By Won Pil Kim
This week we are embarking on a series of Rev. Won Pil Kim’s testimonies about his experiences with and observations of the beginning of True Parents’ mission—the mission of the Messiah—and how it unfolded from the first years of Father’s public ministry.
There were perhaps just six members who followed Father during the time he was teaching in Pyongyang, North Korea, and stayed with True Parents throughout their lives. The following account of Father’s early ministry in Pyongyang from 1946 to 1948, which we will present as a series over the next few weeks, is compiled from a series of talks Rev. Kim gave to participants of a I20-day workshop in New York some 40 years ago. Parts of Rev. Kim’s commentary is especially directed to leaders, but many of the lessons he draws from Father’s early public ministry are relevant to all of us.
First impressions of Father
It was in July 1946 that I first met Father, in Pyongyang, the capital of the newly-divided northern section of Korea. Father left for North Korea on June 6, 1946, and I first met him 40 days afterwards. At that time, Father was 26 years old, but to me he seemed much older.
My aunt was born into a very fine Christian family, and she grew up with a very deep faith in Christianity; however, she still had many questions. When she met Father, to her surprise, all her questions were answered; Father gave really fundamental answers, which became the basis for her faith in him.
At that time, I was just 18 years old. Ten days after graduating from senior high school, I went to visit my aunt to discuss with her about my future, but instead, she took me to Father and the Unification Church, knowing that meeting Father would decide my destiny.
My aunt presented Father as a young man who had recently come from South Korea and who worshipped God in spirit and in truth. I had been a Christian, but my faith was not so deep. I was not mature enough, and even though I had read the Bible, I did not understand it deeply enough. I used to pray, even though I really didn’t know how. Still, in the depths of my heart, I was always looking for truth and for God.
When I heard about Father, I went there right away; however, he had gone to a holy mountain where many religious people used to go to pray to God, so I could not meet him that day. After a week, however, I returned, and this time I was able to see Father.
Even though it was a week day, many people had come to see Father. Many spiritualists and religious people who were looking for truth and anticipating the Last Days would drop in to listen to Father. People were always coming and going, and Father was constantly occupied during those days.
I was still a young boy, and when I saw many people asking Father questions, I just kept silent, content to listen to him. I didn’t ask questions because I didn’t know anything; I had no knowledge of truth.
When I first met him, Father told me something which entered deep into my being and still remains there. He said, “You meditate very much, don’t you? But your meditation should have some focal point.” It was true, especially at that time. I would meditate about many things for long periods of time, but the central point was lacking, something which I myself hadn’t recognized at all. Father could see immediately what was missing in me. I really wondered how he could comprehend me so instantly.
For many years after joining the family, I didn’t know how old Father was. I couldn’t ask him his age. For me, Father seemed much older than his physical age. He was a tremendously hopeful and peaceful person, and I was so attracted to him. My heart immediately went out to Father when I saw him, because I felt very peaceful when I was with him. I took notes on every word he said, and I studied them over and over, committing them to memory. Wherever I went, I would always remember Father’s words, and in whatever I was doing, I would think of his words. I carried them in my heart.
Father spent much time meditating and praying, especially on Sundays. At that time, even though I was together with Father, I did not have the chance to ask him questions. I respected him so much; to me he seemed so noble that I could not approach him to speak to him. Many members had deep experiences, receiving innumerable blessings from God. They seemed so elevated that I would not speak even to them. Although I attended church regularly, I don’t remember talking with anybody. I would always listen.
After Sunday service, Father and the members would often go out somewhere in the countryside, and Father would invite people to ask him questions. Once Father asked me whether I had any questions. I believed every word of his and I thought I understood his teachings pretty well, so I said I didn’t have any questions. However, from Father’s point of view, I didn’t understand sophisticated concepts. He told me, “Please remember that the Unification Church is very unique—totally unlike anything in the past or anything that will develop in the future. In all of history, there is only one Unification Church.” (Of course, at that time, we had no name like Unification Church; Father just said, “this group.”) Because my understanding was not deep enough, Father spoke to me in this way.
In a sense, he was giving me a kind of conclusion to the Divine Principle, by saying that our group was unique and distinct from anything in the past or to come.
Where Father was living at that time did not look like a church; it was just an ordinary house, the home of a young couple who had been searching for the truth. They had been training themselves to live by a strict standard and maintain a pure life; even though they were husband and wife, they did not have any sexual relationship. There were also two relatives living with them, but their lives were more self-centered.
It was a very small house which included a kitchen, one room which served as a living room, dining room and bedroom, and in the back one very small room in which Father stayed.
Traditional Korean houses do not have central heating, just hot stones under the main floor. Father’s very small room at the rear of the house did not receive any heat, so in winter it would become very cold.
This house was in a residential area, where houses were built in rows, each one touching its neighbor. In the West, there is usually some distance between houses, so that even when you speak loudly your neighbors are not bothered. But in Korea at that time, the neighbors were so close that they could overhear conversations next door. The sound of singing, of course, carried very easily.
Father’s lectures and sermons
Try to imagine the circumstances then. When he gave lectures, Father would shed his sweat and tears; when praying, he cried so many tears. In addition, the members around him cried during their prayers. But for me, prayer time was very difficult. I really suffered because I couldn’t shed tears when most of those around me were weeping. Tears just didn’t flow from my heart. After prayer ended, people would wipe off their tears, and I would wonder why I could not shed tears. I felt very sorry and kind of ashamed.
Now it may not seem so strange for men and women to sit together in the same room until late at night, but in those days in Korea, customs were very strict, and when men and women stayed together in a small room such as we did and spoke together for hours on end, people immediately became suspicious of some wrongdoing. “Oh, something strange is happening there,” they would murmur.
In the West, walls are thick and doors are strong, so people cannot easily peek inside a room or eavesdrop on a conversation. But in the Orient, the doors are thin and sometimes you can see through them. Thus, everyone could see us and hear what we were saying. But because Father concentrated so completely on giving guidance to those who came to listen, he did not care what others said.
When people came to visit him, Father would give a lecture on the Principle, using a piece of paper. His lectures were very simple, but very clear. He would explain about the Principle of Creation, the Fall of Man and the Principle of Restoration, highlighting the main points. His lectures lasted about an hour or two, but they were very clear and very simple.
In those days, Father didn’t give Divine Principle lectures as we know them now, but rather expounded on the Bible. He poured all his heart, mind and energy into giving lectures. Father was so concerned that the members would be able to inherit God’s tradition. Of course, there was no Divine Principle book published at that time; the first Divine Principle book was written in Busan, after Father was released from the labor camp at Hungnam. Father was teaching the Bible from the Principle point of view.
Regarding the Second Coming, for instance, he taught that it would not occur in the clouds, but that the Messiah would be born as a man. He would show from the Principle of Creation how logical it was for the Second Coming to occur in this manner.
Also, many spiritualists had already received this by revelation, and some even knew that the Messiah would come to Korea. Many people had received revelations that Pyongyang was the second Jerusalem.
On Sundays, before giving a sermon, Father would pray for a very long time. Before the meeting began, the members would be singing and preparing themselves to receive his words. At that time, Sunday service usually started at 10:00, so most of the members would come an hour or two early to sit and pray. They would prepare themselves and pray to separate themselves from Satan. Then they would sit and wait for Father to speak to them. Father had told them to get ready in such a way.
Father himself would prepare by praying for many hours. Before getting up to give a sermon, and even before thinking about what to speak, he would pray for the brothers and sisters. Five minutes before time to begin, God would reveal to him the title of the sermon for that day. Father wouldn’t decide on the purpose of the sermon the previous day, but God would reveal it to him at the last moment. In contrast, Mr. Hyo Won Eu [the first president of HSA-UWC] would prepare his sermons the day before and write out the contents in detail. But Father told him that if he wanted to speak for one hour, he should pray at least three hours for the brothers and sisters who would come to listen to his words.
At that time, whatever Father did—whether he was praying or giving a lecture—he always did it with many tears. Now Father is over 60 years old [these talks were given in the early 1980s], but still when he speaks, he is very energetic and speaks very forthrightly. Can you imagine how he was at the age of 26?
To be continued…