The Words of the Fenoli Family
Luciano, left, and his partner who pioneered with him for 40 days in Milan. At right is the national leader of Italy, Mr. Franco Ravaglioli.
Since Father declared the dispensation of home church in 1976 in America, most of us have done some home church work, but we didn't always bring a substantial victory. In my experience, substantiating home church means embodying home church, being a living source of home church, and being a co-creator with God of home church. For me, all of these can be expressed in one sentence: Home church is everything I do.
Home church is not a mission we will do just for a period of time, for the next seven or 21 years, but it is our destiny and our life. It is the only way we can inherit True Parents' heart, foundation, and victory. I remember Father said in 1981, when he started the dispensation for the Children's Course, that in seven years we could fulfill everything and avoid a 21-year course. My experiences have made home church so real and touchable to me that I feel God wants me to share my experience to try to help others to understand the meaning of substantiating home church.
One question that many brothers and sisters and I myself have asked is, "How do I know if I have succeeded in home church or not? Does doing home church mean only visiting my 360 homes or can it also include my mission?" We have had all kinds of different guidance through many speeches and testimonies, but in reality, success in our home church course means bringing 84 spiritual children. This is the only substantial proof that we have been successful in these first seven years of the Children's Course that just ended this spring.
While doing home church in England, Luciano slept under this tree for seven months.
In the winter of 1978 I started my first home church work together with another brother in a very wealthy area in Milan, Italy. We pioneered for 40 days, as Father had asked members to do in America. We slept almost the whole time outside a church under two marble chairs. Sometimes we slept near the elevator on the top of a building in our area. We only had sleeping bags, and I remember it was freezing cold. My partner was a young brother who had just joined the church, and I felt a lot of sympathy for him, but at least we could suffer and endure together. We couldn't get any substantial results, but we contacted many people, and we even testified about what we were doing to the priest of the church where we slept.
My second home church area was also in Milan. It was exactly the type of home church area that Father says is ideal, because our church center was right in the middle of the area. Contacting millionaires in their beautiful villas in this area was really a via cruces -- a way of the cross -- for me, because these rich people never wanted to be served in any traditional way. In this area I learned that what we want to do for people may not be what they want. We have to study our area and see what the needs of the people are.
I became friends with some of the rich young people there, and I would go into the bars and play billiards or watch TV and talk about the soccer games with them. This didn't mean I became one of them, but I tried to befriend them with the heart of True Parents. I hoped to offer them, bit by bit, an alternative to their satanic habits and vision and their preoccupation with money. They were not interested in God, of course, and none of them went to church, but I could represent a kind of living church to them. Many of them eventually invited me into their homes. I became a friend to one rich old man because he was interested in hearing about my experiences as a missionary in Korea and Japan. Thus, during this time I learned how to serve people simply by becoming their friend.
In 1979 I moved to Rome, where I got another home church area. This area was very special because there were rich people, poor people, and middle class people there, and also many leftists whom I had to challenge. In my area was an underground office of the Communist Party, where a lot of young people met to print leaflets and talk about how to make a revolution and blow up the headquarters of the Democratic Party. I went to visit them and I asked them, "What are you doing?"
Some of these young people, working on the front line of the leftist revolution, invited me to come to their homes and listen to all of their complaints about problems with wages, their families, and apartment living. They felt that the government didn't really care about the citizens. I felt responsible to resolve their resentment, because these young people had no hopeful vision for the future. Bit by bit, I became their friend by taking an interest in what they were doing without criticizing them. I felt I could win their hearts eventually by serving them. Soon I was becoming very much involved, and I was very sorry to have to move again when asked to help with another mission.
Luciano held a workshop for these young people he met in one of his home church areas in Italy.
Many of us have struggled with changing our home church areas numerous times, wondering if our efforts still count. It's a struggle I had to overcome too. But as far as I understand, it doesn't matter how many times you change your area -- as long as you did something there and completed your roster and passed it on with your picture to another person to continue the work there. That is your responsibility, and it is the responsibility of the center leader to see that the work is carried on. An area can be restored by more than one person, and all of them can have spiritual children from the same area. Our home church work is actually global, and all of us can cooperate to accomplish it.
My next area was in Paris. Even though I was working all week long at a business, I felt I had to do home church. So every Saturday night I took a train out to my area. I chose just three or four big buildings to make visiting go more quickly. I was lucky I knew French so I could write a letter to all 360 homes. It said: "I am from Italy and I want to share life experiences with different nationalities. I am just here for a short period of time, so can I visit you? Please call me." Through this, I met all kinds of people and made several friends. I even had an experience of teaching the fall of man to a homosexual. Because he became my friend I could teach him, even though he didn't understand it completely.
I still keep that letter as a record. I keep some record of my work from every area I have worked in, so that I have a history of my home church work. We have to prove in front of Satan what we have done. I felt many times that if I die, what will I have to show for my life? We have to leave something for our brothers and sisters who will come after us.
Sometimes we wonder: "If I have to work all week long, how can I serve 360 homes? What should be my priority?" We have to resolve this struggle; otherwise we cannot be victorious. I came to the conclusion that home church must always be subject in our hearts. Those who have a family and have to come home after work to meet them have another struggle to resolve. How can you go out in the evening and do home church? I want to mention Father's suggestion, which I heard from Rev. Won Pil Kim. He said, "I know that some of you finish your work at 10 or 11 o'clock at night, and some of you have families, and you wonder how you can do home church in the evening. But what is your desire? It's very important that you first go to your area and pray, 'Father, please bless all these people,' and say their names. You will have a better feeling than if you go to your wife and children first and then realize you have no time to visit your area."
"I learned all about the struggles and persecution we have to go through in a rich area."
My best home church testimony comes from doing full-time home church in England. During one seven-month period, we made a condition to not go back to the center at night to sleep. This was during the freezing winter of 1981. It was very difficult for many brothers and sisters; some came back every evening and slept in the garage of the center because they didn't have a place to live. Since nobody gave me a place to sleep, I slept all that time in my sleeping bag in a park, where some brushy tree branches hung down over a grassy spot. The people in my area could even see me there. I learned all about the struggle and persecution we have to go through in a rich area and how important it is to persevere and pay indemnity so that blessings can come later.
Because I was doing home church full-time, I was determined to visit 53 houses a day. Even if you are not doing it full-time, you can at least pray for 53 houses each day. Father gave us guidance on how to visit this number every day. Every three days I visited all of my best 72 homes. I visited the 12 best every day, which included the three best. Then I chose 20 from the remaining 60 of that 72, and I rotated another 20 each day. As I visited them, if one that was in the "A" category became more negative, I had to move it to the "B" or "C" category. Every day, you have to write the changes in your roster. This is very important. Every day I also visited 21 homes out of the remaining 288. So 12 plus 20 plus 21 equals 53.
While I was visiting my houses, a young Anglican priest watched me every day. Finally he came to me and said,
"Luciano, why do you do this? I could not do this!" We were standing in front of the house of an old lady who couldn't walk. Because the priest had told her not to let me in, she had never requested any service from me. I had only been able to say to her, "Good morning. How is your health? Can I take care of your garden?" The garden was in terrible shape, but because of the Anglican priest's interference I couldn't even work in it. So on this particular day I looked at him and said, "I do this because you are not doing it, even though this is your parish. I shouldn't be here. I am here just to show you what you should do. If you can inherit this mission, then I'll go back to my country." Then he asked me, "Luciano, do you think I know God and that God knows me?" I waited a moment and then answered, "Why do you ask me that? You should know -- you are a priest of the Anglican Church." Then he asked me if I would like to come and visit him and his wife sometime.
A homemade cake--the way to a person's heart.
I was walking in my area a few days later when a boy came to tell me that the priest wanted to see me right away. So I went. The priest's house was a mess; everything was in disorder because his wife had just had a baby and he had been busy taking care of the parish. The first thing I felt in my heart was to ask if I could clean for them. But he said to me, "I called you because I have some young boys here who are making a lot of trouble around this area and who are rebelling against their parents. I can't convince them that God exists; they don't want to hear anything about the Bible. Can you reach them and give them some good advice? I think you're the right person." And I said, "Okay, if you think so." I called the boys over to me. "Why are you giving your parents and your pastor such a hard time?" I said. "What's going on with you? Why don't you believe in God?" They began to really listen to me. I saw that they were children who had not been well taken care of by their parents, so I felt the priest should take responsibility to educate the parents in his congregation in how to raise their children. Even though he was leading the parish, he couldn't guide his members with True Parents' standard and teaching. After I talked to the boys for a half hour, they were very calm. At last the priest realized that he was not doing what he should be doing.
Another pastor said to me one day, "Listen, you Moonie, I want to teach you about the Bible." He wanted to make me a member of his church. I said, "Okay, I'll just sit down and listen. I don't want to make you into a Moonie. Let's just share the Bible together." So I became his friend, and he was the only one in my area who let me in his house every day. He even asked me to stay for lunch with him. It was amazing. He was negative in the beginning, but he was the only one among my 360 wealthy families who was at all open to learning something new.
A third minister in my area was very afraid to deal with me. I didn't know how to find a way to talk to him, but one day I saw that he was repairing his house, so I joined him and helped him do some of the physical work. I realized that these pastors never went around the area to actually help people. Even though I was younger than they were, I was in the position to teach them because I knew Father's teaching. I wanted to help these preachers fulfill their mission to truly care for their people.
There was also a congressman in my area who was very rich and had a big house. His wife was a teacher of classical dance. I offered to do her garden. I introduced the Little Angels to her and asked her, "Are you interested in knowing more about them?" She said, "Yes. I teach little children, and I have heard about the Little Angels before. Do you have some more information or a film about them?" So one day I brought many brochures, and while I was working in her garden, we sat down and listened to the music of the Little Angels.
"I wanted to help the ministers fulfill their mission to truly care for their people."
People in my area often asked me, "Why do you sleep outside in the park? Doesn't Moon have a house for you? Is it possible that Moon is so cruel?" I answered, "Do you think that Rev. Moon is making me do this? I am doing this because I want to experience the kind of missionary life that Jesus experienced. If you read the Bible, it says that Jesus had no place to sleep. Sometimes wealthy people invited him to stay for the night, but he didn't have a house. I am experiencing sleeping in that park the same way Jesus did. If I only talk about Jesus without experiencing his life, what right do I have to teach you? I could sleep in our church center, but I want to feel what Jesus felt. I know the priest has been coming around and telling you, 'Don't let that Moonie in your house.' But now that you know that I am just trying to be like Jesus, do you think you might have a place for me to stay tonight?" They would say, "No, I'm sorry, but you can come in for a cup of tea." I would ask, "Well, can you keep my sleeping bag inside your door?" They would say, "Not inside, but you can leave it outside the door."
I remember one freezing night when winter came. I didn't want to sleep because I felt I was going to talk to Jesus that night. It was snowing, and I just walked up and down the streets in my area all night. There were people looking out of their windows to see what this crazy guy was doing.
I was praying, "Jesus, all these rich people go to church every Sunday and they say they are Christian. Is there a way that you can get inside their hearts and tell them the true way to live -- to take the cross and follow you? If there is a way, tell me. I want to help them too." But after I cried all night, and just couldn't stop the tears, I really experienced Father's heart. Jesus came in a vision and said to me, "No, my son. I don't see a way to get into their hearts. They are stubborn; they are just following the letter of the Bible. Because they are so rich and secular, and just following their preacher's direction, even if I appeared to them, I couldn't reach them. So, my son, you have to suffer."
In the morning the sun came up, and I was still there walking in the street. A man I had met who was a strong Christian leader drove up to me in his car and stopped in front of me. His son was in the car with him. He jumped out of the car and grabbed my shirt and said, "Don't come to my house anymore! I don't want to see you Moonies any more, do you understand?" And he shook me. His son was watching from the car, shocked at what his father, a Christian, was doing to me. I remember when he shook me I lost my contact lens and never found it again.
Because so few people would let me serve them, I made a condition to start my day at 5 a.m. for 40 days and do something to serve seven homes a day -- like clearing away old leaves from the lawns while the people were still sleeping. Father says you should wake up before the people. While doing this condition, I was sleeping in a sort of garden shed in back of an empty house. Amazingly, because of my constant desire to fulfill Father's will, my own father, who was in the spiritual world, came every morning to wake me, calling, "Luciano, wake up! It's 4:30 now." I was very tired, so sometimes I would fall right back asleep again, and he would call me again, "Luciano, wake up! It's 4:30." He had been a very religious person and had always helped others in our small village unselfishly. I'm sure he will always be with me, helping me, because I was very close to him. I heard Father predict such happenings, but to actually experience it is very inspiring!
When the owner of the house came back and discovered I was sleeping in the shed behind his house, he came with a stick one morning to beat me when I came out of the shed. People from the area were standing around, watching him. I yelled, "I'm a missionary here; I have no place to stay. Please don't kill me!" And then the man's uncle stopped him.
There was also a doctor in my area who was negative and always threatened to make his big dog attack me. I tried to visit him every day to resolve this conflict. His wife always told me, "Don't come here! If my husband catches you, hell set our dog on you!" One day when I went to visit the house, he did let his dog attack me. I ran out very quickly, but I almost got bitten.
Father said we should do a 40-day condition for negative people and then go back and talk to then' again, so I did that. When I went to visit them again they had changed! I asked the doctor, "Is there a reason why you have been persecuting me? I love you and I want to serve you; I even love your dog!" He didn't answer, but at least he listened. I also went to see the Christian leader who had shaken me in front of his son, and he spoke to me, roughly, but at least we could talk. I even went back to the man whose shed I had slept in. I was very afraid, but after we talked, we actually became good friends. Thus I was able to put all my fears and the suffering from their persecution behind me; it was somehow, on one level, a success.