40 Years in America
The Most Joyful Day in My Life
Before I joined the family, I was already familiar with the "Moonies." While I was in high school in New Zealand, I was involved with the Navigators, a Christian group like Campus Crusades. My eldest brother was a Navigator and he had warned me about "cults" such as Scientologists, Hare Krishnas, and of course the Moonies. The Moonies were the ones I disliked the most because their leader considered himself to be the Messiah. To a Christian, that would be considered the Anti-Christ. Also, an ex-Moonie gave us a testimonial about his experience, which gave me a bad impression of the "cult."
After high school, I returned to Singapore to serve my 2 1/2 years of compulsory military service. After that I went back to New Zealand for University. In my second year there, my best friend joined the Moonies. He wrote to me while he was at the workshop. He did not say that he joined but that he was just checking them out. At first, I was horrified. Besides my somewhat limited and skewed previous understanding, I had also read the Readerís Digest article on the cult. I knew about the brainwashing and stuff. I was worried that they might brainwash him. But then as I thought about our relationship over the years, I knew he was not the kind of person to be brainwashed so easily. He was going to law school; he could think for himself. I trusted his judgment and I put my faith in God to watch over him.
He was only supposed to be in the U.S. for a month and so I started writing to him asking about his experience. I sent the letters to Singapore. No reply. I sent more letters. After a month, still no reply. At this time I received a letter from my parents saying that my best friend never got those letters, the reason being that he was still in the U.S. and that the Moonies had brainwashed him. Having stated it in that way, now I was really worried. He was supposed to be back in law school but he was still with the Moonies. And the reason he hadnít gone back was that he was brainwashed. Right away I called his friend, Joyce, in Berkeley to ask what was going on. She reiterated the fact that the Moonies had "got" my best friend. I asked if there was anything I could do and she said that my friendís father and brother were there to try and get him out. I told her that if they failed, please call me immediately and Iíd fly over to get him out. We were best friends, closer than blood brothers. I was very confident that if anyone could convince him to get out, it would be me.
That night, which was a Friday night, I could not sleep. I kept thinking, Iím not going to let these (fill in the blanks) take away my best friend. Heís more than a brother to me. Life would be miserable without him. Besides, we had big dreams to fulfill together. I decided right then and there that I would fly over to rescue my friend. Joyce had told me that she was leaving to go to Boston but I guess spirit world closed my ears to this point. Now, if I had heard Joyce mention that she was going to Boston, I would not have flown over because she was my only contact in the U.S. I guess Heavenly Father knew.
I had no time to waste. The next day, Saturday, the University was closed (as far as administrative matters go). I tried to get advice regarding this situation but most of it had to be done on Monday. The details are interesting here because it goes to show that there was so much working against my leaving New Zealand to go "rescue" my friend. To give you an idea, Iíll have to tell you a little about what was going on in my life at the time.
My first year in University was a disaster. I sat two papers in the final exam and then refused to sit the rest of them. The University let me back on probation. If I did not pass the second year, they would kick me out of the country. I was doing really well for the first semester. Then all hell broke loose again. During a short fall vacation (remember fall is in May in New Zealand), I decided to quit University. I was rebellious against the establishment.
I had an intense dislike for (satanic) authority, organized religion, politics and was vehemently opposed to any sort of injustice, abuse of power or hypocrisy (especially in religion). I had quit going to church because I saw so much hypocrisy there. My goal in life was to find the true Christian path (without the trappings of organized churches). My second goal was to find my ideal mate. When I quit University, I got into boat building, because to me that represented a spiritual path. Jesus, the master carpenter and boat builder. I also love boats and the ocean. My dream was to one day build my own and together with my best friend, travel around the world in search of truth and our ideal mates. And that is why I was so determined to get my friend out of this cult that he got sucked into. They were about to ruin my dream.
Anyway, back to University woes. I had to get a special visa to leave the country and to get that visa, I had to get permission from the University. They did not know I quit. I didnít dare tell them. They needed a very strong reason to give me permission to leave, because I was on probation. I had to say someone in the family died. (Joining the Moonies was close to death, so I thought.)
They gave me a two-week visa. Great, one week to talk my friend into his senses, and one week to enjoy the beaches of Hawaii. Then there was the problem of money. I was a poor student. To make an already long story shorter, I had decided that Friday night to go rescue my friend. By Wednesday of the following week, I had money, visa (barely made it) and ticket in hand. It was a miracle.
All this time, I had been calling Joyce to tell her I was coming but she never answered her phone. I was worried. I had no idea where my friend was, no address, no phone, didnít even know where Berkeley was. I was on the plane to Hawaii and praying, "Okay, Heavenly Father, itís up to you and me to get this guy out of this cult." Heavenly Father must have been smirking. He sure had other plans. I got to Hawaii, and still no word from Joyce. Right before boarding the plane to Los Angeles, someone picked up the phone. It was Joyceís cousin. She was just going out the door. She went to Joyceís apartment every other day to water the plants for 10 minutes. Was it coincidence that I got her at that precise moment? She told me that sheíd meet me in Berkeley.
I landed in L.A. and asked customer service how I could catch a bus to Berkeley and she looked at me funny. Berkeley? Yes, thatís what I said, didnít I? But itís another 400 miles from here. WHAT? I had barely enough money, let alone buy another ticket to San Francisco. I really had put my faith in God and jumped into the abyss. I had no idea how I was going to even find my friend, let alone find where Berkeley was. I had simply hopped on the plane to a destination the whole world knows, Los Angeles. And I prayed a lot. I got to San Francisco and Joyceís cousin picked me up, dropped me off at the BART and told me to get off at the Ashby station. I was on my own.
I got off on Ashby St. and met an African-American gentleman and told him what I was going to do. He hung around with me for two days, showed me around while we planned how we were going to get my friend out. I even considered buying a gun. I forget how I got the Ashby Center number, but I got it. I made the call. My friend was not there but I left my number at the YMCA for him to call me. A day later, he called. We made plans to meet.
He came with a sister from New Zealand to pick me up. I guess he wanted me to feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. When we got to the Ashby Center, I marched through the house straight into the backyard. I did not want to meet anyone there. My attitude was one of hostility. Anyway, my best friend finally told me that the only way to spend time with him was to go up to Camp K (as it was called at the time) because he was staying there (a big fat lie of course). I was really hesitant but as it was the only way, I said okay. But donít even try to make me listen to any of that crap, I told him (which was exactly his intention and dilemma as to how to get me to listen to the Principle). I was determined not to get brainwashed.
At Camp K, I found the people to be really sincere. In particular, one sister (a staff member), Myra Stanecki, came up to me and said, "I donít know if they do this in your country, but we do it here." She gave me a rose (a leftover from flower selling). Of course my guard was up, and I was cynical but when I looked in her eyes, I saw such a sincerity and purity that it hit me so hard. Later, after breakfast, my friend and I sat around talking. Me to him about getting out, him to me about just giving it a shot and see what they had to say. We were both determined not to give in to each otherís requests. Then he said, "Myra is giving the lectures." Oh really! Okay, but only one lecture and thatís it. Principle of Creation. Man, was I inspired. All the answers I had been looking for. But that was enough, I said. I needed time to digest everything. I wonít go to the next lecture. And so it went that way. A battle each time to get me to go to the next lecture. But it was always, "Itís Myra giving the lecture" that won out.
Each successive lecture was so mind-blowing, but each time I resisted going to the next. The spiritual atmosphere was so intense. For my friend, it was hell. He knew which lecture would do it and his goal was to get me to the "Parallels of History." One day youíll need to ask him his side of the story. And eventually came the Parallels of History lecture. I see this scene so clearly.
Myra giving the lecture and at one point she made this statement: "So sometime between such and such a date, the messiah was born." I mean, I already knew who they thought was the messiah, but the whole build-up to that statement, everything was so clear, so logical, so undeniable that when Myra made that statement, it hit me like a sledge hammer. I didnít hear a word from the rest of the lecture. My world stopped right there. The instant she said that, in my mind I said, "But heís a Korean!" Jesus was a Jew. The messiah is supposed to be a Jew. And a battle raged within. This was it for me. I had to decide right then and there if Rev. Moon was the messiah or not. All my Christian upbringing rebelled against this outrageous claim but everything so far made perfect sense. My best friend knew the battle in spirit world was going on at that moment. He could feel the intense spiritual atmosphere and was praying desperately that I would accept Father as the messiah. To me it seemed like eternity. My heart felt this to be true but it went against all I had been taught.
Then the floodgates burst and I couldnít stop crying for the next 3-4 hours (in fact the next few days were filled with much tears of joy). I could not deny the fact that Father was the messiah. Never had I imagined that I would live to see the messiah. As a Christian, you wait for that day to be lifted up into the clouds to meet the messiah. I had no idea where I was, but I had met the messiah. This was truly the most joyful day in my life.
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