As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen: Episode 34
As A Peace-Loving Global Citizen: An Autobiography by Rev. Sun Myung Moon
Chapter 4: Launching Our Global Mission
Last Plane to America, pg 119-124
Last Plane to America
Near the end of 1971, I went to the United States again. I had certain tasks that absolutely needed to be accomplished there, but getting there was not so easy. It was not my first time going to the United States, yet I had to wait an unusually long time to receive my visa. Some members suggested that I delay my departure, but I could not do that. It was difficult for me to explain to the members, but it was important that I leave Korea on the designated date. So I decided to go first to Japan and apply for a U.S. visa while in Japan. I was in a hurry to leave Korea.
The day of my departure was quite cold, but so many members came to see me off that they could not all get into the terminal. When it came time for me to go through the passport control desk, however, it was discovered that my passport was missing the stamp of the section chief of the Foreign Ministry’s passport section. This stamp was required as proof that the government had cleared me to leave the country. Because of this, I missed the flight I had been scheduled to board.
The members who had prepared for my departure apologized profusely and suggested that I return home and wait while they tracked down the section chief and got him to place his stamp in my passport.
“No,” I told them. “I will wait here at the airport. Go quickly and get the stamp.”
My heart was filled with urgency. It happened to be a Sunday, so the section chief would not be at his desk. But I could not afford to let myself be concerned by such matters. In the end, our members went to the home of the section chief and had him place his stamp in my passport. So I was able to board the final flight of the day out of Korea. That night, the government declared a national state of emergency and imposed heavy restrictions on foreign travel by private citizens. I had boarded the last flight that would allow me to go to America.
I applied for a U.S. visa in Japan, but again it was refused. I discovered later what the problem was. The Korean government still had a record of my being detained by the Japanese colonial police just prior to liberation on charges of being a communist. The early 1970s was a time when communism was spreading with ferocity. By 1975, we had sent missionaries to 127 countries, but those in four communist countries were expelled. Evangelizing in communist countries in that era could result in death. I never gave up, however, and continued to send missionaries to the Soviet Union and other communist countries. Our first missionary to Czechoslovakia arrived in 1968.
Around 1980, we began to refer to our mission work in the communist countries of Eastern Europe as “Mission Butterfly.” A larva must go through a long period of suffering before it can grow wings and become a butterfly, and we felt that this was similar to the suffering of our underground missionaries working in communist countries. It is a difficult process for a butterfly to come out of its cocoon, but once it has wings, the butterfly can fly anywhere it wants. In the same way, we knew that once communism came to its demise, our missionaries would grow wings and begin to fly.
Missionary Young Oon Kim, who had gone to the United States in early 1959, toured the major universities in that country to convey God’s word. In the process, she met Peter Koch, a German student at the University of California at Berkeley, and this young man decided to suspend his studies and travel by ship to Rotterdam and then start his missionary work in Germany. Missionaries to the communist countries of Asia were sent out from Japan. These missionaries had to be sent to places where their lives might be in danger without so much as a special worship service to mark their departure.
This pained me as much as having to push Bong Choon Choi to try again to smuggle himself into Japan during our final meeting in the pine forest behind the Gabsa temple. A parent who has to watch a child being punished would much rather be allowed to take the punishment himself.
I would have preferred to go out as a missionary myself. My heart was full of tears as I sent those members to places where they would be watched and possibly executed for their religious activities. Once the missionaries had left, I spent most of my time in prayer. Earnest prayers were the best thing I could do to help protect their lives. Missionary work in communist countries was dangerous work. A missionary never knew when the Communist Party might take him.
People who went as missionaries to communist countries could not even tell their parents where they were going. The parents knew well the dangers of going to such countries and would never give permission for their children to go. Gunther Werzer was discovered by the KGB and deported. In Romania, where the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu was at its height of power, the secret police were constantly following and intercepting the telephone calls of our missionaries.
It was as if the missionaries had gone into the lion’s den. The number of missionaries going to communist countries, however, kept growing.
Then in 1973, there was a terrible incident in Czechoslovakia where thirty of our members were taken into custody. One member, Marie Zivna, lost her life while in prison at the young age of twenty-four. She was the first martyr who died while conducting missionary work in a communist country. In the following year, another person lost his life in prison.
Each time I heard that one of our members had died in jail, my entire body froze. I could not speak or eat. I couldn’t even pray. I just sat motionless for a while, unable to do anything. It was as if my body had turned to stone. If those people had never met me, or never heard what I taught, they never would have found themselves in a cold and lonely jail cell, and they never would have died the way they did. When they died, they suffered in my place. I asked myself, “Is my life worth so much that it couldn’t be exchanged for theirs? How am I going to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of the communist bloc that they were bearing in my place?” I could not speak. I fell into a sorrow that seemed to have no end, as if I had been thrown into deep water.
Then I saw Marie Zivna before me in the form of a yellow butterfly. The yellow butterfly that had escaped Czechoslovakia’s prison fluttered its wings as if to tell me to be strong and to stand up. By carrying on her missionary activities at the risk of her life, Marie truly had been transformed from being a caterpillar to being a beautiful butterfly.
Missionaries working in such extreme circumstances often received revelations through their dreams and visions. They were isolated and could not communicate freely with others, so God gave them revelations to let them know the path they must follow. It would often happen that a missionary who had lain down to sleep for a short while would have a dream in which he was told, “Get up quickly and go someplace else.” He did as he was told in the dream, only to discover later that the secret police had raided the place where he had been resting. In another instance, a member had a dream in which a person he had never seen before came to him and told him how to carry out his missionary work. Later, when he met me for the first time, he exclaimed, “You’re the person I saw in my dream.”
I risked my life to overthrow communism and to build God’s nation, but was suspected of being a communist myself, and my application for a U.S. visa was rejected. My only choice was to submit all the materials showing my anti-communist work. In the end, I barely got my visa to enter the United States.
The reason I went to all this trouble to go to America was to fight against the dark forces that had caused America’s moral degradation. I left Korea to wage war on the forces of evil. At the time, all the major problems of the world—communism, drugs, corruption, and sexual decadence—were mixed together in a hellish stew. I declared, “I have come to America as a fireman and a doctor. If a house catches fire, a fireman needs to come, and if someone is sick, a doctor pays a visit.” I was like a fireman who had gone to America to extinguish the fires of immorality, and like a doctor who had gone to cure America of the illness that made it lose sight of God and go to the brink of decadence.
America in the early 1970s was embroiled in the Vietnam War, and activists were protesting. It was a country seriously divided. Young people searching for meaning experimented with alcohol, drugs, and free sex, and in the process were neglecting their eternal souls. Mainstream religion, which should have provided guidance to such young people, was not performing its role. It could not help them end their aimless wandering and return to proper ways of living. The hedonistic, materialistic culture dragged many young people down, because they had no place to rest their hearts.
Soon after I arrived in the United States, I toured the country, speaking on the topics “The Future of Christianity” and “God’s Hope for America.” In front of large audiences, I spoke out about the weaknesses of America in a way that no one else would.
I proclaimed that America was founded on the Puritan spirit and had grown to be the strongest country in the world in just two hundred years because it received God’s boundless love and blessing. I reminded the audiences that America’s freedom came from God, but that America had cast God aside. “America has a great tradition,” I said. “All you have to do is revive it.” I went to the United States to reawaken America’s spirit, to save America from destruction, and to urge the American people to repent and return to God.