The Words of the Sabo Family
Witnessing Activity Testimony from Los Angeles
BillieAnn Sabo, Regional Coordinator
October 10, 1999
Many have asked for a testimony from Los Angeles regarding our previous Cultural Nights which turned into the Pursuit of Happiness programs. Iím sorry it has taken so long to respond to this request, but Los Angeles is really the center of tremendous heat (spiritual heat that is!), so making time to write testimonies is not so easy.
Like all other regions one year ago, in Los Angeles we tried to jump start IOWC again to bring matching candidate results for Blessing Ď99. Our techniques were not too exciting and only a couple of people joined full-time. We continued along this path until April of 1999, when God literally hit us over the head saying "you need to change your old ways Ė try something new for a change!" Therefore, on May 14th, we gave birth to the beginning of Cultural Nights. We continued to have these every week until the end of July. Each Friday night, we celebrated a different culture: Korea, Star Wars (almost considered a culture!), Mexico, Japan, China, 4th of July, African-American, and American. We started out very small and very plain. At our initial program, we had several chairs set up, we sang some workshops song, and managed to put together a weak presentation. As I recall, 2 guests came. Not monumental, but encouraging. As each new Friday night approached, we started adding dinner from the land we were celebrating, decorations in such abundance you couldnít even recognize Pasadena House, door prizes and professional entertainment. Our cultural nights became huge. The biggest night we ever had was American Night and 4th of July. At those nights, we had over 35 guests and at least as many members. We could hardly fit everybody in the room. Food preparation had now become such a job, we had to mobilize 5 tribes to help prepare. Since we had started using professional entertainment, that too had to be bigger and better than the week before. Decorating became an all day job. Our members were thrilled with the cultural nights and supported them each week. The guests loved the great food, great decorations, great entertainment and the next week, some of the guests would return with guests of their own. We took many professional pictures of each cultural night and really considered this to be Godís answer to bringing people. We felt like we were on Cloud Nine. Our flyers were beautifully created in each in color, not black and white, and members handed them out by the dozens.
Funny thing, though. When the Regional Directors were changed the beginning of July, our new Regional Director, Rev. Baek Joong Ku, asked a very simple question. Whatís the result? Our answer was Öresult great! So many guests, so many members supporting, everyone has a great time. But Rev. Ku really wanted to know was how many new members did we make? Well, that was a difficult question to answer. None exactly. Out of probably 400 guests who attended the weekly programs, only 20 or so attended the one day workshop, none attended a 2 day or 7 day, and none became new members.
What followed was God knocking us on the head again. Somewhere along the line, we had lost our purpose. Sure people had a great time and promised to visit us again, but you know how that goes. Rev. Ku wanted us to make a complete change in our program. No more dinner, no more fancy entertainment, no door prizes, no frills. Get to the basic point. At the rate we were going in making new matching candidates, it would take us 40 years to make 40. At first we resisted making a change, but it really felt like God was speaking through our Regional Director, so we could be smart and listen, or stupid and continue along a dead end path.
On September 17th, we started our new program, the Pursuit of Happiness. We asked guests to arrive at 7:00 pm, sang a couple of high spirited songs with them, then started the power point lecture, getting right to the meat quickly. This was followed by a very strong testimony. We were finished by 8:30 pm. At that time, we would break into small groups, enjoy simple dessert and beverage together and the closing sale was to happen at this time. At our first program, we only had 3 guests, but all 3 joined the 1 day workshop the next day, then continued to the 2 day workshop. Each week, our result has gotten bigger and better. The Pursuit of Happiness is a subject that touches many people, many single people, and it attracts them. For the first two weeks, we only had a limited number of flyers passed out by our small witnessing team. Thereís never any money for advertising, so foot power was the only thing we could afford. Then God and True Parents sent a blessing to America. The arrival of the Japanese Missionaries.
This would provide plenty of foot power, but 99% didnít speak any English. How to witness for evening programs when you canít communicate with people in the same language? Since 1998, when we first reactivated IOWC, I wanted so desperately to be able to offer something substantial, but no revelation would come. Knowing that the missionaries would be arriving in America soon, it was obvious they would need an approach book, but what should it say. I looked at my personal one from Washington DC (Blessing í97), but it seemed sort of boring now. For two weeks, I really struggled about this. It gave me a big headache. My brain was stuck. I felt spiritual pressure inside myself to make the Pursuit of Happiness and How To Find it Approach Book, but nothing would come out on paper. Time was running out. Then two Sundays ago, right before Dr. Yang visited Los Angeles, I really prayed so hard to God that I felt He wanted to use me, but please help me unblock myself so it could come out. My hand seemed to start writing non-stop and the approach book was created in 5 hours! It was an amazing feeling when the book was finished and I could see the final result Ė Godís result.
Our missionaries in Los Angeles started using the approach book right after they arrived and they loved it. They received over 300 signatures last week from people interested in the Pursuit of Happiness.
God is pushing us in this direction. Happiness reaches out to many people and through the lecture program, after they have listened to the introduction and the 1 day workshop, it is very easy to make the transition into Divine Principle. Therefore, I would encourage all Regions to abandon cultural nights, which are fun, but too slow, and jump on the Pursuit of Happiness bandwagon.
We have expanded into 3 centers here, all focusing on the Pursuit of Happiness. A special email of Happinesstoyou @aol.com was created and we printed 100,000 flyers for each location. Each missionary carries an approach book, a supply of sign-up sheets, flyers and wears an identification badge we created for them. Starting this week, our programs will be held 7 days a week to accommodate guests. The missionaries witness on the street, door-to-door, shopping centers and also put flyers on car windshields. All ways seem to attract young people.
Good luck with the programs in your area. Please use the approach books, keep them simple (no God, no DP, nothing heavy in the book) and start up your Pursuit of Happiness programs quickly. Any help we can offer, please let us know.
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