by Rev. Reiner Vincenz
Peter Koch, the first missionary to Europe, had arrived in his native Germany in 1963. Reiner Vincenz, his spiritual son, was the first member to join in Europe. This is Rev. Vincenz’s story as told to a congregation at Sunday service at Belvedere, New York, in March 1984.
Meeting the Messiah for the first time
In 1965, shortly after I had joined (in the autumn of 1964), Father came to Europe for the first time. He was traveling around the world and nobody in Europe or America had ever seen him. So you can imagine! Our first time meeting the Messiah! When he came to our little center in Frankfurt, nobody had any idea how to attend him. We really had butterflies in our stomachs, because we didn’t know what to do.
We certainly didn’t want to welcome him in an ordinary way at the airport. Somehow I convinced the director of the airport to let us meet him out where the airplane landed. We had a big sign written in Korean which said, “Welcome to Germany, Rev. Moon.”
Then Father arrived. I will never forget this very first moment. He came, he looked at us—very strange and impossible people, standing on the runway like that. But he seemed so happy, so thankful!
I have looked many, many times at the photograph of this event. I seem to remember that he never said anything, but I felt his words: “They have recognized me. I am so thankful.” I showed this photograph to many others and they shared the same feeling, so perhaps that intuition is truly from God.
When we drove Father to our center, we still didn’t know what to do; we even lost the way. But Father was the first to help us find it again. I remember very clearly that Father was always the very first: the first up the stairs, the first at the table—always ahead of everyone.
Our first meeting with Father was very dramatic. During the weeks before, we had prepared many questions to ask him. But you know how Father is. Without any advance notice he suddenly called a meeting. Then he asked us if we had any questions, but we had all left our notebooks in the other room. We lowered our heads and remained in complete silence. I felt so bad. It looked as if we had no interest in him.
Then Father started to sing the song, “Dong bange.” We just looked at each other. Then he asked one Korean brother, Dr. Kae-hwan Kim, to write down the words. He wrote them on a little board. Father looked around, but we were really paralyzed. I think he must have sung the song at least 12 times by himself. Finally, one by one, he pulled us out of ourselves and we could join him.
This was such a historical moment. Actually I was sorrowful because I felt we had all failed in this meeting. So why are we all so indebted to Father? Because he is the one who pulls us out of our paralysis and out of the old world, millimeter by millimeter. When I hear this song I am always reminded that, little by little, Father can pull us out.
Father spent time with us and traveled with us. One thing that always struck my heart was that if we wanted to bring life to Germany and help the nation survive, we had to serve three other countries first. Otherwise Germany would have no way to be resurrected. He repeated this several times. Days went by, and Father continued to travel throughout Europe, but I never forgot his mandate for us to send out at least three missionaries.
We could easily find two members who could go to mission countries, but we were looking among ourselves for a third. Then I volunteered. I wanted to become a missionary. However, I was the youngest; and the other brothers and sisters had no confidence in me and told me to not even think about it. They laughed and said I would just collapse if I went out. But still I prayed: God, you guided me this far, and if you really want to, you can actually help me to go further. I had nobody on my side except God because everybody was so skeptical, but I asked: Couldn’t we write a letter to our Father and ask his opinion? So Father was asked, and he gave permission. I will never forget the day the answer came. I succeeded, and I was overjoyed! I had Father as my Father. This was so wonderful. So in February 1966, I left Germany to go to France.
Healed by Father’s love
At that time France was Germany’s enemy. Initially, most of the people I met couldn’t speak English or German. After a while I met some who could speak German and I was so happy. Yet these people said to me, “Before you say anything, let me tell you something in German. I will tell you in German how, during the War, the Germans tortured my father and killed him!” This was my experience for the first several years. You can imagine how many levels I had to grow through as a missionary. I see many missionaries here this morning, and I can feel your situation deeply because Father gave me this mission. This is why I am so indebted to Father.
I used to work in a small restaurant in the middle of Paris. One morning I was standing in the kitchen preparing breakfast when I lost consciousness. I just fell down in the kitchen. Somebody must have brought me to my room. Maybe two days later I woke up, but one eye was going in one direction and the other eye in the other direction. Everything was paralyzed, especially my memory! I didn’t know where I was; I didn’t know my name. I couldn’t remember anything. For several hours I sought to find one little anchor in my memory, some little point I could remember. But nothing came.
Suddenly, as if from the clear blue sky, two words came. Do you know what those words were? “True Parents”! Only one name! I had no idea what it meant or who True Parents were, but only the word “True Parents” came to my mind. I was like a boat in the sea, grabbing this word like an anchor. And then—oh yes… True Parents … Divine Principle …. Very slowly just a few things started to come back to me.
Yet I couldn’t even speak. Everything was paralyzed. Then I remembered Frankfurt, and felt I had to get to a telephone. This process of recollection took hours. I got up finally and went down the street. I had only to cross the street to the post office to reach the telephone, but crossing this one street also took hours. I could not calculate my own speed in relationship to the speed of the cars. I would start and then go back because I had no sense of measurement, or courage, any more.
Finally, I managed to get to the telephone. I reached Peter Koch, but he couldn’t understand anything I said because I was so mixed up. The one thing he could understand, however, was that something was really wrong with me. Through many maneuvers Peter Koch was able to get me back to Germany. I was examined in the best hospital, but none of the doctors could find anything distinctly wrong. In his desperation ad uncertainty Peter Koch contacted Father and asked him what to do.
I spent ten days in Germany, and every day it was impossible for me to function. Then all at once, when I awoke on the tenth day, I could stand up, and everything functioned normally. I came back to life! Everybody looked at me as if some kind of miracle had taken place. What happened to this man, they wondered. I said, “When does the next train leave for Paris?” The same day I returned to my mission and wrote a letter of thanks to Father. I did not waste even one hour.
Much later, in 1975, when I went with the IOWC Global Team to Korea, Korean members in every city came up to me and asked me, “Are you okay?”
I wondered why they were asking me this question. I even wanted say, “Can’t you see that I am okay?”
“Well,” they would say, “we were so worried about you.”
“Why?” I asked, unable to understand.
“You know, in 1968 and 1967 we all were praying so hard for you. Because Father asked us to.” Then I knew that many brothers and sisters in Korea were praying at that particular time for my recovery.
Then I understood that Father was the one who saved my life. When I heard this, it encouraged me to work even harder for God and True Parents, especially in our homeland of Korea. I am indebted to our True Parents.
To Be Continued