The Words of the Ayerza Family
Ricardo Ayerza teaching at the Parents' Seminar.
At the Conquistador Hotel in Buenos Aires on May 23-25, 1986, twenty guests attended our first Principle seminar for parents of members of the Unification Church in Argentina. Because this was the first workshop of its kind, we had the greatest expectations.
Every Unification Church member knows that one of our main concerns is the persecution we face because of our parents' ignorance concerning our religious principles and their fear that we are being deceived by Rev. Moon. Here in Argentina, as in other countries, some parents killed the seed of faith that had begun to sprout in their children's hearts. Now, however, they were giving us the opportunity to explain our beliefs.
The parents came from several parts of the country. One even traveled over a thousand kilometers to attend. Several of them were parents of members who are now working in the United States, Korea, or Europe. It was clear that they weren't coming to meet their children, but to listen to us. This fact increased the weight of our responsibility.
At the opening dinner our American missionary and national leader, Thomas Field, officially thanked the parents for coming. Afterwards we introduced each one with applause. Everybody looked happy and relaxed -- parents, members, and staff. Everybody except one -- me. I had the mission of lecturing, but I was having a difficult time grasping the overall character of the workshop because some parents were intellectual, others more emotional; some were old, others younger; some already knew the Principle or something about it, others knew nothing; some of them were parents of members 10 years in the church, others of members who had joined quite recently. I had to find the common denominator to reach everybody.
All the participants of the seminar. National leader Thomas Field is in front row, fourth from right.
It's easy to smile now when I recall my emotions then. But at that time fear produced all kinds of negative thoughts in me like, "Maybe one of the parents is a 'super-Cain'," or "This blackboard will probably fall down in the middle of the lecture"
After the Japanese missionary Etsuko Aoki said some welcoming words, I was even more concerned. She said, "I have two little children, and now I can understand more the heart of a mother. All day long I think of my children. I always miss them, always want to see them, be with them -- every hour, every minute -- and now I can understand much more how you feel being away from your children. But in this seminar we will explain to you why this is necessary"
When I heard these deep words I felt that my main purpose was to move the hearts of these parents in such a way that they could gratefully accept their children's commitment to the church and even feel inspired themselves to help the providence. To conquer their hearts in only two days seemed a difficult challenge, but with an opening prayer I could remove the negativity from my own mind and begin. Soon I felt inspired and free, and once again I learned that beginning is halfway to victory.
Everything went well -- the blackboard didn't fall down, there was no "super-Cain" nobody interrupted, and everybody showed interest and understanding. During the lecture on the mission of Jesus, some parents even shed tears. They were so interested that they didn't want to take a break between lectures. When we were beginning a new lecture, they never had to be called twice.
It was inspiring to see the enthusiastic and positive faces of some parents who, years ago, had come to our centers in anger and caused a scandal because their children had escaped from their homes to join "la Secta Moon" (as the media calls us). Now we had a great opportunity not only to explain ourselves but to seriously emphasize the importance of the present time and of taking responsibility.
On the last day I gave the lecture on the Second Coming. After I explained how, when, and where the Messiah would come, a mother asked, "What, then, is the providential role of Rev. Moon in relation to the Lord?" My answer was quick and direct: "We believe Rev. Moon is the Lord!"
There was silence in the room. Some eyes shined. I think that at that moment they could understand what had happened in the hearts of their children and why they had left home. Later, some members of the staff shared that they had experienced the same feeling as the first time they heard that the Messiah was among us -- the same elation, the same seriousness as the first time.
Tom Field gave a final talk about the activities of the entire movement and shared ideas about ways in which the parents could actively participate with us. We were pleased when all the parents signed a Parents' Declaration supporting their children's involvement in the Unification Church and each one also filled out a Unification movement associate membership form.
Now we can indeed feel that these parents are our friends and will always defend us in front of others. Our Parents' Association is now an active reality as a branch of the Unification Church in Argentina.