The Words of Won Pil Kim

Testimonies In Remembrance of Reverend Won Pil Kim, 1928-2010

April 9, 2010

The Unification Church Headquarters has announced that the Wonjeon Ceremony (interment) for Won Pil Kim is at Paju Wonjeon at 12 noon on Saturday April 10, following the Seunghwa Ceremony at 8 am at the former Headquarters Church in Seoul.

Reverend Won Pil Kim, one of True Father's earliest disciples is remembered below in testimonies by members of the Unification Church in the USA, and around the world. According to Gary Abrahams, Won Pil Kim was brought into the church by Mrs. In Ju Kim, 94, who ascended herself only a few days ago. True Father stayed with In Ju Kim's family when he went back to North Korea following the close of World War II. Mrs. In Ju Kim's husband is Won Pil Kim's uncle, who introduced her to Won Pil Kim.

When True Father was beaten by North Korean police in 1948 and thrown into the street to die, she and others in the same group nursed Father back to health. Mrs. In Ju Kim was married and had children so she could not drop everything and become a disciple. On the other hand Won Pil Kim, being young and unmarried could dedicate himself to Father 110 percent. Won Pil Kim is one of only two followers who traveled with True Father by foot on the long walk from Pyongyang in North Korea to Pusan, a journey lasting from November 1950 to late January 1951.

Testimonies of Members' Experiences with Rev. Won Pil Kim:

Mike Leone:

I wanted to relay a personal experience with Rev. Won-Pil Kim from years ago, probably in 1978, when I was the Church leader in Washington, D.C. He had, as always, some special role or position with Father. I got a call from a sister (his interpreter) that they were on their way to D.C. from N.Y and would be visiting D.C/me for 2-3 days. I picked the two of them up at the Amtrak station and we drove home to Upshur house. We sat down on a couch and he said--"I'm here to help you in any way you would like. Please make any schedule for me that you would like. I can talk with any individual member you would like, or to any group of people, whatever would best help your mission. If there are some special topics you want me to speak on, I will be more than happy to focus on those."

After such humility, I could hardly talk. I did make a schedule, and he carried out each request I asked of him. I remember asking him about what Father's really was like and his incredible answer: He said--"As one of the very first disciples, I always knew I would be a leader in the Church. So I proceeded for years to study Father, and specifically what is the role of Abel. I came to understand by studying Father that the role of Abel is to come under Cain. The member who is your most difficult challenge is actually your Abel--so Cain is your Abel." It makes me cry to relate this story, but his words did change my life, but I have to admit his incredible teaching was much too hard for me to actually keep following. I saw him over the years and had some great times, but these 2-3 days changed my life and I can never forget them or him.

Gary Abrahams:

I worked with Rev. Kim in NY when he was leading the IOWC teams. He always told the IOWC leaders to send him any members who they did not want to take care of. He gathered a team in Brooklyn, NY called Team 100 with Mr. Sawada, Larry Krishnek, Hiroshi Goto, Kimiyo Anceny, myself and others. He told us that God loved even the most struggling member so much and that everyone, no matter the situation can do something (anything) to support God's Providence. He wanted to give every last member an opportunity to contribute -- even if it was in the smallest way. We received many struggling members. But with WP Kim's love and guidance we took care of all of them and gave them something to do. He divided us into three groups: 1. Home Church, 2. Church (at that time Sunday Service and Ministers to Korea), and 3. Financial Support. We all worked under NY church with another Rev. Kim and Rev. Sudo as our leaders, but also under WP Kim's guidance.

One evening, shortly after Father had gone to Danbury he called Sawada, Larry Krishnek and I to join him at Belvedere for dinner. When we first arrived, he told us three that we were his Messiah and asked us to work hard during True Father's incarceration. He took us down to the "children's play house" just below Holy Rock next to the pond. He made a condition to live in that little house while Father was in prison so that he could share Father's feeling of being in prison.

Eventually, when Rev. Kim's oldest daughter did not appear at the Blessing Ceremony to everyone's shock and dismay, Rev. Kim totally disappeared for three days. When he returned, he repentfully asked Father to send him to the most "difficult mission". Father sent him to Europe.

We all had such incredible experiences working with Rev. Kim at that time. I recall that many Korean elders would come up to Rev. Kim's office at the WMC after Father's speech on UC Holiday's. They would come in and sit in front of Rev. Kim so humbly with their head and eyes lowered. It was there that I could see the respect that all the Koreans had for Won Pil Kim. He is the only one, besides Father, who ALL addressed as Seun Seng Nim (honorable teacher). I also learned Rev. Kim's spiritual power at that time. Even though he came across as being very soft and almost effeminate, when he had something to say or some direction for you there was great power in his words. Sometimes when he gave me unpleasant directions (things I did not want to do) I felt like brick was being placed in my stomach at the weight of his words until I united.

What a great, great example for us all. God bless and God speed.

Friederun Abrahams:

One of my first experiences with Rev. Kim Won Pil was in 1980 when we officially started Home Church in Brooklyn, New York. He personally prayed with and instructed us of True Father's vision of home church, and gave examples of True Father's life. Rev. Kim never led from above, but always from below (a servant's position). His humility and example kept us growing in our small understanding of True Father and the kind of life of faith we must lead. In March, 1986, he invited me and Hiroshi Goto from the Brooklyn Church, who were doing full time Home Church under his leadership, to Germany where he recently became the leader. (It was I guess a kind of reward but to me it was unforgettable and undeserved. He did not have much time, looked so tired as I could sense his wanting to carry some of TF burden and I felt repentfull in even having accepted this trip.) He did not have too much time for us, but wanted us to tour Germany and he gave me money to visit my family.

My 2nd daughter was 2 months old at the time and came with me. Rev. Kim would always laugh because he could not believe that she was a girl because she made so much noise when she was hungry or tired. Rev. Kim gave names to all of our children.

I also met him several times at the New Yorker in the early 80's, and as I was witnessing on the street near the New Yorker he encouraged me to do more with more sincerity than anyone else -- and he handed me a $ 10.00 to have something to eat. I kept it as treasure for a long time, knowing that this was so much for him as he followed True Father's way and had nothing for himself! And at that time it was for me also a whole lot of undeserved money! It makes you do everything to pay back in more effort and faith. I could not use it to eat!!

In reporting this in his eternal memory I repent that I never fulfilled his expectations. To me he was and is the next best thing next to our True Parents and True Children.

When we moved from Brooklyn to Tennessee as state leaders, even though Rev. Kim was in Germany, he gave us money to use for the sake of our children in the new center. We built a fence around the back yard and restored some things in the center (kitchen and breakfast room) so that they could be more comfortable. Since Rev. Kim did not have his own church which he attended, he always took his tithing money and would place it into a separate account. He would keep this money and use it when Blessed Central Families would come to him in need of a financial safety net. Presumably, this was the money he used to bring Mr. Goto and myself to Germany and which he gave to our family.

For these and many more reasons we will never forget Rev. Kim and are grateful to have known him.

Franco Famularo:

It was the summer of 1978 and I was with the European One World Crusade in Coventry, England, the beginning of home church activities. Father was also in the UK at the time.

We were informed that Rev. Won Pil Kim was to visit and speak at our evening program. He came to our humble center (a 2nd floor office space where we held our meetings). He spoke to the group gathered for the evening program. The same evening, he visited the house we were renting, a small 2-bedroom house where more than 20 of us lived and shared a bathroom. Twenty young men and women from a dozen different nations living in such tight quarters. At times, the atmosphere was tense and heavy. Many of our parents had fought in a war against each other just 30 years earlier. In fact our center leader's uncle participated in the German air force's bombing of Coventry. Here we were, French, Austrian, German, Italian, Japanese, Danes, Portuguese, Canadians, Americans and more trying to save the British.

Rev. Won Pil Kim insisted on staying with us. No one had thought of this possibility. We had no furniture and hardly could provide proper accommodation. He then said it was ok. He would sleep on the floor like the rest of us. He had his sleeping bag. This was definitely not what we were accustomed to.

This was definitely not what we were accustomed to, and made a strong impression on those of us who were privileged to be in his presence. He shared about Father's life and had us all in tears. Much of what he said about Father's life in the UK can be found in the text "Father's Life and our Life of Faith."

At the time, Sung Soo Lee (famous for his activities at News World in the late 70s) served as his translator. Because I knew Sung Soo Lee from his time in Canada some years earlier, Rev Kim invited me up to his room in the early morning before breakfast to share my opinion about how we could improve in our work in Coventry.

I was a kid in my early 20s and here was Father's first disciple asking for my opinion. I shared what came to mind. He listened to me and offered some advice. Most important, he said, was to overcome your own internal issues. He spoke gently and with such care. Even though, it was more than 30 years ago, the feeling is as though it were yesterday. God bless Won Pil Kim.

Myra Meijer:

My love, gratitude, and prayers are with Won Pil Kim at this special time in his new eternal life. He was my first Korean leader. I joined under him as a home church baby from the Bronx was he was in charge of Home church in New York. My spiritual mother was his secretary at the time, so when I joined she would take me to see him and he would always, always be kind and thoughtful, no matter how busy he was or no matter how trivial my struggles were. I don't know if anyone has had a similar experience, but I experienced a lot of Heavenly Mother through Won Pil Kim, because he was so kind, gentle and patient. Definitely not like all the other Korean leaders I had throughout the years!

One experience I remember was when I was just a few months in the church. His office was at the New Yorker Hotel then in 1980. I was feeling sick that day and couldn't go out to my home church area in Greenwich Village. So I stayed at my spiritual mother's room in the New Yorker.

When my spiritual mom told him I was sick, he gave her his lunch and asked that she bring it to me. I was touched that he gave me his lunch, though I didn't know exactly what it was. It was some strange Japanese fish called Sushi. I took my first bite ever with some green paste on it and almost passed out because my mouth was on fire, tears starting rolling down my face. When my spiritual mom told Won Pil Kim what happened he thought it was the funniest thing. He laughed and laughed. I finally got to laugh too. A truly lovely man. God Bless him.

Raymond and Irma Mas:

My wife and I will always treasure the time we spent together with Won Pil Kim. I was part of a group of foreign missionaries called from the field to assist the new Home Church Providence launched by True Father in London.

Won Pil Kim took all of us missionaries under his wings, and what wings they were! For many days we would meet us every morning at 5 am, pouring out his heart to us, speaking about his early days with True Father. There were so many stories, and we felt his desperation to transmit whatever he could of those early days together with True Father and the early followers. I knew then that this was an enormous privilege, but I don't think I really understood how much of one it was. He came to know our couple and gave us wonderful personal guidance. We felt his deep care and love for us. But a few times, when I disappointed him, I felt the full heavenly wrath of this kind and sweet man, and I knew that I did not want to see it again!

But what most impressed me about Rev. Won Pil Kim was his deep humility. He had a driver who would take him all over England, tirelessly visiting centers to give guidance. He spent many nights sleeping in that car. He did not want to incur any expenses and he did not want to burden anyone, because he knew that many members would be running around in a panic to properly prepare for him. That is the kind of man Won Pil Kim was.

At one center, where he was given a bedroom, he discovered that there was a newly Blessed Couple there. He promptly gave them his room and slept in the living room. That was Won Pil Kim.

On another occasion, while visiting a center, he met an older man who had newly joined the church. The man asked Won Pil Kim, "Are you a new member too?" Rev. Kim just laughed and laughed that wonderful joyful laugh of his that I think must have comforted True Father on many lonely nights in the early days. He never took offense or sought to boast of his position. Instead, I felt that he was somehow pleased, that his joyful faith was still intact after all those many years and through so many hardships and pain. That was Won Pil Kim.

This is how he has lived his life. Quietly, humbly, unassumingly. He would be easy to miss if you did not know who he was. But if you had the great good fortune to hear him speak, you could never forget it and it would transform you.

My wife and I want join in honoring this great man of God, for all his years of humble, loving, quiet service to all of us, and to True Father, especially in those lonely, painful and challenging early years. Thank you Rev. Kim

Robert Sayre:

Rev. Kim visited Los Angeles in 1978, staying with his family at the Pasadena House. At the time, I was responsible for the property and kind of a business manager for the region. The "matching and blessing" were in the air and we all were wondering what this was really all about and what this would mean for us.

Rev. Kim met with our membership one morning and in his high and sweet voice explained to us the importance of the Blessing. I remember him saying, "Everyone who is blessed is the same, we all receive this blessing of grace from True Parents. The only difference between me, you and any blessed member is our experiences. I have been around a little longer than others and have more experiences."

Rev. Kim is the personification of humility.

Ken Morgan:

For six years I served on MFT in the mid Atlantic area. During those challenging years we MFT'rs learned to use our time very efficiently. Though we enjoyed few breaks, workshops etc. there were invaluable golden moments of divine love and appreciation showered upon us.

One such treasure for me was a small stapled collection of words, about 20 pages, from Rev. Won Pil Kim. His words were an invaluable source of strength and hope for me. What I appreciated in part was the simplicity, sincerity and genuineness that emanated from each "saying". His gift, much like the profound simplicity of Dae Mo Nim's words, was to distill volumes of content into a few lines.

When Rev. Kim went on a national tour across America, I remember thinking, 'wow, I can only imagine the magnitude of his collective words at this point in time'. To my surprise, his words were the same as before. I realized, there was nothing to add to or improve upon. His words were and are the unvarnished, central words from our Heavenly Father. Thank you so much for your exemplary life of faith Rev. Kim

Shigeyoshi Watanabe (a.k.a. Wabe; artist)

I have lots of memories of Won Pil Kim. In 1980 when True Father called 5 artists in NY, I was one of them. During that time I painted True Father's life stories. Mr. Kim came to our studio with his son Jin Goon and asked me to teach his son how to paint, and so I did for 2 years. During that time Mr. Kim came to the studio many times, watched me paint for a long time, and sometimes shared with me his experiences with True Father. Some times when I met his family on the street, he invited me to go eat at the restaurant with them. He was always friendly and so natural to anyone.

He told me one story. When he came down from North Korea to South Korea, True Father promised to send him to school. So after they got settled in South Korea, True Father sent him to an art university. However, he was never able to graduate because he was too busy for the church and had no money. But he said that it was only thing in his life that he regretted because Father sent him but he didn't graduate with his situations.

Also when he was very sick, True Father called all leaders to America for 40 days training. He went there from the hospital in Japan, and he was so sick that he couldn't walk and see well, but he still went. That is how much he was always sincere towards True Father's wishes and desires.

Jerry Chesnut (worked in Rev. Won Pil Kim's office in America 1984-1991):

To understand what Rev. Kim might think about this testimony, let me tell a story. Forty years after first meeting Father in 1946, while he was leader of the European church, the members there decided to throw him a surprise "40th Spiritual Birthday" celebration in his honor. They even prepared a trophy for him. When Rev. Kim realized what was happening, he canceled the celebration, returned the trophy, and sent everyone home. "How can you honor me for causing suffering to Father for forty years?" was his response.

I became Rev. Kim's driver and assistant in 1984. I discovered that he lived a truly simple life. He always lived in one room with his wife, never owning a home. Their vehicles and residences were public property. Never seeming to sleep more than two or three hours a night, he always went to bed after me, and awoke before I did. He rarely saw his children, missing graduations, recitals, and weddings, so that he could be with us. He and Mrs. Kim never ate in a restaurant or went to the movies or did anything in public without bringing along at least one member, ever. Not even once. Their children would give their parents gifts on occasions, such as a scarf or necktie, only to see members wearing their gifts a few hours later.

Because I've always been skinny, Rev. Kim made Herculean efforts to fatten me up. When I was with him, I ate and ate and ate. He never asked me to wait in the car while he ate with leaders in a restaurant, but always invited me in to sit with them and eat at the same table.

When Father was in Danbury prison, we members in the New York area had a prayer condition every night near what is known as Father's Rock at Belvedere. Each night a different department was responsible to bring its members there to pray from midnight until 2am, if I remember correctly, no matter what the weather was like. Near that rock is a small pond with a tiny log cabin that was built for the wealthy former owner's children to play in. It was full of rat holes and debris and was entirely neglected.

One day, Rev. Kim asked me to help him fix it up a bit, even putting up some leftover wallpaper on the walls. It had no heat, so we put in an electric blanket on top of other blankets on the dirt floor. I didn't know why we were fixing up that cabin, but I guessed that it was to give me the experience of building that cardboard and mud hut that Won Pil Kim and Father had built together in Pusan so many years before. I thought maybe he and I were going to spend the night there.

What few members realized at the time was that Rev. Kim was the only person that went to Belvedere every night to pray during that prayer condition and that, afterwards, would join his tiny, frail wife in that tiny, cold cabin. He had put that electric blanket and that wallpaper in there for her. That was their home during Father's time in Danbury prison. He wanted to share Father's course and created his own, self-inflicted Danbury prison cell. He continued his regular responsibilities after spending nearly sleepless nights in that cabin and never told anyone that they were staying there. It wasn't for show.

John Haydon:

He walked in the Shoes of Servant with a Father's heart.

When many of us think of Rev. Won Pil Kim we admire his humility and sensitivity. Rev. Kim followed True Father with a humble heart and set a high standard for all of Reverend Moon's followers to look up to.

Rev. Kim was a leader and a teacher, but he did it with a dignity and humility that earned the respect of us all. With his gentleness and kindness, Rev. Kim had the ability to give astounding spiritual wisdom.

I remember when I was running the 21-day workshop center in Dunbar in Scotland in 1979, Rev. Kim came to visit is us as there were many members from the International One World Crusade staying at the center. We prepared the best room for Rev. Kim to stay in.

When I came downstairs in the middle of the night, I found Rev. Kim sleeping on the floor in the lecture room in a sleeping bag, just like many of the members, who were sleeping in the other rooms. I was very moved when I saw this. Here was the man that had followed True Father loyally all those years - the first disciple of our movement - yet after all those years he was still the most humble of people in our movement.

In another incident, Rev. Won Pil Kim gently chastised me concerning some of my decisions at the workshop. I was a little upset and I think he saw my disappointment. As I was leaving the room he placed some money in my hand and said, "Go by a suit". I had come from a poor background and it was the first time that someone had shown that kindness. While I have outgrown that suit, it still hangs in my wardrobe and when I look at it I remember this most humble man of God, who throughout his life sowed seeds of wisdom and taught me to give kindness to other. He was a true example of our True Father. 

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