The Words of the Vincenz Family
This morning I would like to share with you some deep feelings about my life in the church. I want to start with one passage from Luke 7:36-50 which as you remember, recounts the story of Jesus' meeting with one sinful woman.
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house, and took his place at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "What is it, Teacher?" "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." And he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
Yesterday I reflected about how God has worked in my life, how much I am grateful and indebted to our True Parents, and how much I need to do so that one day, hopefully, I can be forgiven.
Arrival of True Father in Frankfurt, Germany, in July 1965 during Father's first world tour. From left to right: Barbara Vincenz, Elke van der Stock, Peter Politzki, Dr. Kae Hwan Kim, Reiner Vincenz, Sang lk Choi, Rotraut Koch, Father, Elisabeth Herzer, Mrs. Won Pok Choi, an Italian representative, Paul Werner, Dr. Young Oon Kim, Peter Koch, Christel Werner, Paul Werner, Klaus Werner, Gerhard Kunkel, Ursula Schuhmann.
In 1965, shortly after I had joined (in the autumn of 1964), Father came to Europe for the first time. He was traveling around the world and nobody in Europe or America had ever seen him. So you can imagine! Our first time meeting the Messiah! When he came to our little center in Frankfurt, nobody had any idea about how to attend him. We really had butterflies in our stomachs, because we didn't know what to do.
We certainly didn't want to welcome him in an ordinary way at the airport. Somehow I convinced the director of the airport to let us meet him out where the airplane landed. We had a big sign written in Korean which said, "Welcome to Germany, Rev. Moon." Then Father arrived. I will never forget this very first moment. He came, he looked at us -- very strange and impossible people, standing on the runway like that. But he seemed so happy, so thankful!
I have looked many, many times at the photograph of this event. I seem to remember that he never said anything, but I feel the words: "They have recognized me. I am so thankful." I showed this photograph to many others and they shared the same feeling, so perhaps that intuition is truly from God.
When we drove Father to our center, we still didn't know what to do; we even lost the way. But Father was the first to help us find it again. I remember very clearly that Father was always the very first: the first up the stairs, the first at the table -- always ahead of everyone.
The first meeting with Father was very dramatic. During the weeks before, we had prepared many questions to ask him. But you know how Father is. Without any advance notice he suddenly called a meeting. Then he asked us if we had any questions, but we had all left our notebooks in the other room. We bowed our heads and remained in complete silence. I felt so bad. It looked as if we had no interest in him.
Then Father started to sing the song, "Dong bang e." We just looked at each other. Then he asked one Korean brother, Dr. Kae H. Kim, to write down the words. He wrote them on a little board. Father looked around, but we were really paralyzed. I think he must have sung the song at least 12 times by himself. Finally, one by one, he pulled us out of ourselves and we could join him.
This was such a historical moment. Actually I was sorrowful because I felt we had all failed in this meeting. So why are we all so indebted to Father? Because he is the one who pulls us out of our paralysis and out of the old world millimeter by millimeter. When I hear this song I am always reminded that, little by little, Father can pull us out. That was the feeling I got at this very first meeting.
Father spent time with us and. traveled with us. He said many things, but one thing which always struck my heart was that if we wanted to bring life to Germany and help it to survive, then we had to serve three other countries first. Otherwise we many would have no way to be resurrected. He repeated this several times. Days went by, and Father continued to travel through Europe, but I never forgot his mandate for us to send out at least three missionaries.
We could easily find two members who could go to mission countries, but we were looking among ourselves for a third. Then I volunteered. I wanted to become a missionary. However, I was the youngest; and the other brothers and sisters had no confidence in me and told me to not even think about it. They laughed and said I would just collapse if I went out. But still I prayed: God, you guided me this far, and if you really want to, you can actually help me to go further. I had nobody on my side except God because everybody was so skeptical, but I asked: Couldn't we write a letter to our Father and ask his opinion? So Father was asked, and he gave permission. I will never forget the day the answer came. I succeeded, and I was overjoyed! I had Father as my Father. This was so wonderful. So in February 1966, I left Germany to go to France.
Father is welcomed by Rev. Reiner Vincenz at the Paris airport in April 1969.
At that time France was Germany's enemy. Initially, most of the people I met couldn't speak English or German. After a while I met some who could speak German and I was so happy. Yet these people said to me, "Before you say anything, let me tell you something in German. I will tell you in German how the Germans tortured my father and killed him!" This was my experience for the first several years. You can imagine how many levels I had to grow through as a missionary. I see many missionaries here this morning, and I can feel your situation deeply because Father gave me this mission. This is why I am so indebted to Father.
I used to work in a small restaurant in the middle of Paris. One morning I was standing in the kitchen preparing breakfast when I lost consciousness. I just fell down in the kitchen. Somebody must have brought me to my room. Maybe two days later I woke up, but one eye was going in one direction and the other eye in the other direction. Everything was paralyzed, especially my memory! I didn't know where I was; I didn't know my name. I couldn't remember anything. For several hours I sought to find one little anchor in my memory, some little point I could remember. But nothing came.
Suddenly, as if from the clear blue sky, one word came. Do you know what that word was? True Parents! Only one word! I had no idea what it meant or who True Parents were, but only the word "True Parents" came to my mind. I was like a boat in the sea, grabbing this word like an anchor. And then -- oh, yes... True Parents... Divine Principle.... Very slowly just a few things started to come back to me.
Yet I couldn't even speak. Everything was paralyzed. Then I remembered Frankfurt, and felt I had to get to a telephone. This process of recollection took hours. I got up finally and went down the street. I had only to cross the street to the post office to reach the telephone, but crossing this one street also took hours. I could not calculate my own speed in relationship to the speed of the cars. I would start and then go back because I had no sense of measurement, or courage, any more.
Finally I managed to get to the telephone. I reached Peter Koch, but he couldn't understand anything I said because I was so mixed up. The one thing he could understand, however, was that something was really wrong with me. Through many maneuvers Peter Koch was able to get me back to Germany. I was examined in the best hospital, but none of the doctors could find anything distinctly wrong. In his desperation and skepticism Peter Koch contacted Father and asked him what to do.
Rev. Reiner Vincenz (left) with the first three members of the Unification Church in France: Therese Heitzinger, Remi Blanchard, and Henri Blanchard.
I spent ten days in Germany, and every day it was impossible for me to function. Then all at once, when I awoke on the tenth day, I could stand up, and everything functioned normally. I came back to life! Everybody looked at me as if some kind of miracle had taken place. What happened to this man, they wondered. I said, "I'll tell you what happened! When does the next train leave for Paris?" The same day I returned to my mission and wrote a letter of thanks to Father. I did not waste even one hour.
Much later, in 1975, when we went with the IOWC Global Team to Korea, people in every city came and said to me, "Are you okay?" I asked, I wondered why they were asking me this question. I even wanted say, "Can't you see that I am okay?" "Well," they would say, "we were so worried about you." "Why?" I asked. "You know, in 1967 and 1968 we all were praying so hard for you because Father asked us to. Then I knew that many brothers and sisters in Korea were praying at that particular time for my recovery.
Then I understood that Father was the one who saved my life. When I heard this, it encouraged me to work even harder for God and True Parents, especially in our homeland of Korea. So once again, I am indebted to our True Parents.
Just shortly thereafter Father called me to America. I was most grateful for the chance to have served seven years in France and built up my foundation. Then I came to this very place, Belvedere. I actually went through a big struggle, because my concept was that maybe we had to fulfill things in Europe first. And suddenly at breakfast one morning Father said, "Reiner, do you want to help me?" "Oh, Father, yes!" I said. "I want nothing more than to help you." He brought me here, and there were fewer people present than there are this morning. Father spoke and at the end he formed us into a team of 60 people. Then from here, in 1973, IOWC was created.
You have to understand that this was my very first time in America. I had no understanding of the English language. Father was standing here outside the door; there were some vans parked nearby, and Father looked at me and said goodbye. That was all. I thought, what does this mean? Father said to take these people and he would come soon to Philadelphia, the next city of his tour. I said, "Father, I cannot even speak English!" He said it was no problem! My wife could speak good English, he said.
Well, I am so grateful for this moment. I remember so many times how Father gave me my first members and my first mission. The memory of this moment in Belvedere pulled me through all the difficulties of 1973 and 1974 and also prepared me for my departure to Korea. So you can see how important meeting Father is. It is important to have this really deep thankful feeling and sense of being indebted to Father. Whenever you can meet Father, even here, or even for just a moment, you should make it the most dramatic meeting of your life.
Even Ronald McDonald seems to have caught the spirit of Father's message at a lunchtime leaders' meeting during the Day of Hope Tour in 1974.
So we went crusading. Yesterday when I was reflecting about what I really remember, I can tell you that it is not the big gatherings, not the big banquets. What I really remember is this: on the 21-city tour, when we succeeded in filling the hall, serving the banquet, and everything was over, Father went with us to McDonald's and we had a McDonald's party. These are the moments I remember. Sometimes at midnight, sometimes after midnight, he would look at us as his children and sing us a song.
At these times Father said: You know, my worry is not the people in the audience, my worry is not the banquet, my worry first of all is you. You are much more important to me, much more important. That is why I am so thankful to Father. We all have a thousand reasons to be indebted to Father.
Then, after touring in America, Father asked me if I could go to Korea and Japan. I was so shocked. I told Father that if he had this confidence in me I would do my absolute best.
Rev. Reiner Vincenz speaks to the First Global Team on its arrival at Pusan harbor in March 1975. Father, the Korean leaders, and the Korean family gather to give the team a deeply felt welcome to Korea.
Going to Japan was such an incredible blessing. I believe that without Japan it would have been impossible for me to meet the True Parents and our fatherland, Korea, in a deeper way. I am most grateful to the Japanese brothers and sisters.
Once you go there you can begin to understand my words. The Japanese members truly care, and their hearts melted our stony, Western hearts little by little. The problems you encounter in Japan and Korea are surprising. It is not the food, the rice or the miso soup; it is not that in the Orient everything is done the opposite way compared with the West; it is not the language or the public bath or anything else. These things you can learn and manage. The biggest problem is how to handle the incredibly deep heart of the Japanese, and especially the Korean members.
The moment we drew near the coast of Pusan, I felt: This is my home. I had traveled all over the world, as many of you know; I traveled to so many countries, but I never could feel: This is my home.
At that time Col. Pak was responsible for leading this crusade. When we left Japan on the boat, I asked Col. Pak many times if he thought Father would really come to meet us at Pusan. Oh no, he was too busy, Col. Pak said. After a little while I said again, "Col. Pak, actually I forgot flowers for Father. Maybe he's coming?" Then Col. Pak started to think and suddenly all of us on the boat were wondering if Father would be coming or not.
As the boat approached the coast I looked down from the boat and do you know who was there? Father was there! Father and Mother and many Korean leaders and the whole Pusan church! The moment of our landing in Pusan is so deep in my memory. It may well be the deepest moment of my life, because this was my first contact with our fatherland.
Everybody got out of the boat and came down to the landing dock. Everybody was in tears. When we offered our first prayer in our homeland the atmosphere was so warm and embracing, so welcoming. We felt that this was another world. Even people who have no idea about the Principle or about Father will tell you the same thing when they come to Korea: It is very different. There is something so welcoming that really connects to your inner depth. So I will never forget this moment in Pusan.
I want to testify this morning to the Korean nation. True Parents are truly our parents, and Korea is truly our homeland. When Father gave the motto this year, "Creation and Building of the Fatherland," I began to feel how Father's heart must be. It took him so many years to build the foundation for his mission. He had to leave Korea and go around the world, laying the foundation step by step and building up the victory over Satan. Only now was he able to return after an incredible journey of so many years! What a moment of happiness it must have been for Father on January 1 of this year when he could declare: This now is the year when we can build our Fatherland.
Also in Korea I could experience that Father is the father of the world. Not in America, but in Korea. I hope that all of you will be able to spend some time in our fatherland and help in building it, because the foundation is so ready, and the world really needs to have this one fatherland.
After crusading in Korea we were supposed to return to Japan. However, instead, Father held a very famous meeting. At that meeting Father got excited, and everyone else in the room with him -- except me, because I couldn't understand what was going on. Finally Col. Pak explained it to me. Only 18 days before the proposed date, Father was directing all IOWC teams to prepare for the Yoido Rally. Can you imagine? Eighteen days! Father said that if we really wanted to stop Kim Il Sung from invading the South, we had to demonstrate worldwide, in a most powerful rally. Attendance at the rally had to exceed the one million people who came to support Billy Graham.
My heart had never been so frustrated or so nervous than during these 18 days. At one point I really became desperate. How could I handle all these organizational and spiritual problems? Internally I was clinging to Father's heart. Finally I called Mrs. Choi and confided in her like a son. I told her, "I don't know how to continue; what shall I do now?" She said, "Well, just go and see Father." I said, "Mrs. Choi, I could never do that." But she ordered me to do so and I went.
I knocked very carefully at the door. At the same moment I thought, maybe I never should have knocked at all... but then again, if I hadn't, I would never know what might have happened! As it turned out, this meeting was very meaningful for my life and very decisive for the entire Yoido Rally operation. I explained everything to Father, and he was not nervous at all. He gave me such wonderful fatherly advice. And I think that because of this one evening, many, many good things came about for God.
There was another miraculous event in Korea that I want to report. You know, the moment Father is doing something powerful for God, Satan starts preparing his counterattack immediately. On the morning of the Yoido Rally, I looked out the window, and do you know what I saw? Rain, rain, rain! I thought, Oh God, what shall we do? The entire sky was full of rain.
I was praying and thinking: God, all this work for your son and for our homeland is for nothing! Is the enemy really going to win? Then a voice came very clearly to me and said, "You must have faith!" Very simple! We have heard these words many times. Even the Bible tells us how little faith we have!
Then at 9 o'clock we went out in the rain. There was rain everywhere except in one place: the site of the parade for the Yoido Rally! God, my faith was not strong enough, I felt. If I had had more faith before, maybe there would have been no rain at all. But anyway, the situation was solved. The fact that at this moment the only place in the entire city that had no rain was our parade site, showed us that if we continue to work with a thankful heart and deepest faith in God and True Parents, we will always bring success.
True Parents invite the European leaders for lunch in New York, 1973. From left: Peter Koch, Father, Mother, Martin Porter, Mrs. Mee Shik Choi, Teddy Verheyen, Doris Orme, Reiner Vincenz.
Then toward the end of 1975 Father wanted to build new things in America. So we held the Yankee Stadium campaign in New York. It was such a tough campaign as you know -- long and very, very tough. Even though we invested so much, it rained again. And again there were so many negative people, so many threats, and only 45,000 people came.
However, I watched Father in this situation. I could see him just before he got up on stage and spoke. He was really God's son. The moment just before he stepped onto the stage the picture of himself in his room fell down. He had to go through this crucifixion but he kept going. This moment gave me so much confidence, and once again made me realize how much we are indebted to Father. If Father had not had inner security, if he had not had God within himself, then I believe that even though we were singing, "You Are My Sunshine," the rain never would have stopped. It is only because of Father's determination and prayer that the rain stopped and the rally became successful.
After Yankee Stadium, as you remember, we all came here to Belvedere, and Father declared that we were going on immediately to Washington Monument! I remember what many leaders felt inside: Everybody is exhausted. I am sure that Mr. Kamiyama felt, we have no money! We wanted to tell Father, "Didn't you say you wanted to do this in 1977?" Yet nobody had the courage to say it. We all felt, "Father, we are willing, but...." There is this big "but," you know? And who works through this big "but"? None other than Satan, who is always trying to stop us.
Just last Sunday Father spoke about the history of the struggle of good and evil. He explained that World War III is not the important war; it is a small war compared to the war within ourselves, the war with our own "buts," which we can never speak about but which we must overcome. Surely, that is our honest situation! So it was also at the time of Yankee Stadium. However, Father with his great love was able to melt these "buts" away. Therefore I am indebted to him. He knows about our struggle, but he helps us while acting as if he doesn't. That is the greatness of our Father. So at the beginning of the Washington Monument campaign there were still some "buts" in our hearts, but we went forward because of Father.
All these years up until 1981 Father has given his time to this country of America.
Father came in 1972, because God had ordered him to spend three and a half years in America. But we couldn't bring the result, so we are indebted to Father.
Then God prolonged the time from 1975 to 1978. You remember that nearly every other speech here on this stage was about bringing 30,000 people by 1978! We are still trying to fulfill that goal.
In 1981 America still didn't have the 30,000 people God had requested to save this country. Many of us were praying desperately: "God, give us some other way! If Father has to leave America and go to other countries and start all over again, then what a great and difficult new mission will lie ahead of us! How much will be lost! What about your expectations of America?" All the members and all the leaders were so worried; we wondered what God was going to do.
True Parents, accompanied by Mrs. Won Pok Choi and President Eu, visit Paris in April 1969.
Then on January 2, 1983, we had a meeting here in New York. You may remember that on January 1, Father was already speaking about how we may have to go to other countries. "We may go to South America," he said. I even polished up my Spanish in order to be ready, just in case. Who could know where God would lead us? January 2 was such an important day for me, and also for my relationship with Father. He suddenly said to us: You have all lost your jobs now! Go to lunch!
I was walking down the stairs of the New Yorker hotel when another leader, my spiritual son, told me, "Well, it looks as if Father has put all of us out of a job." But I answered him, "I don't think so. Just wait an hour, and you will see; God is preparing something great." I didn't know what I was saying.
One hour later Father came back and told us that we had to go out for three more years. God granted us additional time to conclude our course in the wilderness. However, now God would request 60,000 people, not 30,000 as He had the three times before. Brothers and sisters, I can tell you that at that moment I was deeply moved by the greatness of God and our True Parents. It can only be because Father was somehow able to move God's heart. We are all most deeply indebted to our Father. So no matter what Father may demand, we must respond immediately, because our debts are so big.
That is why I quoted this passage from Luke in the beginning. There are two kinds of people: those who have small debts, and those who have big ones. The Messiah forgives both, although we are more like those who have many debts. And what about this woman? Everybody was astonished that Jesus could forgive her. Even Simon asked him, "Why are you doing this? I don't understand. What did she do that you can forgive her?" Jesus explained that while she had committed many wrongs and many sins, there was one thing she did right that was greater than anything else: She loved Jesus with all she had. That could overcome everything.
Now we are involved in this campaign to wake up the nation of America. Even if we are totally indebted to our True Parents, there is still one way we can he forgiven. That way is to love our True Parents from morning to night with our whole hearts, even more than this woman loved Jesus. We must love True Parents this way in order for them to be able to forgive us and one day bring us to God's Kingdom.
Let's go forward powerfully with our True Parents. And when you struggle with your weak points, then remember some of my little stories or create your own from the experiences of your own life. In this wilderness there are some dark times, and there are times of sunshine. In dark times you must be able to pull out of your drawer the little stories about the sunshine that can help you. Such stories as the one about the McDonald's parties with True Parents help me very much, for example. The more of these little stories you can build up and utilize for inspiration, the more you have a chance to grow and reach our True Parents.
The title of my talk this morning is, "Why I Am Indebted to True Parents." Maybe I could stimulate all of you to renew your hearts and rededicate yourselves. Hopefully when you leave Belvedere today you can take along a little inspiration and say, "God, let me think one more time. I also have many reasons to be indebted to our Father."
We can all be successful and hopeful if in our hearts we feel deeply indebted to our True Parents. If we claim the victory to our credit even once, we are the losers. But if we give the victory totally to our True Parents and completely liquidate any personal feeling of credit or ownership, then, I think, total victory will come. That is what I could learn from our True Parents. Let us pray.