The Words of the Ghomsi Family
Seplan, Queenstown District, South Africa – Twenty-five bishops and pastors of the United Methodist Church of Southern Africa (UMCOSA) attended a Seminar on Leadership and Character Education organized on August 8-9 at Seplan, Queenstown in Eastern Cape province, South Africa.
Rev. Jean Augustin Ghomsi, Secretary General of UPF Southern Africa, was invited by the UMCOSA leadership to offer this seminar.
Among the participants were the Presiding Bishop, Secretary General Rev. Bongani Patrick Skiet, and Rev. Thula Batyi, the Director of Education for Ministry.
Rev. Ghomsi started by introducing the UPF Founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his vision and ideals for the federation. He spoke of the shortcomings of the present United Nations to bring about world peace. The UN, although originally founded based on a religious vision, has gradually put God aside. UPF was founded to bring God in the public arena and build a world of true peace.
In introducing the Character Education Initiative, he quoted Dr. Thomas Lickona, an eminent character educator: "Character education is the deliberate effort to help people understand, care about, and act upon core ethical values." He said that character education is about educating the head (to know the good), the heart (to care about the good), and the hand (to do the good). Rev. Ghomsi lamented the fact that as a result of secularization, character is neglected in favor of worldly fame, academic achievements, or material wealth. Thus, our nation and world are plagued by an explosion of moral problems (divorce, premarital sex, extra-marital sex, teenage pregnancies, rapes, etc.), young people are alienated from traditional values, and the rates of suicide, violence and crime, and drug and alcohol abuse are rising among the youth..
He explained the virtues taught by UPF within the framework of three basic life goals, using Bible passages as illustrations. As stated in Genesis 1:20, the purpose in life is be fruitful (have a mature character), multiply (building loving relationships and family), and have dominion (make a contribution to society). Aspiring to attain these three life goals directs a life toward goodness and fulfillment, Rev. Ghomsi said.
To attain a mature character, one is expected to become like God, being a child of God (Mt 22:37; Mt 5:48, Jn 14:20). To develop loving relationships with family and others, we need to love others (Mt 22:39), honor and respect our parents (Ex 20:12), love our brothers and sisters (Jn 15:12; I Jn 2:10; I Jn 3:11; 1 Jn 4:17) and love even our enemy (Mt 5:46-47). Here, he said, the most important is man/woman relationship. We need to have a proper ethic of love and sexuality that teaches no premarital or premature sex and no extra-marital sex (Eph 5:25; Col 3:19; I Cor 7:3-5; I Cor 6:15-20; Mt 19:8-10). As Jesus mentioned, this is the most serious issue, Rev. Ghomsi said.
To make a positive contribution to society, we need to know that based on the two previous goals, the skills, abilities, and experience that we develop through the process of our growth (academic, physical or artistic education) are meant to help our family, our community, our nation, and the world, zerving the common good or living for others is the core virtue (Mt 20:26-28). According to Rev. Sun Myung Moon, "The best way of life is that of service to others, of giving ourselves for the highest cause, for humankind and God."
The Secretary General also gave a lecture on the Family as the School of Love and Peace. Here, he said, UPF character education recognizes the importance of the family in moral development. Attachment theory in psychology has shown that children who experience warm and loving relationships among family members are better citizens, for they relate to authority figures, peers, and juniors well in social, business, and public situations. They have learned in their families to consider others. They have learned the virtue of altruism.
He said that in the family setting the child grows from self-centered love (child's love) to shared love (siblings' love), complete shared love (spouse's love), and unconditional and altruistic love (parental love).
On leadership, Rev. Ghomsi shared with the church leaders that people are responsible for their own spiritual development and our physical life gives us the opportunity to develop our spiritual potential. He talked about the spiritual world as the world of absolute transparency and freedom. God created us with spiritual and physical senses to interact with both the spiritual and physical worlds. He spoke of the three stages of human life: life in the womb (9 months), life on earth (up to 100 years), and life in the spiritual world (eternity). In addition, he said that the purpose of life in the womb is to prepare for life on earth, while the purpose of life on earth is to prepare for life in the spirit world. Our final destination is in the spiritual world (Eccl 12:6-7).
He emphasized the need to value spiritual growth over material wealth. Wise leaders seek spiritual growth and encourage the same of others, he said. According to Father Moon, "You will enter the spirit world in the form of your spirit self, which has recorded your life on earth with 100 percent accuracy. Your spirit will show plainly whether you have led a ripe life of goodness, or a life of sinfulness." So, it is not God or Jesus who will decide where you will go after death but you, yourself, according to the style of life you would have lived here on earth.
He said there are two types of leaderships: unselfish and selfish. Unselfish leadership is parental, compassionate, honest, and self-sacrificing; while selfish leadership is dictatorial, lacks compassion, is dishonest and exploitative. When we sacrifice others for the sake of ourselves, it stunts our spiritual growth. Selfishness leads to conflict within the family, community, nation and world.
As leaders, and especially religious leaders, Rev. Ghomsi said, we need to develop our leadership qualities (moral values, unselfish nature, and loving heart) first and foremost and then our leadership skills (abilities, experience, and diplomacy) in order to be good shepherds.
In addition, he referred to the following spiritual laws outlined by Rev. Moon: avoid sexual immorality, avoid hurting people's hearts, and avoid misusing public funds and property.
There was a session of questions and answers after each lecture. At the end there were certificates of participation for all the participants. Among others, here are some reactions:
A pastor said, "Thank you for the lectures. We have gone through the whole Bible in few hours. We hope to have another opportunity with you."
A bishop said, "The whole Church is happy that you could come. We have learned a lot and still need to learn more. We need to see how we can cooperate more from now on."
Rev. Bongani Patrick Skiet said, "Please I hope we will have a copy of the lectures so that we can continue to digest them. Thanks. It was a good seminar!"
UMCOSA was founded in 1978 in the former Transkei and has around 10 Bishops and 50 pastors and churches all over South Africa alone. They want to invite a representative of UPF-Southern Africa again next year during their retreat in Cape Town. They want also to send a delegation to attend a UPF pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine in January 2014.