The Words of the Marion Family
Arriving in hot, steaming Africa was such a sudden change from God's Day in New York. It was almost like a dream, landing in Bangui, with many brothers and sisters waiting for us at the airport. I was very happy, for I had been awaiting an opportunity to go to Africa for a long time.
The first thing that struck me was the recollection of childhood feelings and impressions of Africa, because I was born in Cameroon and spent the first seven years of my life there, before my parents returned to France. The people, the landscape, the gates of the houses, and the red dust -- it was a wonderful feeling, like nothing was new.
Brothers and sisters were singing, even dancing, and so happy to see all of us -- especially Pamela Stein, our missionary to Zaire, who was just then returning to Africa after spending three years in America. My feeling was that if True Parents would come, thousands of people could be gathered to welcome them; then Africa would just burst; incredible things could happen.
Members had gathered in the Central African Republic from Zaire, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, Tunesia -- even an Algerian brother from France -- as well as the Central African Republic. There were 53 trainees altogether. Our brother Kayembe came from Zaire to join the training staff.
I taught the first course of Principle lectures in French, and then translated for Rev. David Hose as he gave lectures, held question and answer sessions, and counseled members. I think Rev. Hose really felt the heart of our True Father, who has also been in situations where he does not understand the language of the people. He has so much to communicate, but he may not know if it is being understood. Towards the end of the training session Rev. Kwak arrived. It was a privilege to translate his internal guidance lecture too. Brothers and sisters there already know the Principle very well, and the training session went well. Pamela Stein was the workshop mother, and Richard Bennett assisted the staff.
The general feeling we got is that the members have such a wonderful faith. Their faith is so beautiful because it is not based on external stimulation, but rather on the Principle, on Father, and on the hope that Father gives to them.
One Sunday at Belvedere Father said that African members love to see him, not because he gives them money but because for them he really represents hope. Africa has had a lot of difficulties in the past, and in such poor countries, what other source of hope can people find? Through the Principle, members feel encouragement to grow and hope that Africa can develop like other continents. Africans are very heartistic people; they express their emotions very easily and freely. It's very liberating for Europeans and Americans to go there and experience this.
Sometimes in prayers I cried like I had never cried here in America. Such an environment gave us the feeling that our emotions could be freed and purified.
The members have such a desire to see Father; they are thirsty for any story, photograph or testimony about True Parents and the children. Each member has a photo album, and that's the most precious possession that anyone has. In Africa, members tend to be more isolated from our worldwide movement; they don't hear so much about the rest of the church. They are eager to establish relationships with brothers and sisters from other countries and to receive news from them. Maybe because their lives have been more lacking in material benefits, they can focus on more internal things. In a sense, their course is less complicated than that of Americans or Europeans, because our external resources offer us many alternative ways of life. For our African brothers and sisters, their real hope is to know, Father, to restore their dignity and become true people, and to transmit this same hope to all Africa. Really, they are so concerned about how to save Africa.
Although our brothers and sisters cannot see True Parents in person, they have many dreams of them. Sometimes they see True Mother guiding them or Father leading the way. Some members have joined because of such dreams.
Even negative people can be changed by dreams. The mother of one African member had been very negative. During the training session she came to see Rev. Hose and complained that her daughter had joined the church and abandoned her. Later on, this mother had a dream in which she was scolded strongly for opposing our church, and the next day she called and apologized to us. She knew clearly that if she didn't follow the advice of spirit world, there would be trouble for her.
A lot of witchcraft still occurs. There are very strong testimonies from our members about the reality of spiritual influence; for instance, during a four-day period, many relatives of one sister died because of witchcraft used against them. There is no doubt in Africa about the existence of good and evil spirit worlds.
Clan relations remain strong; children may be raised by grandparents or by an aunt, instead of their parents. Family bonds are strong, but a man may have several wives, causing deep difficulties among the children of the various wives and also between the wives. Some of our members grew up in such situations, so all these feelings desperately need to be restored. Testimonies of members doing home church work reveal the extent of the sexual temptations they face there. It's a strong kind of immorality which Africans must overcome. Home church presents many challenges to our members' faith; it's very special work.
Rev. Hose gives guidance using the analogy of Moses and the Israelites; he talks about how we can go from the wilderness into Canaan; how we can endure difficulties and still maintain our faith, without losing the vision of the Promised Land; how we can purify ourselves before we get to Canaan. All those points are very deep. There are many problems which we must solve through our own responsible life of faith.
In a sense, True Parents have taken us into their hands, but we ourselves have to be responsible to lead a good life, not accusing someone for our own problems. Also, we need to grow by caring for others. Rev. Hose teaches deeply about the meaning of a true Abel and a true Cain, emphasizing that every one of us should develop the attitude of a true Cain.
We had to face the challenge of how to give internal guidance which can truly resolve the problems between black and white. "Of course we know the problem of racism exists," Rev. Hose says, "but we cannot be caught up in resentment. We must take responsibility for our lives. We cannot just harbor resentment and stick to the ways of the past. We must grow." The core of the problem is not racism; it's not a matter of whether one's skin is white or black. The problem is the fallen nature of man; it is a lack of human goodness.
Wherever he goes, Rev. Hose has very good give and take with brothers and sisters; he really loves the members. We all shared the same meals and living situation; Rev. Hose slept on the floor surrounded by the other brothers. For them to see an older blessed member with children sharing so closely and informally with them was like a revelation. Through Rev. Hose they could feel a special aspect of parental heart.
Rev. Kwak's talks focused on providential guidance, with topics such as our ay of faith and the path of restoration, in which he explained about indemnity conditions and our course through the stages of servant of servant, through that of servant, adopted child and then true child. He taught Father's course, how Father set up the holy days, the meaning of the 36 blessed couples, and how our 21-year course connects with True Parents' course. Finally, he spoke about preparation for the Blessing and what kind of attitude we need during the matching. There are quite a few members eligible for the Blessing, and they are anxiously waiting; the coming Blessing will be a big step ahead for Africa.
During the 40 days, several missionaries gave their personal testimonies of the foundation period in their mission countries. Rev. Hose encouraged this because he is keenly aware of the problem of restoration, even in the hearts of our members.
When Kathy Harting told how much she as a white person loved Africa, many members cried, repenting in a sense for their feelings of resentment. When members have struggles in their own center with the missionaries, to whom can they turn for hope?
Members are eager to receive new facets of internal guidance. In New York we hear internal guidance speeches from Rev. Won Pil Kim, Ken Sudo, and many blessed couples; so even if we have trouble with our immediate central figure, there is someone else to guide us. In Africa there aren't so many opportunities. Members want to understand how to live the Principle. Oftentimes they get caught in Cain/Abel problems or temptations, just as we all do, but they may not know how to apply the Principle to solve these problems.
Our missionaries are brothers and sisters like us; they are not Father or Rev. Kwak. Arriving in their countries with very little experience, they struggled very much for many years to make a spiritual foundation. They have their own limitations; maybe they are not the best lecturers, maybe they don't have such a gentle nature; maybe they didn't receive as much training as they needed for such a big mission.
When they came to Africa it wasn't easy. Mary Bizot gave her testimony of the difficulty she experienced in trying to adapt to a whole new culture. The missionaries were required to come as Abel or parents to their countries; this meant that they had to begin restoring all the accumulated problems, especially the failures of white missionaries in relating to black people. The colonial history was filled with many difficulties, yet through colonialism Africa gained Christianity, which is a priceless foundation for understanding and receiving 'True Parents.
Those early Christian missionaries especially erred in not trusting Africans to become true people, capable of taking responsibility for themselves and their countries; they never gave much value to Africans. Thus the problem of resentment toward white missionaries is a very real one in Africa, one which our missionaries have had to confront continually.
When African members give their testimonies, many share how they hold resentment against white people. Most of them were very young when independence came to their countries, but listening to stories from their parents and seeing the consequences of colonialism -- an underdeveloped Africa -- they developed the strong feeling that white people came to use and exploit them. Now other white people come to give them the truth of the Principle and raise them up. The members have to be a good Cain to that missionary, following and obeying him or her. If they see fallen nature in that missionary, if he or she makes a mistake or speaks in anger, then the Africans tend to feel, "Oh, again, that white person!" Even unconsciously, strong feelings come out. Upon joining the family, those feelings do not just disappear by a miracle.
I am very grateful for the missionaries' work, much of it behind the scenes; almost no one really knows the extent of their sacrifices. We found a growing family of loving brothers and sisters now, but they are the fruits of so many tears shed by our missionaries. We can never forget that. We could come and hold a 40-day workshop on the solid foundation that the missionaries had laid. For us to come and be natural and nice was easy; we didn't have the responsibility for beginning the mission in the country.
In a sense, our African members must restore the resentment of the black people, and our white missionaries must restore the arrogance and mistakes of the whites. Each must understand that it is God who comes first. True Parents sent those missionaries, and the most important thing is to focus on God as the first object. It is not the missionary as a person who is most important, but that God speaks through the missionary, even if he or she makes mistakes.
The challenge for our missionaries is to be completely serving, sacrificial and humble -- to yearn to raise up the members and give them life, without using them or taking advantage of them -- to really develop Africa for the sake of Africa.