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?