On August 7, 1990, President Bush Jr. ordered the organization of Desert Storm Shield in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2. American troops would join a United Nations- sanctioned coalition formed to force Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. The date set for Operation Desert Storm was January 17 midnight.)
True Father had sent numerous messages to President Bush via Washington Times reports and various contacts advising him against this military action. When it became clear that the attack was imminent, True Father asked all American members to mobilize and serve other countries for 40 days. It was called the International Exchange Program [IEP] and was intended to be a12 year indemnity condition.
At the DC church headquarters, members chose by lottery which country they would serve; Bruce picked Indonesia. We sincerely wanted to obey True Father’s direction, but at that moment we had very little income. Bruce made $300.00 a month as an assistant pastor, and I fundraised selling flowers in bars on the weekends (IF someone would drive me around with two babies in the back seat). It was just enough to pay the bills. We were both serious to find a way and offered our intention in prayer. True Father often said, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
In & out
We lived in a townhouse with a college student from CARP (Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles) in Maryland. Previously we had been living in the DC church basement during the summer, but the pastor insisted we move out; Sunday School staff needed the room we were using for classes. When a CARP student heard we needed a place to live, she cheerfully begged us to move in with her and split the rent and utilities. She knew Bruce from Boston and liked him very much. Bruce was very good at counseling, listening and talking with members and guests. Conversations would go on for hours; he had a talent for putting people at ease. She must have thought Bruce would be around for her to converse with; perhaps she thought I was like him in that respect. If so, she was badly mistaken; Bruce was rarely around and I NEVER chatted. I was focused on the providence and my babies who were an extension of my mission. [It would have been better if I had seen her as part of my mission too.] The young CARP student soon began to hate me.
After only a few months she informed us that she wanted us to leave asap. My husband asked if she couldn’t be reasonable and wait until after the IEP condition; she said, “NO! By the end of this month!” It was November.
All Things Work for Good…
Bruce was very angry, but I felt strangely calm..even uplifted. I sensed that God was going to do something good, very good. The expulsion was so unprovoked and unfair; The Divine Principle shows time and again that when Satan strikes first, God has a condition to claim something.
A month earlier, Bruce’s mother in Norfolk had moved from her small house into an assisted-living apartment; she had called Bruce to drive down and get all of the furniture that did not fit in her new place. He returned with beautiful wood dressers, bureaus, dining room cabinets and even a refrigerator. Now we had to move but had nowhere to go. We quickly decided to sell everything and raise the funds needed for the IEP condition. I am very proud of Bruce because this furniture was his family’s fortune. They had scrimped and saved to have a nice home. This furniture had been with them for years-even when he was a child. Without blinking an eye, he was willing to give it all up without regret. He even sold his favorite childhood toy- a red metal Lionel train.
I placed an ad in the local newspapers and people quickly came by the house. I sold everything; only a few boxes of personal items were left. We made exactly enough for a round trip airplane ticket to Indonesia. Nothing more. Although members were supposed to go with $1000, headquarters gave us permission to go. Bruce went to a foreign country with just $20.00 in his pocket (a last minute gift from a neighbor). Again I am very proud that he was so brave to do this.
Once he was safely on the plane, I set about completing our move. I stayed with another church sister whose husband had left a few weeks earlier for his IEP country in Africa. Her condition was that we leave before her husband returned (which would be a few weeks before Bruce came back). I promised, but as I called around, I was unable to find another place to stay. It was Christmas time and members had family and friends visiting them. I was not 100% honest about how desperate I was; it would have been extremely awkward if a family felt pressured from guilt into inviting us. My last resort was an emergency shelter. The thought was frightening, but it seemed the only possible option. I prayed a tearful prayer- “Dear God, if this be Your will…”.
The expansive emergency shelter on 2nd & D Streets NW (now Mitch Snyder St.) downtown DC had previously been an abandoned federal building. In 1984, after a much publicized 51-day fast by homeless advocate Mitch Snyder, the federal government donated the building to CCNV and also invested millions of dollars to renovate it. It became the Community for Creative Non-Violent Shelter which ‘houses’ 1,200 people and provides various services: counseling, drug rehabilitation and Alcohol and Narcotic Al-ANON meetings. During my intake interview, I was advised to go to one of the safer, smaller family shelters in the district, but these required proof of identification. My purse had been stolen shortly before moving to DC. Since I did not drive and was mostly at home taking care of the children or at church with my husband, I didn’t see the need for replacing my ID. Now that oversight limited my choices. The staff person assigned me a single bed and a bunk bed pushed together as well as a small wall locker for my belongings - sans lock. She seemed somewhat reluctant about my stay. Maybe she was wondering how a white woman, not on drugs, ended up there with two young children. Was I an undercover reporter looking for an expose? I was too stressed to figure out why she was unwelcoming; maybe she was just overworked.
The shelter’s main level (or was it a basement level?) was divided into two separate living quarters- one side for men and one side for women with numerous offices for administrators, storage, classes, a kitchen, clinic, etc. There were security guards at both entrances and a staff person stationed inside at a desk for intake. Three rows of beds filled a large room that I mistakenly thought had been a school cafeteria. About one-third to one-half of the beds were bunk beds. A single row of beds were arranged along each wall and a double row set in between. Dinner was prepared in an unseen kitchen in the facility and brought into our area in large metal containers to be served. During the week, some people left the shelter during the day to look for work. Actually people were encouraged (mandated?) to leave the shelter during daylight hours unless they had children to care for. Many who were there had problems with alcohol and/or drugs, and most of the women had children with them.
A sweet gift for caroling
I left a few times during the day light (together with my two children) to go to the DC church and take care of a group of young people Bruce and I had been teaching regularly-all bike couriers. We had decided to go Christmas caroling; most of the couriers were not living with or near their families and wanted to dispel the loneliness that holidays sometimes bring. One night we walked around to various well-lit spots, outside corner stores, and sang to passersby. A particular residential area near the DC Church (off of 16th Street NW) had experienced a stabbing fatality a year before. We decided to go down that dark street and sing for the neighborhood. It was dark. There were few if any street lights and no decorative colored lights. No one could be seen outside, but we sang anyway. While caroling, a van stopped nearby, parked and sat for a while. It made us all a bit nervous. After we stopped singing, a man came out of the van and sincerely thanked us; he had not heard caroling in a long time. He explained that he was a caterer and had extra sandwiches in his van; he wanted to know if we would like them. Because my children and I had left the shelter to come caroling we missed dinner. And the young couriers were also delighted! It was a sweet and welcome gift from Heaven.
Back at the shelter
In preparation for Christmas, each mother was called by staff to go into a separate room and pick out gifts and necessities for their family. I was especially grateful for the diapers and chose a few small things for my three-year old and almost one year old. Christmas morning all of the children received large garbage bags full of gifts, but later, when they left the toys lying around, another woman came sweeping them up with a large broom and throwing them out, all the while shouting and accusing the kids. It seemed unnecessary and cruel. The children had no toy box or drawers, not even a cardboard box to store their things. Even in a shelter- or wartime, or disaster- children can have happy memories. The adults can create a buffer to protect the children from harsh realities. Children can be happy with very little..even a kind attention.
On Christmas day, some young single Jewish women came by the shelter to serve the families. They brought treats and a clown show with balloons. I fervently witnessed to the women about the Divine Principle and True Parents and the Marriage Blessing! Did I realize then or later that they might blame the church for my homeless situation...or simply think I was mentally and/or emotionally unstable?
The week between Christmas and New Year’s was filled with tension. A lot of women had acquired alcohol even though it was officially forbidden. The one common television was blaring non- stop and the many kids were running around; it was too cold to hang around outside. I read books to my daughter and nursed my son. One night, around 2 AM, a woman returned late; another woman was angry because she had been left to care for the latecomer’s children under a false pretext. - perhaps looking for a job. I do not know the details. One of them picked up an iron to throw at the other woman. Screaming ensued, “She’s going to kill me!...She’s got an iron!” Someone flicked all the lights on. Many women woke up in a panic. People were running and scrambling to get out of reach of the weapon, frantically scooping their children up as well- dashing around the room. My two children and I shared one bed, snuggled together. We were two rows away from the altercation, but directly across from it. I heard other women say, “Let’s put our children there on her bed; no one will hurt us there.” And surely, it felt as though my bed was surrounded by peace, a sea of calm in the midst of a tumultuous hurricane. I sensed the presence of a powerful angel stationed at the right corner of our bed, posted there as a sentry between us and the chaos. I can see him now as I remember, but that night I merely sensed him.
Soon two male security guards were called in to stop the women and remove them; they were so uncontrollable and incensed. Afterwards, it took a while for everyone to calm down and return to their beds. My children slept soundly through the entire ordeal.
While preparing for DC church’s God's Day, I saw a very pretty white child’s dress in a store window near the church. The clothing label read: made in Indonesia!!! How perfect! I bought it for my daughter. After God's Day (then celebrated Jan 1st) an associate member invited me to come with the children to his home, a house he shared with another man. My son had a bad cold and cough and this young man kindly bought medicine for him and food for us. We stayed there until Bruce returned a week or two later. While there my son celebrated his first birthday (Jan 9). Our generous host gave him a beautiful silver medal- Archangel Michael defeating Satan. Such a beautiful and auspicious gift.
I was kicked out from the restaurant department because my zeal to witness ‘would contaminate’ the other business members. Happily, I could then focus 100 % on minister outreach. Brooklyn is very densely packed with people; if it were a city (and not a borough) it would be the third most populated in the US, after Los Angeles and Chicago. It is divided into 77 neighborhoods or districts. I was responsible for two: Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick, both in the north-eastern section; Bushwick borders Queens. Because New York is a ‘gateway’ for global immigrants, there is a broad cultural diversity in Brooklyn.
My two districts had been predominantly Jewish in the early to mid-1900s (when two million Russian Jews emigrated to avoid intense government-sanctioned persecution). By the 1950s most Jews had relocated to suburbs and the population shifted to primarily African American, West Indian and African. Brooklyn has more West Indians than the West Indies. Just north of my districts were neighborhoods of Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and the large Hasidic Jewish community in Williamsburg. To serve the various ethnic groups, churches, synagogues and mosques naturally spring up. One article states that there are 914 religious organizations in Brooklyn.
In addition to my own minister outreach, I was also responsible to organize church visitation for business members who usually had only one day free. Some of these business members worked in the restaurants. One day I showed up in the restaurant department office downtown NY to drop off related information; members gasped to see me as if they had seen a ghost. What had they been told happened to me? I have never been interested in gossip, but I venture to say that rumors most likely benefit someone other than who the rumor is about. It’s best to not even get involved.
Another role I fulfilled was as the secretary for the ICUSA meetings. A handful of ministers and concerned community leaders would gather at Maestro and Ruby Jone’s home and strategize ways to best serve the populace. It was decided to have a musical program and an awards presentation for the community; it would be held at a local public school. An orchestra was hired to play a few classical pieces; Maestro Jones was the conductor. After the performance, we presented plaques and recognized numerous men and women who had been diligently serving the community: ministers, teachers, a firefighter, volunteers, etc. One of the awards was to be given to the local fish business which donated fresh fish to ministers on a regular basis; the ministers had to cut up the fish, wrap it, then distribute it to their congregants. This business happened to be owned by our church. I researched who was in charge. To my surprise -and delight- it was Mr I who had kicked me out of the restaurant department. Less than a year after my ignoble departure, my community and ministers were presenting him with an award of gratitude. I call this ‘heavenly revenge’- the kind of ‘revenge’ Heavenly Father approves of.
Because I had a very thorough inventory of churches in my two districts, I was able to easily accommodate members volunteering on Sundays, even describing the denominations and asking them which they preferred. Mainline churches tend to have a regular, well-rehearsed choir and an educated minister who gives an organized, intellectual (usually political) and time-conscious sermon; Baptist sermons are much more emotional, usually longer with lots of singing and music. Pentecostal and Holiness churches have a wide variety of services which may last for hours with prayer and worship before or after or both. Some churches have spirit-filled dancing and speaking in tongues. A few have uniformed ‘nurses’ on duty to minister to members who fall on the ground during the service.
I also researched where public telephones were located near each church (ones that had not been vandalized) for emergencies. I wanted to alleviate any fears the visiting members might have. One Sunday I dropped a black sister, newly arrived from England, at a Pentecostal Holiness church. In this particular faith community all the women wore white robes and walked barefoot throughout the year. After the sermon, the pastor walked down into the congregation and placed his hand upon the heads of a few men and women in the audience; they immediately begin speaking in tongues and some began dancing in the aisles. As the pastor came close to this sister she ran terrified out of the church. She had wanted to experience an ethnic church ,but didn’t realize what that meant. I could fully empathize with her.
A new group home/center was rented just south of my area off King’s Highway and a new center leader, LL. I was invited to move in and I did. After having been on MFT for so long I had a skill set that I unfairly expected other members to have. One was fearlessness. On MFT we were constantly challenging ourselves. There is a saying in some MFT centers: “Whatever you don’t want to do, that’s what you should do.” Another skill set was hard work and focus. Members in the Brooklyn center were in varying states of shock, fear and confusion after True Father was incarcerated; I was oblivious to their needs. The center leader wanted to serve and encourage members so one evening he had a movie night. I was outraged. I thought we should all be working 24 hours- or as close to that as possible. Although I had spent the major part of my MFT mission loving others, I was loving people who did not know Divine Principle. I considered all members front line soldiers whose mission was to risk their life in building God’s Kingdom. I never told them to do that; I thought everyone already knew it- didn’t they get the memo? Why was I so ruthless?
One Sunday we had a great turn out of business members and associate members who wanted to visit churches. I was organizing at least twenty people for my area. (I usually worked alone in my area except on Sundays or when I had a Japanese brother to drive me around.). I assessed the vehicle situation and assigned drivers for different areas. One brother objected; he wanted to use his car for himself and his wife. I ignored his request as nonsensical and continued on with my plan. (I think the center leader calmed him down afterwards and perhaps made adjustments). My modus operandi was war mode. I must have made so many members negative. In the Heavenly Kingdom, it is a crime to hurt a person’s heart. God in His infinite wisdom never put me in a leadership position over other people, so hopefully those short periods of time when I was in charge of small ‘battles’ were limited enough not to leave irreparable damage.
One incident comes to mind that was insightful regarding cultural differences. We were cleaning the Brooklyn center. A new member was there originally from Haiti. The center leader was a black American brother, likeable, easy-going and college educated. He assigned members responsibilities and we carried them out. The Haitian brother became irate. He was sure the leader had given him trash duty because his skin was darker than the leader’s. Other members assured the new brother that we all took turns, but he was convinced he had been targeted for humiliation. Later he was tasked with cleaning out a storage area. He balked at that as well, but when I went in to organize it, he calmed down. If a white woman can do it, he decided he could too.
I am glad that he expressed his feelings openly because then we could address them. Some problems are never expressed and fester for years without ever being resolved.
There are so many different cultures in the world- not just ethnicities. I had inadvertently carried my MFT culture with me, mistaking it for UC culture. But if life isn’t about learning, what is it about? I want to figure out what the Kingdom of Heaven culture is. I know the core is unselfish love and service. What does that look like every day?
A Care Package from Poland
One summer the center leader informed us that we were going to be fundraising for a few months to pay the bills. I suggested a possible alternative to this new direction: ‘Let’s eat less, use less utilities and witness more.’ The leader did not consider that a viable option. In order to continue my minister outreach, some brothers from the fish business decided to pay for a small apartment for me! I gratefully accepted. I had no income and very little to eat; for a few months I survived on peanut butter, crackers and water. I was inviting ministers to various programs and sometimes I had a video to share with them. One day I invited a minster to my apartment to show him the video. I tidied up the place but shortly before he was to come, I realized I didn’t even have tea to serve him. I had no money. How should I make him feel comfortable and welcomed, I wondered. A knock came at the door. An older church brother, L, had just received a package from his family back home in Poland; he wanted to share it with me! . It was filled with all kinds of wonderful chocolates, biscuits, Polish delicacies, coffees and teas. As always, God was working behind the scenes, using who He could- He found a precious brother with a loving and generous heart-and at the perfect moment!
Dignity of God’s children
One particular church that I found exemplary in serving the community was The United House of Prayer for All People. It was started by ‘Sweet’ Bishop Daddy Grace in 1919 in Massachusetts. Originally from Brava Cape Verde (a Portuguese possession off the western coast of Africa), he travelled throughout America encouraging people from all races and denominations to worship together. He believed in racial harmony in the early 1900s when churches were segregated. To emphasize this, he married a white woman though they lived celibately as brother and sister. (Interracial marriages were illegal in many states until 1970). From its inception, the church had nightly services and members were made to feel the dignity of being God’s children despite the discrimination they were subjected to during the day.
Eventually the church offered classes in education for GEDs; musical education including training in playing musical instruments; and training in various employment skills (especially driving a bus and bus repair since they owned a fleet of buses).The church owned and operated soul food kitchens, built daycares, nursing homes and low-income and affordable living apartments. After encountering many cases of duplicity, this church was a breath of fresh air.
The church believes that their founder was a messianic figure and that the succeeding leaders were/are also singular figures through whom God is working and revealing His plans. Sweet Daddy Grace passed away in 1960 and the leadership passed to Bishop Walter McCollough (also called Sweet Daddy); he served for thirty-one years. I heard he was coming to the UHOPFAP in Bed-Sty, then on the corner of Fulton Street and Nordstrom Ave. The pastor informed me that it was a great occasion and it would be a long service. I think I came around 9 PM; the service lasted until 3 AM. Most of the time was filled with members parading to the front of the church to deposit envelopes into dark-colored velvet covered boxes with much pomp and circumstance and loud trumpet music. On his way out after the service ended, I was able to briefly meet Sweet Daddy McCollough and present him with True Father’s book, ‘God’s Warning to the World’. His predecessors were Bishop Samuel Madison and currently Bishop Clarence Bailey. May God use this church in mighty ways to advance His Kingdom!
Another church that I found had a sweet and sincere spirit was the Seventh Day Adventists (established formally in 1863). They believe that Saturday should be regarded as the Sabbath and therefore hold their church services then. They also believe in treating their body with respect as it is a gift from God and the mind, spirit and body are interconnected. Healthy eating- even vegetarianism-is encouraged; as a result SDA community is 30 % healthier than average US citizens. They also abstain from alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs.
I felt a dichotomy between what I saw inside the church and what I saw outside. Within the walls, people glorified and praised God; outside there was crime, drugs, cursing, loose behavior, gossiping, unkempt living situations, etc. I am sure this dichotomy exists everywhere in the world but it did seem glaring to me at times. When I did meet someone striving to walk in Jesus’ footsteps it was beautiful and hopeful. One older pastor from COGIC, although poor, tutored youth after school. Whenever I met him there were students close by. He didn’t even have his own church. I deeply appreciated his efforts; I know God sees every effort we make to help others, especially the most vulnerable.
Along the border of the Bushwick neighborhood, there is a higher concentration of Latino residents. One young pastor who spoke English and Spanish I found very impressive with his daily investment and commitment to the neighborhood. Although young, he had a handful of buses and dedicated volunteers who would pick up youth around the neighborhood and bring them to the church programs. If I am not mistaken, I think he started the church himself, but he was so busy he never had time to attend any events I invited him to. More precisely he did not agree with UC so he did not respond warmly. I wonder if he is still a pastor somewhere. I wonder if he has warmed up to us forty years later?
Proposals and propositions
One of the minefields of witnessing is the attraction between men and women. True Father said that we will appear more beautiful to people when we are witnessing because God is working through us to save a person’s life. I was proposed to by a number of ministers; a few quite seriously declaring their intention of marriage. Luckily, I was already engaged/promised; having my fiance/husband was a very welcome and necessary shield, even though I rarely saw him for five years. In spite of this, some men would continue to profess their interest. Sadly, I had to stop visiting a few good churches because of the ministers’ continued advances and because I was traveling solo. In addition to proposals there were also indecent propositions which at first shocked me. Quickly I learned to act as though I hadn’t heard anything while keeping a safe distance. If I had acted offended and stormed off I would have too few churches left to work with.
One afternoon, I was visiting a minister during the week between Christmas and New Years. On my way there, the subway train stopped because of an issue on the tracks. True Father said that we should be attentive to signs like this; it could be a message from spiritual world. I looked around in the train car; perhaps I was supposed to witness to one of the passengers. But no one looked up from their newspaper or their napping. A second announcement informed us that there was a fire that had to be dealt with and the train would be further delayed. I began to pray and ask for God’s guidance. A fire definitely seemed like a serious warning. Finally the train was on its way, but I continued to pray; I wanted to be hypervigilant to recognize what God was warning me about. When I arrived at the minister’s home, he greeted me warmly. His wife was gone for a few days visiting relatives. I had visited their home many times before. We sat in the living room talking about plans for the new year. Then, inexplicably, he walked over and locked the door to the living room. Alarms were blaring in my head. He nonchalantly returned, gently took my hand and began caressing it as we talked. I tried to maintain my composure while searching the room and planning my escape. A young guest in the house knocked on the door and asked if he should order lunch. When the minister opened the door. I quickly made an excuse and ran out, leaving my hat and scarf behind. There was no way I was returning to retrieve them even though the weather was bitterly cold. He and his wife were two of my core ministers; we had spent more than a hundred hours together. It was a heavy and unexpected blow. It would have been so easy for me to naively think it was all in my imagination, but God’s prior warning had steeled my brain to act quickly. I’ve never been more grateful for a delayed train.
In the process of witnessing there is always a danger that a ‘spiritual parent’ might feel attracted to their ‘spiritual child’; inevitably a lot of time, energy and prayer is invested when witnessing. I prayed a lot about this matter: how to avoid it from happening, how to recognize it happening, and what to do when/if it does happen. First, I decided that if I ever felt there existed a strong attraction (on either side), I would hand over the care of my male contact to a brother, if at all possible. Or work together with a brother or another sister so that we were not alone together. Next, I reasoned that if I EVER wanted to receive love or affection from this person this was a clear indication that I was no longer an instrument of God in this witnessing relationship. If I truly loved this person, I would never want to jeopardize his eternal relationship with God.His eternal life was far more important than my momentary happiness. These feelings may be inevitable. We are all in a position to restore the Fall again and again and again. Lucifer was in a position to serve to guide and yet he chose to deceive Eve for his own benefit. Love is the strongest power in the world. When we stand at the crossroads, we have to ask ourself, ‘Do I love God more or myself?’ ‘Do I love the other more or myself?’ Then move forward. We will have to ask this each time, up until we pass from this world.
Bypassing cognitive biases
I will admit that one time I was sorely tempted. My life has been somewhat unusual in that I was rarely interested in dating or developing relationships with people in general. My first twenty years, I was preoccupied with depression and intensely seeking truth. I did have a boyfriend for a few years (when I was 18 - 20 years old). He spoke Spanish and I tried to communicate with him in Spanish also. Research shows that speaking another language bypasses “cognitive biases [that] are rooted in emotional reactions...thinking in a foreign language helps us disconnect from these emotions.” Although he had asked me to marry him, I flatly refused. My parents and my oldest sister were divorced, both harboring deep bitterness, anger and hatred. From what I observed, love did not last. I do believe now that God led us to meet; he was/is the kindest person I know. I was surrounded by so many evil people before I met the church; he was a shield that protected me. We both joined the Unification Movement. Now he has a beautiful marriage, a loving wife and five wonderful children.
Ilya Ususkin, the story teller
My temptation happened while I was steeped in minister outreach and working every day out in the field. One afternoon, I was on a subway. With a clipboard in hand, I was sketching the passengers. An elderly man was also scribbling away in a notebook. We exchanged glances, then smiled, recognizing with camaraderie our resonance. He shared briefly: he was a writer, taking notes from his subway observations. He assumed I was a writer too. Since he had to depart, he suggested we meet again on the ferry (East River Ferry?) a few days later at noon. I agreed.
I was usually the one chasing after people to invite them to conferences, deliver video tapes or books, or urge them to cooperate with a social action project. Now, here was someone initiating a meeting with me. How different!. How exciting! When we finally met, he shared profusely about his life: an adventurous childhood in Alaska (pre-statehood), his adoring mother searching for him in the snow; early years as a virtuoso violinist; mandatory military service in the Navy; a war accident that ended his music career forever; his decision to write spy novels under a pseudonym. Enraptured, I listened to him for hours. Whether his stories were true or not I do not know; I had no reason to disbelieve him. I did know that I wanted to connect him to God somehow. He was brilliant, creative and successful. He asked me about my life. How could I share personally without sounding crazy? Whatever I said, he looked at me thoughtfully and remarked, “I love the way your mind works.” Luckily I was sitting down, because at that moment I lost all sense of equilibrium. The solid ground fell away beneath me. His words pierced my soul so precisely that I found myself suddenly shocked standing on the edge of a precipice; only God could have known my most vulnerable place- God or Satan.
I had denied my mind so often in my church life and work, it was easy to forget I had one. On MFT I abandoned my intellect and repeated a sales pitch thousands of times a day (x 363 days x 7.5). Now in Brooklyn, I daily encountered men whose eyes devoured me licentiously. Surely none of them cared that I had a mind. I was twenty-nine years old; I do not remember anyone ever saying, “I love your mind”.
It may surprise the reader to know that this man I was meeting was eighty years old; it made no difference to me. I could have melted into his hands at that very moment. (If the reader thinks that an eighty year old man no longer desires intimacy, just revisit this point when you are older.) Surely angels were with me; I love God with my whole heart and soul and mind and body. I stepped away from that cliff and determined to find out- was this from God or Satan?
We met a few times after that. EAch time when I would initially meet him, I would always be surprised that he was so old, but then when I spoke with him his age became irrelevant. He invited me to a classical concert. He knew many people there from the upper echelon of society; many of them looked at me as though I were a ‘gold digger’ (taking advantage of this old man) or a prostitute. I invited him to CAUSA and asked him to invite his son who held a high position in the military- but he would never commit. . Finally the conversation came to that ultimate line drawn in the sand; he did not believe in God or an afterlife. He wanted to freeze his body until future scientists could reawaken him. Although he had said he appreciated my mind, I could not convince him of a loving Heavenly Parent or an inevitable eternal life after this one. His total lack of humility before God allowed me to step back, way back onto solid ground. My fiance/husband was often coarse and insensitive, had little or no interest in art; he was not as refined, educated, creative, or eloquent as Ilya Ususkin- but he was humble before God. My neglected mind, which had almost become that hook to drag me down, would have to wait to be appreciated (perhaps after I died). Freed from my temptor, I moved on resolutely to witness to my ministers. IPeter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Our only enemy
One day, at the home of a core minister, MJ, I decided to straighten up the large room we used for ICUSA meetings, just stack the scattered books, pamphlets and papers in related piles for a neater appearance and ease in accessibility. I had just given a back rub to his wife who suffered from an accident and she was resting. When she got up and saw what I had proudly accomplished she told me nervously that I had better mess it all up again; her husband would not like it. I told her it would look even more suspicious if I randomly messed it up again, but she was visibly frightened and called him on the phone. MJ was at a UC- sponsored conference out-of-state and he immediately left the conference to return home. When he arrived he was so outraged that he began cursing and accusing me. He called the church headquarters and demanded to speak to the highest leader. Vehemently, he pledged that I would never be a leader in the church; he would make sure of that. (I never wanted to be a leader in the church anyway so that was a useless threat.) The entire scene was ludicrous, outlandish and bizarre. I had served this couple for more than a year; they called me their angel and had a small room set aside for me in their home. Now, I was suddenly their hated enemy. MJ told me to leave and never come back. I left- confused, angry, hurt, and then righteously indignant that they did not trust me. They obviously had something serious to hide to be so fearful of my organizing their papers.
The next day, a leader called me and asked me to apologize to MJ, but I refused. I said my actions had zero ill intentions; MJ’s extreme displeasure was indicative of a guilty conscience. Something that was hidden was in danger of being revealed, but this was way above my ’pay-grade’. God Himself was bringing something into the light. “Whatever is hidden away will be brought out into the open, and whatever is covered up will be found and brought to light Luke 8:17 For weeks I continued my mission while mulling over their cruel behavior, but at the same time I also missed them- the many occasions we had shared a pot of British-style tea and Guyanese rice and beans and talked into the night, strategizing how to save Brooklyn. True Father said that we have no enemies on the earth- Satan is our only enemy. Even if this couple did something wrong, I was not here to judge them. And if God was loving people through me, the ministers now as He had loved the potential customers when I was fundraising, did I have the right to just cut this couple off and never speak to them again? After a month or so, I gingerly showed up at their door. They welcomed me in as though nothing had happened.
Obvious or oblivious
While I worked in Bed/Sty- Bushwick, I never saw another white person except priests and nuns at the Catholic churches. My presence was glaringly obvious to everyone around me, but I was, for the most part, oblivious. Would my counterpart in a white neighborhood fared as well?
One late night I entered a subway to return home. Two youth saw me from a distance and kept staring at me uncomfortably. They finally approached me and asked if I was a plain clothes police woman. When I said no, they immediately jumped the turnstyle (instead of paying) and ran to catch a train.
“Broken Windows” theory
Years later, I read that NY’s mayor and police chief decided to tackle the city’s rampant crime by starting with small infractions (such as turnstyle jumping). They created movable police stations (in vehicles) which made it faster and easier to process paperwork. Their theory was called ‘Broken Windows’ which “held that ignoring small violations of the law, or quality of life offenses, led to larger crimes and to increasing disorder.”. Additionally, digitized crime data led to smarter policing. The four goals implemented were: accurate, timely intelligence; rapid deployment; effective tactics; relentless follow-up and assessment. Each precinct was responsible to create detailed crime maps and held to strict accountability. The crime rate (murder, rape, robbery, etc.) fell remarkably- in some cases to a seventy year- low. Along with these new strategies, credit has been given to increased private security and a proliferation of non-profits that sought to strengthen the neighborhoods and confront violence.
When I returned to Bed/Sty forty years later, I was amazed how much it had changed.
Kiiroi Hana, Manhattan to Brooklyn (Bedford/Styvesant-Bushwick)
1984- Heung Jin Nim passed away early 1984, holding on as a truly filial child until his parents returned from Korea. A new Holy Day, Victory of Love, was declared and from that day onward our funerals were now called seong hwas- ascension ceremonies; a beautiful celebration declaring love’s victory over death.
True Father was in the midst of a court case, trumped up charges of tax evasion with conspiracy to defraud the US government. It was over a small amount of money ($7,000). He offered to pay it but his offer was refused. This charge was an excuse to get rid of a person who was ‘rocking the boat’. IRS employees had set up an office in our headquarters and searched for SEVEN years for any evidence of wrongdoing in our books; this issue was all they could find. Many ministers in the US kept church funds in an account with their name. The IRS staff did not think it was enough to build a case. However, powerful people behind the scenes knew they only needed an excuse to force their agenda. .
If True Father had stayed in Korea, where he was when he was originally charged, he could have avoided a trial, but he knew his work was worldwide and America was essential. He returned to face the charges, saying he had absolute faith in America’s legal system. He hired the best constitutional lawyer.
Show us your God
If American people with power were trying to intimidate Rev. Moon, they picked on the wrong person. Has True Father EVER avoided a fight? As a child, he wrestled with a tree for six months so that he could beat a bully three times his size. As an adult, when he was beaten to death- or so his North Korean torturers thought- they threw his broken, bloody, lifeless body out into the snow. His followers brought him home to bury him; some disciples applied medicines and he miraculously recovered. As soon as he was able to walk, he returned to preaching which is what landed him in prison earlier. Again he was arrested. This time, the authorities wanted to show how pitiful religious leaders are. They invited a large audience with many students to attend the trial, expecting to impress them with their clever questioning. “Show us this God you are preaching about”, they demanded. “You have no proof for your foolish lies.” True Father had studied electrical engineering in school. He used electricity as an analogy; invisible to the naked eye yet so incredibly powerful. The communists were furious and quickly ended the trial with a death sentence- five years in a notorious work camp. Even that fight True Father won. If the Americans in question had known, they might have decided to follow Gamaliel’s advice in the New Testament: “38So in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone. Let them go! For if their purpose or endeavor is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts: 38,39
But they did not.
Home Church Lottery
A few days after Heung Jin Nim’s seong hwa, True Father called members to the New Yorker for a meeting. He emphasized how important Home Church activity was even if members had another mission; we should do both. Anyone who did not have a Home Church area was going to get one today. True Father was up on stage with a number of leaders putting together the lottery. During this brief interlude, members were sitting on the floor, waiting. I was close to the edge of the stage, staring at True Father; wondering, wanting to know how his mind/heart worked. Then True Father told us to stand up. We were going to shout Monsei for victory! He walked over to me and hit me on the head. That may sound like a punishment to someone not familiar with our church, but it was actually a big blessing. Then he said, “You like monsei, don’t you?”
Maybe he knew I was going to pick the most dangerous city in the US at that time; I was blissfully unaware.
Go where you are hated
True Father told us, “I want black members to go where they are hated and white members to go where they are hated and serve the people there.” The Home Church area I chose was Bedford Stuyvesant/Bushwick area in Brooklyn. I was very excited to FINALLY receive a Home Church area! When this new providence had been announced (1978), I was on MFT and during those almost eight years I had only a few months in Las Vegas to witness and serve in the community. I left immediately to see what my beloved area looked like.
I got off the subway and came out of the underground to what looked like a war zone. I had never seen anything like it and didn’t even know such an area existed in America. It seemed to me like a third-world country- brick buildings gutted; windows broken; storefronts burned and abandoned; trash littered the streets, people loitering apparently with nothing else to do or camped out beside a derelict building with a bottle in a paper bag. I must have looked shocked; a young man asked me if I was lost. I asked him what had happened. Why did it look like this? It was so normal for him, he didn’t know what I was talking about. I questioned him further. Finally he explained: about 10 years ago there was a black-out; looting ensued, then fires destroyed a few blocks. Business owners never came back to rebuild their stores. They abandoned the neighborhood.
Part of my area was used in two famous movies made after I left: Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing’ and ‘Ghost’ (where the criminal lived and where Whoopi Goldberg’s character lived and told fortunes).
When I returned to the Japanese restaurant, I asked the manager for my one free day a week to be reinstated; this was granted. Then I began planning how to move into my assigned area. Brooklyn had a center, a group house in Park Slope. It was a much nicer neighborhood than my area- cosmopolitan and yuppie, but the center was full. I asked to be notified if a space opened up. I also returned to my area to search for a potential room to rent. I asked a young woman if she knew of any. She didn’t but she warned me about the streets under the El (elevated trains) being dangerous. I asked, “Do people get mugged there?” She responded, “People get mugged everywhere. They get killed over there.”
At the New Yorker meeting, True Father had asked all of us to move out of the New Yorker into our Home Church area. “If you really love brothers and sisters, you will tell them to move out of the New Yorker also”, he said, referring to anyone not at that meeting. I take everything True Father says literally and decided to do exactly what he said, knocking on every door in the New Yorker and notifying members of True Father’s direction. My husband/fiance was working with MAI, Minority Alliance International, in Harlem. I mentioned my plan of action to him. Diplomatically, he advised me not to bother members. “You’ll only make them negative”, he warned me. What a silly reason, I thought, we can never lose by following True Father even if it is initially uncomfortable. This attitude of challenging oneself at every possible opportunity was something I had honed on MFT. I was TOTALLY insensitive to the fact that not everyone had had the same training opportunity I had. This tunnel vision would lead me to aggravate and alienate MANY members as I moved forward. On MFT I worked alone 99.9 % of the time; I was even oblivious to the struggles of other MFT members. But I chose to listen to my husband and focus on my own goal of moving out.
Home Church, during this emergency time of True Father’s trial, had shifted from serving 360 homes to outreach to Christian ministers. Initially we invited them to Religious Freedom Rallies held in NY and DC. I used my day off to call and invite ministers. The Brooklyn Center director called with an opening at their center; I immediately packed my few things and moved in. The Japanese sisters with whom I shared a room in the New Yorker quickly informed our manager that I had left the church. He calmly replied, “Rhonda has not left the church. She is either at 43rd street praying or she is in her Home Church area”. It’s truly wonderful to have a leader who understands you. I now lived in Brooklyn and took the subway into Manhattan six days a week to work at Kiiroi Hana.
One day, Mr I the head of all the Japanese restaurants, called me to his office. “You have to stop your witnessing activities”, he said. I was stunned. “True Father said that we have to do both”, I replied. “You will die if you do both! You have to decide which is most important to you,” he demanded. I responded, “You can hire anyone off the street to be a waitress, but who can you find to save America? Even if I work 23 hours a day in the restaurant and one hour a day for witnessing, witnessing is more important to me.” He was irate! “You will poison the entire department with this terrible attitude! I kick you out!”
I would never have had the confidence to state my case so boldly except that True Father had recently re-iterated, “This is no longer a leader-centered movement. It is a member-centered movement.” He had added, “If I tell you to do something and your leader tells you to do something else, who are you going to listen to?” This gave me absolute confidence to stand my ground.
Mr. I called Rev. S, my beloved teacher from Barrytown. He spoke in Japanese, but the conversation probably went something like: ‘Do you want this trash member; I don’t want her.’ Rev. S was very happy to get me; and I was equally thrilled to be able to work underneath him.
I reported to Rev. S.once a week in person and daily by phone with results. He trusted me implicitly and I responded to that trust with absolute loyalty and hard work. We were tasked with distributing sets of Divine Principle lectures on video cassettes, taught by our champion, Tom M. We also had a loaner program of video players for those ministers who did not have one of their own. In addition to local Freedom Rallies, we also began inviting ministers to ICC (Interdenominational Conferences for Clergy) held in Japan and Korea.
True Father was found guilty. He did not show one iota of disappointment or anger. He shook hands with the lawyers, pro and con, causing most extreme discomfort. Then, he was totally focused on comforting and encouraging the people around him, members and family, who were in a state of shock, disbelief and dismay.
I remember a few different meetings True Father had before he left for Danbury. In one he said, “It is going to be difficult. Some of you may want to go home and come back when the whole ordeal is over.” (!) In other meetings, we held hands with one another and redetermined ourselves to the task at hand. The night he was leaving, many people were crying. He asked us not to do anything unnecessary and life-threatening; one brother had pledged to throw himself in front of the car taking True Father to prison. We all felt helpless, but True Father was adamant as ever, declaring that even in prison he can advance God’s Providence.
Danbury Prison was a low security facility in Connecticut. We were concerned for True Father’s safety. We began prayer conditions from midnight to 4 AM every 40 days. Sometimes I was so anxious in prayer that my body became temporarily paralyzed. One day after pledge service, I collapsed with severe abdominal pain; it felt as though I had eaten glass. I was taken to the hospital where the doctor said,” You have a condition that is usually found in elderly people. Are you under stress?” How could I tell him that America was making a terrible mistake?! It was imprisoning the Messiah! That True Father’s life was in danger?!
The best way I could help True Father was to give 100% effort in my mission. We handed out a small red book to all the ministers: a collection of True Father’s speeches, called “God’s Warning to the World’.
Interdenominational Clergy United for Social Action (ICUSA) was founded, which replaced a variety of former service-oriented efforts nation-wide. ICUSA was focused on using trucks True Father had donated to each center to facilitate the service projects. In each area, we held weekly meetings with a gathering of local ministers who decided how best to use the trucks. Some were refrigerator trucks and ideal for free food distribution. Others could be used for moving jobs to earn money to support computer programs, educational activities, etc.
CAUSA was another conference we invited ministers to. Initially leaders used expensive hotels with luxurious banquets; ministers heard lengthy lectures with powerpoints on the ideology of Karl/Marx’s dialectical-materialism (point by point), why democracy and capitalism were inadequate to stop it, and why Godism was the best counter-proposal to communism. Liberation Theology was sweeping through South and Central America, a synthesis of religion and social action. Whether it was initially a Marxist movement or later infiltrated by communists, it became extremely successful in promoting communist ideals, uplifting Che Guevara as a Christ-like figure for the poor. Liberation Theology began in the Catholic churches but was attractive to intellectuals, liberal churches and poor as well.
Wild dogs vs wolves
We were fighting a wave of indifference and apathy. Many ministers could not understand what was so bad about Liberation Theology. Regarding anti-communism, one black minister told me, “What’s the difference? White capitalists are like wild dogs biting us (black people) from one side; communists are like wolves biting us from the other. It's all the same.” But many came for the free food and the speakers who often spoke on topics totally unrelated or even contradictory to our goals. After a series of these fancy conferences, ever-more elaborate with famous ministers as luncheon speakers promoting their own agendas, we were then asked to teach CAUSA ourselves. “Even if you have to teach it in the basement of a church, with guests sitting on the floor, do it!” True Father said. “Even if no guests come keep teaching it.” I have been serious about the communist threat from the moment I joined the movement, but many other brothers and sisters were less aware. By lecturing CAUSA material, they began to have ‘AHA’ moments of realization- the true threat of dialectical materialism made real. Seeing members understanding grow was extremely hopeful and exciting to me- even if we didn’t always have guests. Oddly, a direction came to stop giving lectures in our areas; instead invite ministers to weekend workshops at special get-away locations. Special lecturers would take care of everything. We had become ‘gophers again”, considered incompetent to convey the message ourselves.
I was not happy about this new direction and went to my beloved leader, Mr. S.; I stated my case emphatically, explaining the tremendous impact teaching CAUSA locally was having on the members as well as guests we brought. Mr. S was sympathetic and apologized; he explained that he was just trying to unite with the Korean leader who was in a supervisory position over him. My heart was softened; I respected and loved Mr. S very much. Thus I united with the new direction and invited my best and most positive contacts to attend the special weekend workshop. When they returned from their excursion they were no longer interested in working with me! Something negative had happened, I think possibly contact with other ministers who were negative; I do not know. I was devastated. After a few more weeks of these weekend trips, Rev. S called a meeting and apologized to everyone. He said that he had made a mistake in supporting these programs. I was dumbfounded. Why had I let myself be swayed from my original intention? Because of my horizontal affection for Rev. S. This was one of the reasons I decided to leave to go to Boston to join my husband.
After three years in Brooklyn, this proved to be the last straw that led me to feel it was untenable to continue working there. I compromised my own integrity. My absolute trust in my leader was shaken. Now I felt unprotected and vulnerable in a landscape that was a veritable minefield of dangers.
I was striving to develop my Home Church area for my husband to join me. He had been ordained as an Ethiopian Coptic priest while working in Brooklyn and loved preaching and lecturing. I had more than 300 churches in my district. He could have preached at a different church every day of the year. But he refused to move to Brooklyn or even to NY. He insisted he had a stronger foundation in Boston. (I found out years later that NY leaders tried to entice him with a car, a stipend, even an apartment, but he refused.)
Usually I worked in the neighborhood by myself. I lived with one female minister for a month after her operation. I tended to her bandages and used her home as my base. Another couple from Guyana -both ministers set aside a small bedroom in their home for me; I was welcome any time. Sometimes I would do my midnight to 4 AM prayer condition in churches that had all-night prayer vigils. Afterwards I would go to the couple’s home and sleep there.
For a while I had a Japanese brother drive me around; his English was limited and we got lost a lot. After visiting ministers at their home during the day, then attending one or two church services at night, I would then have the brother drive me around street by street so that I could make a thorough inventory in my notebook. Eventually I knew every church by location and denomination, which had services and when (days and time), pastors, phone numbers, etc. I knew many pastors’ home addresses too if they lived in my area.
True Father said that when we witness often people are attracted to us because of the spirit world shining through us. Of course, I have to be friendly, but many people took my friendliness the wrong way; I had numerous marriage proposals and immoral propositions from the ministers. After a while, the Japanese brother was needed elsewhere. There were some ministers I did not want to visit alone, but I could not convince the members working in the next district to help me out. It was discouraging.
After one of my top ministers locked me in his room, with questionable intentions, I managed to escape, then decided I would only work with female ministers and evangelists after that.
I didn’t mention a very important point. During the time I was working in Bedford/Stuyvesant- Bushwick area (1984 -1987), it was suffering the worst drug infestation it had ever had. Crack, a derivative of cocaine, had hit the streets with a vengeance. It was highly addictive (even after only one episode) and, because it was so inexpensive- $5.00 a ‘hit’, everyone was a potential customer -even children. Actually drug dealers sometimes targeted children with temporary tattoos or stickers of cartoon characters that were laced with LSD or some other drug. Children were useful to drug lords, but I think they were more effective without drugs. For a bit of food or a dollar or even just some attention, they could be runners, delivering messages or drugs, lookouts- reporting any cars wanting to buy or unusual cars-potential plain clothes police or NARCS.
Crack is smoked and is more potent than regular cocaine, but the highs are shorter. Afterwards the user becomes crazy to get another fix. Women turned to prostitution and even ‘sold’ their children. There were so many murders and so much crime in Brooklyn that it was not reported in the news for fear of creating hysteria. In one news article, 5.8 million people admitted to using crack on a regular basis in 1985. Crack vials littered the streets.
I once had an interesting chat with a local police officer. He was curious why I was in the area so late and we started to talk. I asked his opinion about the problems that existed in Brooklyn. He said too many people crammed into high rise apartment buildings with little or no services provided for the residents, such as playgrounds, community centers with sports, arts, etc. I asked him what that was so. He said that a decade or so ago, a politician had recruited people from Puerto Rico to move here; they were promised to receive welfare (government support and food stamps) if they voted for him. The more votes the politician had the better his chances were of winning a seat. More apartment buildings meant more people, thus votes. The actual living situation was of no concern to him. When one seeks to understand problems there are many layers.
I wondered- could there be a law mandating services per a certain number of people? I also imagined a large building with free art and music for the community- classes and also entertainers and lecturers- all donated freely. The more we invest to alleviate the suffering and isolation of those in poverty and difficult situations, the more the entire society will benefit. Youth, the most vulnerable, should especially be afforded every possible opportunity available. They are the most precious resource of any society, country.
One of my evangelists, EJ, had a small clothing shop on Nordstrand right on the border of my area. I visited her and was surprised that she kept the door to her store locked. How do you do business? I asked her. “People will order by phone or call and say they were coming”. was her reply. While I was there a number of people knocked on the door. One was selling a fire hydrant he had stolen from the nearby public school. Another broke the side mirror off a car parked outside and was selling it for $5.00 (the cost of a hit). It might have cost $60.00 or more to replace in a car repair shop; Perhaps he was trying to find the owner of the car who might be happy to save some money. One young man had a box of various items. After assessing him, she let him in and looked through the box. I do not remember if she gave him any money but she did find a name and number on something in the box. She called the woman to inform her that someone had stolen items from her home. It turned out to be her grandson who was addicted.
EJ told me that there was a drug house just a block or so from her store (Green Ave?). Behind the drug house was a another building used for prostitution. Around the corner from that house was a warehouse. When people did not have the money for a fix, they brought all kinds of items. These were stored in this warehouse. Anything that had a serial number was shipped to the islands (Jamaica, Caribbean) where the police could not trace them. It was an entire business.
March Against Crack
EJ and I talked about what we could do. We decided to have a community March Against Crack. Our plan was to gather churches from the neighborhood and residents and walk by the places with signs, letting them know we knew they were there and we wanted them to leave. EJ had friends in the radio business and asked them to announce the march. We went to many churches but most of them were locked up during the day. Pastors lived outside the area and only came in on Sundays. Only the storefront churches where the pastor lived in the same building as the church were available. We also visited a few mosques. The men were surprisingly supportive. Not only would they attend with their members, they would bring bull horns and request a police presence as well. Thus our march was quite successful for the community to unite and express its discontent; I don’t know if it stopped any illegal activity.
Nation of Islam
I came to notice that whereas many churches were complacent about living surrounded by drugs and squalor, focusing on the next life with Jesus (or perhaps making money from the poor parishioners), the Muslims were very proactive in cleaning up the community. They bought whole blocks, rebuilt the damaged buildings, created schools and set security guards outside to protect their children. It was quite impressive. I am referring to the Nation of Islam. I am not sure if the more traditional Muslims worked with them; they were from other countries and suspicious of me when I visited.
Murder in the Afternoon
One night I called another evangelist, MDJ, to invite her for the hundredth time to an event. She was always noncommittal but I continued to call her anyway. This night she started crying. Her teenage son had been found dead that same day. He had gotten involved with drugs, started selling them to support his habit, became indebted to the drug dealers and then they killed him in broad daylight and left his body in a gutted building. (We will probably never fully know the details until we get to the Spiritual realm). I went over to her house immediately and stayed with her; I did not want her alone after such trauma. She never forgot that. We started a drug awareness program in the neighborhood, posting flyers in all of the store windows. We held a weekly prayer meeting in her home. Later she attended an ICC program in Korea and became an associate member; we stayed connected until her passing.
Another time, I heard a woman sobbing loudly down the block. I could not pretend I didn’t hear her, but I was unsure how to comfort her. I was the only white person for miles and I was not always welcomed or immediately trusted. But I had to go to her and try my best. Her brother’s body had been found in the river. I was at a loss how to comfort her except to listen. Ultimately, I connected her to our ICUSA free food program and suggested a few local pastors who I hoped would be better at counseling than I was.
One dollar and a knife
While I lived there a young man, a senior and top football player in his school, was stabbed and killed over $1.00. It was lying on the ground when he went to buy some juice for his grandma at a corner store (very late at night).He and another person saw the dollar, both claimed it; a scuffle- then a precious life snuffed out.
My husband’s visit
Once, my husband came to visit me in the evangelist’s home where I was staying. He said that he was scared of the area. People walked the streets high; I thought they were drunk but he recognized addiction and knew first-hand how crazy addicted people can be. Long before I met him, he had been addicted to heroin for ten years.
Car-jackings - youth gangs-robberies
Car-jackings became a ‘thing’. A person stopped at a red light - if his car door was unlocked- could be forced into the passenger seat and driven off by a car jacker. The car owner would be dropped off a few blocks later, usually unharmed, and the car stolen.
Along Fulton Street a major subway ran. One day, after exiting the train, I noticed a group of about eight youth- middle school age, quite young. It was busy so it was probably rush hour. The kids whisked by the passengers, and dashed up the stairs into the streets outside. In their wake a person had been knocked down. I heard later that youth gangs were formed as training for future, more dangerous gangs. Each child had a target: the wristwatch; wallet; earrings; necklace; purse or wallet. They were so fast- gone before anyone realized what happened. The person knocked down initially looked like an accident.
Again along Fulton, a man went into a chicken shop to buy dinner for his family; he was robbed of their dinner when he exited the shop. There were times when I felt that half of Brooklyn was preying on the other half.
Bargaining like Moses
I knew when I began working in Bed/Sty that I might be killed. I thought someone might be so angry at white people or someone may be on drugs or need money. I prayed that if my life was taken that God would claim all of the black people in America. OR, if I wasn’t worth that much, at least all of the black people in Brooklyn….or at least Bed/Sty. I felt somewhat like Moses bargaining with God before Sodom and Gomorrah were decimated.
Deadened by a deathful ideology
However, my perspective changed dramatically after I attended a CAUSA conference in DC. A guest speaker, the author of “Hijack”, shared his experiences after joining the Black Panthers and hijacking a US plane to Cuba. He had expected to be heralded a hero upon arriving in Cuba, but in the FBI process of investigating every passenger on the plane, they discovered an important spy. Instead of this idealistic Marxist being warmly received by Castro, he was angrily thrown into prison and remained there for 11 years. The story that sent shock waves through my system was about a prison break. The escapees were caught and made to stand trial in front of the neighborhood residents. The people were asked, what shall we do with these criminals? A pregnant woman in the crowd shouted, “Shoot them in the face.” The author commented that the people had become deadened by the years of indoctrination that human beings are nothing more than material with no spiritual content. I was deeply disturbed that a woman who was carrying a new life within her could have become so lifeless, numb in her heart and mind. It shook me to the core. I also realized for the first time that there are other people who have no awareness of the spirituality of human beings- their own or others- therefore to take a life would mean nothing to them. When I returned to Brooklyn, I felt a fear that I had not before. I came to realize how cheap life was to many others.
I do not want to leave this telling without mentioning two special people. Pearl Bolden was a soft-spoken woman, slight and elderly. When I visited her home, I walked in and my first sensation was that the walls had been washed with prayer. It was the most beautiful angelic dwelling I think I have ever been in. She must have spent hours in prayer every day.
Another precious person was Dr. Samuel Akkeson, from Ghana. He was a good friend to me and all church members. A cultural anthropologist; he previously gave talks to our foreign missionaries on cultural sensitivity. Although he was highly educated with a delightful sense of humor, he was forced by prevailing racism to live in this ghetto-like neighborhood.
Because of him I feel warmly toward all Ghanaians I meet; I even called Accra after he moved back home, wanting to hear his voice again. Here is one of his memorable stories:
Dr. SA’s story
Samuel came to America shortly after the end of WWII to attend a Christian University. His friend had come the year before. Everything about America fascinated Samuel; he was enthralled that the US was a nation built on Christian principles. He expected the streets were gold- like Heaven. He arrived at the campus and signed up for his classes, then went to find his dorm room. Everything was exciting. Once he got settled he was finally ready to go out and meet his fellow college students. He walked out of his dorm room and there was a young man coming down the hall towards him. His first encounter with an American! The young man insulted him and kept on walking. Samuel was devastated. He went back into his dorm room and stayed there, disappointed, hurt and unwilling to venture out again. After a few hours his friend called him. As is the custom in Ghana, they greeted one another and asked politely about the health and well- being of the grandparents, parents, mutual friends etc before discussing their own situation. Finally, Samuel’s friend asked how he was doing; was the flight over pleasant; did he sign up for classes; did he like his dorm room; did he have the opportunity to meet any other students. Samuel eventually told him what happened. His friend was incredulous; “I’ve been here a year and no one has ever said an unkind word to me”, he told Samuel. “I am so sorry.” then, “Do you mind if I ask what they said?”, his friend asked. Samuel replied, “He said, HI- just like we do to the cattle to get them out of the road” (It is customary in Ghana to shoo animals in one’s path to move away by saying “Hi. Hi.”) Samuel’s friend asked , “What else did he say?” Samuel retorted, “That’s all. Just Hi.” “Samuel, that isn’t an insult. That’s how Americans say ‘Hello. How are you.” his friend gently explained. “What happened to Hello. How are you? How is your family? ’Samuel wanted to know. “Americans are very busy. They shortened it to Hi. was his friend’s response. This singular incident decided Samuel’s future occupation as a cultural anthropologist to research how ‘Hello, how are you?’ became ‘Hi’ in America.
Many people I visited and ate with told me that I was the first white person who had ever come into their home. Others wanted me to understand their pain and resentment from mistreatment by whites. It was impossible to apologize; words would have been meaningless. I could only listen- a mute witness to crimes that spanned generations. One very elderly man quietly shared that he had been denied education to read and write as a youth which contributed to his lifelong abject poverty. I wish I could write it just as he said- his body shrunk with age and hard labor; few teeth remaining; his language indicative of no formal education; yet with full presence of mind that he was a human being who had certain unalienable rights in the presence of God that had been denied to him by people blinded greed, ignorance or stupidity. I can still feel with a shudder the emotion behind his few words: anger; sadness; helplessness in the face of sanctioned injustice; profound frustration; seething rage. If he had been younger (thus stronger) I would have been tempted to run from the building to avoid being murdered.
I might have been the first white person they ever expressed themselves honestly and openly to. I’m sure I did not realize then how significant and necessary my presence was for healing. Only now as I write my memoirs I catch a glimpse, but with grief that i did so little...and that so little has been done.
Guyana and British tea
One couple, Maestro Jones and his wife Ruby, embraced me like family. They were from Guyana (formerly British Guiana, a colony from 1814 until its independence in 1966) We would have proper British tea with milk and sugar, government cheese and crackers and spend hours talking about how to help the community. Maestro thought Rev. Moon was brilliant- marry all the bad guys to good women. I didn’t appreciate his simplified assessment of our sacred marriage. Neither did I want to lump my husband into a generic group of bad guys, but we did cover many topics. One day he took me to a local store, near Halsey and Patchem. The shelves were nearly bare. How can they run a business with so few products. When we left, I asked him. He said it was a numbers joint under the pretext of a grocery store; people went there to make bets (presumably on horses.) This world I had entered into was full of surprises and intrigue- almost like an alternative/parallel universe to the one I had been accustomed to.
Growing up I was raised Jewish though with little formal religious education. In Judaism, if the mother is Jewish the children are considered Jewish and we did inherit much from celebrating the numerous annual holy days: Yom Kipper, Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah, Passover, Succoth, Purim and more. On my father’s side we had two cousins who were Catholic nuns. We visited them only a few times; my mother fiercely forbade them from witnessing to us about Jesus. She was very bitter about the role the church had played in supporting the German Holocaust. For decades after WWII evidence of this complicity would become known and exposed- printed worldwide; the pain ever raw.
The only time I remember entering a church while a youth was in high school when my school choir sang Handel’s Messiah and we toured a few large mainline churches during Christmas. The lyrics we sang-words straight from the Bible- were a profound introduction to Jesus and moved my heart toward this person I knew little about. (I would hear much more four years later in a Divine Principle lecture and realize he was the messiah for whom the Jews had been waiting but failed to protect.) Here in Brooklyn, I was tasked with visiting ministers and churches every day. It was another mind-bending experience.
My lack of experience with churches was compounded by my total ignorance of black culture- and little experience with black people in general. The first church I visited in Brooklyn was in a small storefront church, most likely Baptist or Pentecostal- or a loose combination of the two. I came to invite the minister to a program and arrived near the end of the service. The minister was breathing heavily and speaking in an extremely emotional, powerful and at times even ‘sing-songy’ manner. I had never seen or heard anything like it and mistook it for a normal way of talking between black people. When the service ended I approached the pastor and addressed him in a similar manner- overly emotional and sing-songy (as best as I could since I was just learning this unfamiliar colloquialism.) When he responded, speaking normal calm English as an average person, I wanted to sink into the floor and disappear. Only my steeled sense of duty kept me rooted there instead of running out the door as far away as possible due to my mortifying embarrassment.
Probably not many people know the staggering amount of Christian denominations that exist. Many Brooklyners originally moved from the south where Baptist churches abound. Baptist congregations focus on baptism; they elect their pastors. (Worldwide there are 241 denominations.) Pentecostal churches focus on the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. They often grow centering around a charismatic leader, pastor or evangelist. These can spring up like mushrooms and are mostly de-centralized. Some Pentecostal Churches have become well organized and expansive - Church of God in Christ. Church of God. Pentecostal Holiness Church, Assemblies of God (700 Pentecostal denominations and many independent churches). There are unique immigrant churches serving the African community (Cherubim and Seraphim) and the Caribbean community, specifically Trinidad/Tobago (a syncretic faith combining elements of African, Hindu and Christian religious practices.) Mainline Protestant Churches are solidly established having arrived with the early colonists or shortly after; Methodists, Disciples of Christ, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians. Leaders of congregations must be strenuously educated and appointed by the central organizing body. Unique churches had developed specifically to serve black Americans such as The House of Prayer for All People, which was founded by Daddy Grace who many believed was a messianic figure. The church provides general academic and musical education, job training and housing for elderly as part of their core ministry. Outside of Protestant denominations, there are the Catholic churches and even some divergent branches exist among these.. Orthodox and Coptic congregations which are prevalent in Eastern Europe and serving immigrants who escaped USSR and communism and ancient churches from the Middle East were mostly situated north of my district close to the Hasidic Jewish community which flourished in Northern Brooklyn. The Jewish community had once been large in Bed/Sty but eventually left for the suburbs; synagogues were purchased by churches. There also are numerous Mosques- traditional ones with Arabic-speaking congregants from numerous countries and Nation of Islam which was almost exclusively black Americans and scattered throughout Brooklyn. They have established schools and community centers offering numerous services. In my area alone there were over 300 religious organizations; I visited every one, attending countless services - even until the wee hours of the morning.
Sometimes the people living in the storefront churches were very suspicious of me when I came by with invitations and literature. Was it just my whiteness? My evangelist friend suggested that they may have decided to establish a church in order to avoid taxes on their building and expenses. Other churches, though tiny and abjectly poor, seemed genuine and were faithfully consistent with their services.
Too many times the person in the pulpit would scream at the people in the pews, accusing them, demanding more participation whether in singing or tithing. I wondered why anyone would keep coming back to those churches. A Caribbean man who I often met in different churches befriended me; he was a popular repairman, a jack-of-all trades. I asked him many questions. He said the people in those churches were used to their mothers or grandmothers yelling at them, scolding and belittling them. It was familiar and comfortable; that is why they kept attending- it felt like home. Slavery ended about 100 years ago- that’s three generations and many people were raised by their grandparents.
My friend also shared some horror stories about the neighborhood: Ministers who ran off with the church funds and the secretary. One minister, well-educated- returned to serve his home community. He was an astute preacher and, after a trial period, was finally hired by the board; his position included a house attached to the church. The congregation was very proud of their eloquent preacher and overjoyed when they paid off their mortgage after twenty-odd years. The pastor secretly took out a second mortgage and used the money for himself. When the board later found out, they tried to fire him; their lawyer discovered the clever pastor had altered the contract to include “life-long pastor”. After decades of investing in their church building, the congregation had to find another place to worship and start from scratch. Many poor people see the success of their pastor and their church as their own victory- substantial evidence of their unselfishness and service. They often do not have the expectation to own their own home. Losing their church is far more significant and heart-breaking than it would be to a well-to-do suburban congregation, although I am sure it would be painful to anyone. I still wonder how this man could look himself in the mirror every day, how could he live amongst the very people he had robbed, betrayed, and deceived. It was especially painful that he had lived there growing up. When and where did he lose his sense of humanity? And was it before or after he went into the ministry?
Another story, perhaps too common to call a horror story, was that many church staff asked for two sets of receipts for my friend’s repair- one with fake, inflated charges so that the pastor or staff could keep the difference.
“I’m going to die”
One Wednesday evening, I was preparing to leave the center to attend a few mid-week church services. Clear as a bell, I heard the words, “I’m going to die.” There was no one in the room with me. It was stated calmly and matter-of factly; I had no reason to doubt it. It must be a prophetic statement of fact, I decided. Was this a fate I could alter? Should I stay home tonight? Then I imagined nervously, fearfully pacing my room and finally a robber breaks in and stabs me. I’d rather die doing my mission, I resolved and headed out. It was a nerve-wracking night. I wondered HOW I would die: a knife? Being pushed off the subway under the tracks? The first church I attended had a prayer service that was entirely the repetition of Jesus’s name: “Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.” I walked to the nex church down the block, wondering if I would be attacked on the way. I made it home and miraculously awoke the next day. A member told me that headquarters wanted me to call. My father had left the message that my paternal grandmother had died last night.
Then I understood that the words I heard last night were not about me; my grandmother had informed me of her passing. Years before, while on MFT, I found myself missing her. I asked God to let me know when she passed away and I determined to treat the elderly people I met kindly as though I was caring for her. Thank you, Nana. xoxox
As a result of the experience, I also realized that messages from the spirit world can be misunderstood. I thought those words were from my own mind about me, but they were not. Evil spirits take advantage of our ignorance in spiritual matters and whisper negative words that we think are our own thoughts. .
My husband and I fulfilled the requirements of three spiritual children each and asked for permission to start our family. We had waited seven years. After repeated refusals from my leaders, and after the afore- mentioned event with Rev. S, I allowed Bruce to ‘kidnap’ me and take me to Boston. This was after three years of working in Brooklyn.
The mind initiates change
When I first arrived in Bedford Stuyvesant/ Bushwick area I was determined to make a difference. I was going to clean-up the neighborhood. But as I was leaving three years later, I saw that it was as dirty as it had been when I came. I could see no difference. It was humbling. I also realized that the mindset had to change before the neighborhood itself changed.
30 years later
Almost exactly 30 years later, I returned to Bedford Stuyvesant/Bushwick to do outreach for True Mother’s ‘Peace Starts with Me’ Rally. It was remarkable how much the area had changed. Universities had opened in the area; people of all ethnicities were walking around and living there. It was an amazing transformation.
Did my Brooklyn people change their mind and thus their environment or were they forced to move elsewhere when people with money decided to salvage the area?
I had two dreams that were extremely significant in preparing me to join the Unification Movement.
Back story for the first dream- 1974
I was about 19 years old. I had transferred from a liberal arts college in Missouri to the Chicago Art Institute at the urging of my college roommate. Soon after, I got a job as a hostess in an Italian restaurant. One of the delivery boys, AL, was from Cuba and I was helping him with his English. It was not long before we became a couple.
One afternoon, AL and I were sitting at a back table in the restaurant eating lunch and making small talk with the owner and a few other adult employees. It was a rare occasion and we felt privileged to have been invited. During the conversation a disparaging remark was made about black people. I felt very uncomfortable but did not say anything at the time. Instead I avoided any further personal conversations with those in agreement with the comment. I also struggled with the idea that I could or should have said something. That night I had a dream in three parts.
In my dream I was at the large home of the restaurant owner; a sort of get-together with employees was going on for camaraderie’s sake. Someone knocked on the back door and I answered it since I was close by. Two young black people (perhaps college age) asked permission to search the back yard for something related to a class project. All the adults in the party had left the house and gone somewhere. I didn’t see any harm in what they asked so I gave them permission.
A short while later the owner and other adults returned. They learned that there was a black couple in their backyard and proceeded to arm themselves with weapons. I urgently informed them that I had given the couple permission to be there, that it was completely harmless what they were doing, and that I was responsible for this transgression, not them. I pleaded with them to allow the young people to leave unharmed. I begged them to listen to reason, to look at the situation objectively. Their faces were hardened to me; it was as though I was nonexistent- invisible.
I was frantically imploring anyone who would listen to stop this insanity- human life was precious. All human life. My words, my screaming, my hysteria crescendoed, but made no impact. I ran to the back door to warn the young people that they were in danger. The young man’s eyes became cold and flat, lacking any further ability to relate to me as a fellow human being; he and his companion quickly left to escape or hide. I then ran through the house and upstairs, screaming and crying loudly.
The adults here had called others by phone to help with their evil intentions. I considered running out into the back yard to stand between the couple and the armed adults; possibly shocking them into realizing their irrationality. But I surmised that they would merely shoot me down as well; I was Jewish and also considered by many as ‘unwanted vermin’. I ran upstairs to what was suddenly my childhood bedroom. There was a window which overlooked the backyard with a hill rising behind our house. A neighborhood posse arrived with rifles and gathered along the hill, similar to a scene in a cowboy movie. How incredibly excessive! How utterly deranged! I was screaming and sobbing desperately- wanting, longing from a deep, deep place within me to exact some impact on this scene by the sheer magnitude of my emotions and will. To no avail.
A volley of guns exploded. Then silence. It was enough ammunition to kill an army.
How utterly drained I felt. Hopeless. Insignificant. I had never tried harder in all of my life to stop something, yet none of my words or deeds- or tears- had made the slightest impact. I had never cried harder or more desperately; I was completely inadequate, useless.
This is where my dream, part 1, ended.
I may have woken up, distraught -even shocked-by the intense emotion, but then returned to sleep...
Part 2 was quite short- and related.
AL and I were in a neighborhood meeting, discussing with a handful of other people how to address the tensions that existed. We were both concerned and wondering how we could help. Then I found myself at the edge of a high hill overlooking a town below. There was a black man in a business suit with a suitcase a short distance to my right. He was planning on going down into that town. I approached him; I was worried for his safety and expressed my concern. He did not seem troubled, but rather determined- resolute and he started down the hill.
I am walking down a mountain with dense vegetation. Someone is to my left- a guide, perhaps a spirit guide, talking to me. At the bottom of the mountain foamy waves are lapping the sandy shore; we seem to be on an island. The spirit guide is explaining a scene that is happening that moment at the water’s edge. An islander is carving a large stone sculpture, using a chisel and hammer. He is surrounded by a group of excited local residents, appearing somewhat primitive. They are all watching the activity attentively, expectantly. The guide explains that the artist is possessed; his art is always prophetic. Suddenly the people gasp, then run off. The artist is still in a kind of trance and continues hammering away, then drops his tools, and he too dashes off. I’m standing now, with my back to the ocean, in front of the sculpture; it is probably 7-8’ tall. My guide says, “This is the god of the sea.” As I look at the figure’s face, its eyes fill up with water. Then I look down at my feet. Where the waves had been gently lapping the shore, it is now dry. I turn around and for miles out the ocean floor is without water, shells scattered here and there. In the far distance a monumental wave is fast approaching.
All of the islanders are trying to escape, scrambling up the mountain, their sparse belongings tied to their backs. My guide explains that he has unfinished business- someone he needs to help, but he wishes me well on my journey. We separate. I am on the back of an elephant; we make our way up to a high peak where I can look out to observe our imminent doom. It seems ludicrous to try and escape; the island is so small- the wave so massive, yet I am completely calm. The elephant triumphantly rears like a majestic horse. Though I am surrounded by panicking crowds, my heart is serenely peaceful.
My dream ends.
Upon waking, I was amazed how the two dreams could be such polar opposites in emotional composition...and grateful for the tranquility that replaced the trauma.
Years later a Native American woman who interprets dreams said that water represents emotions. The elephant rearing was an excellent sign; ultimately I would bring victory over my emotions.
January 25, 1975. Saturday, early evening; I must have dozed off.
I was sitting on a couch with AL. A man called on the phone; he was looking for someone. AL was a taxi driver at the time; I thought he might be able to help the man since he knew the area so well. I handed him the phone. Then while AL was looking on a map, I held the receiver to my ear and listened in on the conversation at the other end. The man was talking to his secretary, asking about applicants for a position. This piqued my interest as I was looking for a job. The secretary answered the man: people had applied but no one was fully qualified. The man was disappointed and concerned. He said that even though they were not qualified, it may be necessary to hire them in order to avert something terrible from happening. It felt so ominous, something connected to a disaster. I was no longer interested in having anything to do with it; I handed the phone back to AL. He told the man,“ I’m sorry; I can't help you”. The man said something, then hung up. I turned and asked AL, “What did the man say?” At that exact moment a bomb went off in the living room- not exactly. There was no visible evidence- only auditory- the sound of a tremendous bomb exploding three times. If I could have seen the effects of the bomb (or bombs), solid buildings would have been blown to pieces; dust, shrapnel, and broken bodies scattered everywhere, but there was only the sound and no other indication of an explosion. Did I imagine it? I turned again to my friend to see if he had heard it too, but before I could say anything he pointed to a small glass bottle hanging directly in front of my face. It was attached to a spider web- thin thread and filled with green liquid. I knew intuitively that this had something to do with the explosion. I grabbed it and imagined throwing it with all my might out of the basement apartment window, out onto the street where it might explode there. But before I did anything, the man’s voice, the last thing he said before he hung up, became clearly audible: “My brother is going to be hurt. My brother is going to be hurt.”
I woke up.
A cold sweat swept my entire body from my head to my toes for the first time in my life. I knew without any doubt that this was a prophetic dream.
I only have one brother, my twin brother. Was this a warning about him?
My mother is also a fraternal twin and she grew up having many paranormal experiences with her brother; she often could not differentiate between his pain and her own. She knew when he was troubled, had a car accident, or argued with his wife. He, on the other hand, had dreams of future murders. Two weeks after having a very detailed nightmare, the real incident would be reported in the newspaper. Had he shared his dreams publically, authorities may have locked him up in a mental institution or possibly considered an accomplice.
My mother subtly observed me growing up to see if I had a similar disposition, but I did not show any inclination. (Instead I had extreme sensitivity to other people’s pain but I never told anyone; I thought everyone felt the same way.)
Was this dream then my first spiritual connection to my brother? I wondered. After calling my oldest sister, I learned that he was currently on a nuclear submarine, serving as a Machinist’s Mate. My sister was also in the Navy and she said it would be impossible to reach him out in the ocean. Was my dream about an explosion in the boiler room? I was not familiar with prayer at that time; instead I was filled with anxiety and paced the room for hours wondering what to do.
Finally, knowing that this ‘message was too significant to ignore. I visited the Unification Church the next day and asked the pastor/center leader if he could interpret it for me. First, he said that we had to assess who was the caller? God or Satan? I emphatically insisted it wasn’t Satan. Then he said that God had a serious problem; He needed people to help with this problem and He was searching for them. The leader reassured me, saying he did not think the dream was about my physical brother, but rather humanity- since all people are brothers and sisters. This made complete sense and definitely alleviated my fears for my twin. His explanation calmed me down, but left me with more questions about the deeper meaning of the dream. I thanked him and returned home.
That weekend, AL and I had been invited to a workshop but because he had reserved a taxi for the weekend, we both agreed we would come the next weekend. We both attended evening lectures at the center that week and then participated in the weekend workshop. The closing lecture explained the providential significance of the present day: the Messiah was on earth to build God’s Kingdom; Satan was working through God-denying communism to destroy it and establish his own kingdom. So this is what my dream was all about.
At the conclusion, both AL and I joined the Unification Movement.
Fifty years later we are still fighting ‘the good fight’.
Early in 1984,True Father made changes in the leadership roles; all witnessing came underneath Korean leaders (except Rev S.) while Japanese leaders became solely responsible for business missions. The Japanese Video Center was closed; all of the members from there were sent to Japanese-run businesses.
I was distressed that I would not be witnessing which I wanted to do more than anything else. Mr. H tried to console me. He said that the Japanese restaurants were set up as a way to free blessed families from the burden of financial responsibilities in order to witness. If we could create a good pattern here in NY, then restaurants could be opened all across America. I was being asked to sacrifice to support blessed families nation-wide. It was such a serious time, I did not want to insist on my own way. I decided that Heavenly Father knew I wanted to be on the frontline helping True Parents; since I was sent to the restaurant, then this must be the front line.
At that time, most restaurant employees lived in the New Yorker Hotel. The first week of my new mission, I was given a day off. I could wash clothes or buy necessities, but it was so difficult to go back to work the next day that I asked my manager if I could just work seven days. I had worked seven days while on MFT and never missed one day from illness, so he gave me permission.
Our restaurant had been closed for a good scrubbing, but little money if any was allotted to be invested in this ’weak horse’. In this new department, I was surrounded by Japanese members and Japanese language. It was difficult sitting through morning service and various meetings while understanding nothing. But I knew all non-English speaking members must feel the same way here in the US, so I figured that I could develop more empathy with their situation. In our meeting room, there was a large wall chart with all of our restaurants listed, along with their daily results. I noticed that one was always on top.
At that time, there were at least ten church-owned Japanese restaurants in NY. One, Aki Hana, had been given an award for interior design and was featured in a prestigious magazine. Beautiful and elegant with a large koi aquarium, this was our top restaurant. Only the prettiest and most demure waitresses could work at this ‘prize child’ of the department, which always made the highest result, more than three times what the bottom location, Kiiroi Hana, brought in.
Kiiroi Hana was my destination, our smallest and most recently acquired restaurant, located directly across the street from another non-church-owned Japanese restaurant and only a block from a popular Japanese-American franchise. The prospects were not good for us to do well. Some of my co-workers were relieved that they were placed where they were not under pressure to bring results, either witnessing or financial.
I promptly declared that our goal should be to beat Aki Hana. No one took me seriously. Even the manager told me that business is not the same as MFT. I did not say anything else; no one would listen, but if I had it would have been: “Indemnity is indemnity no matter where you are”. It was 1984- so many members wished that they could have given their life if it would have altered the events of that year. ..to save Heung Jin Nim; to prevent True Father’s imprisonment. It was impossible for me to relax.
True Father gave the department four or five points to achieve success in the restaurant business: service, cleanliness, quality, efficiency...I knew that I could not control the quality of the food, but I could give the best service possible, keep the restaurant clean, and help set up/organize the restaurant so as to provide the most efficiency. I never thought of myself as a mere waitress, but more of a manager-in-training to help reproduce successful restaurants across America. True Father’s points became my focus and “Beat Aki Hana” became my internal mantra.
I was so intense that the other members at the restaurant did not feel comfortable around me. I never made small talk; I was always looking for ways to accomplish True Father’s directives. One day the manager, Mr. N, took me aside and said that every worker in the restaurant had asked him to fire me. I was surprised. I was so focused that I did not realize their unanimous aggravation toward me. Also everyone else was Japanese; they spoke Japanese. I understood very little of the conversations around me. Being there was like being in Japan. Unfamiliar with Japanese culture, there were countless times when I made mistakes. Sometimes, I felt like everything I did was wrong. Luckily, the manager was married/blessed to an American sister who had been on MFT. Therefore, he said, he could understand me better than other members could. He decided to keep me in spite of my unpopularity. One older, well-respected sister insisted that he either fire me or she would quit; he allowed her to leave.
There are a lot of things that are okay in America, but disliked or taboo in other cultures: whistling while cleaning; pointing at something with your foot (when your arms are full); eating soup out of a bowl designed for salad or visa versa; piling ice cream high for favorite customers; the list goes and on.
When business was slow, I would don a sushi man’s apron (with permission from the manager, of course) and go down to the basement where supplies were stacked in a very haphazard manner. It was also extremely dirty there as we had inherited years worth of mess - bugs and mice included - from the previous owner. Eventually, I created a clean, well-organized stockroom with clear signage and an up-to-date inventory.
I may have been respected and appreciated by American members for taking initiative and being responsible, but to my brothers and sisters from another culture, I was viewed as unprincipled, leaving my proper position and behaving very Cain-like. In retrospect, I have wondered why they never considered my motivation. Luckily, the manager must have known.
I sometimes suggested things to the manager; he usually agreed with me. If he disagreed, then he would explain why it wasn’t a good idea which I found very kind of him to do. Once I suggested that we buy dishes for True Parents in case they visited. He said that was very unlikely; however, after three months had passed, Mr. N asked if I would like to go with him to buy some special napkins and glasses for that purpose.
Our restaurant had two shifts: lunch and dinner. Before, in-between and after, there was cleaning and preparation for the next shift; washing and filling soy sauce containers; wiping down tables; washing and rolling face cloths by hand, etc. After lunch clean-up we had an hour break. After the dinner clean-up, we ate, usually around 11 PM, sometimes midnight. Then we walked a block and hailed a cab to our residence not too far away.
Every day after lunch I asked how much we made. Then I knew what our goal was for dinner in order to beat Aki Hana. Every evening I asked how much we made for the day. I was so single- minded and inflexible about beating Aki Hana that it irritated many people, but I was oblivious to those particular complaints, which aggravated some of the staff even more.
One day I saw a mouse run across the tiled floor in the sushi men’s area. Just about every inch of our restaurant was visible- from the front window to the back wall. If a customer had seen the mouse and said anything, everyone would have known about it in an instant. I decided that I HAD to mop the floor back there. Previously the sushi men had adamantly stopped me from cleaning there, insisting that their space was sacred: only sushi men were allowed behind the sushi counter. So I had asked them to mop the tile, but they laughed at that joke.
Soon after seeing the mouse, I arranged with the manager to stay late one night while professional cleaners came to wash the carpet. I presented my case: I was the most logical choice to stay after work because I could give clear directions to the carpet cleaners in English. A male employee stayed behind as well; he slept while the carpet cleaners worked. I seized this orchestrated opportunity and mopped behind the sushi counter as thoroughly as I could. The next morning the sushi men came in early, as usual. I must have moved a pot or trashcan a micrometer back there, because somehow they discovered my ‘sin’. They began cursing loudly (luckily for me in Japanese). Then they called the manager and, at the top of their voices, told him what a horrible, wretched person I was and how I made their life hell on earth.
Rush hour lunchtime, downtown NY, right around the corner from Trump Tower, was intense. We were ‘packed to the gills’ with customers and not enough waitresses. One afternoon, one of my tables was an American couple, both were large people and they ordered the largest platters we had: Sashimi Deluxe and Sushi Deluxe. The two plates barely fit the small table; they asked me if I couldn’t put all the food on one dish. The logic of their request was obvious. Nevertheless, I was already wary of the sushi chefs who could see my every move. If they saw me tampering with their artwork, they would surely be offended. So I took the two plates back to the counter and asked , “On- ni- gosh- i -mas, [a Japanese phrase that is mandatory to address the sushi men and which expresses respect], would you please put this all on one plate?” Then I dashed off to take care of a dozen more tables which needed two courses before their entree: miso soup, then salad. I returned to the counter; the plates were untouched. I repeated my request. The sushi man asked, seethingly, “Why didn’t you ask before?” “I didn’t know; the customers just asked me”, I replied, then again ran off to take care of my tables, avoiding the stares of the couple in question. Eventually I had to ask the manager to intercede in this deadlock. A heated conversation-in Japanese- ensued. The manager made a brand new platter with both entrees.
That night an emergency meeting was held after work (midnight!)- mandatory for all staff. The issue: TODAY, a lowly, insignificant waitress did not treat the sushi men (noble artisans who spend years perfecting their art) with proper respect, therefore expensive dishes were wasted. (The sushi man threw both dishes into the trash!) The manager concluded that this was the fault of the waitress.
I wanted to laugh and walk out of the meeting, but my curiosity held me there. I had worked with Japanese leaders and members for almost 10 years; I had never experienced such a clash of culture. How could we think so differently about the same incident? Had it been a mere 50 years earlier, my head might have been swiftly separated from my body for this offence...with a ‘noble’ samurai sword. I went to bed that night with a sense of appreciation and awe that we lived in the 21st century- and marveling that I was still alive.
(I did not blame the manager for his stance; he was protecting those with the most to lose- their pride.)
The Japanese restaurant across the street closed permanently. Little by little our daily result increased. The manager was surprised and happy; the staff became stimulated as well. Inevitably, our workload increased. One day a customer told me that a magazine had listed us as one of the top ten restaurants in NY city! Our competition, Aki Hana, wasn’t even on the list! With this publicity, even more people came.
Let me add here that our manager was such an excellent sushi man that True Father had requested his dishes a few times before he left for Danbury. Mr N. would drive up to Irvington-upstate New York- to deliver them!
Each lunch people would pour in, line up along the walls, and eventually outside the door, waiting to be seated. I suggested to the manager that we needed a hostess to notify the customers of the estimated wait time. He agreed and asked me to do that; the others thought I was trying to get out of work and promote myself. (!) Actually it was more work because I was waiting on the tables as well.
Dinnertime we were also packed- every table and the sushi counter. Occasionally famous people came to eat- Anthony Quin, Mary from Peter, Paul and Mary, and others.
.Although the workload had more than tripled since we first opened Kiiroi Hana, the number of employees remained the same. (Actually minus one- the sister who asked to leave because of me.) Before the dinner shift, another waitress, KH, and I braced ourselves and asked each other, “Are you ready for WWIII?” Once those doors opened there was barely a minute to breathe until they closed again for the night.
Although I had worked hard on MFT, I felt that working at Kiiroi Hana was even more difficult. In this very small restaurant, every place, even the kitchen, was visible from front to back. There was only one small bathroom for customers and staff to share.
Thus there was nowhere that I could stop and take a break. I was daily confronted by co-workers who often aggressively criticized me and NY customers who could be demanding and impatient.
On MFT I worked outdoors everyday. I also usually worked on my own, going door-to-door, shop-to-shop or bar-to-bar. If I was having difficulty, I could stop and pray, taking as long as I needed until I broke through in prayer. Here there was nowhere to hide, pray, take a moment to cry, or listen to the birds...except my hour break after lunch.
The first few weeks I used my break to teach my spiritual son from the video center. The manager had brought a monitor and video machine into the restaurant for me to use. The young man would come by and watch lectures. Then it was decided by the powers-that-be that he was not really my spiritual son, but someone else’s, and he was whisked away. After that I would go to a large church nearby, sit in a pew, pray and cry...from frustration, confusion, and sheer exhaustion.
During the intense hours I was on duty there was no escape from my public position. It was a great opportunity to grow. Like the proverbial snake shedding its skin in that tight, tight space; this was a great place to get rid of my fallen nature.
My spiritual experience
About four months had passed. One night, I was so tired that I could barely think straight. After the doors were shut and cleaning was finally finished, dinner was served. Although I was hungry, I could not convince my arm to lift my hand to my mouth. It is a strange thing, knowing that the mind is giving direction and the body fails to obey as though it has a will of its own. I looked at the fork, but it was no use; my arm would not move. My body seemed strangely distant. If the fork had lifted by itself, I’m not sure my mouth would have cooperated either. Then I noticed that my mind was not doing a very convincing job of directing -it seemed to be dissolving into a kind of mush. People asked if I was alright; I must have nodded, dazed.
I sat there, wondering how my legs would move to take me from the chair, through the door and the one block-which-seemed-like- a-mile, but somehow it happened, one leg in front of the other, almost sleep walking. I went up the elevator to the 26th floor. There was a public prayer room near my bedroom that I visited most nights as we all did. My intention was to make a perfunctory prayer: “Thank you, Heavenly Father. Good night.” I didn’t think I was capable of anything more. However, when I bowed down to say goodnight, an amazing thing happened.
For one miraculous instant, thinner than the blink of an eye, True Father’s heart brushed against mine.
It was as though True Father was rushing by and the spiritual law of correlative base like a magnet drew our hearts into one intersection of time and space for a nanosecond.
Or as if True Father’s love was responding to one girl striving to be a good daughter.
...whatever the explanation.
True Father’s heart touched my heart. In the briefest of encounters, I felt the reality that True Father experiences utter exhaustion every day. The enormity of that realization was staggering and I wept uncontrollably.
True Father willingly invests himself, depleting every ounce of his energy to live for God and others- every day- 365 days a year. True Father consciously pushes himself that hard- out of the purest of motivations: absolute, unconditional love for God and absolute love for others.
It is amazing how one moment can change so much. The difficulty of the past four months disappeared like chaff in the wind. The tears I shed so often; the pain of being repeatedly misunderstood, despised; the work that had felt overwhelming- all this melted away completely. All that was left was an eternal gift, a treasure beyond gold and diamonds. My heart touched True Father’s. My heart had touched True Father’s heart. True Father spoke to me without words, beyond words.
I don’t know how long I knelt in that holy place, weeping, tears pouring forth as though a huge dam had broken. I finally got up and went to bed. The next day our humble restaurant beat Aki Hana.
After months of challenging, we finally did it! The staff of the other restaurants were all dumbfounded. They hadn’t even noticed our result sneaking up bit by bit. What most members thought couldn’t be done, we accomplished. The atmosphere in Kiroii Hana was electric with celebration. They expected me to be gloating “I told you so”. But after last night, I had no words. I smiled to show camaraderie, but my happiness was tempered by my new reality: True Father’s daily investment. This was a vast cosmic reality compared to our small Kiroii Hana reality. How could I compare this with True Father’s investment - True Father who was at that very moment in a cell in Danbury prison? And now that I knew this undeniable truth, what did this mean as I moved forward? All of these things were on my heart, but I could not share them with anyone.
To purchase one eternal second of heart-touch with True Father, what is it worth? Four months of hard labor? A hundred years? A million? ….
Not long after that I was ‘donated’ to the witnessing department. True Mother and some of the True Children came to eat at Kiiro Hana a few times after I left.
Digesting the Bad
This is a spiritual experience that happened after I was already off of MFT and working in the Video Center; it was a kind of dream/vision I had during the day.
In the MFT work room, I was preparing sales product for the next day. A brother had just left for the night. Then he yelled, “True Father is coming!” I ran hurriedly to a set of large glass patio doors and saw True Father coming from a distance in a chariot, his daughter standing behind him with her hand on his shoulder. I think it was In Jin Nim. I waved enthusiastically. Then True Father waved back as though he recognized me. I was surprised. Why would he know me well enough to recognize me? Then I remembered: while I was on MFT I offered my result every night -like a priest representing all of the people who had given. He must know me from that.
I wanted to run out to meet him, but not empty-handed. I quickly looked around and grabbed a bouquet of flowers to give as a gift. Unfortunately, not all the flowers were good-looking. Some were beautiful, but others looked half- dead. So as I was running, my heart was severely divided- part ecstatically joyful and the other part ashamed- even mortified by my poor offering.
When I reached the chariot, I lifted the bouquet and was going to immediately apologize, but True Father grabbed the bouquet and ate the bad flowers. Then he handed the good flowers back to his daughter. I was dumbfounded. True Father ‘erased’ all evidence of what was lacking in my offering. I had nothing left to repent for. He digested it.
Then all the good part he gave to his child.
This is True Father’s life- digesting the bad, giving the good.
I loved to witness and brought people often to hear lectures. Once I even witnessed to Katherine Hepburn. I handed her a flyer, an invitation to our video center and asked her to come. Unfortunately, she dismissed it as being videos of Hollywood movies. She was surrounded by other people; I had no chance to explain further.
I brought a man from Bangladesh to the video center. After listening to a lecture, I asked his thoughts on what he had heard but I don’t think his English was good enough to comprehend. Before he left, I prayed with him for Bangladesh. He returned numerous times bringing more and more friends and even gave me a copy of the Koran, saying I was a true Muslim because I was doing the will of God. He and his friends did not seem to understand the lectures and I wondered why they kept coming. They took photos with me to send home to their families. It eventually dawned on me that for an immigrant from a poor country to have an American friend was something powerful. I had never considered that being American was powerful. That being a white American even more so..at least to some immigrants. I knew that I should rethink how I approached and related to people so as not to cause confusion and misunderstandings, but if I thought too much I must not witness. I made a special compartment in my brain to store this new insight.
I witnessed to a big, burly black man. He said that he was impressed that I knew about dialectical materialism and came to listen to the lectures. I’m sure I was able to overcome any preconceived notions because my husband-to-be was a big, burly black man. Conversely all of the sisters in the video center felt uncomfortable around him, even fearful. He eventually attended a weekend workshop and was so inspired by the Divine Principle that he wanted to join, but the staff there were hesitant to welcome him wholeheartedly. They encouraged him to continue studying at the Video Center. Mr H insisting he pay the full amount for the series or not come back. Since he did not have the money he was forced to end his relationship with us. Was this racism or was he really a potential menace and I was just being my normal clueless self? He heard the Divine Principle so I hope that he did something with it for his own good even if we were all at fault.
Queens, NY- September 1, 1983 Thursday, 7 or 8 AM
I was getting ready for work (the Video Center). At that time, I lived in a church-owned group home in Astoria- Queens, NY. Our neighbor was working on his car with his radio blaring. From my second story window, I heard a newscaster announce: “Soviet jet fighters shot down a passenger flight (KAL 007) this morning, killing all 269 people aboard. USSR claimed the plane was on a spy mission when it flew into Soviet airspace.”
My blood ran cold; I felt compelled to publicly decry this act and draw attention to the barbaric cruelty of godless communism which at its very core has no respect for human life. Many- too many- Americans were complacent and naive about communism.
A plan sprouted in my mind; I would travel to Washington, DC, chain myself to the steel gates outside the White House and fast, even unto death, on behalf of the 269 people - AND all of the people being held prisoner in Communist regimes. That evening, after work, I joined a small gathering outside the Soviet embassy, protesting the attack. But I was at a loss as to the practical aspects of my further plan. How would I get to DC? Where would I find chains and a lock? My plan seemed to need some support, but I could not think of anyone who would support me. I had no money. I was willing to walk to DC, but I have a terrible sense of direction and some concern about being all alone on the roads at night. Once I got to DC, how would I proceed? I did not mind being imprisoned or giving up my life if it meant waking up the American people to the real threat of communism. Wasn’t that why I joined this movement, to fight with the Messiah against Satan and his evil ideology?!
But I didn’t have the most basic practical skills of getting from point A to point B. For days, I struggled with this obsessive desire, but in the end, my inability to share with anyone - probably the biggest limitation throughout my life- led me to abandon my plan, with lingering angst and remorse at my crippling inadequacies.
In December 1983, True Parents travelled to South Korea for a multi-city speaking tour; this was a crucial trip because communism was aggressively expanding throughout the world and infiltrating South Korea as well. While overseas, their second son, Heung Jin Nim, was in a fatal car accident. A truck driver lost control on a steep icy road. Heung Jin Nim could have avoided the brunt of the impact, but in a split second decision, he chose to protect his two passengers- his friends. He intentionally swerved the car to take the direct impact himself.
When I think about it, I am in awe...and stunned.
What teenager has matured in unselfishness so deeply that it is ingrained in his bone marrow? He must have started developing this standard of heart at a young age for it to be so intrinsic, so automatic.
My life started off at the Challenger Deep pit of the Mariana Trench; Heung Jin Nim is standing on Mount Everest. On God’s spectrum of being able to give and receive true love, where will I be at the moment of my death- even at an advanced age? That will determine my eternal life. I will go to the place where I feel most comfortable and remain there for eternity (unless my descendants on earth make conditions to move me higher).
It is an extreme cop-out to make True Parents and True Children superhuman- as people have done to Jesus. By putting them on pedestals, we can justify not working harder, not loving and serving more. We think ‘they achieved what none of us can or ever will.’
True Father has told us that every person is destined to be the temple of God, to reach a perfection of heart and be in the image of God. Jesus said, “Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect”; then Paul taught, “Whatever you do is like filthy rags; you are saved by grace alone. Just wait for Jesus to return.” (paraphrased)
Well, Jesus has returned. Just as Elijah ‘returned’ in the person of John the Baptist who had the same mission as Elijah, True Father has the same mission as Jesus. He is building God’s Kingdom on this earth, teaching us not to expect the messiah to do everything; take responsibility-start with yourself; then create a true family; become a messiah yourself; build God’s Kingdom in your own neighborhood.
He even teaches what some people may consider to be blasphemy: God, as a Parent, wants His/Her children to be even better than Himself. If that were not so, why do earthly parents want this for their offspring? Parents are exceedingly happy when their children excel.
When I think of Heung Jin Nim, I am profoundly grateful.
Just for the person he was.
His younger brother, Young Jin Nim, must have been walking this same trajectory of heart before he was murdered in Las Vegas (1999). ..over something so fleeting as money!
As a student in school, Young Jin Nim loved lacrosse and practiced hours each day. . When he was finally accepted into the varsity team, he decided not to go, but stayed in junior varsity with his friend and roommate who hadn’t made the varsity team. The next year they were both accepted into the varsity team and Young Jin Nim went on to become one of the most valued players. That is just one small example. Our hearts are invisible. We see them in the choices and behavior of others as they go about their daily life.
Heavenly Parent made human beings to be influenced by one another. Seeing the quality of heart of these two brothers is nourishing to the soul- especially when you consider the fact that they had such a high standard of love at such a young age.
Now I evaluate my parenting skills, how I raised my four children and foster son. I evaluate how I am taking care of my tribe, my neighborhood. I find myself lacking; I must continue working, serving, loving until I take my very last breath. Not because I am ‘saved by works’. I love my Heavenly Parent, God. I want to be in His/Her image. The highest title in the world, higher than saint, is the son or daughter of God.
This song, ‘I am His Lamb’, was probably started on MFT and I finished it later in NY. It is sung to the tune of “What is a Youth?” from the movie Romeo and Juliet. The knife True Father holds is not a literal knife. In the Bible, offerings are always divided to drain Satan's blood. Although animals are pure, this was done to teach human beings that we have inherited Satan's evil blood lineage.
In the course of following True Father there are so many occasions when it feels as though we are surrounded by evil and walking through the Valley of Death. Surely True Father ...and True Mother... have walked more treacherous paths than we ever will. They teach us through their unwavering example to never, never, never give up.
I am His Lamb
I am his lamb
He calls my name
Though in his hand
A knife he holds
I run with joy
His eyes of love
are all I see
my life and all I have
belong to thee.
Come quickly, he calls me to follow
Through valleys of pain and sorrow
Vultures and wolves come surround me
Seeking me for their prey
I can’t find my way
Death takes my hand-
I yank it away
Where is my lord,
Has he left me to die?
Why did I come this way
Oh, dear God, why?
Then up ahead my Lord’s footsteps I see-
They beckon me
My tears of joy
Relief and shame-
How could I be the one to put on my Lord blame?
He goes this way that I be free
I pledge to follow only gratefully.
May I too walk that others may be free.
A New Mission
I spent about seven and a half years on MFT - five in sunny CA and two and one half in the north-west region which included rainy Seattle and snowy Alaska. About a year after the blessing in 1982, I was ‘released’ from MFT. True Father told Mr. K., the overall head of fundraising in America, that if he did not let the long-time MFT members go, he would end up in hell. I was sent to NY to join the Japanese Video Center, so-called because it was patterned after the witnessing video centers in Japan that were bringing admirable membership results. The videos were all Divine Principle lectures or related themes, such as Col. Pak’s testimony at the Senate/House hearings.
I found myself in the company of a handful of other long- time American fundraisers- all top sellers (all sisters) from around the country, along with twice as many Japanese sisters. We lived together in a center in Queens with our Japanese leader, Mr. H, and his family. Later I heard from another Japanese member that Mr. H was “more Japanese than Japanese” meaning he was a strict traditionalist -old Samurai-school. I loved witnessing; Mr H gave me the nickname: ‘witnessing machine’.
New York versus Alaska
The Video Center was situated in a busy section of downtown NY City. I was thrilled to be able to witness again and brought many people- hailing from all over the world. After all, it was NY. Coming from Alaska which is easy- going and friendly, I was determined that NY, with its frowning, grumpy, aggressively straight-forward demeanor, was NOT going to change me. I continued to smile freely and witness to anyone and everyone. However, after numerous derelict -looking strangers approached me with requests for money, a free room, etc., I decided it was in my best interest to blend in with the unsmiling masses- at least while I was on the subway and traversing the streets.
Japanese versus American
In NY, working with the Japanese Video Center, it felt at times as though we were trying to pound a square peg into a round hole; some Japanese leaders seemed to operate with the notion that if you hit the peg hard enough you can force it to fit. This applied to the implementation of ideas as well as to members themselves. Japanese society is vastly different from American society.
Perhaps it is obvious from my sharing that I am very idealistic and naive. I thought that although people looked different on the outside, we were very similar on the inside- our thoughts and emotions. My understanding changed dramatically when I visited Tokyo with a conference in 1986. I experienced first- hand the absolute, rigid hierarchy in every aspect of their society. It also became clear to me that, for the last 11 years working with Asians, I had been looking through an American grid- a white, middle class, freedom-loving, democratic, individual-oriented and relatively privileged grid. My visit to Japan was as staff with an ICC conference (International Conferences for Clergy). But my first night there, the sensation of being strangled to death was so vivid, I had to escape to my room.
I sympathize with foreign members who come to the US and suddenly feel like a fish out of water, in an environment completely new and often vastly different from what they are accustomed to. Their confusion and awkwardness- possibly fear- could exacerbate and turn into mistrust, even deteriorating into hatred. But in 1983, I was still blissfully unaware of my grid and that of others.
I once asked Mr. H. if our Video center might be under surveillance by communists. Wherever the Divine Principle is being taught it is a lightning rod smashing Satan's lies, obviously a threat to communism. Mr. H. chuckled at my naivete and said that we were far too insignificant to attract their interest.
However, a Japanese sister from our video center witnessed to a bright young Chinese student. After attending a workshop, he joined. We were all ecstatic and probably half-smothering him with our affection like a dozen hens and one baby chick. Within days he was surreptitiously contacted by Chinese authorities. They warned him explicitly that If he did not cease relationships with the Unification Church immediately, his family would be harmed in China. He surreptitiously and tearfully informed us, and we all tearfully bid him farewell.
Who needs Communists when we sabotage ourselves?
Another young man joined from Japan-JI. At the UN building, I prayed to find someone with leadership potential who could powerfully help God’s Providence. In less than an hour I met a Japanese student who spoke fluid English, Spanish and Japanese. He was studying sociology with a compassionate heart to improve society. (Did he fall out of a cloud from Heaven?!) The Japanese sisters shyly told me that he looked like a prince. Can you tell that I am beaming? After listening to Divine Principle lectures and attending a workshop, he joined and moved in. Months later, his father contacted the US embassy in Japan who in turn contacted our church headquarters in NY. His father, a business owner of an architectural company, suspected foul play (i.e. brainwashing). Unification Church leaders advised JI to call his father which he did. Afterwards, JI reassured us that he had convinced his father that he was okay and had joined of his own free will. Nevertheless, the leaders bought a round-trip ticket for him to put his father’s mind at ease. I asked JI to pay respect to the Japanese church before he returned. [If I could only retract those words.]
JI visited his parents (who amazingly accepted his decision!). Before he returned to the states, he paid a perfunctory visit to the Unification Church, perhaps in Tokyo. There he was informed that he was not really a member if he joined in America; he had to go through a workshop in Japan. During the workshop he was taught not to trust any leaders in America, especially American-born (white) leaders. When he returned to NY, he honestly and openly shared his unfortunate new mindset with his central figure and me. Consequently, he was sent to a mission under Japanese leadership, but shortly thereafter, he left the church.
My naivete was not in doubting a communist threat, but in believing that all members in the Unification Church were relating to one another as brothers and sisters. In the USA, there are people from every ethnicity and color; I conjecture that it is easier to imagine worldwide brotherhood for Americans. But some people grow up in homogeneous countries where only people who look like them could be considered ‘siblings’. This painful tragedy of losing my precious spiritual son made me appreciate True Parents all the more. How brilliantly brave of them to envision and build ‘One World Family Under God’.
We all join the church with our particular problems/limitations. I do not mean to exclude Americans from that group of saboteurs. But, at that time, we usually were not in leadership positions. Instead American members chose to leave the church rather than persevere through cultural differences. Giving up is also sabotaging God’s Providence, prolonging it, robbing God of one’s unique talents, skills, abilities and insights. America’s most wretched sin was and is racism; I applaud every black member who has stayed the course; they are all champions.
Pondering these happenings, I hope that my honest reflections do not offend anyone. The incredible sacrifice and dedication of Japanese members has moved God’s heart countless times and is recorded undisputed in history.
If the English and American representatives In Korea after WWII had not blocked True Father from meeting Seungman Rhee, the providence would be completely different. England would be in the Mother role and we, Americans, might be chaffing at their attitude of superiority or delighting in their ‘tea ceremony’. England lost her position and True Father chose Japan as a new Mother nation.
Issues with trust and clear communication exist in every faith community and every multi-ethnic corporation worldwide. These are inevitable growing pains of a new organization. I do have absolute faith that we will improve with each succeeding generation; international, interracial and even inter-religious blessings are True Parents’ brilliant heavenly strategy to tear down Satan’s walls of division.
I can never forget my spiritual son, JI. I am hoping that his children join our movement - or at least work for peace. If not his children, perhaps his grandchildren. Once a seed of Divine Principle is planted in a person’s mind can it ever shrink back to its previous size?
The diamond left in Seattle
In Seattle one Sunday, we shared morning service with the regular center members. Afterwards our captain announced, “Anyone who makes their goal today can witness with the members.” I was out the door in a flash. Soon I was beside the members who were using a clipboard and survey to invite people to the evening program. I stopped a young man and asked him all of the questions, but he did not answer in such a way that led to a natural discussion about God and spiritual matters. However when I was finished, he did not leave disinterested. So I continued to talk to him, trying to draw him out and find a correlative base upon which to build. The only thing I can remember now is that he liked the color yellow. My background is art; I have studied colors and their energy including personalities associated with favorite colors. People who favor yellow are usually very optimistic, they overcome problems easily and have a generally positive mindset. (Think of the sun; its rays go outward- giving, giving giving. We cannot see where they end, but we know it is ultimately for good). This fact alone encouraged me. I invited him, LW, to the center and the rest is history; he became an associate member.
Through the years he has helped many members- he bought a new refrigerator for the center, paid for a sister to get her teeth fixed. He looked around for ways to help and then, quietly unassuming, he did. Usually full-time members are too preoccupied with the mission to attend to even important practical matters; LW has been a blessing filling that lack. Years later he took care of high-level guests with his beautiful wife, MW, housing them, touring on Lake Washington past the Gates’ Mansion. It is lovely beyond words to know that someone I introduced to the church has helped so many people, members and guests, so unselfishly,
Loving math through the eyes of LW
LW is a doctor of mathematics. I admire and respect math- from a great distance- a distance that feels unbreachable. I do believe that God created the world using math with the most elegant laws and principles. Galileo stated in the 1700s: “Our universe is a grand book written in the language of mathematics.” True Father said that the spiritual realm is based on math. But when I try to grasp mathematical principles it is akin to an unintelligible foreign language. I visited LW’s home a few times; he had an entire bookshelf of math books. I was surprised that such a plethora existed! He even showed me one in which mathematicians used math to prove the existence of God!
I asked him why he liked math so much; he said because it is pure. Other subjects are open to interpretation. History is written by the victors- from their own perspective. Literature is an individual’s voice. Art...Music..Even science is influenced by the often unconscious predilections of the scientist. But math is the same whether a person is an American or a Russian, a religious person or an atheist, rich or poor, man or woman, adult or child. Math remains the same.
I could see that his desire for something pure and absolute led him to his field. Looking through his eyes, I have come to love and appreciate math as never before, although that chasm in my understanding remains. I am greatly heartened by True Father’s regarding our entry into the spiritual realm: “Within a week you can surpass the knowledge of any scholar...by seeing things through the light of your heart you will automatically understand the world and all its related interconnections.”
Our spiritual children expand our hearts and minds in ways that don’t make sense mathematically until you add the love quotient which always equals eternity and trumps all other equations ..elegantly.