Unification News for June 2000
38 Years of Speaking God's Word
A review of Truth Is My Sword
(Collected public speeches, inspirational messages, and personal testimonies to Reverend Moon of Dr. Bo Hi Pak, 1961-1999)
Bo Hi Pak has been arguably the most prominent bridge between the Korean and Western branches of the Unification movement, beloved by tens of thousands of American and European members due to his warmth, vigor, passion for True Parents, and love for America – not to mention that he was Reverend Sun Myung Moon's right-hand man and chief translator for decades until his appointment as national adviser to the Japanese Unification movement and National Messiah to Cameroon.
Now the public speeches, sermons, and internal guidance of this extraordinary disciple of True Parents are available in a two-volume set for the edification and inspiration of Unificationists and non-Unificationists alike.
The first volume compiles Dr. Pak's speeches before the general public, while the second focuses on the inspirational messages of the man who proudly embraces the sobriquet "Mr. Bubbling Enthusiasm." The word enthusiasm, he says, comes from the Greek en-theos, which means God enters, an apt description of his life, for once he found True Parents, God filled every nook of his being – as He continues to do.
The world-class evangelist, CEO, man of God, and father of six started out, seemingly in a whole different eon, as a farmer. In a 1966 talk at the Utah Street center in Arlington, Virginia, he told the early American members that he came from a small village in the Korean countryside and wanted nothing more in life than to become the best hog and chicken farmer possible. "I loved hogs as much as I loved anything," he recalls. "Really, they were like my babies. I hugged them and kissed them." (volume 2, page 39)
He dared to employ new, scientific techniques for raising farm animals, and he planted new crops, too. But one day, to young Bo Hi's horror and anguish, his hogs, one by one, began to sicken and die, until at last all were gone.
Farmer In The Army
The boy had so many hopes and dreams for those beloved animals – and for his career as a farmer. But he took the tragic death of his swine as a message from God to quit farming. So he went into soldiering instead.
Twenty-five days after he entered the Korean Military Academy in 1950 as a 20-year-old, single cadet, however, the North Korean communist army launched a lightning invasion of the South that again turned young Pak's life upside down. In battle after battle, which claimed the lives of most of his 330 fellow cadets, soldier Pak emerged unscathed. But in one, in May 1952, his brush with death -- in a blood-bath riverside ambush -- was so close he cried out to God he would dedicate his life to Him if he were spared.
From that point on, the young man who had had little spiritual training (his mother, he says, was something of a Buddhist and his father a Confucian scholar) was an avid Christian, praying and poring over the Bible and worshipping constantly at church. But for the next five years, no matter what he did he still was consumed by a deep spiritual hunger and a slew of questions that conventional Christianity was unable to answer.
Finally, in 1957, his searching brought him to a "simple seminar" at which he heard the Divine Principle. He told a group of American ministers attending an Interdenominational Conferences for Clergy meeting in Seoul, South Korea, on August 21, 1986, that "I listened for two nights and, I tell you, at last all the questions of my life that I had been suffering from completely melted away. Then I felt some power, some power of ignition, ticking. Some bubbling in my heart, something. I could see the meaning of life, the meaning of death. The concept of the world and universe. God and Christ. All those most fundamental questions came to me so absolutely organized. ... I immediately understood that God saved my life for this truth." (volume 1, page 307)
Dr. Pak described how he immediately demanded to be introduced to the leader of the church. The woman who had been his lecturer was reluctant to comply, because Dr. Pak was then a major in the Korean army and something of a VIP, and the church was abjectly poor. But his continuing entreaties eventually wrung from her an invitation to a prayer meeting the following night.
Finding a Diamond in the Clay
Dr. Pak told the clergymen of his experience this way: "In my military uniform, beautifully dressed up, I went to the church. I was looking for some kind of big church with a big sign. I was let into a very humble door. If you saw such a humble door in your own church, you would be freaked out, too. The door was so low, you had to stoop down.
"It was wintertime, February, and so cold. No stove. No chairs. The young people were sitting and singing a hymn and I didn't know that hymn, since it was a particular Unification Church hymn. But you know what I saw? They were singing out of their souls. It was coming straight from their hearts. It was kind of like the Japanese style, just kneeling down on the floor and singing out. Then one man delivered the sermon. I didn't not know who that was. Certainly, everything was strange to me.
"Then after the service was over, one very humble-looking man stood up. He had been one of us sitting there. He did not have even a proper jacket, just a very simple, second-hand military-style jacket. He stood up and spoke to the congregation. But I was amazed by his power and authority. I was completely inspired. Still I did not know who he was.
"After the service was over, the lady who had lectured to me came to me and said, 'Major Pak, could you kindly meet our leader, Reverend Moon?' That was Reverend Moon. He had been sitting several feet away from me, on the floor just like all the rest of us, worshipping all together. After the service, he was giving extra instruction. This was the beginning of my life with Reverend Moon."
And so started the spiritual "career" documented by the speeches and sermons tucked between the covers of this two-volume treasure. The material is an important contribution to the history of the Unification movement, for Dr. Pak's speeches were presented at key meetings of True Parents-founded organizations like CAUSA, the World Media Association, the International Security Council, the Interdenominational Conferences for Clergy, the Association for the Unity of Latin America, the CAUSA International Military Association, and the CAUSA Ministerial Alliance.
In the book, there are also addresses before the American Leadership Conference, the Summit Council for World Peace, the Artists Association International, the Federation for World Peace, the International Commission for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, the Federation of Island Nations for World Peace, the Family Federation for World Peace, and the Women's Federation for World Peace.
Dr. Pak also spoke at events relating to media outlets like The News World, Noticias del Mundo, the New York City Tribune, The Washington Times, and Tiempos del Mundo, and performing arts groups like the Little Angels dancing and singing troupe and the Kirov Academy of Ballet.
Man of Character and Heart
Throughout both volumes, Dr. Pak's character, spirit, and emotion spring forth – even in the most formal of speeches. The man's many facets are movingly illustrated by everything from his indomitable and eloquent deportment at Congressman Donald Fraser's hearings in 1978 to his impassioned castigation of communism to his humble praise of True Parents to his glowing tributes to his adopted land.
In his 1961 "My Tribute to America" (volume 1, page 53), Dr. Pak says: "America is a country of beauty of land, cities, mountains, and rivers. It is a country of beauty of its people, beauty of its hearts, beauty of its noble friendships. Above all, America is a country of beauty of faith and love. This is the beauty I admire, cherish, and respect most of all."
At a CAUSA International Military Association conference held February 7-9, 1986, in Washington, D.C., he declared: "We cannot coexist with cancer. Communism today in our world is worse than cancer. Reverend Moon believes that with the power of God and faith in God, godless communism can be defeated." (volume 1, page 283)
In Dr. Pak's speeches and sermons, we are also repeatedly inspired by flashes of insight, as in his September 4, 1977, Belvedere talk, in which he says, echoing Winston Churchill, that democracy is "the clumsiest system under the sun" but that it's precisely what God needs for the success of the mission of the Second Coming of Christ. "Democracy guarantees freedom of religion and thought," Dr. Pak says. "That is what Jesus needed 2,000 years ago, but there was no system." (volume 2, page 281)
And in the same homily, he likens the Unification Church to the U.S. Army's Ranger training program at Fort Benning, Georgia, which requires each soldier to push himself through the most extreme difficulties in order to acquire discipline. He goes on to say that "This whole world is like God's Ranger program. It shall remain so forever. Even after the Kingdom of God is established, and Satan is demolished, ... still there is emotional upheaval. Ups and downs, sorrows and setbacks, and heroism. Sacrifice shall remain." (volume 2, page 287)
In all of these pages, Dr. Pak teaches practical spirituality – not pedantically but by the force of his personal experience and by citing the example of True Parents. In his "13 Commandments," for example, written in 1993, he goes from "I live my life with eternal gratitude" (Commandment #1) and "I am eternally indebted to our True Parents, because it is they who taught me about God, granted me resurrection, and gave me eternal life" (Commandment #2) all the way up to "I hate no one. I resent no one. I betray or criticize no one. I hold a grudge against no one. These are deadly poisons that will poison no one but myself" (Commandment #12) and "I will never give up or give in. I will never retreat. I will never hesitate. I will never slumber. I will never fear." (Commandment #13).
The essence of the man's character, which all of these speeches and sermons embody, is summed up in a talk in which Dr. Pak explains that one day he begged forgiveness from Reverend Moon for having been such a "poor" translator for so many years – embellishing Reverend Moon's words here, leaving words out there. He asked his spiritual leader if this would cause him to go to hell.
"You know what Reverend Moon said? He said nothing. He just smiled from ear to ear. So still this man, Bo Hi Pak, doesn't know where he is going: Heaven or Hell. But that doesn't worry me a bit. Why? Because I have learned another secret from Reverend Moon. That is, you can go anywhere and turn the place into Heaven. Even if you go to Hell, you have the power to turn it from Hell into Heaven!"
Ultimately, we see emerging from these talks the portrait of a man who is an embodiment of the Principled way of life and of a true follower of the Lord of the Second Advent. Dr. Pak could almost be talking about himself (though he would never indulge in such self-elevation) when he says, in a sermon at the Utah Street Center in Arlington, Virginia, on September 5, 1966: "We need modern heroes. There is a vast area where those gathered in this room can work. In a sense we are already committed to the road, whether you like it or not, to becoming heroes, both men and women. Not for the glory. Not for the praise. But for the glory of God and True Parents."
On a personal note, I really enjoyed this book. The HSA-UWC Publications Department should commended for publishing this sort of inspirational and historical work. Indeed, I felt Dr. Pak's speeches are so uplifting they can be used as Hoon Dok Hae material.
Now that Father Time is beginning to catch up with our elder-generation leaders, I hope others will take the time to prepare their memoirs. It would be quite a thrill to read chronicles by such church luminaries as David Kim, Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, and others.
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