Mother of Peace: Episode 24
Mother of Peace: And God Shall Wipe Away All Tears from Their Eyes
A Memoir by Hak Ja Han Moon
Chapter 4: God’s Light Shines Upon a Path of Thorns, pg 107-112
In 1975 we held mission conferences in Japan, the United States and Germany, from which we selected young missionaries and dispatched them to some 95 new nations in addition to the more than 30 already with active missions. There were many reasons to delay or slow down our evangelical outreach, but we could feel God’s urgency and pressed forward. I recall my husband’s words, shared late one evening: “There will always be reasons that we cannot send them. But if we do not send them now, we will never send them. There will never be a moment without difficulties. Let us make a firm decision when things seem the most difficult.”
That 1975 cohort of faithful men and women represented not one nation, but three: Japan, the United States, and Germany, countries that were enemies during the Second World War. We sent them in groups of three, one Japanese, one American and one German or Austrian. Their unity with each other was the foundation for outreach and service that bore great fruit over the decades.
Unlike many Christian missionaries sent out from the United States and Europe, our international missionaries did not receive continuous financial support from the sending church. They left with enough money to survive for a few weeks, a suitcase of clothes and a Divine Principle book. Instead of living in nice buildings or homes, they stayed in tiny rooms or huts. They had to improvise mission plans and work together despite having different cultural backgrounds and speaking different languages. Faced with so many unknowns, those who were leaving and those who were sending both had to maintain a brave face, knowing each missionary was stepping into an unpredictable future.
Our missionaries committed to a five-year tenure, but more than a few who went to Africa and the Middle East remained for 20 years and more. Once or twice a year, if they could, they would attend a world mission conference at our East Garden facility in New York.
One young missionary arriving at one such conference burst into tears upon seeing my husband and me. It was her first time meeting us. Hearts that wanted to weep in joy and sadness … how could there be anything but that? The person who wanted to weep the most was me, but I knew if I did so, the happy occasion would turn into an ocean of tears. Therefore, with the heart of a strong mother, I embraced that young woman instead.
The next day, I took all the missionaries out and bought them blouses and scarves or dress shirts and neckties. “This looks good on you,” I would say to each of them, adding, “You have worked very hard.”
But together with my sincere consolation, I would ask them to be strong and press harder: “If you sacrifice a little more on the way of the will, a peaceful world will come about in our time.”
Near the close of these conferences, the missionaries would pledge their new resolve in front of God’s will and depart again to the front line of His dispensation. My heart of loving admiration for our leaders and tribal messiahs who have left their homeland for the sake of humanity remains unchanged to this day.
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Whenever we sent missionaries to unfamiliar lands, my husband and I held onto Heaven and prayed earnestly for each one of them. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Unification Movement faced intense opposition the world over. An unknown party even sent a bomb threat to our church’s Belvedere Training Center in Tarrytown, New York. But the opposition was particularly intense in communist bloc countries due to our public speeches, rallies and educational programs to defeat Marxism-Leninism. We especially prayed for our missionaries who went into communist countries, as we knew there was the possibility of martyrdom. To our sorrow, that concern became a reality.
In these “Iron Curtain” countries, surveillance, deportation, shadowing and terror were our missionaries’ everyday experiences. In 1973 in Czechoslovakia, the police arrested most of the core members. Almost 30 young people received prison sentences of up to nearly five years; others were released but endured ongoing repression. In 1976 in France, unidentified assailants bombed our Villa Aublet Church in Paris, injuring two members. Our French members marched from the Eiffel Tower to the Trocadéro calling for religious liberty and winning the sympathy of many. Finally, when it was revealed that communists were involved in the bombing, prominent leaders, including US congressional members, publicly condemned the attack on religion.
Even worse tragedies occurred. In the flower of her youth, at the age of 24, Marie Živná, one of the most faithful members in Czechoslovakia, died in a cold Bratislava jail cell. In December 1980, in Tanzania, Japanese missionary Masaki Sasamoto was shot and killed, also giving his life as a martyr. Numerous missionaries in the United States and other countries lost their lives while on fundraising drives or in the course of outreach activities.
Despite such tragedies, the missionaries continued their work. In the 1980s, European missionaries working strategically behind the Iron Curtain called their project, “Mission Butterfly.” The Butterfly missionaries cautiously witnessed despite the constant danger of being tracked by the secret police and arrested, forced to leave the country, or worse.
In 1987, my husband and I quietly gathered the Butterfly missionaries at our East Garden residence. We listened to their moving stories late into the night. There was no stopping the flow of tears. The missionaries shared, from deep within their hearts, stories that they had been unable to tell even their parents or brothers and sisters. Hearing their stories, we felt deeply concerned about their harsh circumstances.
Because these missionaries were viewed as enemies of the state, staying in their mission country was filled with risks, but this only intensified their prayers and faith in God. As one missionary said to us, “I don’t know when or where I will run into some kind of danger. I only know that my life is being directly supervised through God’s revelation. If there is a dangerous situation, God appears in my dream and guides me along the path I should go.”
As they departed to their posts, putting our short meeting behind, I hugged them one by one and sent them off, waving until they were out of sight. Thinking that these young, pure-hearted missionaries were acting out of their deepest passion for God and True Parents, bound for lands more brutal than battlefields, without as much as a promise as to when we would meet again, my heart ached and my eyes blurred with tears.
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That our missionaries were persecuted for nothing other than faith in the True Parents was truly a sorrowful reality of history, and their determination to advance was truly a glory of history. Chosen members went to every corner of the globe. Despite suffering and danger, they leapt into many kinds of work: organizing service projects, establishing schools, providing vocational training, cultivating the wilderness, building factories, houses and communities—and raising the necessary funds by their own wits and Heaven’s assistance.
Each time I saw missionaries off to cross unfamiliar seas and continents, the limitation of what I could give them pained me. I encouraged them by saying that when our dreams are realized, God will give us all the greatest of blessings. Seeing how those words strengthened their resolve, I realized that spiritual encouragement was stronger support than any physical provisions.
In the early stages of the movement, our members were the most pitiful of people: chased and cornered, thrown out of their houses on snowy nights, praying in tears against the outer walls of their own home. Deported from unfamiliar lands, jailed, shot at and even killed while out fundraising, they had to find their way in the desert with nothing but starlight in the night sky to guide them; these faithful souls pushed their way through dark forests alone to share God’s word. Holding our sorrows deep inside, we kept our faith and disseminated our beliefs. Today the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification serves in more than 190 nations, and this activism for peace and true family life grew from the seeds of our missionaries’ sacrificial love.