The Words of Kook Jin Moon from 2012
From March 29-31, 2012 four major events were held in Mindanao, Philippines:
International Leadership Conference (in Davao City, March 29-30)
Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival (in Sultan Kudarat, March 30)
The launching 37 chapters in Mindanao (in Sultan Kudarat, March 30)
Inaugural Assembly of the Mindanao Peace Initiative (MinPI) (in Sultan Kudarat, March 31)
International Leadership Conference The official co-sponsor for this ILC was the Davao City. The Hon. Mayor sponsored the Opening Banquet.
There were 263 participants attending. Of these, 130 were international guests coming from 28 nations. And on the second day of the ILC, the number of local guests actually grew. Among the VIPs were: 1 former Deputy Prime Minister (Pakistan); 4 current congressmen (4 from Nepal; 1 from Sri Lanka); 3 Governors from Mindanao; and 8 mayors from Mindanao. All the guests paid a registration fee, ranging from $300 to $100 depending on economic. In most cases, international guests paid their airfare.
Each plenary session had a strong component of Divine Principle teaching. For example in one presentation Father's teaching was used to show how Christians and Muslims could unite in their understanding of Jesus crucifixion. Basically the Lord of Suffering is the Christian understanding of Jesus while the Lord of Glory is the Islamic perspective. In addition, UPF's Five Principles of Peace and the Meaning of the Marriage Blessing were also presented. The Inter-religious Council for Peace set up last year in Thailand we highlighted as a best-practice.
The highlight of the two-day ILC was Kook Jin Nim's presentation, "Strong Korea." I was very well received. The way he handled the QandA session was extra-ordinary. One question suggested that if there were strong economic relationships between countries this would be a way to prevent war. Kook Jin Nim rebutted this idea down using two examples from WWI (the US-Japanese economic ties did not prevent the bombing of Pearl Harbor and German's economic dependency on Britain did not prevent his attack on England). The comment from the Chinese participant suggested that the "Strong Korea" presentation came from Kook Jin Nim's love for Korea. Kook Jin Nim replied that not only for Korea, but this was God's providence at his time.
Kook Jin Nim also took time to meet with the Ambassadors for Peace and some religious leaders. He was surprised to hear them testify openly and frankly about True Father in his role as the Messiah and returning Lord. He commented to some staff afterwards, Dr. Yong certainly did his homework.
Hon. Jesus Dureza is President and CEO, Advocacy Mindanao Foundation. He was also appointed directly by the former President of the Philippines to head the Mindanao peace talks. Hon. Dureza told the ILC audience that bringing an international delegation not only to Davao -- but to Sultan Kudarat -- was the most convincing and important thing that could be done to change the culture and image of Mindanao. Just having foreigners from 28 nations visit Isulan, the capitol of Sultan Kudarat, would be a very substantial way to advance peace in Mindanao.
Hon. Rodolfo del Rosario, the Governor of Davao del Norte, told the ILC delegates that they were in the legal processes to have UPF officially represented at the negotiation table for peace in Mindanao.
Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival: Preparations UPF officially partnered with the provincial government of Sultan Kudarat to hold the largest gathering of people in the history in that province. It was the first time a government co-sponsored a blessing ceremony. The Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival was held March 31, 2012 at the provincial capital gymnasium and an estimated 35,000 people assembled. According to Cathy Trinidad, the Chief of Staff for the Governor of Sultan Kudarat, 16,000 people were inside the gym and another 19,000 people outside.
The real miracle though was not just the unprecedented numbers; it was the method used to reach that impossible dream. Normally when big events are scheduled, the first thing to be done is to have something that will "draw" or bring people to the event. This is usually a raffle or lottery (something given away), or a famous singer or movie star, or a well-known personality.
None of that was there this time: no sweepstake, no renowned entertainer and no celebrity. What then was the "draw" that brought so many people? Simply put, it was the teaching of our True Parents, the Divine Principle. Our brothers and sisters went out to teach the Divine Principle. The Regional President, Dr. Yong, emphasized again and again that this was not an "event." Success would not be measured by having a full gymnasium. Instead success would be measured by having people understand the Principle and through that understand our True Parents.
The Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival would be the basis to solve current hostility and conflict, strengthen the family, and develop good character in young people. In other words teaching the Principle and holding the Blessing Ceremony would be used to build peace starting in the family. Signing the peace accord (if it happens) is really the cessation of war. But the peace blessing festival shift responsibility. Peace is not something other people do; no, each person is a peace-maker.
Teams were set up across the island of Mindanao. Of course there was a concentration of manpower in and around Isulan (the capitol of Sultan Kudarat). People were brought from all parts of the island because this Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival would be used as the foundation to build and explain our movement throughout Mindanao.
The Philippine family developed a one-day and three-day content. The Five Principles of Peace advocated by UPF were used as the framework to teach the Principles of Creation. The next lecture was the Fall of Man, followed by Restoration and finally the Meaning of the Blessing. After these presentations people were invited to fill-out the application for the Blessing.
People loved the Principle. They really loved Father's teaching! The experience of being so well received made us feel guilty. One of the educators described it this way:
We have all seen flowers bloom. But what I'm experiencing is like living inside a flower as it blooms! We are living inside the flower of God's providence of restoration as it blooms. Everywhere we go people are responding with enthusiasm and inviting us, imploring us to come. We were invited to schools, universities and colleges, women's groups, to meet religious leaders, politicians, media people, staff from the Sultan Kudarat province, the governor, mayors, Barangay captainsà everywhere we turn people are opening themselves to us and welcoming us with open arms and open hearts. We were invited to teach graduating students at three campuses on Sultan Kudarat State University. Students and teachers were deeply touched by the power and clarity of the Principle. Even during our lunch break, faculty members organized programs on another campus. It was just unbelievable. But we do not deserve having this experience. Jesus should have had this experience 2,000 years ago. But he was crucified. Father should have had this experience but he was put through seven deaths and resurrections. Dr. Yong and the members of the Philippine family have been the ones to pay the price for this Pentecost. But we are having this experience. I feel so guilty. There is only one thing to do -- work harder and give the glory to God and True Parents.
The government side was completely committed. They would be responsible for food and transportation. In areas our teams did not cover or were not permitted to go they would also mobilize people. Private money was invested. Datu Pax (the father and former Governor) was interviewed on radio and TV. They placed ads in the local papers and electronic media outlets. But he told his staff, "We must put the ads in the Manila papers too. Only then we can get national coverage and impact this whole nation." Of course this costs more money, but they did it.
Then negativity hit. The Archbishop of S. Catobato (a neighboring province) issued a pastoral letter telling people not to attend the IPBF. Apparently this letter was sent to all of the Catholic churches in Sultan Kudarat and surrounding provinces. Reports from team leaders in the field said, "In Esulan (a local municipality) they had planned an educational program today but no one showed up. Now people are afraid. In another place our members were not welcomed."
The title of the letter was "Circular: On the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon." It was addressed to "Beloved People of God" and parts of the letter read:
Let me warn all Catholics about the general nature of the Unification Church and some of its beliefs and practicesà þ The Unification Church was founded in South Korea in 1954 and is known as the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity.
It's founder was Sun Myung Moon, who was once a member of the Presbyterian Church
His Church is religious-based but has great influence in politics and vast business holdings in various countriesà
The Unification Church believes in the Bible but its interpretation differs from that of the Catholic Church.
Moon claimed the following: "(God) gave me the qualification to be the Savior, Messiah and returning Lord, and the True Parent who appears in the world as the substantial body of God Himself.
The Blessing Ceremony of the Unification Church is the rite of marriage performed by a Unification Church Ministerà it is connected with the doctrine of original sin..,
In concluded, "Therefore on behalf of safeguarding your Catholic faith, faith in Jesus, our Lord and Savior, whose return of Second Coming we still await, I, as Archbishop of Catobato, prohibit you, especially our lay leaders, from participating in the ceremonies of the Unification Church.
On Sunday morning after the letter was issued, Datu Pax invited all the UPF staff (nearly 30 people) to a resort in the mountains about an hour's drive from the capitol. It was a tourist destination on Lake Sebu.
We were all invited for a lunch of fresh fish with live music. He said we have all been working hard and needed to relax.
During lunch, when the topic of conversation was changed and the issue of the Catholic Bishop's letter was discussed, Datu Pax was very strong. He said, "People will miss understand us in the beginning. We are doing something that is impossible. It's never been done before. Later they will come to understand. But what we are doing is absolutely right and needed. We must find unity among religions. God called Father Moon to do this." His voice grew stronger as emphasized, "We will never surrender!"
Datu Pax then issued a letter entitled "Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival: One Family Under God" which read:
The Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival on Saturday March 31, 2012 is co-sponsored by the provincial government of Sultan Kudarat. It is not the celebration of one religious tradition. It is a recommitment of marriage and family which are institutions held sacred by Christians, Muslims and Lumads. Prayers from many religions will be offered.
In this age when there is so much confusion about marriage, family and human sexuality, as people of faith, especially as people of the book, we must work together on this common ground.
No single religion is strong enough to stand against this tsunami of immorality sweeping our world today. God is using the Universal Peace Federation, an NGO affiliated with the United Nations, to bring us together on this issue.
Let's stand together for the sake of our family, for the sake of our children and for our nation.
Other churches also became negative and even Islamic leaders raised their voices. At this point tensions grew and the situation became very serious, even dangerous.
From second-hand reports we heard that Datu Pax received death threats. He became so concerned about the international members living and working in Sultan Kudarat that he called all of them to the Governor's Palace and told them to stay there. They were not go out without an escort. He also place two armed police guards at the front gate.
Over the course of our mobilization two incidents of bombings took place. We have no way of knowing who they were directed at. In one case the police found a bomb in a mini-taxi that our members were riding in. It was defused by the police. In other case a small bomb exploded in the bus terminal of a neighboring city. No one was killed, but people were injured. The leader of that team was in the bus terms less than an hour before the explosion.
In response to the negativity Datu Pax started personally visiting groups of people. He launched a renewed campaign on the radio too. In one interview he reiterated: þ We are not speaking of an alternative religion here, but only of the unity of religions. "If you believe in God," that's the first qualifications.
In UPF, if you are devoted to your religion, then join us. We are showing that "right" does not come the biggest missile, but by living for the sake of others, by serving humanity as one family.
Let's love each other. Anyway one day we will all die.
I'm grateful to UPF. I'm grateful to Father Moon who discovered UPF and invested so much for UPF. He is really appointed by God. Otherwise he cannot do this. His religion, that's his. But he is working for the unity of religionsà to prove that God is greater than any human being.
Why did God create religion? So we all become good and avoid evil. We have different roots but the same destiny.
There are apprehensions that there will be conversion in this festival. No conversion. I myself will resign if there is conversion. Only transformation.
I invite everyone to attend the March 31 event. It is purely unification of religions to combat what is happening in the whole world. Let us maximize what God has given us.
In the end the Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival was an overwhelming success! Datu Pax turned the tide and gave people confidence to attend the festival. At least 35,000 attended, according to government estimates and media reports. Even after the blessing ceremony was finished, people were still coming to the gymnasium. Because of limited transport vehicles, vehicles had to make several trips to shuttle the people to the festival.
Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival: The Ceremony Before the actually ceremony began there was a pre- program. Young, unmarried people had been invited to attend. They were given education about the importance of purity before marriage and then asked to make the Pure Love Pledge publicly, which they did.
After this the meaning of the Holy Juice ceremony was explained and couples were invited to share one cup of juice to symbolize the renewal of their commitment as eternal partners and the beginning of a new lineage. Then the official ceremony began.
It was a magnificently beautiful atmosphere. Heaven opened. Hearts were changed. There were no compromises as to the Heavenly standards and procedure. The ceremony was conducted by Heavenly norms and modeled exactly after the event recently held in Korea. In fact, the benediction prayer was Father's 11 minute prayer in Korea. It was telecast on the jumbo LED screen with Father's words and voice echoing in the gymnasium and to the overflow crowd outside too through the PA system.
During the congratulatory remarks, Datu Pax spoke first. He began by telling the crowd that, "Husbands and wives are here today to renew our wedding vows because of a big mistake that Adam and Eve made at the very beginning." He then continued:
This is not conversion; it is transformation. Father Moon is from Korea and we are so grateful God sent us such a man to begin unification of religions.
I've been dreaming to fulfill this dream. I had a dream in 1991 and heard God. I wanted to propagate the true meaning of Islam and bring harmony among the Christians and Lumads.
This event, the Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival should awaken us. Nothing is impossible. We believe in one God.
Killing is the worst crime. If we believe in and experience God we don't kill each other.
UPF is the best organization I ever joined in my life!
UPF allows us to see eye-to-eye. We can learn to love and understand each other as brothers.
Leadership is not assertive. It is serving. The right and privilege to serve, to govern, is a very big responsibility.
At the end Datu Pax proclaimed that "We are here to renew our wedding vows together and this will be a witness to the world!" He was talking about the fact that Christians, Muslims and Lumads who had been fighting and killing each other could come together, could join together, in one celebration of marriage and family.
Inaugural Assembly of the Mindanao Peace Initiative (MinPI) Over the past year several 7-day Original Divine Principle seminars had been conducted throughout Mindanao (and other parts of the Philippines too). Collectively these served as the external vehicle to launch MinPI. A resolution was signed by Datu Pax, the Governor, a Congressman and the Aunt of the President of the Philippines.
The resolution began by acknowledging the "successful conclusion of the International Leadership Seminar and the Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival û Mindanao." The Mindanao Peace Initiative would, in part:
Develop an in-depth analysis to the root causes of conflicts, thereby providing a sound basis for addressing critical issues in order to provide lasting solutions that foster inter-religious and intercultural reconciliation; and
Through its Ambassadors for Peace network, MinPI will support the UN's mission to secure peace, to achieve the MDGs, to develop its peace-building commission, and to encourage inter-religious understanding and dialogue among civilizations, to develop a culture of peace and prosperity.
In Mindanao, 37 Holy Grounds were established. This providence was part of creating Holy Ground in 166 places of the Philippines which was led by the Regional President and National Leader. In each place where a Holy Ground was made, they conducted a one-day Principle education program in collaboration with the local government.
Local representatives from each of these 37 locations came to attend the Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival. At the Closing Banquet held in the Session Hall of the provincial capital building of Sultan Kudarat, 37 UPF chapters were officially inaugurated. Thirty-seven UPF flags with the names of each city or municipality were displayed at the launching ceremony. Religious leaders from all faith traditions lit candles that were placed on stage symbolizing God's blessings and the official launching of the UPF chapters throughout the island of Mindanao.
Before departing back to Davao, a 40-minute press conference was held with both local and national media.