The Words of the Nagel Family
Jack Nagel with his two children.
Rarely a week passes when I don't bump into someone I haven't seen for years but remember well, whether it be at a meeting in the elevator, or on the streets of New York City. Taken unawares, perhaps neither of us knows how to act, except to say, 'What are you doing these days? Where was it we last met -- Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles?" Usually going unspoken is an array of recollections and feelings seeking recognition, each one of us wondering if the other may feel the same way. At times I seem to perceive a desire to forget -- at other times, fond remembrances.
It is to the growing number of MFT [Mobile Fundraising Team] graduates now involved in other endeavors, and who by now form a sizable number, that I dedicate this article. And I do hope those who are continuing MFT missions at the present time will take a moment to review this, as well as those who recently devoted themselves to following the Principle and are wondering just how to begin.
I solicited the views of several former MFTers who are now engaged in various other activities: a computer programmer, a shipbuilder, a fleet vehicle manager, a city leader, and a member active in home church. The majority of them have budding families and are several years removed from their last day of MFT life. I regret not talking to many others, first because I feel it would have enriched this piece, but also because I thoroughly enjoyed each conversation that my busy schedule allowed.
The efficacy of an experience may lie in how it prepares a person for subsequent experiences. Do those later years validate the previous experience? We may need to wait until we pass into the spirit world to find out all the answers, but some conclusions, if they appear valid and consistent, may be stated now, though subjective rather than "scientific:'
Leonard Warren was the MFT [the only fundraiser] for his state center, did a 2 1/2 year stint at the News World, and later spent several years in national MFT training. Currently he manages and maintains a distribution fleet [vehicles for fish distribution]. He says,
I wanted to help -- thus I always did whatever I was asked to. After the first week I was ready to leave. I yearned for the free and easy life. Even hitchhiking looked appealing. A maxim in the West is, "Don't do anything unless your heart is in it" At times my heart wasn't into fundraising, but I came through. It's only now that I have realized something very good came of it. Nov, the "acid test" is to apply the Principle in my life, where I am constantly rubbing shoulders with those who are of a totally different background (my employees). If they can respect me, it will be for my integrity which I gained through MFT.
Gwenn Baer spent many years on national teams in the South, and later supervised the MFT headquarters office in New York before joining her husband in Mississippi. She says,
One conclusion is crystal clear. I have learned to digest hardships, to look them square in the eye and to know that I will come out on top. In Principle terminology we must complete a "foundation of faith" We equate national MFT training with establishing that faith. This foundation has become my springboard for a new life. What made it difficult was its intensity; it was amplified love- training. Every day I faced my inability to love. In thinking back, I always tried to train myself to gain the original and proper relationship between my spirit mind and my physical mind. It was such a beautiful time because I could concentrate literally 100 percent of my energy on my spiritual training and development.
Her husband Roger, who is now in the ship-building business, states,
I only wish that my post as a state leader had been allowed me after I completed MFT, and not before. I can't be sure, but I am reasonably certain the results would have been quantifiably better. I know that without having had those experiences on MFT I would've thrown in the towel many times by now in my present line of work. I hope that members will use their MFT experiences to actively train themselves, being fully aware of their choices, and not just passively and reluctantly survive.
Joseph Derflinger spent eight years on MFT teams in the Northeast. At the present time he is implementing a mini-computer system for a business in New York. He advises,
My first days in the computer business were full of confusion because I didn't know what to do with my time. There was a goal, but the path to reach it was oblique. No one asked me to fulfill a specific task so I took it upon myself to find out what had to be done. I think I gained this commitment to take responsibility while on MFT. Now I am able to utilize my previously undeveloped interests and abilities for God's purpose. We should become competent in an area and acquire needed skills. We must cloak our internal assets with the external qualifications which can outdo, or at least keep up with, those of people in similar professions in society.
Though there may have been excessive zeal at times, especially in the 1970s, MFT provided an invaluable function for our movement to come this far. People should realize that there wasn't any other way for us to overcome such insurmountable obstacles together. We shouldn't reject our past experiences, for they may someday serve as a source of pride.
Gary Abrahams now serves as district leader in Brooklyn, New York, after a lengthy period of devotion on national MFT. Gary sees the MFT experience as "what I needed at that time, perhaps the best experience for my eternal life when I was flirting with the edge of a precipice." He also speaks about the maturation of his relationships with his leaders:
I had an extreme veneration for my central figure. His words were "written in stone' Later, after working with many leaders, I could appreciate their inconsistencies as Godly individuality, and I found that "the way" wasn't any particular person's orientation or any one system. Now I can see how everyone is greatly influenced by their cultural and familial background, and how God can use this background. We must maintain a real gut-level relationship with our central figures based on mutual respect.
To conclude, he stated,
I certainly have more external freedom now than before. The key is to maintain the internal discipline required in order to use that freedom responsibly. I have acquired spiritual fundamentals that I can use all the time, in any situation, similar to the fundamentals one needs to succeed in an athletic competition.
My final respondent, Susan Munsell, works with her home church, supplements her husband's financial earnings, and tends to Daniel, her 15 month-old son. She recalls her first morning in a church center after a number of years of national MFT life:
At breakfast, I found myself reading a cereal box and thinking, "I haven't sat down to breakfast with time to read like this in years." I initially thought, "Is everyone here spaced out? People aren't working hard enough." Everything seemed to be in slow motion, and I couldn't believe all the aimless grumbling. Of course, this was arrogant of me and I now know that everyone's path to the Kingdom is vastly different and unique. However, I was able to bring a spiritual child to True Parents, in a center that had been barren, through knowing the value of time and goals. My suffering allowed me to make an inseparable and eternal relationship with God. My leaders always stressed the value of internal development. In MFT, whenever I was sent out for three hours, I would study the first hour and then have great power and result in the next two. This was often my method. I had more time to study then than now, with the present constraints of raising a family. Perhaps my feeling is akin to someone who experienced imprisonment. I know God is with me always because I am with Him.
Most people would like to believe, "if only this...were different, my life would be better:' I don't buy that.
Anything worthwhile takes an investment of time -- this is love. I realized through many volatile circumstances that any has its root within myself, and it's not only my mission, my husband, etc. The internal stability I gained had proven to be a great preparer for motherhood and wifehood. If I am consistent, my children and husband can trust me fully. As well as stability, the internal discipline I covet, and have advanced toward, allows me to do something which I may not look forward to, like facing a minister who I know openly rejects CAUSA.
Those who spent a great deal of their church lives on national MFT training often did so at great personal cost. I for one can never recover my days of youth, nor can I easily complete my education, nor can I say I possess a resume which isn't full of holes, nor do I have a great credit history. What I do have is traits of character that I doubt I would have gained any other way, a mind that is at peace, and no regrets. I have my doubts about whether I could ever return and do it again, and I can't even imagine that I did it -- yet I did. There are times when I feel that I've gained more wisdom than I could have gained in 70 years had I gone a "normal" route.
I do not intend only to sing the praises of MFT. Many people I know, who didn't have the opportunity to experience MFT, possess a faith and heart that I greatly admire, and I consider them among my truest friends. I am sure there are also many former MFTers who don't identify with all the feelings expressed here and are unable to look back fondly on their training. An analogy could be drawn to the graduates of a prestigious university as they embark upon their career paths. Those who truly learned the material in the context of its eventual application will be the ones who meet success. Those who only crammed for the exams may find a hard road to hoe.
The exams of MFT were the daily results, but the real material was, 'myself,' confronting the enemy that lurks in the recesses of our baser motives. Ideally speaking, MFT should be a springboard for any mission, career or endeavor -- a place where we work out all the kinks wrought in us by the false values of a society that does not know God, and where we ascertain the true values that will serve us. That it may have been a stumbling block for a few is regrettable but remediable, if we heed the lessons we have painfully learned. Ultimately, we all have experiences behind us that can serve us as fodder for our growth or hinder us as a venom which incapacitates, and in this sense I doubt that our experiences are really all that different.
It is good to professionalize and specialize, but let us not work in such a way that we are devoid of spirituality. Let us develop our latent interests and talents but not lose sight of the public interest. We can do some of the things we have always wanted to but never had the time to, but let's never forget that to build and live in God's Kingdom we may continuously have to do things we don't really want to. We need to utilize critical analysis and business-like reasoning but not be critical to the point of being condemnatory, bigoted, or conceited. We should become part of the society in which we live, gleaning the good, but not relinquishing our values and aims.
The hardest battle looms ahead, for it is not so much what we do for God, but who we are and what we become. If we work in a mission where we are remunerated according to secular standards, could we ever call that a mission anymore? The real mission and bottom line, as the boundaries of "mission" become obscured, will be the continual search for truth, beauty, and goodness within ourselves, as we build our families, and as we thrust ourselves forward into interaction with society in the ways that God calls us.