Some personal experiences change our frame of reference. The events described here happened to one member almost two decades ago; yet they remain fresh, encouraging us in faith and love, as a wonderful testimony to God’s guiding presence.
By Tony Appia
We wrapped the flowers from 11 o’clock until 6 in the morning, in preparation for the day’s fundraising. We finished everything. We stocked the van and slept for a couple of hours.
When I arrived at the place, even before I could get out of the van, people were pulling up and buying flowers. I had got set up by 10:30. And it was constant. Sometimes I had 10 or 15 people waiting in line for flowers. And they were waiting patiently, and happily. They said things like, “No one has ever given me such good service before.” Almost everyone gave a tip. No one asked for discounts. It seemed as if the usual barriers were simply not there. I didn’t sell any singles either. It was mostly dozens and half dozens. It was $20 a dozen. One man came up and said, “Give me 50 flowers.” He just threw the money on the table and drove off. And it was like that all morning.
I didn’t have time to go to the restroom. My mother had made some tea and a sandwich. I took one bite of the sandwich and a sip of the tea, and that was it for the day. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t count the money. I didn’t count the money from the day before. I had no idea how much money I had in my pocket. I had tons of money in all my pockets.
Then around noon, I suddenly had this warm feeling all over my body. It started from the top of my head. It was just like I was on fire. I get hay fever so I don’t like working with flowers. But during this time I didn’t sneeze, not even once. Suddenly my whole body felt warm. I felt like suddenly my whole body was shaking. My stomach was really on fire. My knees were shaking. Suddenly I felt I was speaking—but it wasn’t my voice.
A voice was speaking to me, yet through me. The first question the person asked was, “How long have you been in this church? What have you done to restore your family? And how come you haven’t blessed them?” And he started lecturing me about my family, how I needed to take care of them. It was really interesting. This dialogue continued for about an hour or so. I was told I have to bless them all and take them to Brazil, to Jardim, to the family education workshop. It was so strong and the voice kept saying, “I’m serious about this. I’m serious about this.” It was using the same intonation and the same manner in which Father speaks. Just like that. It was very strong. This continued for about an hour or so. In the meantime, the people kept coming. I had to take care of them. I couldn’t do anything else. As the people drove away, the voice would speak out loud. It was lecturing me. It was giving me detailed advice about how I need to take care of each person in the family, and what they needed. The voice told me I should have a meeting at five o’clock with everyone in the family, and to tell them the message that I’d received. I was totally astonished.
Towards the end, I had three buckets of flowers left. This was at about three o’clock in the afternoon. But I had no idea how much money I had. At one point I tried to count the money. I went to the van. I took the money out of my pockets and I started counting. Suddenly five cars pulled up. So I just threw the money on the floor of the van and went out to take care of the people. All the while I was looking to make sure no one would go near the van. The voice said, “Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it.”
As soon as things calmed down, I went back and I took the money, but the voice kept saying, “Don’t count it. Don’t count it.” So I stuffed it back in my pocket, walked back to the stand and continued selling. Then things calmed down a whole lot.
Towards the end one man came up to me and said, “How much are those flowers?” I said, “You know, I’ve made my money today. Help yourself.” So he said, “Oh, really? I like those astramarias.” He said, “I’ll take them all.” I said, “Help yourself.” So I wrapped them up for him and as he was leaving I just said to him, “By the way, you have to do one thing for me. You didn’t give me any money, but please make a donation to a church or your favorite charity.” And he said, “Yes, I will, I will, I will.” And he drove off.
A second person came up—a little black girl—and I could see her counting her quarters and her dollars, and she wanted to get a flower for her mom. So she came up and she said, “Mister, how much are those flowers?” And I said, “They’re $20 a dozen.” And she says, “Oh, I don’t have that much.” And she started to walk away. I said, “Well, what do you need?” She answered, “Oh, I just need to get a flower for my mom.” So I said, “Help yourself.” So she pulled out a dozen roses. And then she said, “Oh, I need one for my sister and my aunt, too.” So she pulled out two more dozen roses. So I said, “No problem. Just tell your mom Happy Mother’s Day, and give her a kiss. And she said, “Thank you so much.” She ran off. I could see her mother in the car smiling and waving.
Then a third man walked up and he said, “Mister, I want to get something for my mother.” And I said, “What do you need?” And he said, “I just want to get her some flowers.”
And then the spirit came back to me. And I looked at the man and suddenly I slapped him on his chest. And I said, “That’s not why you’re here, is it?” And I slapped him again. And the man started crying. Then he said, “My mom is really sick and she needs help.” And then the spirit said through me, “You saw me in a dream, didn’t you? You saw me in a dream last night. That’s why you’re here.” And he said, “Yes. Someone told me to come to this location; someone would be waiting for me here.” I said, “God told you to come here, didn’t He?” And he said, “Yes.”
“Because He knew that I had something for you,” I replied. And then I started screaming at him, “I’ve been working all day here for you. Everything I made yesterday and today is yours.” Then I took everything I had in my pocket and I gave it to him. The man was flabbergasted. There was a lady, a nicely dressed lady standing next to him. She was screaming, “This is a trick. Don’t take that money. It’s not yours. Don’t touch it. He’s going to call the police.” And the man was saying, “No, no. I saw him in a dream. I know it’s him.” And a crowd had gathered. People were just so shocked.
I turned around and I said to them, “I’ve never seen this man before in my life but God told me to come here and to work for him and to give him this money.” I must have had close to $6000 in my pocket. And I gave the man everything. And the man was just crying. People were trying to pick the money up and I said, “Don’t touch it. It’s not yours. It’s not mine. It belongs to him. Don’t you touch it.” So the man just pulled up his T-shirt and wrapped all the money up.
There was one man standing off to the side and he said, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Another man, a black man, walked up to me and he said, “You know, I’ve been a youth Christian minister for many years and we always teach the children about Jesus, and how generous Jesus was. But this is the greatest testimony I’ve ever seen.” He asked, “How did you do that?” I said, “I didn’t do anything.”
And then the voice was speaking through me and it said to him, “You witnessed this. You witnessed this, didn’t you? I didn’t know this man. I’ve never seen him before. But he received everything I had. This is the spirit of God. This is God’s love.” And then I just hit the man who had received the money on his chest once more and I said, “You are my brother and I embrace you.” I gave him a big bear hug. I said, “God loves you, brother. Go take care of your mother.”
And then I turned back to that man who had said he was a minister and he asked me, “How did you do this?” And I told him, “God’s representative is on earth. Reverend Moon is here. The living God is walking on this earth. You should go and find out what he is doing.” And he said, “Reverend who?” I said, “Reverend Moon.” He said, “Where does he live? Where is he?” I said, “You go and find out and find out what he’s doing.”
And then I turned and I screamed to the people, “You have no idea what God has in mind for you. This city is garbage. You have no idea how painful it is to God to look at this mess.” And then I said, “I’m going. I have to go get my wife. Then I have to go see my family at 5 o’clock. I’m leaving. I’m going.” And then the man came over and said to me, “Now I believe.” The Christian minister, he said, “I have to find out what Reverend Moon is doing.” And then he said, “Don’t worry about your table. I’ll clean it up for you. You just go and do what you have to do.”
The next morning when I woke up I looked in the mirror. I said, “My goodness, am I crazy? What happened yesterday? What happened?” And I was trying to find some link between what happened and reality. And then I remembered that a couple had come up to me. They had bought some flowers and as they were driving away the wife had called me over and said, “This is for you. Thanks for the excellent service.” She gave me $4 and I said to her, “I don’t need your money.” She said, “Take it.” I said, “OK, I’ll take it and I’ll give it to my church. I didn’t put it with the rest of the money. I put it in my back pocket. I remembered that $4 while I was in the shower. I jumped out of the shower and I pulled out the $4 and I looked at it. And I thought, “Yes, God is alive. I’m not crazy. This really happened. I threw the money on the floor and I kissed the bathroom mirror and I said, “God is great. True Parents are great.” You couldn’t believe how happy I felt. It was amazing.
My parents said, “We should go out and check this out and make sure that those guys didn’t really rob you, and also to pick the stuff up from the flower stand. So that morning we got in the van. We all went down there. And the first words that the station owner said when we walked in were: “In all my years of working at this gas station I have never seen anything like it. Yesterday, you told a man that God sent you there to work for him all day and then you gave him every penny you had made over the last two days. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen or heard. You guys are nuts.” He couldn’t believe it.
My wife was saying later, “Well that happened, but how are we going to pay for the flowers and how are we going to pay our bills?” I said to her, “When God’s spirit came to me, the spirit said, “For many years you have been not serious enough about doing God’s will. The same God that helps True Parents will help you. You are worried about money. You are worried about clothes. You are worried about education. You are worried about houses. If you are doing God’s will, God will give you the money if you need it. If you are doing God’s will, God will give you a house if you need it. You don’t have to worry about those things. It’s because you haven’t been doing God’s will that you will continue to struggle, and continue to have problems. But if you do God’s will, if you do the hoon dok hae, if you do your witnessing, if you take care of your family, if you do the service life, the worship life, God will help you. You don’t have to worry about those things.” But still it was hard for me to reach out to her and to console her because her thinking was that I had worked hard for nothing.
I said to her, “This is Father’s life. He gives everything and forgets. He gives everything without any condition. And he’s still doing it. And if God gave us that experience to be able to help someone out in that way, we should be grateful that we were such an instrument that God could use. God gave us this experience to teach us something.” The spirit kept saying to me, “This experience is not for you. Write it down and share it with your family. Share it with everyone. This experience is not for you.” During our ancestor liberation ceremony guided by Dae Mo Nim, my grandmother in the spirit world had come to my wife and said, “Pray for me, please.” I feel the spirit world is so close, and they know what’s happening.
The day afterwards, I felt so at peace—so peaceful for the first time in all my years. I felt completely at peace. So the stress and the worry about money and all those things just seemed to dissipate. I said to my wife, “God will give us all those material things that we need, just like he does for True Parents. If we just focus on doing His will, I’m sure those things will come. We don’t have to worry about them. We’re running after them and they’ve been eluding us and we’re getting more and more into debt, without realizing that we haven’t been doing God’s will, which we haven’t. Because we have nothing to do with God, He can’t help us.” So I hope that we can learn something from it.
My wife could not easily understand why would God give us the blessing and then take it away. I said, “Maybe God is trying to teach us a lesson here. Our life is to live for the sake of others despite whatever problems we have, despite whatever difficulties we have. Our life is a life of service—service for the sake of others. And if we try to put our own happiness and our own concerns ahead of others, we’re going to have problems. Of course, God wants us to take care of our family; of course God wants us to have nice things and to be happy. But our primary concern is living for the sake of others. If we can’t do that, then we have nothing to do with God.”
I’m sure the ancestors came down. I believe it. My brothers keep asking, “What have you been reading these past few weeks?” And I told them Reverend and Mrs. Moon’s speeches. He said, “Wow, I gotta read those.” So I’m giving him the speeches: Mother’s speaking tour speech, The Path of Life for All Humankind. He’s going to read that one. I’ll make a copy for him. He’s excited to read those speeches. I can see that it is already having a profound effect on him.
Editor’s note: Tony could not identify the visiting spirit; he felt the person might well have been a Korean as the voice had certain distinctive characteristics.
His testimony caused controversy among members. Some thought that if Tony’s experience was really from God, he would have been directed to donate his earnings to the church or toward other more obvious priorities. On the other hand, surely it is the experience of many of us that Heaven works in ways beyond the borders of such convenient logic. As Tony himself observes in his testimony, Father himself has often invested generously in people who had little commitment to the ideals he teaches, and no connection to our movement whatsoever—people who were, in effect, as complete strangers as the man who was led to Tony in his dream. True Parents have committed a large proportion of available resources toward inspiring people to reflect deeply on the value of their lives and what they might contribute to relieve human suffering.
This is God’s grace to His fallen children whom He loves.
First published in Today’s World magazine in 1999