As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen: Episode 29

As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen: An Autobiography by Rev. Sun Myung Moon
Chapter 4: Launching Our Global Mission
Following God's Path with No Thought for My Life, pg 107-109

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CHAPTER 4 Launching Our Global Mission

Following God’s Path with No Thought for My Life

As soon as I was released from Seodaemun prison, I went to the Gabsa Buddhist temple on Mount Gyeryoung in Choongcheong Province. I needed to heal the wounds from my torture in Seodaemun prison. Also, I needed a forest where I could pray and think about the future of our church. This was not long after the end of the Korean War, and just finding enough food to survive was often a difficult task. Despite such short-term difficulties, however, it was important that I make plans for the longer term. We still did not have a church large enough to hold all our members for service, but I felt it was important to spend some time looking out into the distant future.

Following the collapse of Japanese colonial rule and the liberation of Korea in 1945, the two countries had not established diplomatic relations. Japan had not recognized the government in Seoul, and Korea considered Japan an enemy country. My belief was that, when the situation of the world was considered, it was important for the two countries to resume contacts. A number of attempts were made to send a missionary to Japan, but these were unsuccessful. In the end, it was Bong Choon Choi who accomplished this task.

In 1958, I called Bong Choon Choi to meet me on the mountain behind the Gabsa temple. “You need to go immediately to Japan,” I said. “You will not be able to return to Korea until you have succeeded.”

“Yes!” he replied without hesitation.

We then sang the Korean Christian hymn whose words begin:

Called of God, we honor the call; 
Lord, we’ll go wherever you say.

We came down the mountain together in high spirits. He never asked how he was supposed to support himself in Japan or how he was supposed to begin his activities there. Bong Choon Choi was that kind of audacious man. Travel to Japan was not allowed for most Koreans. His only option was to try to enter Japan even without a visa. He would need to endure many things.

Bong Choon Choi did not even know if he could enter Japan, but he was prepared, if necessary, to lay down his life. Until I could hear that he had safely crossed the strait to Japan, I put aside all other work and sat praying in a small room in the church. I didn’t eat or sleep. We even had to take out a loan of 1.5 million won to send him. We had many members who had nothing to eat, but evangelizing Japan was so important that everything else had to be put aside.

Unfortunately, Bong Choon Choi was arrested as soon as he arrived in Japan. He was placed in prison, first in Hiroshima and later in Yamaguchi, until he could be deported back to Korea. While in prison, he decided he would rather die than be sent back, and so he began to fast. During his fast, he developed a fever. The Japanese authorities decided to place him in a hospital and delay his deportation until his health could be restored. While in the hospital, he managed to escape from custody.

After such efforts made at the risk of his life over a year and a half, Bong Choon Choi established the church in Japan in October 1959. Korea and Japan would not establish diplomatic relations for another six years. In fact, Korea, because the painful memory of suffering under Japan’s colonial rule was still quite fresh, was rebuffing any suggestion that it open contacts with Japan.

I had our missionary smuggle himself into this enemy country for the sake of Korea’s future. Instead of refusing all contact, Korea needed to evangelize Japan so that it would be in the position to be the senior partner in the bilateral relationship. Korea was impoverished materially, so it needed to open a channel to the Japanese leadership, get Japan on its side, and then link itself to the United States. I envisioned that this was how Korea could survive.

As a result of the successful effort to send a missionary to Japan, owing to Bong Choon Choi’s sacrifice, an exceptional youth leader named Osami Kuboki joined the church, together with a group of young people who followed him. The Japanese church became securely established as a result of their work.

We sent missionaries to America in the following year. There was no visa trouble this time. They were able to receive passports and visas before leaving. In securing the passports, we were aided by some cabinet ministers of the Liberal Party who had played a part in having me imprisoned in the Seodaemun prison. Previously, they had opposed us, but now they were helping us.

The United States in those days seemed like a very far-off country. Some of our church members opposed the idea of sending missionaries there, saying it was more important to grow our foundation in Korea first. I convinced the members of its importance, however, saying that unless America’s crisis could be resolved, Korea would be destroyed, too. In January 1959, we sent Young Oon Kim, one of the professors who had been fired by Ewha Womans University. Then in September of that year, we sent David S.C. Kim. The work they began in America was aimed at the entire world.

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