40 Years in America

Special Grace

Tony Aparo

I believe that my whole life has been a special grace given to me by Heavenly Father. I was born shortly after my physical fatherís miraculous healing after his ill-fated airplane crash. At 18 months old, I was severely burned when I pulled a full urn of scalding hot coffee over me. My face, chest and two-thirds of my body were covered with second and third-degree burns and the doctors at the time gave me a 50/50 chance of survival.

Their prognosis was that even if I did survive, I would have severe scars over most of my face and body. My parents were quite new to their faith, but as Pentecostals they were led to believe strongly in the miraculous healing power of God and Jesus. The church that they attended decided to do a 21-day prayer vigil for my healing and recovery. Towards the end of the condition, my mother later related to me that she awoke one night not being able to sleep and came to my room. I began to stir and as she turned me over the scab that had covered most of my face and body popped off like a cocoon or mask. Underneath the skin tissue was absolutely normal with no scar tissue remaining. My recovery started a major revival in the church that lasted for months.

I believe that this episode and the resulting emotional trauma caused me to create a kind of isolation shell around myself for many years. I was absolutely confident as a child and quite capable of caring for myself, but not at all secure around others. Even though I was a likable person, I never felt at ease around others and felt more comfortable alone. Although I realize this is not a good space to be in, I believe it served me to keep my own counsel and not to be so heavily influenced by others as I was growing up. God was an inner reality for me and the only one on whom I could ever depend. I would spend long periods in nature, feeling embraced by my surroundings.

There was this kind of spirit around me often. So in a way, this was grace for me. Later I would have to learn another approach, and become more other-centered, but for a time I needed that.

In my life, I have often felt that God gave me many things that I needed, not always what I wanted, but certainly what I needed. I had a few mentors who came my way from time to time to help and guide me before my church life and after. These were special people, like father figures who took an interest in me and helped to guide me.

In my church life also, I felt tremendous grace from both Heavenly Father and True Father. All of my missions in the church after my initial joining and after I began working on the MFT were given to me directly by Father. At the matching in 1979, Father of course chose my wife and the next day, since it was her birthday, Father had us stand as the representative couple to receive the Holy Wine.

I will never forget this moment ever. I have also had many special and precious moments speaking with Father and Mother personally, reporting to him about my business work, even sharing with him the Blessing of my own parents and showing him pictures. I could never have done this without Godís grace and True Parentsí grace to allow me to return to my hometown and Bless them. Without True Fatherís intervention in my life and suggesting that I return, I never would have. I had considered my parents unapproachable when it came to Blessing them.

Another experience sharing Fatherís grace was when we had the opportunity to Bless my wifeís mother in her home on the way to our mission country in Thailand. We stopped over in Japan to visit Chiyoís mother and brothers. Although her father had passed away a couple years before, we took the opportunity to Bless them by picture as a single Blessing.

One recent experience I had with True Parents and Heavenly Fatherís grace was when I was able to return to an old mission site in Kodiak, Alaska. I never imagined that I would return to this place. When I left Kodiak in 1984, I left under difficult circumstances. I had been asking to change missions, because I was finding it increasingly difficult to unite with my CF and felt my continued presence there would just create more problems. I felt perhaps if we were in different locations we would find each other more bearable. Anyway, I always felt in some way that I had let True Father down. Over the years I felt myself paying indemnity for that decision, but during the recent Ocean Challenge 40-day workshop, I felt a sense of closure to that episode. Coming back and rededicating myself to the Ocean providence to inherit True Fatherís foundation. This was truly Heavenly Fatherís grace.

I cannot say more. Everything I am and will ever be is because of Heavenly Father and True Parents. Everything I have acquired in my life including my family, I owe to True Parents and God. I am quite certain that we are Children of True Parents and I give all the glory to them and to Heavenly Father.

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