40 Years in America
Workshop at Camp Sunrise, New York
I went into witnessing at the end of 1988 after four years on MFT and seven years with Saeilo. My intention was to witness, but before long it became obvious that there werenít enough lecturers, and those we were using from Causa and the newspaper werenít always available.
I hardly felt prepared to teach; I had little committed to memory. (I didnít like teaching from notes.) So for the first six months after I made the switch, I bought several versions of the Bible, and some good Christian History books; I was reading the Koran, Young Oon Kimís Comparative Religions, etc. I didnít want to teach anything that I couldnít verify myself through other sources. (The parallels, for instance.) I often felt that DP didnít go far enough in explaining certain points. And especially the way the Mission of Jesus is written, I think jumps to the conclusion too quickly that Jesus didnít come to die. I started using Kevin McCarthyís method of going through Jewish history first. So towards the end of 1989 I was teaching 7 and 21-day workshops. It became, after a while, very hard to go back and do 2-day workshops -- too much to say in too little time.
Once we got Camp Sunrise under way, we started receiving guests from all over the country, and being in New York weíd meet people from all over the world. (Thatís why I studied the Koran.) This for me was one of the most inspiring times in my life in the church, even though I often had to go back out to sell roses, which I hadnít done in a while. Poring over the Principle, the Bible, and teaching was so surprising at times. Sometimes in the middle of a lecture Iíd get a new look into a section of the Principle, like the moment God gave the commandment to Adam and Eve after the long process of creation. I got a shuddering thought that it was then that God felt He had finished the creation process and given his 100 percent. A moment when you have to let go of a beloved, knowing youíve done all that you can; yet still living in a vast mix of hope and anxiety. Many points like that, which I would teach as a function of the lecture in the past, a point of Principle, I began to feel that I was really talking about someoneís life, the life of God.
Well, the Seminary sent down a guest, a foreign student. He was anything but ordinary. Actually, against his own parents' wishes he went to become a monk at age 10. And he had lived a celibate life. (Some really grilled him on this one.) Now at age 30 he was attending UTS. The more I learned of his life, the more humbled by him I became; though he didnít believe in God, heíd practiced more self control that most Christians.
It just so happened that the previous week Iíd been studying about Buddhism and its beginnings from Dr. Kimís books. During the lectures I had to defend him in front of the other guests because they were belittling him and questioning him about his non-belief in God. I explained how Buddhism got started in the midst of the Caste system in India, where a person is doomed to the lower class by birth, and that Buddhism brought much needed reformation of thought.
Anyway, halfway through the final lecture, The Second Coming, he put his head down on his desk. And there it stayed. I was a little worried but couldnít stop the lecture. I didnít want him to miss the most important part. When the lecture concluded, he still wouldnít move. So we checked on him. He motioned that he was okay. So we all quietly left the hall.
A few minutes later I went back to see him. He had gotten up from his chair and I noticed that he had been crying. There was a puddle on his desk the size of a small plate where his face had been. Still he didnít say a word. He didnít eat dinner and the Seminary students soon came to take him back to Barrytown. Only later did I learn what had happened to him. At the seminary he said that in the final lecture on the Second Coming, heíd seen a vision of Father standing next to me while I was teaching. Now, I didnít see it myself; I was pretty busy at the time. But Iíll never forget that puddle on the desk. For me it became a precious and unforgettable moment, another milepost in my life of faith.
An Early Morning Hike
Part of the planned activity of the seminar was to concluded with an early morning hike to the top of a mountain and pray as the sun rose. It required rousting everyone out of their sleeping bags at about 3:30 am and driving to the base of the (some would call it a large hill)steep that it was unsafe, and weíd have a staff member leading the pack as well as one to gather in the stragglers in the rear. With a good brisk hike up-hill, we could be on top within an hour.
Our usual procedure was to pray together in a circle and then break for more individual prayers as we would all find a rock or a tree to befriend, all the while peeking out to the horizon occasionally for the sunrise. One morning after having come this far, I started to pray and it just felt rote and formal, like I was just spouting words into the air. Iíve had meaningful prayers before and in this situation I was hoping, like everyone else, for a kind of "skin-touch" encounter. The more I prayed, the more anxious I got and I was beginning to worry that it all was a waste of time. Then a thought came to me. I donít know if it was God, a spirit, or my own mind responding to the situation, but something said, "Why did you come here?"
On the heels of that, I said, "Well, for them, for my brothers and sisters," some of whom have never uttered a prayer in their lives. So then I started thinking of these friends Iíd come to know through the last three weeks, calling them by name -- one by one -- looking at them scattered over the mountain, on rocks and under trees, pouring out their hearts.
Then I asked God to go to them instead -- forget about me -- they need you. Touch their hearts and inspire *them* with your love, and slowly I began to feel my heart change, like a turtle righting itself after being pushed onto its back. And finally the bottom of my heart dropped as I started to cry -- and repent for my selfish mind. It seemed as if God came into me that way, embracing me and loving me when I was trying to send Him away, to the others.
As the sun rose, and I looked out over the countryside, I promised to God that the deepest part of my heart would be reserved for Him and His love to humankind. And that Iíd do my best to let Him use me as He sees fit. I understood that His heart is never divorced from His children. All of them!
And Iíll forever after that understand that God is a being whose mind is constantly thinking and feeling for His children. Thatís who God is, an aching heart selflessly consumed with love for others. The more we can direct our lives in that way, the more we find ourselves feeling a presence with us. And *knowing* that yes, there is God. My Father.
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