Chapter 2 The Unification Movement in Korea

 

 

 

 

 

 Pioneer-Witnessing and Publication of Wolli Haesol

(When One Worships in the Spirit and the Truth)

 

 

Nan-yeong Moon

Was it one poet who said something like this? "All that is past seems beautiful and is missed indeed..." This seems to be true. In particular, as a young girl with many dreams who took part in the pioneering days of the early Wonju Church, full of unaffected faith and hope for the future, those past days seem even more beautiful, and at times I miss them incredibly.

In the spring of 1955, when I entered the first year of Wonju Girls' Middle school, my mother, who had been teaching in a women's high school, went to Seoul with some senior students who were taking the entrance examination to Ewha, Mrs. Won-bok Choi, and through her guidance, came to join the Unification Church.

For three whole days, she stayed at the then Heungin-dong Church to hear the Principle. When she returned, my mother seemed to be a completely new person. She visited Seoul from time to time, and was in the best of spirits during those days.

From then on, she would call her Methodist friends over, one by one, every night, to share the word of God. As if she were concerned that we might be listening, she spoke in a whisper to her friends. I was only fourteen at the time, but somehow became very interested in hearing what she had to say. Pretending to be studying at my desk with my back towards them, I listened to my mother's conversation intently. I heard terms such as "indemnity-condition," and "principle of restoration" that I had never heard before; at times, my mother would say, ?Jesus of the Second Coming is now in Korea, and from now on Korea will become the new Jerusalem," which exhilarated me somehow.

"The Lord of the Second Advent will come to Korea. He will be born in this age, in this land, will undergo much hardship and suffering, and we will probably be able to meet the Lord ourselves." These words had a great impact on one as young as myself, such that I could not express. Finally my elder sister (then third year of middle school) and myself (first year, middle school) begged our mother to share these secret words every night. After coming to know of "Teacher," I was so full of joy and a desire to meet him that I once even dared to send him a letter, he now being in Seoul.

During the days when we were constantly seeking refuge, I was once carrying my younger sister on my back and standing at a forked corner in West Taejon. We were doing a "board business," selling dried cuttlefish, matches, etc., on a small piece of board all day. At that time, how I regretted being born a Korean, having to stand in the cold, sniffling my nose and hungry.

At one time, we sisters had discussed with each other the question of what good the surname "Moon" was when we didn't even have a father, and that perhaps we should change our surname to our mother's. However, after hearing the Principle through our mother and imprinting deeply in my heart this astounding secret, I was never more proud to be a Korean, and extremely glad that we had not changed our surname of Moon. As our family had experienced countless times miraculously being able to survive during our miserable life as refugees, I began to feel vaguely that all of this was the dispensation of God to have us meet the Lord at this time. A few days after entering middle school, I remember vividly a day in which the sun, shining beautiful and red in the skies, seemed to came closer and closer to me. In  a trance I stood under the eaves of the house, and saw that the house and the entire village shone brilliantly that day.

During my studies, I oftentimes found it difficult to hold back the excitement within me, and it took all of my will power to hold back the impulse to cry out, "Everyone! The Lord of the Second Advent is coming to our country!" At the time, I had entered middle school with the top scores and displayed comparative talent in areas such as composition, speech and classic dance. I was well loved by my teachers and envied by friends' thus I was able to make friends easily with the leaders and assistant leaders of each class who were clever and good children. I began to make a directory of such friends and waited for the missionary from Seoul to come.

In those days we were renting one room in a small building of our school, which had a night-duty room attached. In May, when missionary Hyun-shil Kang came down from Seoul to lecture the Principle for us, this room was packed to overflowing with thirty to forty high school girls.

In those days my mother, who was deeply respected by the students at school, called on the outstanding students to continue her Principle lectures. As the voices singing praise and of prayer continued to rise, the Holy Spirit worked through us like fire. We began to receive interference from the school authorities. Furthermore, a minister or elder would come daily from the Methodist church that my mother used to attend in an effort to dissuade her in various ways. When some core women of that church who had been praying from early morning at the altar as my mother had began to come to our home church, the elders branded her a ?poor woman who had gone mad in a church of heresy," and mobilized the  members of existing churches to persecute us in every way.

To make matters worse, there was the "Ewha Women's University Incident" in Seoul, followed by the "July 4 Incident," which led to the incarceration of Teacher and some followers. The female students whose faith had just begun to sprout gradually came to fear the church; as they met with tremendous opposition from their parents, it was as if the buds were covered with severe frost before they could blossom. My mother's friends who had come from the established church stopped coming, one by one, and only seven or eight students remained in the room that was once filled to overcrowding. Many a night we could hear our mother holding back her tears in her lonely prayers.

The cold treatment given me by my teachers and friends was becoming unbearable, and particularly for three months (July 4 through October 4), we had to live as if we were criminals in a stifling atmosphere, both at school and at home. Yet, there were seven or eight elder sisters who shared the hard times with us until the end. My mother would sometimes take them and our younger sister to hold services in the mountains, sometimes by rivers. I recall those days in which we shed truly many tears, thinking about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.

When mother visited Seoul and returned on Sundays, she gave us renewed courage, and we wished always that we could go to Seoul. Finally, during winter vacation of that year, we were able to go out and meet Teacher. He was wearing a jumper and spoke with such force that he was wet with perspiration. My sister and I were moved to tears, and continued to cry throughout the service.

After returning from Seoul, we were impatient that we did not have a place to worship. Mother was envious of even an old cairn that was about to collapse, along the mountain path. How she longed to have our own place, even a humble hut where we could sing hymns as much as we liked and have a rewarding life of prayer.

Finally in the spring of the following year, 1956, mother mustered enough courage to borrow some money to rent an isolated lot of land in the mountain ridge of 5 Wondong-san, Wonju City. Quickly, she began to build a thatched house about five and a half meters wide. We rushed up to the ridge as soon as school was over every day, and our hope began to rise again as we helped with the building.

On June 18, we put up the last door of the house and moved in. Welcoming Kyeong-gyu Yoo who was assigned as witnessing director from Seoul (and who has since died), we put up the signboard, Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity; Wonju Church, and held a historic first Sunday service. We were only ten members strong, but on that day, we sang the hymns as loud as we could and offered prayers of deepest gratitude in tears.

From then on began our real life of prayer and witnessing. I was now in my second year of middle school, and wowed to myself to become an exemplary student in school, never to come in second place in the entire school. I studied hard, and whatever schoolwork that came before me, whether it was the class monitor or school events, I strove to do my best. On the other hand, I enthusiastically brought friends over to have them listen to the words of the Principle from our missionary. As members began to increase, in particular co-ed students gathered and the Wonju Church became full of active students. I then became the president of the middle school division, with approximately twenty students. We were in frequent contact with the middle school members in Seoul to keep abreast of news there, and studied the Principle. Sometimes our elder brothers, such as Jong-bok Hong, In-su Han, Chang-lim Choi came down from Seoul on which occasion we immediately held lecture contests and listened to their evaluations. We collected stamps, prayed and fasted enthusiastically; at times just as the Israelites went around the walls of Jericho seven times before entering the city, we also circled around the castle of the city of Wonju, asking, "Father! Father! Please help this town of Wonju that Teacher called the ?town of the Principle' become reborn as a heavenly city!"

Did we distinguish between day and night during this period? Members who were beaten at home and kicked out did not go home even after midnight. They were intoxicated with the constant prayer and words of love, and when four o'clock came around in the morning, they fetched water from a shallow well at the foot of the mountains to wash themselves, and then offered early morning prayer again. Our two younger sisters who were barely five and eight at the time were barely five and eight at the time were always pushed aside to the kitchen. On cold winter days, they would fall asleep sitting on top of the brazier, and often experienced the ordeal of falling off onto the kitchen floor.

In those days, just as the Bible says "we must worship in the spirit and in truth," all of us experienced such numerous workings of the spirit, that it is indeed amazing to me as I reflect, that so little of that kind happens  today. At time we had trouble in controlling ourselves as members spoke in tongues reading an English book during study hour. And there was the elder sister who went to a Chinese eating place and ordered janjang-myon noodles; out of the blue, she began to speak in tongues, and had a very difficult time when the surprised owner kept asking her where she had studied such wonderful words by Confucius! This is one of the funnier memories that I recall.

Nevertheless, another great ordeal befell us as we focused intently on doing God's will with our hearts on fire. After the summer vacation ended and the second term began, the opposition by those teachers and parents from the established churches who were ridiculing us came to a head. The school authorities harassed our mother, demanding that she either submit a letter of resignation or quit the Unification Church, one or the other. As mother knew that the way of God's will was to be chosen at the risk of our lives, she decided to resign from the school. As we saw her troubled about financing the church and our education, my sister and I cried out, "Mother! Please have courage. We came through much more difficult times than this, so what are you worried about when we have the way of life before us? We can deliver newspaper, sell gum. If  things are still are still difficult, we don't mind going to orphanages," and tried to comfort her. Our mother, who had not expected to hear such words of encouragement from her hog daughters was as moved as if she had gained a million-strong army, that she held us and offered tearful prayers of gratitude. In retrospect, our words and actions at that time were so brave and noble, that it seems evident that Heaven had encouraged our mother through us in this way.

As our mother had left the school, the authorities began to punish us even more. Every day after class, we were called to the principal's office, told to kneel down and our bags and belongings were inspected without warning. At times we were ordered to write down that we did the day before one by one and also to submit a reflection; at another time we were threatened to be expelled from school while yet another time they tried to talk us into listening. In various ways we were punished, which only made us unite closer together. "If you are willing to take permanent responsibility for our life and future, I can understand, but if not, you have no right to  block our way. Why are you trying to take away our freedom of worship?" I protested in a precocious way. However, we were treated by the teachers as "ill-natured children," and had to experience the bitter sorrow of the beautiful dreams and expectations we had for school life being completely destroyed.       

In this way, the regrettable resignation of mother from the school and the persecution of the school authorities pushed us to depend only on Heaven; I also felt that we could feel the heart of God filled with anguish very closely. Yet, mother's unemployment affected the church finances immediately, and our life was faced with great hardship. Mr. Kyeong-gyu Yoo who had been working hard had to return to Seoul because of ill health. Since then, mother had to take on the work of the missionary as well. Looking back, in seems to be a miracle that we even survived through that year. One day all we even survived through that year. One day all we had to eat was a bowl of yellow sampling soup, the following day several sweet potatoes, another day it was only a few potatoes for the entire day. Still, if member visited us during meal time, mother insisted that they take what we had. As we had nothing to eat, no wood for the fire often, we were again living as we had in the refugee days, cold and hungry.

Finally, on August 2, l958, Teacher was to visit the Wonju Church for the first time, and daily we began to experience much inspiration in anticipation of that historic occasion. We girls who were in the first year of high school at the time were fasting that day. As if we were the wise girls who, in the Bible, kept their lights burning at night to prepare to welcome the Lord, we were able to receive Teacher's visit with greater depth of emotion and glory. Teacher made us, in particular the high school girls, sit in the front and spoke to us on various things that would be done in the future.

For a period of five days from December 26 of that year, it was decided that Wonju would have its first large-scale revival program. Teacher visited us on the day before it was to start and on the final day, and gave direct instructions to us. To my mind that was the most moving moment of the early founding days of Wonju Church. Here and there on the main roads, we brandished the placard that Teacher had written for us and went around putting up posters in every town, every alley. In our excitement we were oblivious of the cold or hunger. What a thrill it was to be able to hoist the placard high with "Wonju Unification Church First Spiritual Revival Rally" written on it and proclaim the event in the country of Wonju.

The spring of the year following the revival meeting (1959), my mother was to leave for Chuncheon to seek for work (Kangwon Province Red Cross). It was impossible for the members to hide their loneliness. Until that time she had raised up elder brother Kwan-hae and, placing the church in his hands, my mother could not have felt at peace, as if she were leaving behind toddlers around water. Taking only two small bags and our youngest sister with her, she left for Chuncheon. It took a long time for me to erase the sight of her weeping at that time from my mind, and afterwards, it still made me lament from time to time.

As if she were made of tears, my mother's life was filled with sorrow, and the majority of the founding members who were raised by mother were also like containers of tears. It was indeed a sad, tearful time. If one of the members were hit outside and came running back home, the members embraced him and offered prayers in tears; when a new member joined and things were going incredibly well, or even when good news came in from Seoul, we all wept.

When I entered the third year of the women's high school, I was elected chairman of the Student Union. After mother had left for Chuncheon, I was left alone in the church. My elder sister, who had graduated from high school, was going to university in Seoul while teaching as a private tutor, recommended by her teachers; my younger sister followed mother to Chuncheon after a while. I should have taken the difficult role of the mother and helped all members as elder brother Kwan-hae was doing; however, I did not want to fall behind in school life of Satan's world either, and strove to always maintain the position of first in the class. It was active, and no matter how they hated the church, I was elected as chairmen with the trust of my teachers and friends.

The two male teacher who conspired to throw my mother out and played the role of Satan completely were dismissed from school after I became chairman, due to the strong demand and resolution by all of the students. It still makes me wonder that this was not my doing as a student representative, but had been decided by a unanimous vote of the students. At the time, the girls all stated that "the heart of the people reflects the heart of heaven." [Korean proverb: Min-shim-i Cheon-shim ida]

As winter vacation drew closer, I began to think gradually about witnessing after my graduation. Under the circumstances, I was not in a position to go to university as others would. Thinking of my sister who received a scholarship and was working her way through college, but still required help from mother at times, I felt I should wait to go to university until my elder sister had graduated. Having made a determination to go out pioneer-witnessing after graduating from high school, I did not take part in any of the extracurricular guidance for entrance examinations to universities. My homeroom teacher, who very much regretted this, recommended that I take part in an academic contest for all third year women's high school students to be held at Sookmyung Women's University in mid-January. If scores were high, scholarships would be provided. I felt there was not much to lose, so in January I went to Seoul and participated among many others in the contest.

Although I had not studied at all for the entrance exams, my scores seemed to be relative high. Then dean of the students who was a professor of English literature called me to come to his room. He said, "Unfortunately you did not make the top ten which would mean an exemption of entrance fees, but I will ensure that a good way is prepared for you, so you should came to the English Literature Department." I was overwhelmed with gratitude to the professor and replied, "I will do so," with tears in my eyes. However, wondering how I could ask for a sum as large as 8,000 won (the entrance fee for private universities at the time), my mother and I went into Chungpa-dong Church with a sad heart. At that time, we came across Teacher who was just coming out of a room. I had an opportunity to explain the situation about the Sookmyung University, and said, "Next time, I will study harder to get a  scholarship for Seoul National University." Teacher, who had been listening for a while, suddenly asked, "Next time? When?" and abruptly called President Hyo-won Eu to quickly gather 10,000 won. The finances of the Church were of course limited, and we were much obliged and moved to see the church president asking for money here and there to collect that sum. Teacher said, "Go immediately and register in the English department, and make yourself a uniform, too. And from now on, you can stay in the church. Understood?" and hurried me along.

As I recall it, I was able to register about five minutes before the deadline at Sookmyung Women's University. Thus, my college life in Seoul started, and I studied extremely hard in order not to disappoint Teacher. As a result, I made the top grades among all the student in the English Literature Department and at times, even in the Liberal Arts Department, and made Teacher happy. Moreover, I took part in the youth group activities of the church, and during summer and winter breaks, took part in training and witnessing, and went to other regions as an itinerary worker as well.

My first mission posting was Uljin-gun in Kangwon Province; although I did not have a chance to visit there again, I also want twice to Moonmak-myun, Myungju-gun in Kangwon in South Chungcheong Province for witnessing end education. I visited Yeongwol-gun, Yangyang-gun in Kangwon Province; Cheongwon-gun in North Chungcheong Province doing mobile activities, and after graduating, spent a year in Songak-myun, Tangjin-gun in South Chugcheong Province. The following three years were spent together with the Little Angels. There were many unforgettable incidents. Especially while I was in Tangjin, I will never forget for the rest of my life how inspired I was to have Teacher visit such an isolated village. The fact that Joon-ho Yoon and Yong-joon Seong, who were only first graders in the Songak Middle School at the time, later received the blessing as part of the 1,800 couples is one of the sources of my pride and joy today.

In this way, one day I would like to organize the stories of my younger days, in which I confirmed my heart and determination toward God's will. In some mission towns I thought of Jacob's stone pillow, in others of Moses' rod, and at times sobbed, at time cried out with joy. Here, I have mentioned mainly the Wonju Church period.

In the autumn of 1975 there was a dedication ceremony for the sacred new building of Wonju Church. My mother and I went down and spent a moving day there. The new A-frame building was beautiful and dignified. We visited the old church, our old home, it was difficult to hock back the feelings which rushed to our hearts. It stood alone on the isolated mountain ridge, and the tiny thatched hut that we called "Noah's Ark" had became very shabby with the years. It was partly crumbling and painful to look at; however, it was the birthplace of pioneers who protected that country, and where we had  hoisted the sign saying "Wonju Church" twenty years earlier. It will remain as home in the hearts of many members who prayed and established a sincere altar there, in particular in the hearts of the founding period of Wonju Church.

Some time after the dedication ceremony of Wonju Church, I purchased the land which we had rented, on which the original church had been built without real permission. I obtained a formal construction permit to build a house there, which consoled my mother, and together we decided to donate the house to the HSA-UWC Foundation, which gave a great joy. I would like to emphasize here that a sincere donation made by a certain foreign member with a beautiful heart greatly added to this, and I offer gratitude before Heaven.

 

 

 

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