Mother of Peace: Episode 25
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 112-117
A speaking tour stained with tears
“Mom, you’re packing your suitcase again?” I didn’t answer my third daughter, Un-jin, right away. My eldest daughter, Ye-jin, who was beside me and had been silently helping me pack, asked, “Mother, where are you going this time?”
That is the first thing my children would ask when they saw me take out a suitcase and start packing. Children wish for their mother to always be near them, playing with them, embracing them. However, bound by church activities, meeting with people and taking frequent trips, I was away from my children more than I was with them. Taking out my suitcase to pack my things signaled to my children that I was at the beginning of another mission far from home.
Although traveling can be enjoyable, when it is a mission, challenges set in from the moment you leave. Even if you stay in a palace, your heart is not at ease, as it is not your home. Furthermore, if you are entrusted with a public mission, each step you take is laden with heavy responsibility.
For a decade after the Holy Wedding in 1960, I was rarely at home, so I was rarely comfortable. I went around the entire country, one day visiting a small village near the demarcation line with North Korea, another day journeying to a remote island village, taking part in events and sharing time with members. My heart was not able to relax for even a single day.
In 1969, crossing the ocean to Japan marked the beginning of my life of international tours. I had a demanding schedule, and as I arrived in each new city, I treated each new land as my own and the people in each country as my brothers and sisters. Nonetheless, I would find time to buy postcards, and at the end of the day, though it was often past midnight, I would write letters to my children, who were wishing I were at home. Here is one of them.
I miss you and want to see you. My son, whom I always call to and think of and run to and hug, my good, cute, precious, beloved son, whom I never want to let go of, I miss you.
So, Hyo-jin, though we are separated for a while, you are one of Heaven’s happy sons.
Our filial son, Hyo-jin! Our goodhearted and wise Hyo-jin, I love you. I know you will become a filial son of heaven, a filial son of earth and a filial son of the universe; you will become a good example of a filial child.
Both Appa and Omma feel so sad that we are too busy following the will and have such little time to spend with you. Yet we feel so proud and secure because of you. Hyo-jin, you are different from other children. Even though you run around with your friends, you must remember your origin is God, and not damage His dignity.
Appa and Omma are always proud of you. When we see you in the near future, can you surprise your Appa and Omma a lot? Appa and Omma have a great dream for you. Omma is waiting and always praying for that.
Stay healthy. Goodbye.
The fact that I could not spend much quality time with my children due to my various public responsibilities always weighed on my mind. Despite this, my children were very mature for their age and grew up well. Once my eldest son Hyo-jin was interviewed by a newspaper reporter.
“What do you respect most about your mother?” Hyo-jin answered without hesitation.
“I admire my mother’s love and perseverance in embracing my father and making him happy. All mothers in the world are great, but my mother especially absolutely trusts and encourages us. I’m always deeply moved by how she does that. It’s really amazing that she gave birth to 14 children even though she’s always so busy with global affairs.”
Even on the hottest of summer days, I will not get into a cold swimming pool. It’s because, as I mentioned, I gave birth to many children, four of them through cesarean sections. When I was giving birth to our sixth son, Young-jin, I was in danger because his head was so large. My husband was in Europe, and I was told it would be dangerous for both mother and baby if we did not act within 30 minutes, so I had no choice but to undergo a cesarean section. Once you’ve had a cesarean section it becomes difficult to give birth naturally. That being so, I prayed with a desperate heart. During that prayer, the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion came to me. I managed the pain with the resolution that, through the birth of new life, I would overcome the force of death that surrounded Jesus on Calvary.
As it is for all women, my giving birth to a new life was an experience of heaven and hell. I did not find it easy to have four C-sections, yet each time I gave birth I was ready to die for the sake of God and for the sake of a new life.
* * *
In the same way that our house grew lively as we filled it with children, our churches kept springing up in cities and villages, filled with new members. From the outset, however, our goal was not to have the biggest church in Korea. Our goal was to bring salvation to the world, as a true church that would wipe away all of humanity’s tears. To accomplish that goal, I went on multiple world tours following the first one in 1969. From the early 90s, I was the keynote speaker. I gave more speeches at more rallies, events, gatherings and seminars that I can count. My footprints are found in almost every corner of the globe, ranging from unfamiliar metropolises to small primitive villages, from deserts scorched by the burning sun, to thick jungles and breathtaking highlands. At each place, marginalized peoples, helpless women, children and minority groups were waiting for me. And I anxiously looked forward to seeing them.
I knew I could offer them peace of mind and that every step I took advanced the cause of peace. Knowing this enabled me to return to a room in a different hotel every night, and resume the work at dawn the following day. It was typical for me to enter such a room in an unfamiliar city and sleep in a chair for a few hours, or to close my eyes while leaning back in a waiting room at an airport. Sometimes I came and went from a city without opening my suitcase. My mind was on meeting the people who were waiting for me.
When I spoke in a communist nation for the first time, I sensed the presence of spirit persons outnumbering the living people who received me. While the region was embroiled in war, I went to Croatia. The moment I entered my hotel room, I knew that there were souls that had undergone unjust and miserable deaths, waiting for liberation. To liberate them, I did an all-night prayer vigil.
When I go to Africa, I take antimalarial medication. Once, an incorrect prescription caused me to suffer severe side effects, and I caught malaria, experiencing pain and a high fever. My hectic tour schedule left me no time for treatment. Somehow, along the way, the malaria disappeared.
In the autumn of 1996, I went to Bolivia, where I had an experience I cannot forget. The capital, La Paz, is the highest major city in the world, at an altitude of almost 4,000 meters. Non-natives inevitably suffer from altitude sickness. Scheduled to speak for nearly an hour, I had an oxygen tank beside me at the podium. To make matters worse, the podium started to tip over every time I leaned on it slightly. The only solution was to have a strong young member hold the podium steady while I spoke. People were concerned, but I smiled throughout the speech. I felt nauseous and had a throbbing headache and my legs were trembling but I ignored it all. Under such circumstances, on the verge of collapsing, I kept a stiff upper lip and carried on. The audience was impressed, and people complimented me for my presentation. A local dignitary said, “She really is a person sent by God.”
The event was a tremendous success, and at the victory celebration that evening, I warmly held the hands of each participating member individually. Even though I was exhausted, I maintained a high spirit for the sake of the precious guests, VIPs and members who had come from far away to meet me. It turned into a joyous occasion as we encouraged each other. When I returned home, my husband, who listened to all my speeches by phone or, later, through the internet, patted me on the back and expressed his appreciation. “Where else could you get such a blessing,” he said, “having such success at a place that is 4,000 meters closer to heaven?”