By Kamihiro Yamayoshi
(Written September 1982)
Kamihiro Yamayoshi was one of the earliest members to work in Iraq. His words reveal his depth of soul and his compassion for the people with whom he struggles to communicate one on one. This is the second part of Mr. Yamayoshi’s story; click here if you wish to read the first part.
I sometimes could not wipe away the feeling that I might be nothing but an outsider, after all, to the people of this country. For example, among Christians who are said to occupy almost ten percent of the whole population of Iraq, most of them are Assyrians. They suffer pressure and inconvenience under the political system, and so they harbor deep resentment against the government and against the Moslems who represent it. Those who are courageous among them criticize the government and blame the Moslems, and at the same time, speak out their pride, even their sense of superiority as Christians, whenever they converse. Being somewhat appalled, I often tried to persuade them, asking why they cannot forgive and love the Moslems, following the teachings of Jesus. As the conversation became heated they would give me a piece of their mind, saying, “After all, you can never understand our suffering. Foreigners will be foreigners.” And I would feel totally helpless, being unable to share my heart.
In this sense, it is the matter of life for the missionaries to know how to touch the love of God. How can I keep the feelings of unity with God’s heart to fill my heart? Especially in my case, because I was in a lonely situation, I was placed in a state of mind that I could not help seeking for a sense of the real existence of God and His heart.
On such occasions, I was so desperate.
Even in the meager (if it sounds like an exaggeration to say “barren”) circumstances of nature that exist here, I tried my best to find some traces of the blessing of God. Feeling a sense of exhaustion of soul and body, I was encouraged by being aware of the unlimited energy of God in the strenuous and unchanging movement of the sun, and I was impressed by the beauty of creation in the glorious scenes of the sunsets, and I was comforted.
The many constellations guided me in the world of my dreams, and made me unconscious of the flight of time. The tranquil brightness of the moon engendered the tender love of the mother.
The date palm, which firmly takes root in the desert area where trees are rare, supporting its more than ten-meter-high trunk and overburdened with its sweet and nutritious fruits, was proof to assure me of the unfailing parental heart of God in this land which, as a whole, it sometimes seems He has abandoned.
As a matter of course, meetings with people, especially when centered on the Principle, made me feel the presence of God more dramatically.
In June the second day after entering Baghdad, I met a young man, rather a boy, in a restaurant where I just dropped by on the way back from sightseeing in the city. He was an Assyrian and a Christian, and seventeen at the time. Since it was his summer vacation, he left his home in a city in the northern part of Iraq and was working in Baghdad. He said that, saving his money, he was planning to leave his country to take refuge in America or another country, in the future, as many other Iraqi Christians had. Since that time, until the time I was assigned to another country, whenever he came to Baghdad, I met him. He would speak of the hardships of the Assyrian people and we would talk about Christianity. Yet, at that time, probably being seized by excessive wariness and suspicion, I could scarcely testify to the Principle and our church.
However, in the end of December 1979, when I was in Athens, Greece, to attend the missionary conference of the Middle East region, I met him. He had left his country to travel to Athens and was waiting to take a plane to America as a refugee. Furthermore, I taught him the Principle in Arabic, which I had not dared to speak for four and a half years.
When I first met him in Baghdad, I had introduced myself as “a businessman learning the language.” However, he said, he had had a hunch that it was not true. Also, he was sometimes admonished by his relatives and acquaintances not to have close relationships with foreigners. Sometimes he seemed to feel he was being watched. Still, he used to visit me. I can’t help being grateful for the spiritual protection. At the same time, I deeply realized God’s tenacity and perseverance for restoration.
In Athens he expressed his heart reflectively, saying, “Why didn’t you tell me about the Principle while I was in Iraq? If you had done so, I might have been able to teach my acquaintances and friends.” And I felt that if I had had deeper faith in the Principle and in God, it might have been the will of God that I teach him. I regret that I did not teach him the Principle earlier.
Adding to this, while I was working in Iraq, he was the one who opened his heart most and became the object of my strongest love. Through such a relationship with him, I could taste how much God had loved Abel and had to give a blessing to him alone who had shown his faith in God in a world of faithlessness.
The meeting with Mursel, a Turkish student, was one of those that reminded me of the guidance of God. I was on the way to Ankara, the Turkish capital, to meet the American missionary for the first time, at the end of my first year. On the way, the bus broke down and could not move, so the passengers all had to solicit rides to their destinations. In such a situation, Mursel, who had been sitting in the seat just in front of me, said to me, “Let’s go to Ankara together.” Furthermore, after arriving in Ankara, since his house was very close to the American brother’s apartment, we soon became very close. Since then, whenever the missionaries of the neighboring countries visited Ankara, they taught him the Principle and, though he was Moslem, eventually he came to have faith in the Unification Church.
In the first two or three years, I had few opportunities to teach the Principle to him directly. It is true that it was because the periods of my stays in Turkey were very short, but it was mainly because my wariness had influenced me so much, even there. I heard that he, himself, asked the other brothers “Why doesn’t Mr. Yamayoshi teach me the Principle?”
I, as a missionary working in the Middle East, have to take this deeply into consideration. What I deeply felt in meeting with him was that the purification of one’s own motivation makes the work of God possible. Since I was blessed with Miss Yukiyo Otake as one of the 1800 couples, I have experienced that my heart was more purified than it had ever been. And whenever I felt a sense of unity with my spouse, I would be seized with a strong sense of gratitude to God. Especially, since I perceived Him making strenuous efforts; thinking of His children with a sincerity that only parents have, and that Father showed in selecting my spouse. Such a desire that I wanted to bring accomplishments somehow to comfort and please Father had occupied my heart. And it was on such an occasion that I met Mursel. I’m sure that God dwelled in such a heart and guided me to meet with Mursel.
The most impressive meeting was with a certain brother. It was June, the day that marked that three whole years had passed since I entered Iraq. He is an Iraqi, witnessed to in England, and after experiencing a life of faith for a year, he decided to devote himself. He attended the first International Training Session and after that he was assigned to work in Iraq. The previous day, the Japanese ambassador to Iraq had invited three Japanese students in Iraq for dinner for some reason or another. I was one of them. Then the next day I was able to meet him, so I felt particularly strong at the end of the three-year period.
I received this message in silence on the day of this significant meeting, “The first stage of indemnity where I have to look for people while suffering because of the problems of visa, language and environment as a representative of God has ended. From now on, this native brother is going to stand as the object of God, and a more internal course of indemnity and restoration is beginning in Iraq.”
I was steeping myself in such a deep emotion that all the bitter memories of hardship I had experienced until that time were re-compounded with this occasion into bittersweet memories that only God and I could share.
I would like to draw a conclusion to my testimony: I stayed in Iraq for about four years and, on reflection, I believe this course consequently left me with the fundamental heart and attitude for my future missionary work. In short, it is to devote myself in the position, situation, and heart of a parent. By keeping myself in the position of a parent, I experienced that I could solve the Abel-Cain problem, and also the way to unity among different races could be opened.
I deepened my conviction that the spirit world is mobilized and minds of people are naturally drawn to me when I struggle desperately to keep my soul and body in the position of God and True Parents, who cannot stop loving all individuals and who are behind every one of them. On the foundation of these experiences, wisdom and heart accumulated in me through being placed a rare situation. I furthermore want to strive to make this world into a blessed land, thinking, throughout everything, about the immeasurable tears of God and True Parents.