The Words of the Beard Family
Archaeologists say the Pacific islands were the last places on earth to be inhabited. Likewise, they were among the last outposts to receive attention from Christian missionaries. True Parents visited the Marshall Islands in the latter half of 2000 and the Pacific islands have been included on the tour itinerary since the first peace tour in 2005. It's a long distance to travel for a much smaller number of people than could be reached and blessed in major cities, which reflects the conviction expressed in Divine Principle that (following his or her realization of the purpose of creation) each person, in even the most inaccessible location, "assumes a divine value, comparable to God" and "is unique in all the cosmos."
Tongban yeokpa  which Father has been emphasizing since at least the 1990s, expresses the same unshakable belief in the significance of each person. After delivering her public speech in the Solomon Islands during the God's Model Ideal Family and Nation, and the Peace Kingdom tour, True Mother spoke to Oceanian members about tongban gyeokpa in August 2006. Paul Saver, the leader of the Melanesian region within Oceania, was in the audience that day. Reached by phone recently, he said, "She emphasized working in that particular way, and in fact, in December of 2005, I had felt a strong push from the spirit world that that was what we have to pursue."
The members of his subregion had worked on the grassroots level in more than thirty villages but changed their method of approaching people when the call came to prepare for the world tour. Mr. Saver's original plan was to put tongban gyeokpa into practice in over three hundred villages last year.
"I feel some regret we didn't do that," he said, "but this is basically the direction we are taking now in Vanuatu and the Solomons."
Vanuatu -- where the kernel of this article originates -- is a Pacific island group, constituting a nation and comprising -- according to the United Nations' Island Directory -- eighty-one islands. The history of European intervention in the island group known today as Vanuatu is peculiar. Those of the islands that are inhabited had been so for about three thousand years when a hapless Portuguese navigator sailing from Peru, commissioned by the pope and the king of Spain, became the first European to visit them in 1606. He landed on an island less than a tenth the size of Switzerland convinced that he had discovered a continent larger than Europe. After a brief, aborted attempt to establish a colony, he sailed away, never to return.
A French navigator rediscovered the island group as he passed through on a voyage around the world in 1768. In 1774, a British explorer spent more there and named them the New Hebrides.
According to The Historical Dictionary of the British Empire, traders first came to the New Hebrides in 185 coveting sandalwood. Plantation farmers followed. "Missionaries arrived in 1839, in the form of Protestant Britons, their Polynesian converts, and Roman Catholic French priests... The first planters were British, but they soon were outnumbered by Frenchmen."
Thus, two nations competing for trade goods, rivals who had claimed colonies elsewhere among Pacific islands, vied for control in the New Hebrides, while their attendant branches of Christianity vied for the souls of the islanders. Added to this, around the 1860s, came blackbirders, pirates who kidnapped the natives to sell them as indentured servants on other islands or in Queensland.
Both the French and British sought protection from their respective, distant capitals for themselves and for their native religious converts. Rumors, hearsay and the odd accurate fact slowly made their way back to Europe. An inaccurate newspaper article in an Australian paper about British plans to annex the New Hebrides would wend its way to France or a report that natives of a French controlled island in the New Hebrides group had visited New Caledonia (a French island colony) requesting that France take over New Hebrides would find its way to London causing great disquiet.
In 1887, Britain and France dealt with the issue by creating a joint Naval Commission "composed of naval officers belonging to the British and French Stations in the Pacific, charged with the duty of maintaining order, and of protecting the lives and property of British and French subjects in the New Hebrides."
In 1906 they went a step further. In a rare instance in colonial history, the French and British governments agreed to claim simultaneously the New Hebrides as a colony. There were two colonial governments, two currencies, two police forces, two incompatible school systems based on two different languages and two national anthems. There were three legal systems, French for the French, British for the British and native for the Ni-Vanuatu, as the indigenous people refer to themselves.
By 1974, David Lamb of the Los Angeles Times reported that it was costing $14 million dollars a year ostensibly to govern 5,500 colonial residents. "There is no real territorial sovereignty in the New Hebrides," he wrote. "Today, the highest court is the joint court, which is supposed to be composed of a French judge, a British judge and a president appointed by the king of Spain. But since Spain has no king, the court has had no president for nearly forty years. A French [police] officer cannot arrest a British subject. He has to call a British policeman; likewise, an Englishman receiving a parking ticket from the French police department tears it up." This form of shared government is called a condominium. Those who experienced it called it pandemonium.
Effects from this convoluted past contribute to the atmosphere that our members work within today.
The New Hebrides finally gained back its independence on July 30, 1980 as the Republic of Vanuatu. One of the key figures who struggled to lead the nation out of the long period under such divisive influences and then kept the nation united afterward was Father Walter Lini, a Ni-Vanuatu hereditary chief and Anglican priest, who became Vanuatu's first prime minister.
Paul Saver pointed to a core group of Ambassadors for Peace who have begun lecturing, personally running one-day seminars, as one of the most promising recent developments in his subregion. He mentioned that in Vanuatu the Ambassadors for Peace have taken on nearly all aspects of the seminar work. Mrs. Aila Willitts, the UPF director in Vanuatu, explained that she had recently arrived in Port Vila, Vanuatu's capital, to prepare for a seminar to find the Ambassadors for Peace had already done everything, "hiring the venues, ordering the meals, all the outreach -- preparing and sending invitation letters and printing the programs... I was kind of like... cough, cough, excuse me, don't you need my help? I am particular and concerned that everything goes well, but everything they did was done to our standard."
She went on to say, "The [Ni-Vanuatu] chiefs who came were of a very high level. They know their own people better than we do -- who is good, who is not." She added that the quality of the ambassador for peace effort was especially pleasing to Rev. Yong Chung-sik, the regional president of Oceania, whom Aila described with admiration as "a very driven man."
That seminar was one of a series conducted on three of Vanuatu's islands. Following the one that was held on the Island of Tanna, Rev. Yong spoke about three circumstances that need to be manifest in the course of establishing God's nation -- the Holy Spirit, the word of God continually being proclaimed and true love in practice. At that time, he created the Vanuatu Village Education Teams (VVET). Rev. Yong asked a Christian woman leader, Annie, and her husband, a pastor, to join a team led by a brother named Stephen Kaveng, while another pastor and his wife joined a team led by Stephen's spiritual father to do one-day seminars in every village in Tanna over the following forty days. The regional president stressed, "We need to take God's word to all houses without exception," as Paul Saver was later to report.
Stephen Kaveng is twenty-five years old and was born and raised (with one brother and six sisters) on Tanna, which is one of Vanuatu's larger islands. In terms of size, Tanna is the equal of Chicago, America's third largest city. In that amount of space, Chicago is home to.8 million people, while Tanna's population is approximately twenty-five thousand. Of course, the greatest difference between them is that Chicago is surrounded by only the rest of the United States, whereas Tanna is surrounded by a body of water more than seventeen times the size of the U.S.
Stephen may have grown up in a remote location, but he spoke English well and exhibited a sharp intellect when I spoke to him recently by phone. It was a fellow Tanna-islander who witnessed to Stephen in late 2003, but Stephen was soon assigned to work in Port Vila, which is on the Island of Efate.
Stephen spoke to me from Sydney. He had taken a rare trip there for a period of preparation before coming to Korea for the Blessing Ceremony. Asked what his preparation entailed, he replied, "I'm doing a half-day fasting condition continuously with a seven-hundred bow condition." Stephen had already been doing work in the same tongban gyeokpa spirit that Rev. Yong stressed with VVET. He has been visiting villages, speaking about HIV/AIDS, sometimes teaching with a blackboard and chalk. He has been introducing UPF and True Parents' life course and the blessing. If someone in the village provides a generator, he provides the fuel; with the electricity produced, he uses a computer to show DVDs. People from several villages sometimes come together and he speaks to crowds of over a hundred and fifty.
While visiting one village, he had an unusual experience in a church. "When the chief was giving a word of welcome, he gave me time to speak," Stephen explained. "When I said, 'My name is Stephen Kaveng,' the people all laughed. I had just been introduced; I had never been there, but they already knew about me. The night before I went to the church, a lady had had a revelation or a dream. Somebody appeared to her and said, 'Someone by the name Stephen Kaveng is coming to speak to you people. He's coming in a yellow shirt and red trousers.' I didn't even know that, but the day I went I was wearing the yellow shirt and the red trousers."
Stephen naturally sensed that God had preceded him. He feels responsible to reach each community, so he usually doesn't spend too much time in one area, but at this church he spent a week teaching Divine Principle to the full congregation.
"During the one week with them," Stephen said, "they had many other experiences-revelations and their ancestors in the spiritual world appearing to them in dreams and speaking to them. To make a long story short, they all accepted True Parents' position as the Messiah and the returning Lord. They still want to understand more about the providence of restoration and Adam's, Abraham's and Moses' courses. They want to know more, because many of them are even willing to give lectures." The Christian woman who had the initial revelation about Stephen is Annie, the woman who with her husband have joined Stephen's VVET team in reaching out to the villages of Tanna.
Though the response among young people in Vanuatu generally has been mixed, Stephen shares the inspiration that others feel about the Vanuatuan Ambassadors for Peace.
"Even though Paul Saver and Auntie Aila are not in Vanuatu, the ambassadors are really working very hard, meeting all the pastors and the parliamentarians and others." Two days before our phone call, he and some Ambassadors for Peace had gone to visit the prime minister, who in Vanuatu is the head of government. The prime minister is Ham Lini, Father Walter's young brother. "He is really completely on the supportive side," Stephen said. "He pushes very hard that we work more in Vanuatu."
Experiences like this suggest many of us could benefit from the example of the work in the Pacific islands and the application of tongban gyeokpa.
1 Literally, tongs and bans are the smallest Korean municipal divisions, irregular in size. Seoul has 5 boroughs [guy], each divided into districts [cloned, made up of wards [tongig-], comprising block areas [ban]. Seoul's largest gu has 18 dongs; each (on average) having 40 tongs containing 7 or 8 bans each. Seoul City Hall recently reported a total of 10,778 bans. We often use "grassroots" or "local area" for "tongban." Gyeokpa, too, is used in a figurative sense. Literally, it means "to smash" or "to rout," but here means, "conquer all challenges," or "win the heart of every person." We often use "breakthrough" or "outreach" for gyeokpa.
2 Spain did not have king between 1931, when Alfonso XIII abdicated, until the succession of Juan Carlos I in 1975, the year after this LA Times article appeared.