40 Years in America
Sacrifices of the Staff
Dr. Seuk, Tony Devine, staff members and students in the C.I.S.
One difficulty was where to find the 150 group leaders and assistants needed to run the workshops. Father had described our situation perfectly when he said, "We have only a handful of people, yet we are talking about the liberation of the communists" (February 23, 1977). It was Fatherís blessing that Unification Church members from all over America could re-arrange their forty-day witnessing conditions abroad to come to the Soviet Union. Korean regional directors all over America overwhelmingly supported the project, urging their own state leaders and members to make sacrifices in their lives to participate in the Soviet workshops, and thus making the project possible.
It was truly an example of inter-departmental cooperation throughout the Unification movement.
Coming from what was an enemy nation, members of the American movement now could realistically love and serve the Soviet Union. The American members deeply felt that they were acting on behalf of America to fulfill the providential role of Archangel. All blessing that America had received should be poured out upon the people of all the nations; now American members had the opportunity to serve the Archangel nation on the Cain side. With that heart, brothers and sisters made deep personal sacrifices to participate in the workshops. All of the American members organized their circumstances in a period of a few weeks, raised $1,500 for expenses, and prepared to leave for the Soviet Union.
The workshops began and each seminar site filled to capacity. These students came on their own, paying an expensive fee in addition to their train and airfares.
For the members working in the Soviet Union for over one year, the greatest frustration was that there was not the time nor manpower for the students to receive personal guidance and attention. All of the follow-up had been in the form of large lecture sessions, with one lecturer, fifty students and a sign-up sheet. It had been so frustrating to teach the lectures, and then send them back into the fallen-world atmosphere. Therefore, the greatest hope of this summer was that the staff from America could make a personal investment in each student.
There would be a group leader for about every six students. No matter how brilliantly the lectures were delivered, everything counted on the ability of the group leaders to penetrate the hearts of the students with prayer, tears, service and constant love, fostering sincere discussions, first prayers, and confidential sharings.
The students wanted desperately to have faith; they are longing for something or someone to trust, a genuine ideal. But the history of betrayal of leaders, the widespread corruption of public officials, the daily battle to survive amidst constant dehumanizing experiences, the deterioration of the economic system -- so many factors made it difficult to believe.
Brothers and sisters on the staff continually offered conditions of indemnity to make a deep foundation for the students to receive new life. In the twenty-one-day seminar site several brothers did an all-night prayer vigil every night in which each person would pray for an hour. Some members offered pledge every morning. Many brothers and sisters would wake up early to pray and sing holy songs during the sunrise, to create a heavenly atmosphere around the camp. Many people fasted; oneelder blessed sister offered an eight-day fast. At every site, brothers and sisters were desperate for the rebirth of the students.
In this rich spiritual atmosphere, the Soviet students began to have powerful spiritual experiences. In the meditation music before the lecture about Jesusí life, one sister had an experience with Jesus. Her spiritual senses opened up and Jesus appeared to her and embraced her.
He showed her Paradise, and told her that he would always be with her. Another sister shared that she felt she really was the daughter of heaven. She had gone for a walk in the countryside during a reflection time, and she felt that the birds were singing just for her. The sky, the trees, the flowers, everything was speaking to her of Godís love. In such a way, God was reaching out to the heart of each person.
"It is an incredible experience to introduce prayer to students who never prayed before or even believed in God," said Michael Yakawich, a group leader from Montana. "A country which had denied Godís existence for seventy years now has its offspring longing to believe in God and feel true love."
The lecturers shared the words of the Principle, but the general staff became the proof of the Principle to the students. They were constantly scrutinizing the staff to see if they really believed all they said about "true love." The staff members were stretched far beyond their limitations in every single day of each workshop. And the workshops were scheduled back to back.
As a result of this, the students became very devoted to their group leaders as the seminars progressed. Every day, every meal, every lecture, each evening, the group leaders gave their utmost to love, serve, listen and share with the students. When a workshop was over and it was time to part, the staff and students would crowd around the buses, crying and saying goodbye to one another. Everybody could feel so close and connected as a family. Staff members felt so grateful to True Parents, knowing that it was only through their course of suffering that former strangers could have this tremendous feeling of being one family.
Many times it was so difficult to leave their newfound family that students who had boarded buses leaving for home would change their minds and jump off the bus at the last minute, to stay for the advanced workshops, saying, "I couldnít leave!"
We also needed an advanced program in the Soviet Union for students who graduated from the twenty-one day workshop in the Baltics. The students needed real and vivid experiences with God and the spirit world in order to find complete rebirth. An opportunity to fundraise would be just the thing to help them meet God and break through any skepticism.
However, there were serious problems. Our legal registration as an organization in each city was delayed by bureaucratic complications. No legal fundraising could occur without official registration. Dr. Seuk finally suggested a dramatic solution; the students would fundraise for an existing charitable organization, working under the legal protection of their registration, and donating all the money for their cause. This would be an excellent opportunity for the students to make a very concrete offering of true love for the sake of others.
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