The Words of the Peat Family
Final group photo at Belvedere. Staff members, seated, left to right: Bruce Grodner, Joseph Shratteneker, Louis Burgess, Rev. Ho Yul Lee, and William Peat.
Last summer, Father asked the leaders of the Korean Evangelical Association (KEA) all across the United States to organize a seven- day Principle workshop for the children of their KEA and CAUSA contacts. He said it was the time to reach out to them and that they were ready to embrace the Principle and the Unification movement.
In two very short weeks, a workshop was organized. Surprisingly, over 50 children came to the World Mission Center for a week-long workshop. But only a small handful came with excitement.
Many of the children, who ranged from grade school to college age, didn't exactly know why they'd come, and some didn't want to be there at first. They only knew their parents had insisted and were just obeying. Their parents felt that the workshop would be the best possible experience for their children growing up in America because of their own experience with the Unification Church or with CAUSA.
Under Rev. Ho Yul Lee, the secretary-general of New York KEA, Louis Burgess and I coordinated the workshop. Louis taught the high school and college students, and I taught the elementary and junior high school children.
The response of the children was overwhelming. They progressed from trepidation and skepticism to openness and warm exchange, and finally to being genuinely moved by the Principle. The workshop was a success! Almost all of the children wanted to come back again the next year, and some even parted with tears.
The next workshop was held in June 1987, this time in Liberty, New York. Again, approximately 50 students came, many for the second time. Once more, the workshop was a success.
A third workshop was held only a few short weeks later -- from August 17-24, 1987, in the World Mission Center. We weren't quite sure what kind of response we could expect, especially at such short notice, but once more God worked in an amazing way. Seventy-five youths showed up.
In talking with one 15-year-old girl as she exited the van that had brought her from Washington DC, I said to her, "I'm surprised to see you again" She touched my heart by responding, 'Are you kidding? I wouldn't miss this for the world': Many of the children felt the same way.
The students were divided into three groups -- elementary school age, junior high school age, and high school and college age. Principle lectures and internal guidance were given in the mornings and evenings. The days were also filled with activities such as bowling and roller-skating outings and trips to Action Park and Bear Mountain. Again, many of the children were deeply moved.
There's something refreshing about 11- to 14-year-olds. Their minds are innocent and pure; at that age they can understand truth easily and their hearts are open. I fell in love with each of the children and developed a deep concern for them.
At one point in the workshop when I noticed a breakdown in discipline, I spoke to them sternly about their attitude -- that they appeared to be ungrateful and often selfish. To my amazement, at our final testimonial dinner, many shared that this talk was the most meaningful part of all the lectures. Several children mentioned that next time they hoped the workshop could be longer and have even more lectures.
They most enjoyed learning about God through understanding the Principle. Many of them expressed that they felt the reality of God for the first time.
Although their parents are all Korean, 95 percent of the children were born in America and have been educated exclusively in the U.S. school system. They are often persecuted in school for being Korean. Because their parents suffered and sacrificed so much, they want to give their children much more than they themselves had. But being given too much, in some cases, makes it difficult for the children to feel grateful for anything. As you can well imagine, the parents, even though many are not members of the Unification Church, are desperate to send their children to such workshops in order to save them.
The Korean Evangelical Association was founded shortly after Father came to America in the early 70s for the purpose of reaching out to Korean people living in the United States. KEA members recognize the importance of Koreans supporting Father's mission here in America. Many of the KEA leaders have recently been appointed regional directors for the American Unification Church. Their heart of love and service has deeply moved me over the last few years.
For example, Rev. Seo Haeng Lee in Philadelphia determined that with- in a year he would have 100 people regularly attending his Korean Sunday services. He could not fulfill this goal, but he did have approximately 35 people plus children coming every week. Some were old contacts who had fallen away but were now coming back; many were new members who had become strongly and even tearfully dedicated to True Parents and the Unification Church in their area, and all were tithing regularly.
Rev. Il Sup Urn, the KEA leader in New York and now the regional director for Region 2, expressed the same spirit. If ever a KEA member in New York got sick, he would go right away to visit that person in the hospital or at home, even if he had to travel all the way from Philadelphia (Region 2 headquarters). And if a person who always came regularly to service failed to show up one Sunday, Rev. Um would immediately have a card sent to him or her.
Through this kind of deep, caring love and service from our dedicated KEA leaders, healthy KEA congregations have developed all over the country. Some exceptional full-time members have also emerged.
The KEA church model has inspired me, and now seeing the second generation responding freely to our church, encouraged by their parents, only inspires me more.
At one point during the workshop I asked the 33 children in our group: "If and when the Messiah returns, would you want to help him?" Most said yes. I asked, "How much would you want to help him? For a day? A week? A month? Your whole life?" Many responded, "I'd want to help him as much as I could until we could build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth."
Next year a seminar will be held in Korea for those who have attended three workshops and passed a Principle test. In our group, everyone said they would like to return for another seminar, and of course everyone wanted to go to Korea.
I believe in years to come many of these young people will emerge as leaders in the Unification Church of America and perhaps even the world.
With imagination and a dream, nothing is impossible. It's amazing how one man's dream could give hope and life to so many.
When I was learning about God, Jesus, and Mr. Moon, I felt sorry for Jesus and God because they were trying to make a Kingdom of Heaven on earth for us but we didn't respond. I feel grateful and thankful to Mr. Moon because now we have a person like Jesus in the world.
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My best experience was not the activities, although they were lots of fun. My best experience was coming closer to God and getting to know other people in the workshop. Since this was my third time, I thought I knew everything about the Principle, but there were many things that I didn't know. I learned how to prepare for the second coming of Christ. I learned not to be selfish, and that you must give in order to receive. I also understood that maturity is not decided by age but by the attitude of a person. I know I must work harder to be mature.
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I had a wonderful experience here at the workshop. Everybody here is so kind. Even older people want my friendship; they don't care how old I am. Nobody screams at me for acting stupid. When I first got here I thought this was going to be boring and that everybody would be quiet, tacky-looking, and weird. (Sorry I had bad thoughts!) But that's not how it is at all! Everybody is cool both inside and outside.
I really want to go to the workshop next year in Korea. It's not pure lecture -- it's a lot of fun! I was never bored. I especially liked learning about how Korea is blessed. I didn't like being Korean, but now I'm proud to be one. Now I know I really want to be a part of this Unification Church.
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My best experience was learning the meaning of life. Now I understand what it means to be pure. Many people don't understand life, but I dearly hope they will in the future, because it will be very good for them. I also believe that Rev. Sun Myung Moon is truly the Messiah.
Listening to lectures is more fun than sitting around with your mind on other things. At this workshop I feel I learned the quality of unselfishness and the caring way in which God loves each one of us. I also learned that we are all equal in the eyes of God and should be in the eyes of everyone else also. I realized that prejudice and communism are two of the worst things in the world.
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I learned to love my enemies -- or like them at least!
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I experienced so much caring and love from all the people. When I rode the elevators, I felt I knew the people inside, because they were all members of the church. I experienced how great the Unification Church is and how important its purpose is for the world. I learned many new things about the church and how the members sacrifice material things for something greater and much more precious -- and that is love.
I also understood that we need to take responsibility and to forgive and love one another. I feel I grew a little internally. My best experience was meeting new friends and reuniting with old ones. I think the friends I meet here are the ones I'll keep forever.