Mother of Peace: Episode 57
Mother of Peace: And God Shall Wipe Away All Tears from Their Eyes
A Memoir by Hak Ja Han Moon
Chapter 10: The Challenge Of Realizing A Heavenly World, pg 280-285
The throngs of people taking photos of its historic sites easily overlook the reminders of this tragic past. Gorée is a small island, with the seaside easily reached by a 20-minute walk either to the east or west. During my tour, I saw that visitors were impressed by its many European-style buildings. One tourist remarked, “Walking along these cobblestone streets reminds me of European neighborhoods.” Another said, “These European houses are so beautiful and full of character.”
What is now a tourist site was the epicenter of the West African slave trade. I looked at the beautiful houses built for the European slave traders, and the contrast with the slave camp located barely a hundred feet behind them could not have been greater.
The House of Slaves is a two-story building. The slave traders lived on the second floor, while innocent Africans captured and brought there from throughout the continent were kept on the first floor while awaiting to be boarded onto slave ships. Most visitors and dignitaries tour the second floor, but I spent my time in the slave cells on the first floor.
The slave house was built with stones and contained cramped, gloomy holding cells. The cells were like caves—dark and damp, with no natural sunlight and ceilings so low that one could not stand up straight. At the end of a narrow corridor with cells on either side was the infamous Door of No Return. The men, women and children who went through this door onto slave ships sailing for the Americas never saw their families again.
Holding onto the frame of the Door of No Return, I shed tears, along with the mayor of Gorée and everyone in our party, as I prayed for Africa to be freed from the pain and resentment caused by slavery. As I stood at that door, I could hear the cries and weeping of countless Africans taken against their will.
My grief increased when I witnessed tourists laughing and joking as they passed by the slave cells. But I also saw families frown and sigh in sadness at the sight of these reminders of human cruelty. One mother leaned over a red brick staircase and offered a tearful prayer. She seemed hopeful that her prayer might contribute to healing centuries of cruelty and misery.
Liberating those who have ascended differs from comforting those who are alive on earth. Both are possible through the earnest prayer of God’s only begotten Daughter, who carries the mission to save humanity. Facing the silent, grieving walls of the House of Slaves, I forever broke the miserable chains of Africa’s oppression.
The anguished cries of Africans should be heard and their plight embraced. Humankind’s long, painful history of exploitation and deprivation of freedom must come to an end. This was my motivation as I traveled thousands of miles to come to Gorée Island and walk in this still pitiable and sorrowful land of Africa. Having seen the slave cells and the Door of No Return on the first floor, I did not take the stairs going to the second floor where the slave owners lived. I instead made my way to the courtyard. There, together with Gorée Island Mayor Augustin Senghor and his wife, and many local officials, I offered a prayer for the liberation of all Africans who died as victims of slavery.
A short walk from there brought us to a small square. Along one of the yellow-painted walls were several small plaques honoring eminent leaders who had visited the island, including Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Mother Teresa and John Paul II. As they unveiled a plaque with my name and read the inscription, Mayor Senghor said, “This doesn’t fully embody how grateful and indebted we feel, but it will stand for eons as an enduring symbol of the precious heart you have brought here.” Many among the crowd expressed their thanks to me for liberating Africa from the weight of 500 years of suffering. It was a heartfelt token of appreciation from the people of Senegal and, I felt, the continent.
Following the unveiling, the Little Angels moved everyone to tears with beautiful Senegalese songs they had learned and rehearsed over many hours. As we made our way to the pier to depart, I told the mayor I wanted to leave a gift behind that would benefit the whole island. When we reached the pier, we could hear the sound of a motorboat approaching. It was a water ambulance I had prepared as a gift to Gorée Island for passenger and emergency patient transport. Christened with the name Victoria, it reflected our common hope that, although innumerable lives have been lost over the centuries, no others will be lost for the lack of a medical boat.
In Africa, the plight of many remains bleak. Despite abundant natural resources and wondrous scenic beauty, poverty is rampant. Nevertheless, Africans are kind, compassionate and diligent. God has called the peoples of Africa to shine as bright, immutable, heavenly creations. Africans make me feel the heart of our Creator, our Heavenly Parent.
The mother nation
Whenever we hold an event at our Cheongpyeong complex in Korea, thousands of Japanese Unificationists participate. I am always concerned, because incredible logistical support is necessary to welcome and host anywhere from 3,000 to more than 6,000 members at this site, our original spiritual homeland. But from their side, Japanese members feel it is a joy to visit their spiritual homeland of Korea. They treasure prayer at holy grounds, such as Bomnaetgol in Busan, where Father Moon built his first church out of discarded military ration boxes and mud. They value the Cheongpa-dong Headquarters Church. For many, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and honor.
The sight of thousands of devout Japanese members coming to Korea provides a glimpse of a great spiritual wave that I believe will bring positive change to Asia. Asia is considered the continent of the future for many reasons, one of which is that it is where the Unification movement’s revival and expansion are most dynamic. Japan was the second country in which the Unification movement developed. Mission work began in dramatic fashion when, in July 1958, Missionary Choi Bongchoon boarded a ship in Busan headed for Japan. His mission work was an endless marathon of hardships. Entering the country without a proper visa, he was arrested and incarcerated, then hospitalized. Finally gaining his freedom, Mr. Choi broke through when, at 7:15 p.m. on October 2, 1959 in a crumbling attic in Tokyo, he led the first public Unification Church of Japan Sunday Service. Over the 60 years since then, the Unification Church has expanded throughout Japan.
Nonetheless, theirs has been a tortuous course. Accusations of being a cult were incessant, and ferocious opposition from Japanese communists arose in reaction to our Victory Over Communism activities. When several celebrities participated in our marriage Blessing Ceremony, some in Japan felt threatened by the expansion of our movement, and they fiercely opposed us in the media. For decades, my husband could not enter Japan. Some of our beloved members even lost their lives. A major assault on religious liberty was allowed when Japanese authorities turned a blind eye to criminals kidnapping our members, holding them captive until they renounced their faith, and even committing them to mental hospitals. Despite such hardships, the Unification movement in Japan has grown steadily, and the society now is recognizing the wrongness of such treatment. Our movement is a shining light for Japanese society. It also has sent thousands of missionaries throughout the world. They have invested themselves wholeheartedly in teaching the Divine Principle and serving local communities.