The Words of the Reinig Family
Father's greatest agony is that he was unable to unite Christianity into a unified spirit at the end of World War II. At the most auspicious time in history, the Korean Christian world turned against Father. For 40 years Father was completely misunderstood, and he had to rebuild his credibility step by step.
Now things are changing. Christians of all denominations are responding, and this response is being embodied in the wave of American ministers participating in the Interdenominational Conferences for Clergy (ICC) in Korea and Japan to learn about the roots of the Unification movement. I was asked by ICC Director Jim Stephens to accompany the 195 ministers attending the 6th ICC. This was the largest conference so far, and the most diversified: Besides the many Baptists, Methodists, and Pentecostals, there were seven Catholics, two Mormons, one rabbi, and one member of the Unitarian Universalist Church.
Our first stop was Tokyo. At the opening session Rev. Louis Hillendahl of Vashon, Washington, the convenor of the conference, gave an opening address and spoke about the goal of the conference -- to foster unity. "The fighting and bickering among denominations is breaking God's heart': he said. He asked everyone to set aside prejudice and let in the spirit of acceptance and love. That night Mr. Osami Kuboki, president of the Unification Church in japan, explained that Japan is a country that has stubbornly resisted the influence of Christianity. "Now we are inheriting God's grace by receiving you into our country," he said warmly. Those words truly conveyed the spirit with which the ministers were embraced by the Japanese members everywhere they went.
Ministers are graciously served at the tea ceremony in Tokyo, Japan.
We got a taste of Japanese culture the first day by participating in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. The tranquility of the ceremony was not possible to preserve as the ministers swarmed noisily around the group and wanted to take part, but the beautiful Japanese ladies in kimonos maintained a sweet, unhurried dignity in serving every last person who sat down. No one could resist receiving a cup of tea so delicately and yet so firmly offered. As the recipient of Japanese service you feel almost hopelessly at the mercy of the server -- you are flattened by their uncanny grace and you can't tell them to stop!
Besides being given a huge dose of multivision describing the incredibly diverse projects begun by the Unification movement in japan, the ministers were also introduced to Buddhism in a talk given by the president of the Pure Land Buddhist sect in Japan. This man, Rev. Koryo Nakamura, had formerly been completely opposed to dealing with the Unification Church, but he agreed to come and address the American Christian ministers; thus, a new level of understanding was reached by this historic meeting.
When we visited the Tokyo Unification Church Headquarters Church on the second day, hundreds of young members lined the sidewalks to greet the ministers, exuberantly waving flags and shouting "Welcome! Welcome!" without ceasing. The sight of the bright, pure, happy faces of our Japanese members and their outstretched hands was overwhelming to me.
After a moving service, ICC Assistant Director Levy Daugherty led everyone in the gospel song, "There's a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in This Place." And there really was. That spirit took hold of everyone and the prayers were deep and tearful and very vocal. That spirit was carried over to the Youth Mission Rally, where over a thousand new members, who had just joined through the video centers, greeted the ministers with wild enthusiasm. The sheer number of new members celebrating their new start as pioneer witnessers made a deep impression on the ministers.
One of the participants at the conference was Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy of Atlanta, Georgia, the famous civil rights leader who marched for freedom alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He gave an embracing speech at the Youth Rally, encouraging the new young soldiers for Christ. Dr. Abernathy recently suffered two strokes and was not in good health, but despite his difficulties he didn't want to miss the chance to come to Korea to learn about Rev. Moon.
The next day we flew to Korea and were warmly greeted at the airport by our beautiful Korean sisters in flowing chimachoguris. One of them, who spoke no English, presented me with flowers, floated into the seat next to me in the bus, and took my purse in her lap as naturally as she would take an empty bottle from a baby. No one has ever held my purse for me before, but in that simple act I felt loved.
As soon as I entered my room at the Lotte Hotel I felt absolutely at home. No hotel I ever stayed at felt like home to me. Out on the streets of Seoul I saw a bustling, very clean city. People were all well-dressed. Even the taxi drivers wore white gloves. All the faces I looked at seemed sincere, intelligent, and kind.
Rev. Jae Suk Lee, the president of the Unification Church of Korea, welcomed the ministers to the Land of the Morning Calm on the first evening, and one hundred Christian ministers from the supradenominational movement in Korea were also in attendance. One of them prayed in Korean, and I have never heard such an intensely powerful prayer. The strong Korean spirit affected everyone.
In Korea the study of the Principle became serious. The main points of the Principle -- the Principle of Creation, the Fall of Man, the Mission of Jesus, and the Second Coming -- were brought out in extremely lucid presentations by Rev. David Hose, Rev. Kevin McCarthy, and Rev. Tom McDevitt, so there could be no doubt about our beliefs. The ministers also heard testimonies from two of the earliest members of the church who had visions of Father and intimate experiences with him. After the lectures, we broke up into groups to discuss the contents. One of the ministers, Pastor Ella Richardson of Rockford, Illinois, shared that during one lecture she saw, hovering between Rev. McDevitt and the screen, the face of Jesus Christ.
Rousing gospel singing at Sunday service at the VC Headquarters Church in Seoul.
The visit to the Old Chung Pa Dong church on Sunday challenged all the participants -- first they had to take off their shoes, then they had to sit on the floor! Unheard of! Rev. David Hose shared what the atmosphere was like in that church when Father gave sermons there. That spirit was too deep for some of the ministers to grasp, but when we were given a tour of the humble upstairs rooms where Father used to live, you could only hear whispers as the ministers brushed their fingers reverently over the sparse furniture and marveled at his humble beginnings.
At the Seoul Unification Church Headquarter Church we were the honored guests at an extremely packed Sunday service. Rev. Jae Suk Lee spoke some powerful words in his sermon: "We have to know that the ecumenical movement is the will of God, the promise of God, and the demand of God'.'
Then one of the American ministers, Rev. Allen Celestine Jr. of Mamou, Louisiana, came up and shared his feelings on coming to learn about Rev. Moon:
I cannot do anything before I consult God in prayer about it.... I began to receive the revelation that Rev. Moon was a man of unity meant to bring God's children together. Tears began to stream from my eyes. I began to cry because I had heard so many ungodly things about this man. I began to thank and praise God for him.
If you have any doubts within your mind, if you feel that you are not quite sure, don't pass judgment on the man without taking it to the Lord in prayer.
For our day trip to Pusan we went by air. At the airport the ladies were separated from the men and we women were frisked thoroughly for weapons by strictly no-nonsense female security. We were told that because Korea is in a politically tense situation, precautions have to be taken on all domestic flights. Any cameras with film in them were confiscated for the duration of the flight. I said my camera had no film in it. The lady said gruffly, "Open!" I fumbled with it nervously and finally opened it to show her there was no film inside. She found something in my purse and took it out. "What is this?" 'A tape recorder:' I said. "Play!" she commanded. So I played it and she seemed satisfied. I guess she wanted to be sure it was a tape recorder and not a weapon.
The trip to Pusan was a core event in the conference. The bus ride to the museum took us up a winding and picturesque road, where we could see the houses of the poor huddled on the hillsides overlooking a beautiful bay with many ships. Huge brown jars of ripening kimchee sat on every rooftop, and the children played up there.
At the museum the ministers could see the actual rock on which Father built his shack in 1951. Rev. C. H. Kwak gave an inspiring talk in the museum describing how Father had built it.
Outside the entrance to the museum in Pusan. The narrow alley leads up to the Rock of Tears.
It was a very steep climb on foot from there up to the Rock of Tears, and some turned back. But those who felt a spiritual pull, even if they were infirm or crippled, found a way to make it somehow.
At the Rock we sang and prayed a unison prayer. Some people began to drift away, but others began to be spiritually drawn to the central rock where Father had knelt and prayed so many, many tears. Some ministers started crying and praying deeply. One woman who had been crying came forward and went into a kind of trance and began speaking in a different voice, which (Rev. Hose shared later) seemed to be the voice of God. She said, "My children, please don't doubt. This experience is real. My mind is different from your mind." Many people near her heard her say this.
Our convenor, Rev. Hillendahl, was also standing on the rock. All of a sudden he burst into tears and embraced Rev. Hose, sobbing, for many minutes. Later he explained to us what had happened at the Rock. He said that several months ago he had been considering retirement but was struck with the realization that retirement would only mean death. He spent months desperately struggling and searching for new direction and finally went to Israel to try to get to the roots of Judeo-Christianity.
There he prayed at the Wailing Wall and got in touch with a very profound voice -- it was a voice of authority but he couldn't quite discern the meaning of it. When he came on the fifth conference in June and stood on the Rock of Tears, he heard the same voice that he had heard at the Wailing Wall, and he knew that it was the voice of God and that this place was authentic. He was asked to come to Korea again in August, and when he went to the Rock of Tears a second time, he said he received that h.- should stop the time-consuming building project he was working on and not only offer his services completely to the Unification Church but help any congregation that needed him, anywhere, and to do this all at his own expense until all his money was gone. He said, laughing, that he was afraid to go to the Rock again!
When the main crowd dispersed I came closer to the central rock. As I knelt down next to it to pray, it was as if I had entered into a spiritual channel coming straight down from God's heart and going right to that rock. The feeling I got was one of intense sorrow. I felt that God's hopes had been pinned solely to that place where Father prayed, as the one focal point on earth He had been able to touch. Just as the communist forces had forced the people to flee to Pusan and cling desperately to those hillsides, so had the historical forces of evil completely overrun the world, and only that one man crying there offered God hope. I couldn't help but stroke the rock in tears in an attempt to comfort God. Never had I felt that God was so vulnerable, so dependent upon us to respond, to do something. I just kept reassuring Him that the advent of these ministers coming here was going to start a healing process, and that His wounds would be healed. "They are coming, they are learning;' I cried softly. "See? Here they are. Please don't worry. Everything will be restored back to You."
After that, we went on a walking tour through the vast Chang Won Auto Works factories, a division of Tong Il. This was an impressive testimony to the practical side of Father's efforts to restore the world, and it offered a tremendous contrast to the tiny but where Father started out just 35 years before.
The bus trip to the 38th parallel provided us with some sobering thoughts. The atmosphere there was markedly bleak and unhappy compared to the energized city of Seoul. Stern-faced soldiers stiffly saluted as our buses drove by. We were taken to an observation tower to look over the DMZ and into North Korea beyond. I saw only lovely mountains and beautiful rolling hills -- Father's birthplace! -- all green and shimmering in the misty atmosphere. To me it was like a Paradise Lost -- beautiful but painfully unattainable, a land held captive by godless men. There was a feeling of incredible longing surrounding that place.
Then down, down, down-200 feet down -- into the dark, cool earth we went, to intercept one of the "tunnels of aggression" built by the North Koreans. For some ministers the seemingly endless downward climb was too steep, and they turned back, but we did see some elderly Korean women who had made it down there. When we finally reached the end of the access tunnel, we saw the passageway, guarded by South Korean soldiers, leading into North Korea. One of the women in our group, as she looked through the passage, said she spiritually saw people studying the Principle over there, and she foresaw the walls crumbling down and the people being liberated.
This area was especially poignant for the eight Korean War Veterans among us. Near the end of the conference, the Korean Veterans Association invited them to the VA Headquarters in Seoul. In a simple but moving ceremony the veterans were offered certificates, medals, and gifts in a gesture of sincere gratitude.
The guided tour of the magnificent Little Angels School was another highlight. The ministers were guided through the classrooms by the beautiful Little Angels students themselves and then richly entertained by the troupe at the evening banquet. The purity and totally giving quality of their performance moved the ministers to tears.
Outside the Unification Church Headquarters Church in Tokyo.
Towards the end of the conference a final panel discussion was held. On the panel were Rev. C. H. Kwak, Rev. David Hose, Rev. Tom McDevitt, Rev. Michael Jenkins, Rev. Levy Daugherty, and Rev. Kevin McCarthy. Almost all the questions were, in essence, "Who is Rev. Moon?" This was on everyone's mind. The panelists answered the questions in a straightforward way. Some of the ministers seemed to be in agreement that Rev. Moon was fulfilling a messianic role, but some were not sure. Some questions did get heated, yet there was a realm of inviolability surrounding Father's name. No one could deny what they had seen and heard. Father's works stood blameless.
On the last day a Sister Church Signature Ceremony was held. About 30 pastors of American congregations volunteered to pair up with pastors of Korean congregations (not necessarily of the same denomination) and become sister churches. Some of the Koreans had even brought gifts to give to their "sister" minister. They were total strangers to each other but were taking a leap of faith and heart that had never before been taken in human history. You can preach sermons all day long about unity, but making a personal decision such as this takes real guts.
On that final morning Dr. Bo Hi Pak gave a spirited, heartistic address to the participants, including a testimony of his life and of his work with Father. "Being in Korea gives a person an energizing quality, doesn't it?" he said. He brought Father's bright, embracing spirit to the group and made the ministers truly wake up to the reality of what they had been hearing about all week.
Afterwards the ministers were asked if they would like to sign a Proclamation stating that Rev. Moon is a man inspired by God and that the ideals and goals of the Unification movement, long misunderstood, should be promoted. In a solemn procession, 108 ministers came up and signed it.
Each participant and staff member received several beautiful gifts, and the conference ended on a very high note. At the end of the program one woman minister came to Rev. Hose on the verge of tears. She said: "I have to say something to you. In the last 10 years I read so many negative articles about your church in the newspaper, and I want to repent because -- I believed them!" Sobbing, she embraced him and begged him for forgiveness.
There were so many positive responses to the conference:
"I thank God for bringing me to Korea. I am going home a new way. It's a dawning of a new day for me. Thank God. The Divine Principle is right."
"It was indeed a mountaintop experience for me."
"Rev. Moon, just go on and keep letting God lead you."
"I don't think Rev. Moon is playing. I know he is fulfilling God's plan."
"He has to get his divine inspiration from God in order to have accomplished [what he did] from one little shack!"
"Rev. Moon has opened my eyes." "Rev. Moon is God's gift to the world."
The majority said their expectations of the conference had been completely fulfilled.
Finally, after 40 years of sweat and tears, Father is gaining support and trust from other Christians. Many ministers hear CAUSA and Principle lectures in America, but when they are in Korea they can begin to understand Father's heart. Father is more than glad to show as many ministers as possible his homeland, his beginnings, and his vision for a God- centered world.
At the Youth Rally in Tokyo over a thousand new members greeted the ministers.
As participants in the Sixth American Christian Ministers' Conference on Unificationism, held at the Lotte Hotel from August 15 to 22, 1986, we have come to Korea to explore the roots of Reverend Moon as a worldwide religious leader, and the Unification movement. Our theme has been "Reverend Moon and Korea in the Providence of God" Through this conference we came to understand that:
FIRST, The Unification Church is a God-centered movement which practices Christian love and is working in cooperation with other Christian churches to further a God-centered world and the victory over atheism in all its forms, and communism in particular.
SECOND, The Reverend Sun Myung Moon is a man deeply inspired by God and Jesus Christ, and he is a religious leader earnestly working to resolve the confused and contradictory situation of today's world.
THIRD, We have studied and discussed the Unification Principle and have come to recognize its transforming power in the lives of its followers. The Unification Principle is a fuller explanation of the Old and New Testaments with a systematic perspective based on faith, which aims at a greater unity between existing traditions.
FOURTH, We feel that the Unification Church has suffered unjustly in many respects because of misunderstanding. We call upon all religious leaders and other people of good will to rise above racism, prejudice, and narrow-mindedness.
We testify that the fruits of the spirit we have witnessed in the Unification movement are undeniably good.
We, the delegates, as ministers of 35 Christian bodies across America, proclaim that, in spite of our differences, let us learn to live and work together with the Unification Church in the spirit of Christian love and reconciliation. The true love of Christ based on John 17, "that they may be one...," is the only solution to the division of Christ's family.
The ministers read literature about the Japanese Unification movement.
I had a unique experience trying to get to the Korean War Veterans Administration office to watch the ministers' medal ceremony [see main story]. A taxi driver who couldn't find the entrance to the office finally let me off some blocks from the building. I showed someone a card with the address on it and was told that the office was at the top of this hill, so I started to walk up.
As I climbed I noticed a horrible smell in air, and a burning sensation came over my face. My eyes started to water, my throat tightened. The burning was terrible, but I was determined to not let some fumes deter me -- I had to get to the ceremony!
One or two people came down the hill with handkerchiefs over their faces, but they looked as if this was an everyday occurrence. Shock and confusion were quickly overcoming me. The burning was searing my face. I could barely see. I started hobbling now, bent double. I couldn't lift my face up.
I fuzzily saw three men in uniform near the top of the hill and tried to make it up to them. One was hosing down the road, but they looked as if nothing unusual was happening. I couldn't comprehend this. I started to scream: "What is going on here?" Of course they couldn't understand my words, but surely they could understand my meaning! No, they just stared at me. Then one man took a cloth and wet it with the hose and gave it to me to hold over my face. I did this, but it didn't stop the burning. I waved my card and croaked, "I have to go here! Where is this place? Help me! Help me!" I couldn't see and I began to sob. My whole body was convulsing from pain but mostly from a horrible feeling of abandonment.
Finally I felt someone come close to me, an older Korean man, who read my card and immediately took complete control over my situation. He took my purse under his arm, clasped my hand firmly and parentally, and led me all the way to the VA office at the top of the hill.
There I saw the ministers waiting. They cried out when they saw me: "Oh, you must have walked right through the tear gas!" I collapsed into the arms of one the wives. They explained to me that a student demonstration had just taken place near there, since the VA office was right on the edge of the campus. Demonstrations are common, they said, and the police always have to use tear gas to disperse the throngs. The ministers had driven quickly through the tear gas, so they hadn't felt it as strongly as I had.
What remained with me was the memory of that Korean man's hand. It was just what I imagined Father's hand would feel like: It was short, thick, tanned, warm, calloused -- and strong. And the man took instant dominion over me -- a stranger -- when no one else would, leading me to safety from a most abject position. I have always longed for True Father to hold my hand. Perhaps at this moment God was allowing me to experience that skin touch in the most concrete way possible, so that I could realize how Father has indeed taken my hand and led me into life.