The Early Unification Church History
THE FIRST MISSIONARY TO AMERICA
It has been more than a generation since the first Unification Church missionary came to the United States. Young Oon Kim arrived in January 1959. She was sent here by Reverend Moon to bring the Divine Principle to the Western world, and as the first missionary played an important role, not only in the spread of the Unification Church in the United States but also the world. Many church members throughout the world can trace their spiritual genealogy back to Young Oon Kim, and the early members who joined through her efforts.
She arrived in America a lone woman bringing the message of Sun Myung Moon to the United States and the World. It is hard today to understand what a gigantic mission facing her nor the many roadblocks she would encounter along the way.
At this point I recommend reading her testimony which is included with this writing. The following was written before found her testimony.
Young Oon Kim was prepared from childhood for the mission she undertook. The preparation led her to become a devoted Christian and dedicate her life to God. After learning of Sun Myung Moon and the Divine Principle, she spent the remainder of her life working to teach the Divine Principle and establishing the Unification Church throughout the world.
She was reared in a Buddhist family in what is now North Korea. While in her teens she searched for an understanding of life. What is the importance of life? Is there a God? If there is on God life isn't worth living. She would go into the hills and shout at God to give her a sign. One day she heard the words of a song, a song she had heard many years before as a young child. Someone had taken her to a Sunday school class at a Christian church. The song she heard was "Jesus loves me this I know". Through this experience she found Christianity. She worked at a bank during the day and then went to church at night to pray, often for many hours. It was during this period that she had a vision of the crucified Jesus.
The Western world does not understand the deep prayer and devotion practiced by Korean Christians. The Christians in Korea may have been the strongest, most devoted Christians in the world. All this was during a period of occupation and oppression by the Japanese.
Through her connection in the Christian church, she received the opportunity to attended college in Japan. She was accepted to a prestigious Methodist university in Japan and was the first woman to be admitted formally to the all male university. While at the university, she felt herself losing the spirit of Christianity, and missed deep spiritual life experienced earlier. She began wondering for what purpose was the studying theology, while losing the spirit of Christianity. She heard a voice while praying one time. The voice told her "You must know your enemy". She graduated with a degree in religion -- her major being comparative religion.
When the Communist took over North Korea after the Second World War, she and many others made their way through the Communist lines at night into South Korea. Christians were guided spiritually through this hazardous journey by spiritual lights guiding every step. People of means bought bolts of silk cloth and had porters carry it with them in their escape to South Korea. Once there, the silk could be sold and thus converted to cash. She said that after the World War II her family, which was well to do, traded a Singer Sewing machine, valued at about $125 American dollars, a very large sum, for a bushel of oats to keep from starving. Although she never said she was one of those guided to South Korea spiritually, I always suspected that she was. Her description of the trek was very vivid.
Later, she continued her education when she was chosen to go to Toronto, Canada. At the theological seminary she worked toward a master's degree in comparative religion. While studying in Canada in 1950 Korean War began. This news of war devastated her. She was alone in a Western country far from home, knowing Koreans were suffering miserably from the war. At that time, she then heard a voice saying "I will preserve my remnant" meaning God would protect his people. Little did she know the war also freed Sun Myung Moon from a North Korean communist slave labor camp, so he could make his way to freedom in South Korea. She continued her studies and received her masters degree and then returned to South Korea.
Upon her return, she took a position teaching comparative religion at Eh Wha University. The university was sponsored by the Methodist Church, and at the time, the largest women's university in the world.
She became a professor at Eh Wha in the early 1950s. During this time Sung Young Moon was establishing the Unification Church in Seoul. At the time, his group was very small and virtually unknown. One of the very early church members, a lady, told Reverend Moon that she knew Miss Kim. He told the member, bring Miss Kim to me I want to talk with her. At that time Miss Kim was very ill, suffering from nephritis, a kidney problem, along with her life long battle with anemia. She was confined to bed and physically very weak.
The woman, whom Miss Kim only knew slightly, came to her and told her very bluntly of Sun Myung Moon, his message and his mission. She said that Reverend Moon wanted to meet Miss Kim. The way the lady introduced Reverend Moon and the Divine Principle to Miss Kim would be enough to dismiss the woman as a crackpot, and especially by someone well educated in Christianity, Miss Kim thought, if there is any truth in this whatsoever, I must find out.
She could not travel normally because of her weakened physical condition, so two men were sent from the church to bring Miss Kim to meet Reverend Moon. They carried her on a stretcher through the streets of Seoul to the church. Reverend Moon began to teach the Divine Principle to her. She stayed at the church for 3 days listening while he explained his revelation. As he taught her the illness began to disappear and by the end of those 3 days the symptoms she suffered disappeared. She was told that it was the power of the Divine Principle that healed her. During this time ladies from the church were in another room praying almost continuously for her.
She returned to the university pondering what she learned in those few short days and the man giving this message. She began to witness to Reverend Moon and his message. Her friend Mrs. Won Pak Choi, a professor of English at Eh Wha University also joined. When the University heard of their involvement with Unification Church, the ladies were fired from their teaching positions. There were a number of students at the university who also joined the church and later were expelled from the university because of their religious activities. After this group from the university joined this small church, there was a drought period when practically no one joined.
This was the beginning of a period of extreme persecution. They were given the cult label. The persecution was perpetuated in Korean newspapers. When Reverend Moon became known in America, the Washington Post sent some of it's staff to Korea to dig up all the dirt on the church that was to be found there. For many years, practically all that was printed in the United States about Reverend Moon and the Unification Church was a rehash of the Washington Post articles.
At some point Reverend Moon asked Miss Kim to prepare a version of the Divine Principle in English then go as a missionary to the United States. She was chosen for this mission because of her theological education and command of the English language because of attending school in Canada. Because of Eve's role in the fall of man, it was also important that women fill a prominent role in reversing the the fall and the restoration of the world. She was well qualified for this mission, and indeed had prepared for it her entire life.
Miss Kim approached her difficult mission with some reluctance. She was plagued with doubts whether Americans could understand the Divine Principle or indeed would even be interested in it. She began working on the book, and often found excuses to delay the writing. All the time she wrestled with doubts about the Americans accepting Reverend Moon and the Divine Principle. But, when she delayed the writing and the mission, her previous illness returned. This she took as sign convincing her to return to the writing, and when she did, the illness left.
She planned not to translate the Korean Divine Principle book, but to write one in English approaching the Divine Principle from Western thought and the Western understanding of Christianity. The very first copies were individually typed by members. When I once mentioned, "you mean they typed all that by hand?" she replied with a typical Miss Kim reply to a dumb question, "do you think they typed them with their feet?". A later version was mimeographed in Korea and bound in a small paperback version which she brought to the United States, but never used. She immediately set about rewriting the Divine Principle.
Young Oon Kim arrived in the United States in January 1959. She entered the country as a student at the University of Oregon, and became established in Eugene. Thus her mission began.