The Words of In Jin Moon from 2009
How is everyone this morning? Wasn’t that a wonderful performance by Il Hwa and the band? She sang one of my favorite songs today, a song called “Songbird.” It was written by Christine McVie, a singer with the group Fleetwood Mac; I’m sure many of you are familiar with the album called “Rumors.” When I was a teenager, I wore that album out, and “Songbird” was one of my favorite songs. It was almost like a song about the Holy Spirit, my relationship with my Heavenly Father and Mother. From time to time when I was walking the way of self-discovery and walking the way of faith and was confronted with an obstacle or difficulty, I sang that song in my mind, and it gave me incredible strength to go on and tackle what the day presented to me.
Another favorite of mine is a song called “Angels,” by Robby Williams, a fantastic English singer. It truly reminds us that no matter what we go through, Heavenly Father shows us in many different ways that he’s always there with us; love and affection are just around the corner. It may be presented to us through angels, through a guardian angel, or just through beautiful things, the little details of life. But it’s Heavenly Father’s way of letting us know that he’s always here and always thinking about us.
This morning when I got up to meditate about what to share with you today, I was going through my week’s experiences, and one of the things that struck me and profoundly influenced me was a little scene at the supermarket where I went to get a gallon of milk. I saw what seemed to be a mother figure and a young girl coming out of the store, with two bags of groceries, walking toward the car. This mother figure turned to the girl -- who I guess maybe had not fulfilled the duty that was put upon her -- and said to her, in very strong and forceful language, “Why are you so worthless? Why are you just so good for nothing? What good are you if you can’t even do the simplest things?”
I was just an observer of that relationship. I don’t know if the elder woman was a mother, an aunt, or someone helping to take care of the child. But I saw the incredible pain, suffering, and dismay that came over this young child’s face. It was so painful watching her react to those harsh and abusive words; it was so difficult for me to walk away without approaching the mother figure and asking, “What are you doing?” But as an observer you can’t really interfere in other people’s lives. So I simply said a little prayer for the girl and moved on.
I was hoping that perhaps I would meet this girl again in the future. I was hoping that our Heavenly Parent can give her strength and let her know that she is God’s daughter and that despite the harsh words she experienced that day, one day she will come to realize that she is a divine being, a daughter of God, who is going to do incredible things. This is what I prayed about. Hopefully as she goes through life, especially her teenage years, still struggling in the relationship with this mother figure, she might come to the point of asking, “Why me, God? Why was I born into this kind of family? Why was I given such a difficult mother figure?” Maybe the child is adopted. I’m sure she might ask herself, “Why me?”
But in my prayer for her I was hoping that in those moments of difficulty and incredible and excruciating pain that maybe Heavenly Parent might say to her in great comfort and in great love, “My dear child, why not you?” Or maybe the child can ask, “Why not me?” Instead of being overcome with the burden of the suffering at hand, going the road of complaint and not appreciating the life she’s been given, perhaps our Heavenly Parent can inspire the child to ask the simple question “Why not me?” Perhaps God can make her feel that she was put there to treat this as an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to overcome, an opportunity to become victorious, and in so doing become an incredible woman of God.
When I look upon this great country of America, I see so much potential in the young people. They’re beautiful and so talented. They have everything that Heavenly Father gave to them. Yet I wonder what dreams these young people have. What aspirations do they have in life? Do young Americans simply aspire to power, knowledge, and wealth? I think American young people can do better. With five kids of my own, it’s incumbent upon me that I give my children something to look forward to, that I present to them the great heroes who have walked with us and will continue to walk with us into the future.
In my life of faith, several people have been my great heroes. These people have taught me to dream, have encouraged me to hang onto my dream, and have compelled me to continue to dream every day. One of these women was named Catherine Booth [1829 - 1890]. I’m sure some of you know that she was the founding mother of what is today called the Salvation Army. She was born as Catherine Mumford in Derbyshire, England, and grew up with a father who was a coach builder by profession but also a lay preacher. Her mother was a great Christian woman who taught her daughter the virtue and wisdom of the Bible. But in addition she pushed her daughter to excel and receive an education equal to what was given to sons in the nineteenth century.
Catherine was an incredibly well-educated woman who, by the age of 12 had read the Bible eight times and by the age of 13 could recite portions of Scripture and converse better than her father in theological debates with ministers in her area. Here was a talented daughter of God, well on her way to becoming a great woman. But a tragedy befell her family. Her father’s business took a turn for the worse, and he lost everything. In the process, her father lost his faith in God. He turned to what she called demon rum, and she saw her great father succumb to alcoholism.
As she was growing up, at 16, 17, and 18, she struggled with her faith and questioned God, her Heavenly Parent. She could not find any inspiration when she sat in the pew on Sundays. There she was, asking all these different questions: “Why am I here, why me, why my father, why my family?” It was during this time that she developed tuberculosis, a really horrible disease to live through at that time. But it taught her to be grateful, and it gave her time away from her family. She used that time wisely, reading about addiction and alcoholism. She became so well versed that she wrote letters to newspapers in her area, supporting prohibition laws. She became so learned that at the ripe old age of 18 she was well known for her letters and was something of a phenomenon.
She kept going to church, hoping to find inspiration. One day she heard the sermon of an up-and-coming Methodist minister named William Booth. She was moved by this young and charismatic man who seemed so different from other ministers of that time. Instead of talking about the virtues of building huge cathedrals, he simply wanted to live his life taking care of the poor and unfortunate. She struck up a conversation with him.
Later they married. Together they set out on a life of ministry. She was in a supportive role. In that era, women were not allowed to speak at church; the best that a minister’s wife could do was simply sit and support her husband. William Booth was such a brilliant speaker that he had no problem commanding an audience for over an hour. People around the countryside heard his name and started coming to hear him speak.
Something happened to this shy, docile woman of God. In 1860, five years after her marriage, she decided that all these voices she had been hearing over the months were something that she needed to obey. Contrary to the common perception of her time, which was that women had no voice in church, this shy woman, always known as a quiet and supportive wife of a charismatic minister, decided to speak.
On a cold winter day in 1860, after her husband gave another rousing sermon, she got up from her pew and started slowly walking up the aisle toward the pulpit. Her husband saw her approaching and wondered what she was doing. She kept walking, proudly and confidently. He had never seen this side of her before and was struck by her dignified approach to the pulpit, as if the pulpit were a magnet pulling her. As she approached, her husband said, “What is this about, wife?” She said, “I have a word to say.”
Instinctively the husband helped her up to the pulpit and presented her to the congregation. She spoke several sentences that left the congregation confused, but it was actually the signal of a new spiritual revolution that was to come. The last words she spoke were, “For the last three or four months I’ve been hearing voices. I realize I have to be an obedient servant to these voices and that’s why I am here speaking before you.”
Realizing that this must be the work of our Heavenly Parent, her husband supported her and encouraged her to go to nightly meetings, to speak to the congregation, to lead small groups. He realized what an incredible partner he had in her. Not only did she have the fervor that he so desired in a Christian wife, but she understood Scripture and was well versed in it. She was charismatic in her own way and developed her own following.
These two people decided after five years, in 1865, to open up what they called the Christian Mission, which later became known as the Salvation Army. They decided to leave the pulpit in order to go to the homeless, hungry, and needy, to feed and clothe the poor. While the husband went out on the streets every day, Mrs. Booth approached well-to-do ladies, inviting them to her meetings and talking to them about the importance of charity, service, and taking care of God’s children.
Soon the word got out about this couple, especially about this tiny figure of a woman, not much to look at but so imbued with the spirit that she was creating miracles everywhere she went. Of course, when you have a big success, you always have a backlash. We as Unificationists know that quite well, right? After we were given the keys to the city in states across America by senators, governors, and congressmen, we experienced a backlash from people thinking that the Unification Church had too much influence over young people.
The Booths suffered the same fate in London. They were the victims of their own success. They received incredible persecution, especially from members of London’s religious establishment, who saw the Booths as young upstarts who were mobilizing the poor and the renegades of society, and thought it was incredibly dangerous politically and religiously. But the point they never forgot to mention was their opinion that it was wrong for a woman to preach, absolutely wrong for Reverend Booth to permit his wife to speak as the daughter of God, to do the work that she was born to do.
In response, Mrs. Booth said something wonderful that I love to remember when I’m faced with difficulty. She said, “In order to better the future, we must disturb the present.” That means we must be willing to face persecution, opposition, and accusation because our desire is to better the world for our children. As parents, isn’t that our desire, to create a better world for our children?
Because everyone started talking about this group of renegades working with a woman preacher, people started getting excited, wondering who these people from the Christian Mission were. Wanting to attract attention and help people locate who the missionaries were, Catherine came up with the idea of creating uniforms for all members. So Christian missionaries in white uniforms went into the streets of London, feeding the poor but also inviting them to come and worship in church. She was instrumental in creating quartets of musicians to attract attention so that everybody would be attracted to hear the word of God when they came to church. Catherine was the first to start singing hymns out on the street, inviting the people to come follow her back to hear the word of God.
By 1880 the Salvation Army became one of the most well-respected organizations in England. All the naysayers who said that she was just a woman who had no right to stand and speak the word of God, no right to be God’s daughter, became her most ardent supporters in the end. This tiny woman, tapping into the mustard seed of faith within her, nurtured her faith with the belief that she was God’s daughter who was put on earth to do God’s work and did incredible things in terms of serving her fellow citizens.
I love to talk to my children about another hero of mine, Harriet Tubman. She is called the Moses of American slaves in the 1850s. She is truly an incredible figure of a woman. She inspired me much in my life of faith. She was born a slave, born to be property, and was beaten almost to death several times. Because of the mustard seed of faith in her that she refused to let go of, this one woman, barely five feet tall and thin -- she did not look like somebody who could outwit the American government -- was a warrior of our Heavenly Parent, God’s gift to America in a time of great difficulty.
She was instrumental in helping hundreds of slaves find their freedom. What was initially a 90-mile journey from Maryland to Pennsylvania became several hundred more miles because escaped slaves had to reach Canada in order to be free. Imagine this tiny woman trekking through the forests with the singular belief that God had put her here to do his work. Even if she faced death each day, she was willing to go that way because she had the right and the responsibility to save others, not just to enjoy her own freedom but to help others reach their freedom.
When she met these beautiful African slaves who wanted freedom, it usually had to be in secluded places like cemeteries. Can you imagine maybe 12, 13, 14 slaves finding their way to the cemetery to meet this legendary figure who was going to take them to their freedom? How scared must they have been? But they came, and she embraced them and told them that the God of Moses, who delivered the slaves from Egypt, had sent her to deliver her people to the new promised land. She told them that Moses was an unlikely leader: He was not an eloquent speaker; he didn’t have the charisma that maybe a leader should have. But the single most important point was that God chose Moses. Moses was God’s son.
In the 1850s the Fugitive Slave Act made it illegal for anybody to help an escaped slave. Harriet Tubman became the Moses of her generation, helping these slaves to dream, to realize that their purpose in life was not to be somebody’s slave. Their purpose was to become a son or daughter of God, and each one of them was born with the divinity to become an incredible light unto the world.
Just as Moses held his staff, she held her rifle. During the long treks when the slaves were confronted with doubts and felt they couldn’t go on, her rifle was a great symbol, saying, “You’re going to go on. I’m going to help you get there, and you are going to be free.” With such strength and belief in the Lord, she helped her fellow slaves reach freedom so they could truly taste what it felt like to be alive.
She herself ran away when she was 28 years old, just when her master was thinking about selling her. By that time she had suffered so much beating and abuse that she decided, “No more. I am going to seek my freedom.” When she set out, she realized, “Here I am, a free woman, but what about my brothers and sisters?” In one instance, in order to prevent another slave from being hit with a two-pound weight, she stepped in front of the overseer and suffered the consequence of trying to protect her friend. The weight landed on her head, cracking her skull. Many thought that she wouldn’t live through the night; it took a whole year for her to fully recover.
But because of this injury she said, “I have an incredible gift from God.” Instead of hating the overseer who nearly killed her, she thanked God for the injury because when she almost died she had a vision that she was flying over land and sea, like the birds in the sky, and felt so free. God gave her a taste of what freedom felt like. She said that this vision, this taste, was what kept her going through the difficult years. Throughout her life she had recurrent headaches so bad that when she was afflicted with them, people around her thought she might die. But the visions of flying over land and sea became more clear and detailed. Our Heavenly Parent was telling her how she must help her people, set them free, and continue to be an inspiration.
This was God’s way of reminding his daughter how incredibly important she was, even though she was not much to look at. These visions compelled her to keep on going back to the South, even though she was risking her life. Even after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed, she continued for 10 more years, risking her life going back.
When the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, beginning the Civil War, a lot of people looked at her and said, “Maybe your mission is over now. Maybe you can rest peacefully.” But she decided to be a nurse. Instead of living quietly, she put herself in the service of the soldiers and treated thousands. In 1862 she was assigned to take care of the Gullah people on South Carolina’s Sea Islands, and start a program there for ex-slaves. At the same time she was asked to work as a spy for the Union.
During this time this American Moses became Joshua, going undercover, exploiting the weaknesses of the enemy lines. Mind you, Harriet could not read or write. But she was so connected to her faith and to what God was saying, she could decipher military strategy like no other, so much so that she quite effectively disrupted the Southern supply lines. Even General Rufus Saxton had to acknowledge her role for the sake of the Union. He wrote then Secretary of State Edwin Stanton, describing how Harriet Tubman was vital to the Union effort.
Here was an uneducated woman who, because she’d been touched by God, became a military strategist. She was a legend in her own right, but because she was a black woman, she was given only $200 for her services during the war. But she didn’t complain. She continued, going back to the South and building schools for the ex-slaves: “I am illiterate, but I am going to make sure that my children are literate and my brothers and sisters are literate.” She realized that education was the key to escaping poverty. She encouraged her brothers and sisters to learn, to study.
At the same time, she became the spark plug for the new idea that she should have the right to vote. She didn’t see the fruits of her labor. It was many years later that women exercised their right to vote for the first time, but she was the mustard seed that gave birth to this idea. Not only did she fight for women’s right to vote but continued on, talking about the need to take care of the elderly poor ex-slaves. She created a home for them and spent the last days of her life there.
When people approached her from time to time, asking why she did so much, giving away her money whenever she managed to accumulate some, giving to people who just received and had nothing to give back, Harriet always said, “Do you not know the Bible? Do you not know Matthew 25:35-40? If you read that section, you will realize that every needy person represents Christ, and it’s my duty to love Christ. When I see Christ represented in my daily life, it doesn’t matter if it’s a homeless person or a handicapped person or an illiterate person, or a person that society wants nothing of. It’s my duty as a Christian to take care of this person and to raise this person to be a great son or daughter of God.”
In the lives of Catherine Booth and Harriet Tubman, we see how faith was not just learned, not just memorized by reading a text but was applied in daily life. We see faith at work in their desire to serve others. That brings us to another hero in my life, none other than my father, the Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon. This is a man who, against all odds, had a dream, just like Catherine and Harriet dreamed they were going to do God’s work. Jesus Christ appeared to my dad on Easter morning when he was 16 years old, kneeling in prayer. Jesus Christ simply asked him, “My dear son, can you fulfill my mission? I was not sent here to die; I was sent here to create an ideal family that would have become the building block of an ideal world that I want to see substantiated and actualized.”
Ever since then, even now in his 90s, my father is still going strong. If there is one example of a Duracell battery, my dad is that. And just like Catherine and Harriet, my dad had to overcome a lot of difficulty, too. He was a charismatic preacher. He started speaking and the congregation came, from many different types of churches. Because the prominent ministers of those churches were losing their members, my dad suffered a backlash from his own success time and time again. He was thrown into prison six times, the last time in Danbury, Connecticut.
But this man never, ever gave up. He never lost his faith. He never lost his belief that he was here to do God’s work. And even though he was twice thrown out for dead, he took care of himself and his followers took care of him. Once he was well enough to get on his feet, he went right back to work because he knew that his purpose in life was much more than the mere pursuit of money, power, and knowledge. He knows that his purpose in life is to share the breaking news of our brother Jesus Christ and also that all of us have an incredible opportunity to fulfill what Jesus Christ could not fulfill -- to have families of our own.
To that end, my father has struggled each and every day; despite the persecution and accusation, he has kept on going. He fought communism. He not only talked the talk but he put his money where his mouth was, meaning that he not only talked about the evils of communism that denied the existence of God, but he built up organizations like the Washington Times that fought against communism. Together with President Ronald Reagan, we could usher in perestroika and glasnost. We saw the walls come down.
This is something my father predicted would happen, just like what he also said back in 1973, when he gave a speech in Chicago. He said that one day, in this great country of America, the president will come from a white mother and a black father. My father predicted that more than 33 years ago. Here we have the fulfillment of his prophecy in the person of President Obama. Now it is President Obama’s responsibility to see whether he can be more than a simple completion of the civil rights dream, whether he can truly be the son of God who can help usher in a new millennium.
Think about a man, a unique man who, in the late 1970s and 1980s decided one morning that the Iron Curtain was going to come down and his children will go to Moscow. He gave many speeches talking about “must go” to Moscow. During that time he was inspired to give all his daughters Russian names. I was a new immigrant here, trying to learn English, and my classmates were learning the various names of the 14 children in my family, which was quite a challenge. But on top of that my father said, “All the daughters should have Russian names, so your name should be Tatiana.”
Who knew back then the wisdom of my father? When I first heard that name, I said, “Tatiana?! What is that?” But I realized my father’s wisdom when I became the mother of five children, and two of them turned out to be prodigies in classical piano. At the ripe old age of 11 and 12 they heard from the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music in Moscow, a school for musical prodigies that had heard about my children. An invitation was extended for them to come and play. So off we went.
I never realized the power of a name. They said to me, “Ochin' priyAtna”, how are you? Good to meet you. “Kak vas zavut”, what’s your name?” The minute I said, “MinYa Zavut Tatiana”, my name is Tatiana”, their faces melted. Even the formidable and distinguished-looking director of the institute said, “Tanichka,” which is a loving form of Tatiana. At that moment I realized the wisdom of this man I call my father. Somehow he knew, just as he knew about the Iron Curtain coming down, just as he knew about the election of President Obama. He knew that one day I would go to Moscow and without having to say very much, I would immediately be embraced by the Russian people simply because my name is Tatiana, “Tanichka.”
When I think about these people whom I call the heroes of my life, part of the reason I want to remind the congregation of the incredible people that have come before us is that we as the younger generation -- and I still would like to think of myself as young, even though my children might think, “Mom, you’re an older generation” -- it’s because I want to have a sense of receiving the baton from the greats. These great people like Catherine Booth, like Harriet Tubman, like my parents, all have an incredible dream. We saw Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream realized in the election of President Obama.
They represent such great things, these great heroes. But what is a hero if there is no posterity? As a mother, what I want to do with my life is to raise my kids to be a generation of peace, to raise our generation to take ownership of our lives and to name ourselves a Generation of Peace, meaning, let’s invite God back into our lives. God should be our common denominator. Instead of having different barriers and walls that exist between races, religions, and genders, these things should come down. Instead of looking at people as what they are in terms of what they do as academics, as professors, as doctors or lawyers or ministers, why not concentrate on who they are? Each and every one of us is God’s son or daughter.
Brothers and sisters, I am standing at the podium today because I was fortunate enough to have great parents, especially a great mom who taught me to dream. Just as Catherine Booth’s mother encouraged her in excellence in the world of academia, so did my mother. My mother taught me to dream, that there is nothing impossible in life, that there is nothing I cannot accomplish. With her as my backbone, I felt I could go anywhere, do anything, because I know I’m a daughter of God.
On this beautiful Sunday morning, I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from my mother, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon. She said this to me many years ago, “In Jin, to dream is the first step. The rest is up to you.” So brothers and sisters, when we look upon these great men and women who have gone before us, teaching us and inspiring us, it leads us to the next question. These people have given me a reason to dream because of what they accomplished in their lives. Imagine what I can do. Imagine what you can do. Imagine what we can do as a movement if we come together and realize our own divinity, realize our own infinite potential, and realize that we are here to do God’s work and that it’s a good thing.
Brothers and sisters, let us be vigilant in our faith, like the heroes of this morning. Let us not lose faith but continue to go on loving each other and truly celebrating our lives as an opportunity for many wonderful things to come.
Have a blessed Sunday and a great week. God bless you.