The Words of the Yakawich Family
"Don't be satisfied with your
present situation. The greater future awaits you. The greater future
comes through greater persecution in the present."
The Fountain of Life (words of Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon)
Recently, I received an e-mail from someone who stated that due to my faith they "will search for you (me) in Hell." After reading this with prayer, I first gave a big sigh. Then with more reflection I gave a big chuckle. It made me reminisce in my mind the many times I have been persecuted for my faith. The minister who would not allow me to receive communion due to my faith, the Catholic Bishop who excommunicated me, the drug dealer who shot at me, the politician that cursed me, the newspaper that slandered, the neighbor that shunned me, the person that betrays me all due to 'my faith'. Ironically, in most cases, they later apologized for their view and became my ally in the community.
Yet, as I share here, I have found Hell many times in the lives of my neighbors, friends and community. The misery of divorce, quagmire of drug addictions, tragedy of suicide, devastating rape, domestic abuse, gangs, alcoholism, mental health issues, seemingly insurmountable financial challenges, racial and religious prejudice can be one's living hell. And I guess one is correct that I have willingly gone into another's "hell" to if not rescue them at the least help them back to sanity, support, self-esteem and safety. "Shed your tears for saving the world."* It is where I have found the "The Power and Joy in Living for the Greater Good in My Community".
This spring began with the joy of the Annual Easter Egg Hunt with a 9,000 plastic eggs with candy inside at our local south park. Organizing such an event takes a lot of time and energy. Yet, the results of seeing 500 children gather in two minutes to scoop up all the eggs is amazing! Local groups donated money and help. It was a great spirit of resurrection, compassion and community service. billingsgazette.com/news/local/easter-egg-events-draw-lots-of-kids/article_e64dee53-4ad6-5225-89af-9415f4842670.html (watch related video) We even had a college youth group work with us this year.
These months pass so quickly. We seldom have time to take a breath and count our blessings. Today, I decided to do just that. Count my blessings.
I am very inspired by Father Moon's guidance on Home Church work. I find this the most joy filled part of our lives. Our friends and our family, our spiritual family. Tiny and Chris have been one of our longest friends in the community. They recently pulled out pictures to share with our boys the many experiences over 16 years we have had.
Last month, another very close friend who we met in our home church area granddaughter contacted us to do a marriage ceremony for her and her fiancé. They have been living together for ten years and have a child. My wife and I counseled them and encouraged them to get married. They agreed. Over the past several weeks, they have attended our marriage classes faithfully. In June they will be married.
We read from the autobiography, A Global Peace Citizen, as part of these marriage lessons. Marriage, legacy, true love all makes so much sense to them. They listen to a lecture on the Three Blessings and the value and significance of the Blessing. They listened with much investment and attention. We are teaching them how to pray and they share how grateful we have come into their lives. They received the autobiography and even shared that they read the book on their own.
Speaking of this Autobiography, we continue to hand this wonderful book out. In March I was visiting with two directors of a corrections institution in Montana. These corrections people worked with me on a community project. During part of our session, we talked about Rev. Moon and my faith and his recent autobiography. Later, I received an e-mail for the first time someone requesting the auto. It was from the director of this institution.
He wrote, "Mike, thanks for your support…I enjoyed learning your faith a bit and your personal experience. I would like to read the bio." God moves people's hearts in mysterious and wonderful ways.
While at a local city council meeting last month, I was astounded by the words of the Mayor. I spoke before city council on a recent $200k project we are working on in rebuilding a gazebo in a local park. As the committee chair and chair of a task force, I thank the city for all their great support. The mayor spoke as I was about to sit down, "And Mr. Yakawich, we would like to thank you for your dedication, support and commitment to our community." And to think a few years ago we were opponents in the race for Mayor of Billings.
Serving the community goes in many directions. I was honored to give a sermon at a local minister's 4th year anniversary. My wife and I have known his family for over 20 years here in Billings. I was asked to MC and provide a sermon for this church. It was a wonderful opportunity to reflect and reminisce. God has blessed us in many ways here in Billings.
During a local Black History month program at the city library, we were talking about city issues. A local, white Baptist minister commented, "Mike, could we get your input on your ideas as how to make our city better?" This minister in the early years of my ministry persecuted me and now is asking for my wisdom.
We keep going forward with suicide prevention in our community. It is a heavy issue that requires so much effort. Our team of local professionals has rolled up our sleeves to provide this year two trainings for youth services and local community members. Last week our Coalition was able to present on suicide prevention to a youth corrections. They were very grateful.
On another note, a past mayor whom we first met when we came to Billings is a very strong Christian. He initially opposed our work here mostly due to his lack of knowledge of my founder. Recently, he and another local leader have asked for my endorsement. I am amazed how love conquers all. He wrote recently, "Dear Mike, Thank you for your contribution to my campaign! I appreciate your gift, your endorsement, your moral support, and your offer to help in others ways. Thanks again, Mike and my best to Yukiko."
In an effort to support local Christian groups, we invited one to our home for dinner. It was heartwarming. She wrote later. "Dear Yakawich Family, Thank you so much for opening your home to me and having me over for dinner. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed trying some new foods (which were surprisingly tasty). Thank again Anna (Community Leadership Development Inc. rebuilding lives, restoring families, re-neighboring communities).
Finally, this past Monday, I was honored to conduct my 20th funeral in our community. A customer's son in law had passed and the family requested my services. I was reminded once again how brief this visit to our planet earth is. It is a good time to use our lives as wisely as possible especially I feel in service toward others.
Just like in 1979 when I began my mission work as today, when I have been serving the Lord, a common comment has been, "You are such a nice guy, why are you following this man Moon?" I laughed then and I laugh now, I never followed a man. I follow(d) my conscience, my heart, the calling from my Heavenly Father. And therefore His calling has been to serve and love my community for there is where I have found the true power of the Holy Spirit and joy in living for the sake of others.
Have a blessed summer 2012!
"The conscience is God's
representative in man. To neglect the conscience is to neglect
The Fountain of Life (words of Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon)