Messiah - My Testimony to Rev. Sun Myung Moon Volume II - Bo Hi Pak
Chapter 18 - The Kidnapping of the Chairman of the Washington Times [Part 2 / 2]
A Memorable Sixtieth Birthday
In closing this chapter, I would like to describe an event that was personally very moving.
In the course of my life, I have experienced many unique and unusual events. Indeed, the fact that I am alive today is somewhat of a miracle. From the time my life was miraculously saved at the battle of the Changchon River, my life has been a borrowed one. I cannot emphasize this point too much.
I have lived my life with a certain creed: to live in gratitude. The object of my gratitude has for the most part been God. I thank Him for my life. At the same time, I have lived in gratitude to my Messiah, my True Parents, the Reverend and Mrs. Moon. It is they who have represented and revealed God to me on this physical plane.
There have been myriad experiences in which my heart and mind overflowed with gratitude for God and True Parents, but among these, there is one that has especially remained close to my thoughts. It is one that was both dramatic and eventful, one that was especially memorable. The source of these memories was the events that took place around the time of my sixtieth birthday, the time of my hwan gup, when I was chairman of the Washington Times. Amazingly enough, my hwan gup banquet was organized by none other than Reverend and Mrs. Moon.
(Translator's note: In the Korean tradition, hwan gup is considered the most important birthday in one's life. It signifies the return of an individual to the beginning point of his life, the completion of one cycle in the Chinese zodiac. A person's family, usually his or her children, will prepare a large feast to celebrate this most important birthday. The hwan gup feast includes a table piled high with traditional foods, such as fruits and sweets, stacked and arranged into small towers on the table. The greater the variety and quantity of food, the more splendid the honor to the guest of honor. In Korean tradition, birthdays are counted according to the lunar calendar, and fall on different days each year accordingly.)
Reverend and Mrs. Moon offer a payer on the occasion of Dr. Pak's 60th birthday.
My sixtieth birthday fell on August 18, 1990. At the time, Reverend Moon was in San Francisco conducting the Second Assembly of the World's Religions. He and Mrs. Moon were staying at Shim Jeong Garden, the public headquarters for the Unification Church on the West Coast, in Oakland.
True Father had instructed the West Coast church officials to "prepare a magnificent feast for Bo Hi Pak's hwan gup celebration." Everyone close to Reverend Moon was very surprised at this direction. Such a thing had never happened in the history of the entire Unification Church. He even gave special instructions to make sure that the food arrangements on the banquet table were especially plentiful and splendid.
When I heard about this, I was so overwhelmed I didn't know what to do with myself. True Mother had telephoned Washington and asked me to come out to the West Coast with my wife and all our children. She said to be sure to bring our hanhok (traditional Korean clothes).
Reverend and Mrs. Moon and Dr. and Mrs. Pak at the celebratory table.
Finally the day arrived. The hall where the celebration was held was decorated with a huge banner saying, "Congratulations to Dr. Pak on his 60th Birthday!" Below the banner was a large table with all sorts of delicacies, tens of different kinds, all piled up and splendidly arranged. There was so much food it looked as if the table legs would buckle under the weight. The celebration hall was packed to standing room only. All the Unification Church leaders and the officials who had gathered from across the world to attend the Assembly of the World's Religions came to the celebration.
Reverend and Mrs. Moon entered the hall and called my wife and me to the center. There they placed their hands on both our heads and offered a sincere and deep prayer.
When they prayed, I felt like I couldn't breathe. My heart was racing with intense emotions, and tears poured down my cheeks. My wife, Ki Sook, was also visibly agitated. I could sense she was trying hard to hold back a tidal wave of emotion and tears.
This was such a unique experience, such an incredible and unforgettable moment. This kind of prayer had only been seen when True Parents prayed for their own flesh and blood on the occasion of one of their children's birthdays. How was it that I came to receive such an honor?
For the sake of posterity, let me repeat the contents of Father's prayer.
Loving Father ... Today, on August 18, 1990, we are celebrating the birthday of Your son, Bo Hi Pak, who stands here before you. He has been alive on this earth now sixty years.
In the midst of your protection and love, this son was born in the Pak family. We know well, Father, how he was called by You and how he has walked a path of many trials and much indemnity, how since his days as a small boy he has possessed a sincere heart and followed his convictions, seeking out hope at the same time as suffering much anguish during his journey. We know well how he struggled to seek a new way of life and discover for himself the new standard of Your Will. Therefore, Heavenly Father, I ask that You remember him and keep him in your thoughts, and help him to overcome and transcend all the difficult environments he encounters so that he can experience only blessings in the future.
This son and his family have so often determined to walk the path of loyalty and filial piety over the decades, since that day when his fate was bound with the foundation built by the True Parents and the Unification Church. Please, then, bless them so that their future can always be one of advancement and progress.
Furthermore, he has lived a life of so many concerns focusing on Your Will. He has lived on this earth together with the True Parents, sharing their difficulties and sorrows and sufferings. Yet every time he encountered tribulations, he sought only You and Your love. Now, Father, please be glad that those convictions can begin to bear fruit here, on the earth, and bless him with Your loving protection.
May he also live the coming days and years after his hwan gup in pride and joy, always investing his entire effort and heart to accomplish the historical responsibilities that Heaven has apportioned him on the stage of worldwide human history.
May all of the meaning and events of his life advance along the path of victory together with Heaven. May he, with a true heart, true mindset and true action, always persevere along the way of gratitude, the way of gratefully seeking to repay Heaven, by giving all his effort and all his sincerity, so that he is not found lacking when he stands as a member of Heaven's family, as one connected by lineage, and so that he can leave behind him a foundation of blessing for future generations. Grant that this couple, this son and his wife, can be such a couple, and that his children also can be such children. Father, I earnestly request this of You.
I also ask, Father, that each day of his future all his conviction and faith he connected always centering on You alone, so that all his advances may be a true example for all the brothers and sisters of the Unification family, as well as for all his descendants. Bless him that it may be so.
Please also bless this day so that all his predecessors in the spiritual world, who are with us and who are observing these celebrations, may also receive the love and blessing of Heaven through this grace.
Mansei, Mansei! May You, in all Your love and grace and purpose, remember this day forever together with this family. These things I pray in the name of the True Parents. Amen.
It was an amazing prayer, an amazing benediction.
Since this prayer was spoken directly by Reverend Moon, the True Parent, in a sense it was a blessing from Heaven itself.
I spent the entire duration of the prayer sobbing with emotion. There was nothing else I could do. Who was I? What on earth did I do to deserve this incredible glory? I feel even now quite intensely that the grace of this benediction was so much more than I deserved, a gift so great that it exceeded my capacity to receive it. Ki Sook's weeping was even more intense. Her tears flowed like two little rivers down her cheeks.
As I listened to the prayer, I regarded it as a most sublime instruction to me issued on behalf of God. True Parents were not so much offering a benediction for the life I had lived so far as exhorting me and instructing me on how to live my life from that point on. I felt that must be it; True Parents and God were telling me: "Now is the time for you to become a truly filial son and exceed in loyalty to God."
An impassioned and firm determination consolidated itself in my heart. "I will give my life, my entire life, to walk the path of a filial son. Please let me repay your grace with gratitude, with a life of devotion." Again and again I repeated this determination while listening to Father's prayer.
Once the benediction was complete, True Father asked my wife and me to take our seats in front of the food-laden celebratory table, and said, "Now let your children offer you their bows." I resolutely protested. "Please," I said, "let Ki Sook and me first offer a bow of gratitude to you and Mother. Please, won't you take a seat and accept our how first?"
So Reverend and Mrs. Moon took their seats on the cushioned floor, and my wife and I offered a heartfelt full Korean bow to express our gratitude and thanks. A thunderous applause broke out among the guests. Next, Father asked my wife and me to sit with them so that a celebratory photograph could be taken, after which we received full bows from our children.
The next item on the schedule was a poem by Dr. Kwang Yeol Yoo. Dr. Yoo was a most distinguished Korean poet, as well as a member of the Korean Media Association, an honorary chairman of the Korean Association of Freedom Poets, and the chairman of the Ch'ongp'a Literary Circle. He had composed the poem especially to congratulate my sixtieth birthday, and I present it here:
Please Let My Future Days Be Even More Worthy
A Poem for Dr. Bo Hi Pak on the Occasion of His Hwan Gap (60th Birthday)
Today, he has crowned himself with Hananim, God,
And clothed himself in the love of True Parents.
Is there anything in this whole universe he will be unable to do?
In temperament, our Dr. Pak,
so gentle in appearance yet so strong in spirit;
Whether it be a beast,
No matter how strong the beast, like a beast he will deal with him, without hesitation,
But if a person is sick and shivering from cold,
As a person he will treat him, whoever he may be.
He takes on all the difficulties of the world,
And if a word comes from True Parents,
He brings the best and right result without question or dalliance.
Where could we find a more well-rounded person, Anywhere we look?
For the sake of the Will of Heaven, he has shed so many tears.
Who could stand with a closed heart before such a man?
And in the face
Of his strong love for True Parents,
Who would refuse to take his hand?
With God's noble will
Placed upon his shoulders,
What has he to fear? Surely nothing in the world.
You are beloved, Dr. Bo Hi Pak,
And today you celebrate your Hwan-gap (60th birthday).
Even if you must grind your body to its limits,
And then, if it is not enough,
With tears you make the day
I'm sure you will pour all your energy and strength
Into completing all that remains to be done,
To fulfill the Will of God.
So walk ahead to bring peace and solace,
To God, to True Parents, to humankind.
So that all might share in the glory of triumph,
pour out your effort and your heart.
Dr. Yoo's moving poem was followed by congratulatory addresses by a number of church officials.
Finally, the time came for me to get up and say a few words in response. However, I found myself to be quite choked up by the whole affair and had a difficult time putting my words together.
Let me summarize part of my response that day.
The title of my address was, "Cheering for True Parents at the Door of Death."
I have lived until the present with the constant thought that, before True Parents, I am a sinner, and in fact, it is quite true; I am a sinner.
I have attended True Parents since 1957, but for the thirty-three years since then I have been the cause of a lot of pain and concern for Father and have been guilty of gross impiety toward True Parents on innumerable occasions. And even while I have often espoused that old Korean saying that "true sincerity moves Heaven," I myself am only too aware that I have not done as much as I could to fulfill the responsibilities given to me by God. That is the reason why I cannot but confess that I have always been a sinner before True Parents.
How I feel right now is that I want to devote all my life and energy, so that even if it is in only a small way, I can somehow reduce my sins before I go to the spiritual world. If I can do that, then there is nothing more I could ask for. So in that frame of mind, I am constantly devoting and resolving myself to walk the way of filial duty and loyalty.
Since they have come to America, True Parents have carried out and led incredible events, something that completely transcends anything we could have imagined.
However, the American government completely refused to recognize True Parents' intentions or accept them as the saints they are, and instead did the opposite by persecuting them and throwing Sonsaengnim into prison in Danbury. In my personal view, I bear the responsibility for that turn of events. Accordingly, not a day goes by that I do not repent and reflect upon that point.
When I think about the way Father sent me here and instructed me to pioneer America, when I think about my mission to faithfully execute those instructions, I cannot help but think that Father's being sent to prison was my fault and my own sin. In this sense, even though I lack so much in qualifications to stand before True Father as a true son, True Parents have always forgiven me with compassion and embraced me in every way. On the other hand, I think I know more than anyone how, despite the fact that he always treats me with nothing but love, Father's heart is yet always burdened with anguish and pain.
Also, when I think about how completely one with God True Parents are, and how they live their lives, I wonder how such a son as I am could ever begin to aspire to such grace and blessing as I have received today. And yet, True Mother truly loves me, despite all my shortcomings. I feel Mother's love so intensely. If True Parents can love so much someone so unworthy as me, then how great must their love he for all the members of our church? It is literally inexpressible.
In conclusion I would like to say that True Parents have saved my life on more than one occasion, and not only in the spiritual sense, but also physically as well, and that I am greatly indebted to them, more than I can hope to repay. I owe them so much. Then how could I begin to repay them? Indeed, even if I devote everything I have, I will still be short in the repayment.
I felt this fact to be true all the more after the kidnapping episode. Indeed, this fact is indelibly etched on my heart. However, even before that incident, I experienced over and over again True Parents' intense love. Therefore, even if I can only repay that love to one hundredth, even one thousandth of a degree that True Parents have loved me, I am deter-mined to devote myself in loyalty and filial piety for the rest of my life.
For that reason, when I was kidnapped and felt the moment of my death approaching, I resolved myself to die in a glorious and magnificent way, and I became determined to be cheering and crying the name of True Parents at the moment they took my life from this body.
There is an old Korean saying that few people live to be seventy, and here I am, already having lived a life of sixty years. Not only Sonsangnim but others, too, say to me, "Are you already sixty? You're sure to live for a few more decades. You should set your aim on another sixty years." But for me, I prefer to think of it like this. "From this point on, I can die anytime. Anytime will be all right. But whenever the time comes, I don't want to die in a careless or casual way. I want to die connected to the victory of True Parents, I want to die for the sake of that victory, and I want to die cheering True Parents' name." Right now, that determination is all the stronger.
Today, I have said a few words, and I thank you for listening to my ramblings. In fact, however, in front of the incredible love that True Parents have poured on me today, I'm not really in any position to offer even a few ramblings, and I feel most unqualified to say anything at all. Nevertheless, I can only hope for True Parents' forgiveness and your indulgence. Thank you very much.
Several times during the course of this speech, I found myself quite choked up with emotion, and at times I could not continue without taking a moment to compose myself. After my words, the celebrations continued and wound up to a climax.
It was the best day of my life. Every year, many, many people celebrate their hwan-gup, but I wonder where else one could find a celebration as meaningful as this one was for me. It was one of a kind, I am sure, and I thank Heavenly Father for it.
Nevertheless, unexpectedly, our family was again the recipient of this kind of wonderful grace. On April 25, 1993, we celebrated my wife Ki Sook's hwan-gup. On this occasion, the celebration was held at East Garden. In every way, Ki Sook's celebration matched my own.
I guess all I can do at this point is borrow those famous words from chapter 23 of the Book of Psalms:
"My cup runneth over."
A Presidential "Happy Birthday"
The next day I returned to my office at the Washington Times full with the grace and glory of Heaven.
Reverend Moon had asked the vice chairman of the Times to "invite the top people from the media and political circles in Washington and hold a banquet to celebrate Dr. Pak's sixtieth birthday."
And so here was another case of exceptional blessing from God. In one sense, the celebration I had just returned from was an internal, spiritual celebration and a heavenly event. This next celebration promised to be an external celebration and a public and social event, thus completing a matching pair.
A letter from President Bush congratulating Dr. Pak on his Goth birthday.
The banquet took place on August 20 (just two days after my actual birthday) at a spacious venue prepared by the Times. About three hundred guests were invited, including VIPs and various staff members of the paper. The dress was standard for a formal dinner banquet; the male guests all wore black ties and tuxedos, the women all wore long dresses. A flood of congratulatory telegrams arrived as well. It was every inch a glittering gathering of respected personalities from Washington's political, media, and social circles.
A signed photo by President George H. Rush with Dr. Pak.
For the reader's ease of mind, let me say that I don't intend to go into a long and tedious account of the banquet on that day. But there is one surprising event that I think is worth mentioning.
At about four o'clock in the afternoon, a special messenger arrived from the White House and delivered an envelope to me. When I opened it, I found a letter from President George Bush congratulating me on my sixtieth birthday. I couldn't believe my eyes. How would the U.S. president know about my birthday? It didn't seem possible. I looked again at the signature. Clearly it was President Bush's signature. I wondered who among the Korean people had ever received a letter of congratulations from the U.S. president at their hwan-gup celebration? It was unprecedented.
But President Bush didn't send me this letter because I, myself, am important. Rather, it was because I was the chairman of the Washington Times. The letter was in truth an expression of respect and regard for the Washington Times and its founder, and for that reason, I owed the thanks for this glory to God.
The contents of the letter were as follows:
The White House Washington August 20, 1990
Dear Dr. Pak:
Barbara and I are delighted to send best wishes as you celebrate your 60th birthday.
What a remarkable life you've led -- great in experiences and great in accomplishments! We join your family and friends in wishing you a wonderful celebration, surrounded by the warmth of happy memories and secure in the knowledge that you have made this a better world.
God bless you. Sincerely, George Bush
So it was that in my sixtieth year, I was the recipient of a magnificent congratulatory banquet from Heaven in the person of Reverend and Mrs. Moon, and the recipient of congratulations from the most powerful man on earth, the president of the United States. I think there have been very few birthday celebrations as glorious as this one.
I was once again indebted to God, for this grace could not be repaid even if I gave my entire life's contents. Moreover, this incredible grace, indeed all the grace of my life, came to me only because I have followed and attended the Messiah. My cup runs over with gratitude.