The Words of the Biermans Family
Recently I have been doing some soul-searching about what it takes to bring spiritual children. My search stems from my own desire to witness to ministers and find new spiritual children, as well as from the many questions I have received from brothers and sisters -- my own spiritual children among them. My thoughts and prayers on this issue have been prompted further by the efforts of the powerful new witnessing team in New York under the direction of Mr. Kamiyama and Mr. Nakamura.
The sincerity and dedication of this team has been a source of deep inspiration to everyone at headquarters. Nowadays these brothers and sisters can be seen around central Manhattan with bright faces and survey folders under their arms. Just seeing them inspires me to pray for their victory and to make more effort on my own.
My most recent potential spiritual child is a graduate student who works at a law library -- and studies Korean in his spare time! As I try to teach and care for this person and share with other members who are witnessing, that key question arises: What does it take to bring a spiritual child? Further, how can we know when we have given enough?
With such profound reflections in my heart, I was recently asked to give morning service. Late at night I prayed in preparation. I knew there must be answers to this question in Father's words, and the obvious place to look was in How to Witness: To State Leaders, given on April 1, 1977. As I read the speech, I did indeed come across several passages that yielded answers. Father spoke at length about having the heart of a parent who stays up all night praying for his lost child.
At this moment I received a long-distance call from a spiritual child. I was very tired, and at first I didn't wish to be interrupted from my preparation, but my parental instincts told me that it was important to take the time to share with her. Soon I realized that Heavenly Father was directing the circumstances: The purpose of her call was to ask me precisely the question I was praying about.
As it happened, she had been making great effort in witnessing. She had met many good people who she felt were extremely well-prepared, but none of them joined. She was struggling to understand what it took. As she shared with me, many insights flooded into my mind based on what I had just read. Then, as I spoke, I realized that Heavenly Father was speaking through me to answer our question, so I began to take notes! These insights, outlined below, formed the basis of my morning service.
As Father has taught us, we need to come to the point where we can pray with tears. However, many of us have barriers in our hearts that block us from feeling the desperation Father describes. Some members feel, "Well, that's Father...but I can never love other people that much" I am sure many of us have gone to the prayer room, longing to feel our hearts ache with love for the people we invite but finding it nearly impossible to open our hearts, let alone shed tears. The spiritual daughter who called me described her situation in this way.
I explained to her that you have to want a person to join so badly that your heart aches, as the heart of a parent does when his child does not come home at night. That parent will search all night for his missing child, without any thought of sleep or food or time. Only this kind of desperation can move Heavenly Father and the spirit world. You have to go beyond the limitations of what you think you can give.
I know this to be absolutely true from my own experiences. It is not just a matter of spending all night in the prayer room, putting in the time. I only brought victory when I suffered. When we feel pain, we naturally cry. Father explains:
As witnessers, you must have such a deep heart of concern that you burst into tears when you pray for people. You must strive to make yourselves that way, but without my experience for comparison you will not progress too far. Suppose one of your hard-won members goes somewhere and does not return by the middle of the night. Would you really stay awake and cry for him, praying for his return? If you do that and he does come back the next day, he will tell you that he also had a sleepless night....
If you really love the person you witness to, then he has no place on this wide earth that he wants to go, except to where your love is. Once you can feel these things, then your spiritual door is open for communication. You have to train yourselves to relate to others in this way. It is not possible to cheat in spiritual matters as it is in worldly matters.
When you develop intense prayer, then those who are the objects of your prayer will come to where you are in spite of themselves, even going blindly to the train station where you are witnessing, to find their spiritual home. Have you ever experienced this? Have you been able to love another person in such a way that you can save him, and he will follow you wherever you go? That is the perfect savior, isn't it? When you share this beautiful love with another person, it will probably be the first such experience in that person's life. Since it is the first, he will cherish the memory of it as long as he lives. You have to have that intense feeling of love toward the people you witness to. When you love a person like that, he will be drawn to you.
Another point I learned is that our prayer should be constant when we witness. Since we are religious people, this is important in order to make God a part of everything we do. If we have a strong prayer consciousness, then we will sense that the person we meet is Heavenly Father's precious son or daughter. When we pray for this person, we will naturally feel how God feels, and not how we personally feel from our own limited point of view.
My own experience is that when I really feel God's suffering heart for a spiritual child or a minister or any person, my heart becomes vulnerable and I can indeed pray with tears. This is a special experience, because such tears are not for myself, but for Heavenly Father. This is how Father describes such prayer:
What you are doing is simply living a religious life; it must be accompanied by tears, and must be connected securely with the spirit world. If you have not experienced this, then your religious life must be improved. When you pray, do you often feel cold, with no deep emotion welling up from within you? When you are in that state you are like a flower which cannot attract a bee to drink its nectar. People will come, desiring to have their lives connected to your life, when they feel that God is present with you. You have to feel God's presence in your centers.
When you maintain this spirituality, then people will come and rest in you. Each day, without thinking, you will know who will come to visit and what kind of events will occur. When you can develop such a heart, then imagine how interesting witnessing will become. For this reason I am telling you that you must have deep and intense prayer.
The period in my life when I prayed most intensely was when I witnessed for the lives of others. I prayed in an area that was nine square feet and that area was always soaking wet with tears. Man's departure from God took place in the midst of tears, and now as man is being restored back to God, we must meet God in a tearful position.
When you pray you must have the sense that God's spirit is really close. After such prayer you will feel relief at having been spiritually victorious. I can tell you to do this, but most important is for you to feel the necessity of prayer on your own. When you are hungry you want to eat; in the same way you must feel the need to pray, feeling unsettled if you do not. With that urge and need to pray often you can experience meaningful prayer.
I would like to share one deep experience with a spiritual child that confirms these points. I met her when I was in the middle of law school exams. I was so busy that I arranged for someone else to go to the workshop with her. As it turned out, the spirit world wouldn't let me study anyway! Under very difficult circumstances at the end of the workshop, I made effort to give life to her. I had to go completely beyond my own concepts about what was possible and what was not.
That was just the beginning. She had been an atheist, and when she decided to join our movement she encountered overwhelming hostility from her family and friends. I was concerned and desperate to protect her. Sometimes I felt helpless because I could not be with her enough to support and comfort her. Nevertheless she was able to grow in her faith. Eventually she went to another mission far away from me. Despite the great distance, I still felt close to her in heart since I had suffered so much with her through her difficult course. But the worst was yet to come.
About a year and half later, I received word that she had been kidnapped.
The shock I experienced was so overwhelming that I felt numb. My immediate reaction was to go to the prayer room to pray for her. At first I cried, but then I couldn't even cry anymore; the situation was so painful and heavy. I felt totally helpless, and only when I reached out to comfort God did I feel comforted too.
Each night my prayer brought relief from the terrible heaviness I felt about her situation. One night as I was praying, I was suddenly overcome with a feeling of confidence that she was all right, that she was being strong and faithful in her ordeal. The feeling was so real and immediate that I could almost picture her at that moment! After this powerful experience, I expected to hear from her any day.
I kept listening for phone calls, each time thinking surely it was her. On one occasion I was told I had a long-distance call, so I raced up a hill to where the phone was located -- only to find out that it was someone else calling me. I could barely hide my disappointment from the person who was on the telephone. However, my faith did not weaken, and a few days later I did hear from her. It was such a tremendous relief to learn that she had been victorious during this terrible test of faith. To speak to her made me feel that a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
The reason I share this experience is to show how much suffering we may have to go through for our spiritual children. There is always that sneaky voice within that tries to convince us that it isn't worth the effort; that it is just too painful; and that we don't want to be that vulnerable. Yes, it does take effort; it is painful, and we do become vulnerable -- but that has been Heavenly Father's heart throughout the ages. It is through such experiences that we can discover God and be reborn. And it was through witnessing that Heavenly Father was able to give me back my heart again.