in Malaysia.

At the meetings there are usually two speakers who each present a paper, followed by small discussion groups. We provide refreshments, and our members do all the setting up and serving. For the papers that are presented, we also do the typing, photocopying, and printing. Many Fellowship members are impressed by our willingness to commit funds and members for this purpose. Because they remember their terrible experience with other Christians in the past, they call us the "true Christians They feel they have finally found in us a bridge between Christianity and their own religions.

Some religious groups are very spiritually oriented and concentrate only on meditation, astro-traveling, or achieving inner peace. We are considered the group that has proved itself in action. The others are very impressed because they can't get their members to do what we are doing. When it comes to funding or manpower, we are the ones they turn to.

Even though our funds are limited compared to what our movement has been pouring into interfaith work elsewhere, the Fellowship members know that our group makes a bigger contribution than any other group. It is our way of representing Father in our willingness to work for the sake of mankind and not just for the Unification movement. Now the others have overcome their apprehension about coming to our center. They have discovered that Father's teaching is so broad that they can trust us. We don't try to convert them or give them our literature. Now they are so comfortable, no one wants to go home after the meeting. They just stay for hours.

In our church center we have about 80 center members, 100 home members, and around 450 associate members. They are very involved in the work we are doing. I began this outreach work with just one other brother, but we have had to mobilize another sister to do all the secretarial work.

Phillip Schanker gives an impassioned lecture at the ISUM

God's Vision Blossoming

In Malaysia you can find people who have read the Quran, the Bible, and the Vedas. That's the only way to survive in a multi-religious society. I believe God has prepared many people here who are broad-minded, tolerant, and understanding in order to receive Father's message of religious unity. Particularly, I feel the Hindus have a special role to play in the providence. They are in the forefront of inter-religious dialogue because theirs is such a broad religion. To the Hindus, anyone can be a manifestation of God -- a person who reaches perfection and helps others to reach perfection. Jesus, Mohammed, and other great teachers are all manifestations of God. Hindus have no difficulty in testifying to Rev. Moon as another manifestation of God.

I believe because of Father's course in Danbury, Heung Jin Nim and the spirit world could come down and inspire Mother Mangalam to begin this kind of work for inter-religious harmony. People have tried to do this in Malaysia for 40 years but have never been successful until now. Malaysians have been disillusioned because they felt that religious harmony was impossible, but now they have hope. The more we do, the more people are becoming inspired with the possibilities of what can be done. The Interfaith Fellowship now wants to do service work to demonstrate to the nation the fruits of inter-religious dialogue. They want to ask the government to recognize their work. With this recognition, I believe the group will definitely become very powerful in Malaysia as a model for religious unity.

Inter-religious dialogue has tremendous implications. Religious divisions are the root of all the social, political, and economic problems in Malaysian society, so religious harmony must be the solution to those problems. Many of the people we are working with are predicting that the Holy Spirit Association will be the center point of all interfaith dialogue in Malaysia. Our humble beginnings in Malaysia have grown and blossomed so quickly. We are seeing that Father's vision has already begun to provide hope in a nation that for so long has had little hope.

Malaysian dancers entertain the ISUM participants.

Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship October 26, 1986 Kuala Lumpur
Excerpts from Participants' Speeches

Mr. Jegathesan
President, Sri Sathya Sai Central Council of Malaysia

All of us, whatever religious denomination we belong to, say we love God. But let us also remember that it really doesn't matter how much a child loves its father. The question is: How much does the father love the child? How much does God love us? What should we do in life to win that love?

Take the example of a father with four sons. When the father comes home from work, one son is waiting at the gate. When he sees his father, he gives him a big hug and says, "Papa, you're home!" The father enters the house. The second son, watching TV, sees the father and says, "Hi, Papa" The third one says, "Papa, what did you buy for me?" The fourth son is upstairs in his room and doesn't bother to come downstairs to greet his father. Even though the father loves each son equally, which son is capable of evoking a deeper love from the father?

How do we win the love of God? God loves all children equally, but His reaction to them varies in proportion to their longing for the Father.

Ven. Dr. K. Sri D. Nayaka Thera
Brickfield Buddhist Temple
Kuala Lumpur

We are gathered here with a pure mind. Our main purpose is to find out whether there is a way for us to unite in order to live together and work together without any hostility or discrimination. It is due to our human weaknesses that we create misunderstandings. We religionists should practice respect for other religions, and it is not for us to discriminate against others because of our assumed superiority. This Spiritual Fellowship has been established with good intention. On its platform we can share noble common values and experiences. We have hope that we can contribute a lot to this multiracial country of Malaysia, so that we may live with mutual respect for everyone.

Mr. Joachim Ng
Interfaith writer, Sunday Mail Kuala Lumpur

Let me ask you a question. Which, in your opinion, is the most perfect and most complete scripture of all times? Is it the Bible? The Quran? The Vedas? The Tripitaka? The Guru Granth Sahib? The Tao Te Ching?

Brothers and sisters, all divine masters have stated that the ultimate truth lies beyond all scriptures, and the Chinese sages have been explicit on this point. A scripture is merely a guide. It may be an infallible guide, but it is still merely a guide. You yourself need to have a direct experience of truth and not just read and re-read about it.

Many people try to create religious harmony by a policy of avoidance: "You have your religion and I have mine. So let's go our separate ways." In my opinion, this is the wrong way of thinking. Religion stands for the unity of mankind and the oneness of truth. If we are unwilling to reconcile our differences of opinion, or to harmonize conflicting views, then we have betrayed our scriptures and everything that religion stands for.

ISUM discussion group.

ISUM Malaysia November 5-8, 1986 Gentin Highlands Hotel
Comments from Participants

Dr. Boon Nilakesh
Buddhist scholar
Faculty of Humanities Chaing Mai University

If the Americans had allowed me, I would have liked to replace Rev. Moon in jail. All my life I wanted to live for world harmony. The world is longing for salvation through the Principle and through the person who can do the impossible. For a perfect man, whether he is an Oriental, a Westerner, or a Moonie, whether he is in jail, in Genting Highlands Hotel, or in heaven, nothing is difficult for him. My mind is consoled by the fact that wherever Rev. Moon is, he will always be the same.

Dr. K. Dharmaratnam Malaysia
Hindu Society Kuala Lumpur

The bridge has definitely been established between Christianity and the other religions, and it is up to us to make the bridge very strong. I wish all success to the Unification movement. I'm sure this Unification movement will go from strength to strength, gradually gaining momentum and culminating in the Heavenly Kingdom on the earth and a universal religion.

Mr. Thong Hon Keong
President, Rosicrucian Society Kuala Lumpur

As a person coming to a Unification seminar for the first time, I didn't have much of an idea about this movement.

I didn't know Unificationists were involved in so many activities, such as relief work, colleges, scientific research, and inter-religious dialogue. This impressed me very much. This movement is not concentrating only on the building-up of its ideology or on getting more members; it is really contributing to humanity and dedicated to loving others.

Brother Phillip Schanker is a dynamic and expressive lecturer. He is also logical and knowledgeable. There were many things I have never been able to understand in the Bible, but the way he explained things made me wonder why I never understood them. Why was I so ignorant until now? Thank God I now have that knowledge.

We all read in the newspaper that the founder of the Unification movement, Rev. Moon, was in jail. However, Rev. Byung Wooh Kim, regional director of Southeast Asia, testified about the dedication and devotion that Rev. Moon has given to the Unification Church, sacrificing family happiness and sleep to be able to bring mankind to God. Let us all support this movement by carrying out such devotion in our own religious spheres and in our joint efforts.

I was quite impressed with the video program showing the importance of religious freedom. The joy I saw in the 2075 Couples getting married brought me tears of happiness. This is certainly a unique way of choosing a life partner. This sort of matchmaker should be introduced to Malaysia! He could bring eternal happiness to many brothers and sisters here who are waiting at the threshold but have no one to choose their mate.

I am really impressed by these good works and the manifestation of love I see in the Unification movement. I am convinced that the work of this movement must be supported, and I salute this great avatar Rev. Moon. I wish him the greatest success in his mission. 

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