The Words of the Yamada Family
Witnessing Is A Lifestyle
November 29, 2003
By Shingo Yamada, son of Kouki and Elizabeth Yamada. (Shingo, along with Koko Nakai, are students at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey)
The front row is all Second Generation. That's good!
As you can see, this is a different kind of service, very lively. When I first took on the responsibility to give the sermon, I was told to keep the sermon down to 20 or 30 minutes. For me that's very difficult. I want to speak longer. But the reason for that is not to be the center of attention. But it's such a rare chance to talk in front of my brothers and sisters. This is a very rare occasion. Most of us, we rarely see each other, only on the weekends. So, as a brother, I'm concerned, naturally, for my younger brothers and sisters. What's going on in the life outside of this church community.
And that brings me to my sermon topic, "Witnessing as a Lifestyle." Recently I participated in a National Educators Workshop at Unification Theological Seminary. My most memorable experience there came at the most unexpected time. It was after we had a deep discussion between First and Second Generation.
I was putting away chairs, and talked to this one particular brother, Takamitsu Sakua. He changed my outlook on education forever. He asked me, very nicely, "So, you're an educator, huh?" And I said, "Yes."
He asked me, also nicely, "So what should an educator do?" And I said, "Hmmm, educators should teach how to live for the sake of others!" He said, "Keep going." I thought, "I might have left something out." So I said, "Educators should teach the core values."
Then he said to me, "I asked Hyung Jin Nim the same question, and do you know what Hyung Jin Nim said? "An educator should show his life." Wow. And so what made that experience even deeper was that Takamitsu-hyung told me, he had also wanted to ask Hyung Jin Nim, "What should an educator's attitude be?" He waited one whole year to ask Hyung Jin Nim this one question.
And Hyung Jin Nim said, "An educator should do three things. An educator should have a high standard. Raise the bar high. The second thing an educator should do is energize, and sometimes kick them in the butt. And then a third: An educator should build trust, by overcoming a limitation -- overcoming it and transforming himself."
For me, this was a big realization. So Takamitsu-hyung told me immediately after that, "Go tell your friends!" I had gone to the workshop with Koko and Jason. Automatically that night, Gosh, I'll never forget this experience. The first two people who came to mind, of people who teach by their lifestyle, are True Parents. Their whole entire life has reflected what? The Principle. We didn't have to read it. It was not in a book. We could actually see it! It was there.
Because we can see what they've gone through -- we see in their lifestyle, we see what Father has gone through in the past, and True Mother, and both of them as a couple, the True Parents of Heaven and Earth -- we can see, and say, "Heavenly Father, this is what it means to be a True Couple. This is what a Four Position Foundation is. This is what the Three Great Kingships are. This is what the Realm of the Royal Family is."
We can see it. We don't have to read it. We can feel it, experience it. This is why we are so lucky to have our True Parents.
One of the True Children once said, "We are so lucky. The True Parents resemble, they ARE the substantial manifestation of the Divine Principle. It's not just words. It's not just understanding an intellectual concept. It's understanding something in our heart and spirit.
Imagine, historically when the Bible was first created, and then mass-produced. There were no True Parents, not even a True Family. There was no lineage on the earth. That's so sad, don't you think? There was no one that mankind could look up to as an example. There was no True Family. There was nothing substantial to build upon. It was so difficult.
So we are so lucky today, in this providential era right now. When we see our True Parents, we are so inspired.
You know, last summer for my birthday, my parents gave me a CD of True Parents, when they were singing songs in the '70s. I'm sure many First Generation can remember how much joy they felt to sing those songs, [singing], "Um maya nu naya," along with True Parents. Every single day. Because First Generation were always on the front line. They had that time with True Parents. It was so liberating and joyful.
I heard on the CD all this laughter! True Father and True Mother laughing. The First Generation laughing. Such a joyous and harmonious experience. It's something that brought out, what? Your original nature.
True Parents have lived a principled lifestyle, and that brought out what? Our original nature. We can see this nature in Hyung Jin Nim too, right? All Second Generation are bouncing up and down, "Go Hyung Jin Nim! Yeah!!" And right afterward, you feel, "Let's go! Let's go!" You have that inspiration all the time.
Because of what? These figures, True Father, True Mother, True Family, they're living what we want to live. We want to live THAT kind of lifestyle. Yes! And we're so inspired. But it's hard to follow. Because they are living that principled lifestyle. And we want to do the same thing.
There is this one student at Seton Hall. This is a recent experience. She comes from Paterson, New Jersey. She's in my nursing class. She's a nursing major just like me. She says, "I have such a problem with cursing, Shingo! I always just belt out all these curses."
I said, "You know what, Erika? You know what we're going to start today, right here in this lab? We're going to have this little cup, and it has your name on it. Every time you curse, you're going to give me some money."
You may think, "Oh, Shingo, I've heard this kind of thing before, I don't need to hear this." But you know, actually, the next week, she's like, "Shingo, you won't believe it, man. I didn't curse at all this week!" And I wasn't expecting it to work! But she had it in her mind the whole day, the whole week. So the following week's lab period, I didn't hear "Bleep! Bleep! Bleep!" I heard nice, simple, natural conversation, nothing vulgar. It was very inspiring to me. (Applause).
It's through example, not through words, that we grow. We can see this in our First Generation, and also through the True Children. The True Children, they didn't have True Parents to educate them. True Parents were always on the front line, sacrificing for the sake of the world, living more for the sake of the world than for the sake of their own family. This was the condition that they had to lay.
But -- True Children SAW this. They actually could see the Principle through True Parents' lifestyle. Not through the sermons that True Father gave to them, but their lifestyle. True Children saw True Parents living more for the sake of the world than for the sake of themselves. And through this the True Children could see that the True Parents' love for Heavenly Father and love for the whole world grew. Not through reading books, but SEEING what their parents were doing.
Much like our First Generation also. Our First Generation, like our True Parents, had to sacrifice. They had to lay the foundation. They had to put everything aside, that they were doing in their old life, and live for the sake of God's will, and God's Providence, for His desires, not their own. Through this sacrifice, the Second Generation was born.
So if I could kindly ask all Second Generation right now, if you guys could stand up? I might regret this later, I might get like, "Shingo, why'd you do this?" But could you all look at the First Generation?
We are forever, forever linked to their victories. Everything that they did in their life, all our victories in our life, all the blessings in our life, that we experience, are because of them.
All the blessings, and all the victories we have in our lives as members, are because of our True Parents. In the same way, all the blessings, and all the victories we have in our lives as Second Generation, are linked to our parents. So let's thank our parents right now, by clapping. Yeah!!
But I want to ask you Second Generation one question. Do you want the same for your children? Every parent naturally wants and desires: "I want my child to be greater than me." I'm not sure if any Second Generation in this room have their own children yet, but I'm sure in your hearts, you want your children to be better than yourselves. You want to share with them the love that you have fostered in your heart over your whole life. You want to grow some love in your heart, and then, "I'm going to grow this love, and when my first son comes, or my first daughter comes, BOOM! I'm going to give everything to her -- or him."
But how can we do this? We can't do this just by reading Hoon Dok Hae every day. Not just by that. It has to be experienced. What do the First Generation do best? Testimonies!! And that encourages us so much! I want to hear them! "Wow! Let's go! Now! I want to experience that!" Don't you want the same for your children? I would want the same for my children! I want to share something, where they'll feel, "Wow, Dad that's such a great story! Dad, say it again!"
But how can we become these kinds of people? We can't do this just by sitting around! Or, "I read Hoon Dok Hae today, and it was great." It has to be by actually doing, and experiencing in our lifestyle. So how can we do this?
By going on the front line. Witnessing. Serving. Don't think of serving as, "Okay, gotta build a house for someone," or something like that. Start small. Work your way up. Witnessing doesn't have to be going into the middle of a church, and like -- "TRUE PARENTS ARE ALIVE ON EARTH RIGHT NOW!!! LET'S GO! FORGET YOUR SUNDAY SERVICE, YOU'VE GOT TO FOLLOW ME!!" No. Start with one person. Start serving very small. Everything builds from something very small, and then grows.
Why do we serve? Like I said before, we want to do something for others. But we also want to build something in ourselves. We want to create something in our character, and then grow, as individuals. As we serve, we come to feel Heavenly Father's heart.
You know when I was in high school, I would study many times until 1 or 2 in the morning. No matter how tired I was -- I would feel, "Oh, I'm so tired! I don't want to stay up! I want to go to sleep! I want to go to bed."
And you know what I realized when I remembered that? As I was working on this sermon, I thought, many Second Generation hear the words, "Front line." Some of us feel kind of "--- Ohhh I don't know about that..." But you know, the front line is a lifestyle. And there's always going to be a front line right here, between your mind and body. There's always going to be that front line where your body is saying, "Oh, I want to go to sleep Shingo! I don't want to stay up right now! I want to go to sleep!" But your mind is saying, "I need to study! I want to do something for a greater purpose." The mind is thinking far beyond. The body is thinking, "Right now!"
There is always that struggle between your mind and body. That is your front line. Because once this battle is won, you can advance. You can push Satan back!
During those experiences studying in high school, on those nights when I would stay up late into the night studying, nobody would be at home. My mother would be out working. And before I would go to sleep, I would write letters to my mother, and sincerely I would say to her. "Thank you. Thank you for doing what your are doing." She would work almost 80 hours a week to pay my tuition for high school. Doing this, and also taking care of three other sons. All I could say was, "Thank you. Thank you, Mom," from my deepest heart.
That just took five minutes of my night away. But you know, in the morning, I felt so comforted in my heart, because I was able to serve my mother in such a small way,. I was able to say thank you. "Thank you mother. Thank you True Parents for giving me my mother."
And you know, now that I'm in college, you know who's starting that now, and carrying on that tradition for me? My younger brother, Kengo. So when somebody sees somebody living such a serving lifestyle -- kind of like a lifestyle of living for the sake of others -- we will want to follow naturally.
So that's why witnessing is not just a "Step 1. Step 2." I see witnessing, and education, as similar. You're actually educating a person -- about True Parents, about God's will. So, in essence, we're educating.
Our goal for these "witnesses," these people we're witnessing to, is to become our spiritual children, our spiritual sons and daughters. Every child grows up differently. And every child needs what? Love. But love is not just, "Step 1: Now you're 15, now you can be introduced to this and this." Love is very dynamic. It's growing. It's how you interpret it through your heart, heartistically.
So the front line is not somewhere far away. The front line is right here, inside of us. Every day, fighting and struggling: "What should I do?" Your mind wants to go this way, but your body wants to go that way! And often, we feel like we're in a battle.
You know, World War I was known for having all these trenches, across the European continent. Many times the soldiers would just hide in their trench, and make sure they wouldn't get hit. Keep their head down, and these bullets, "Ching! Ching! Ching! Ching!" They would just fly over their heads. Often there would be stalemates throughout the whole European countryside -- No action, no firing, nothing. Because the minute someone would pop out ? "Boom!" They're shot.
Imagine what one soldier might be going through. I'll put myself in his situation. My body might say,"Shingo, if you go over that trench, you're gonna get hit. All the enemy bullets -- every single gun is going to be pointed at YOU! And you're gonna die. You're surely gonna die." But the mind -- at that very moment -- is gonna be thinking, "Shingo, you know if you go over -- and you should go over -- the minute you go over and show your courage and show your heart to your comrades, they will follow you. Then everybody -- everybody -- will go over.
"And when the enemy sees this, they'll be so blown away, and so amazed. And they'll have to retreat, because they weren't expecting that. They're expecting people just to stay put. And they're waiting for the planes to come over and bomb them."
So let's push forward. Let's unite our mind and body through serving, through living for the sake of others. Through witnessing, you can feel the amount of love Father has toward this one human being.
You've all seen the movie, "Braveheart." In one scene, William Wallace says, "They may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!" Freedom starts not on the national or the worldwide level. Freedom starts where? Hyung Jin Nim always says, "Revolution starts here!" Freedom starts here! If we can unite our mind and body right here, then we can free others. We can become an army of freedom fighters, who can free others from the hold that Satan has on them.
Who should lead this army? Who has led this army? True Parents have led this army for over 63 years. True Parents and the First Generation have been on the front line for their whole lives. But they are aging. Who do you think True Parents and the First Generation are expecting to rise in the ranks? I'm looking at them right now.
It's very difficult. I understand. And the difficulty is just part of the experience.
When I was going through my most difficult times in life -- I know, maybe everyone here thinks, "Oh, Shingo is, like, a goody two shoes." But it's not true. I went through tough times. I'm sure every Second Generation has been through tough times. But the turning point, when I went from my toughest time, to transformation -- in my own case it was when I looked at my brothers -- I looked at Kengo, and I looked at Shogo and at Daigo. I realized that whatever happens to me, will ultimately affect them in one way or another. My mother always used to use this parable, "When you shoot an arrow, the arrowhead is always the first thing that is going to be hit. It's always the toughest course. It always has the most friction. But everything will follow that arrowhead. So if you hit the bulls eye, everything else will be on the bulls eye. But if you steer away, even just a little bit, everything will follow off track a little bit."
So I remember that night so well. Kengo, Shogo and I were sleeping, and there was just me and my Mom staying awake, talking. And I promised her, with my deepest sincere heart, "I'll not leave you anymore." Because I remember, I caused them so much torment as an older brother. But they always stuck in there for me. Kengo was always there, Shogo was always there, Daigo was always there. They wouldn't give up on me. Kengo would say, "Mom don't worry, Shingo's gonna come around." And you know what, I regret I wasn't there for Kengo. But now I HAVE to be there for Kengo. Because I'm an older brother. I want to help Kengo grow to become greater than me. I want all the Second Generation, and also, I'm sure they want their younger brothers and sisters, to grow and become better than them.
Because when we see them, we say, "Yeah, I remember when he was five years old. Gosh, look at him now. It's so inspiring to see that." Not because it's self-rewarding, but because it's natural. It's what you feel as a brother or a sister. And I can't thank my older brothers and sisters enough for being an example for me. They might not feel like they were an example. But in reality they were.
So when it comes to front line work, look at it as our parents did. I don't think our parents had the concept of, "I can't do this anymore. I just can't handle it, Heavenly Father." They thought: "The more blood, sweat and tears I put into my mission -- into Heavenly Father's mission -- the more Heavenly Father's providence will grow. The more foundation to become great sons and daughters of Heavenly Father and True Parents." My mom always told me, and I'm sure many other First Generation feel this as well, that "You are not my son. You are God's son."
At the very same Educator's seminar that I went to, one blessed wife said that. And when she said that, I thought exactly of my mother. I'm sure every person in this room believes that: That this child is not my child, it's God's child.
So what should we do right now? Go forward, push forward with all your heart. Bring your friends, your younger siblings. Tell them, "Don't worry, we're going to be fine. Just go. Don't worry, I'll take care of you." And bring them with you. As older brothers and sisters, let's go forward.
I know it's tough. But the brothers and sisters back here, younger than you, they'll feel your love when they see you out there. And when they reach that point that you've led them to, they'll be so grateful for you. We might not see it now, but if we lead them -- through example, through living for the sake of others, through witnessing, through following Father's directions with absolute faith, absolute love, and absolute obedience -- these younger brothers and sisters will follow. They'll be so grateful for us later on.
Finally -- every soldier really feels when he goes into battle, "My whole country is resting on my shoulders." But I feel every Second Generation, and every Unification Church member, they feel the whole world is laying on their shoulders. And not just their country, but every God's son and daughter is resting on their shoulders.
So, Second Generation, let's really pull together as one whole family, rather than separate individuals leading separate lives. Let's move forward together. We're moving toward the same goal. We're working toward that goal as one family. I don't look at Jason as someone who is from another family. I see Jason as my closest brother. The same for Koko, Dan, and Yoshi. They're as precious to me as my own brothers, as my blood brothers. So I can't thank them enough for being right there beside me. I know when they are right there beside me, they are going to be experiencing everything with me, no matter what it may be.
So let's work together. We can do this! We have to believe in each other, and we have to motivate each other to do this.
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