Unification News for October, 2001

Oceania Conferences: An Exploration of Principles and Practices that Strengthen Families, Educate Our Youth and Rebuild the Society - Interreligious And International Federation For World Peace

Paul Saver

On September 5-6, 2001 the Interreligious International Federation for World Peace and Unification together with the International Education Foundation and FreeTeens, convened a conference in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The theme of the conference was "An Exploration of Principles and Practices that Strengthen Families, Educate Our Youth and Rebuild the Society." Approximately 150 leaders from all spheres of society including politics, education, media, public service and the churches gathered for two days of highly stimulating talks and discussions. The venue was the ballroom of the Holiday Inn.

It is noteworthy to say that PNG is a nation that lays claim to 800 languages (there are some 1800 languages in use in the world today) and hundreds of tribes scattered through 20 provinces covering 6 major islands. September 16th marks the 26th anniversary of PNG as an independent nation, after 69 years under Australian administration. It is a young nation that is plagued with numerous political, environmental, social and economic problems.

A number of conscientious leaders in PNG, who have attended previous IIFWP conferences are crying out with a united voice that the root problem facing PNG is a values crisis. Itís a crisis that manifests itself in ways such as the rise of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancies, youth suicide, large numbers of youth dropping out of school, high unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, crime, corruption in the government and public service etc. Any solution must address the aspiration of the human spirit in the context of relationships and the marriage family.

The Conference began with welcoming speeches from the Governor of Central Province, the Hon. Opa Taureka and the Hon. John Kamba, Minister for Telecommunications for PNG.

The International Chairman of the IIFWP Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak gave the keynote address. Dr. Thomas Walsh presented an introduction to the IIFWP which included the Founderís vision and the mission of the organization. This was followed by an overview of the Essentials of the Principle, which forms the ideological basis of the IIFWP.

In the afternoon, Richard Panzer of FreeTeens, captivated the audience, using an interactive style, in presenting his Aids Prevention and Development of Healthy Relationships program. His emphasis was on sexual abstinence education. This was done by revealing the health risks associated with pre marital sexual relations and the ineffectiveness of condoms and the fallacies of the so called "safe sex" message. Later, Richard emphasized the preciousness of our youthful years and life in general and how the practice of abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage, frees us from all the risks associated with pre marital sex. Development of mature character, as a vital pre-requisite for marriage and family, was further highlighted.

On the following day, Bob Bebee, of the International Education Foundation, took center stage, presenting the Need for Character Education and a Balanced View of Education. In terms of the latter, Bob highlighted the importance of education of heart and norm, in forming the basis of technical and vocational education. This is tied in with key themes of the IIFWP and the Founderís vision in that world peace comes on the foundation of the personal transformation of individuals in the context of loving family relations.

The second half of Bobís presentation was focused on bringing attention to the effective track record of the IEF in the countries of the former Soviet Union since 1993 as well as in China. Various character education curriculaís were mentioned plus the considerations in implementing character education programs.

Toward the end of the Conference, Rev. Dr. Kwak who has been a faithful and trusted follower of the Founder, the Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, for more than 40 years gave inspired talks on "The Significance of Our Eternal Life and the Spiritual World" and "The Significance of the Family and the Holy Marriage Blessing".

With passion and deep conviction Dr. Kwak spoke about the spiritual nature of all people and the continuation of life in the spirit world. Moreover, he stressed that our life on Earth is preparation for eternal life in the spirit world. We prepare by cultivating a heart of true love that manifests in daily life through a lifestyle of living for the sake of others.

Dr. Kwak, who has 6 children and 20 grandchildren spoke of the absolute importance of marriage and family under Godís grace and blessing. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eve through failing to obey Godís commandment. Later they had children. Hence we can deduce that they married without Godís blessing and protection. Satanís life, love and lineage came to be multiplied. Through the Blessing, participants can be reborn into Godís life, love and lineage.

With this message, participants with spouses were given the opportunity to partake of a marriage rededication and Blessing ceremony. In all, 28 couples were blessed. Rev. and Mrs. Kwak officiated.

The closing banquet was a joyous occasion. Participants volunteered to entertain everyone. Some testimonies were offered that expressed overflowing gratitude of being able to participate in the Conference and personal thanks to the Founder. The speakers felt renewed hope for the future of PNG.

The following day (September 7th) participants gathered under the leadership of Richard Panzer and Bob Bebee to discuss plans and form committees for the implementation of Aids Prevention and Character Education programs for all Provinces in Papau New Guinea.

Apia, Samoa, Sept. 10~11, 2001

From September 10-11, 2001, the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, together with the International Educational Foundation and FreeTeens, convened a conference in Apia, the capital of Samoa.

The theme of the conference was "An Exploration of Principles and Practices that Strengthen Families, Educate Our Youth and Rebuild Our Society". More than 180 people including leaders from the spheres of politics, education, media, public service, youth groups and the churches gathered for two days of highly stimulating talks and discussions.

Notably in attendance, was the Prime Minister of Samoa, the Hon. Tuilaepa S. Malielegaoi who gave the welcoming address. The following morning (Sept. 11th), the International Chairman of IIFWP, Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, together with his entire staff, hosted a breakfast meeting with the Prime Minister and two of his ministers. The Prime Minister expressed gratitude for the previous opportunities for numerous members of his government, the media and the churches to attend conferences sponsored by the IIFWP. He wholeheartedly endorsed our work and expressed a desire to work together for the betterment and prosperity of Samoa.

Dr. Kwak responded warmly saying that in all his travels to more than 100 nations, he felt that Samoa was a most peaceful country and blessed by God. Dr. Kwak further reiterated some essential points that he had already mentioned in his keynote address, when he said Samoa could become a role model for other nations. He said:

"Samoa may be a small nation compared to the superpowers. But in terms of it's people and it's moral authority, rooted in the family, it can become a superpower. It can become a nation that other nations seek to imitate."

Accompanying the Prime Minister at the conference were 7 ministers of his government plus the Deputy Head of State: Afiuga Mataia Visesio Europa. Other notable leaders of Samoa in attendance included 24 Christian ministers, 23 school teacher's, 4 high school Principals, 5 community health educators and representatives of the Ministry of Education.

Unlike a number of other island nations in Oceania, Samoa comprises one fairly homogenous nation with one single language which is spoken and understood throughout the nation. English is taught in schools and is understood and used by approximately 70% of it's population of 170,000 people. The main religious group is the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa which has as it's beginnings from the time in 1830 when representatives of the London Missionary Society brought Christianity to Samoa. Amazingly, the nation was converted 'overnight' and 30 years later, Samoa sent her own missionaries to her neighboring nations.

Compared to many industrialized nations of the world, Samoa retains a strong family and clan structure with four royal lineages that share traditional governance. Samoa's history goes back at least 3,000 years. In recent times with the influx of Hollywood culture with it's emphasis on individualism and free sex, traditional values and mores are being threatened. This is manifested in a sudden increase in teen pregnancy and STD contraction rates plus 30 youth suicides having taken place in the past 12 months.

This phenomenon has caused alarm amongst conscientious Samoan leaders and consequently the educational programs that were introduced by Freeteens and the International Educational Foundation (IEF) were very well received. Though the Minister of Education was unable to attend the conference herself, she was able to grant her time to learn of the work of the IIFWP, IEF and FreeTeens through meeting with Mr. Robert Beebe, Richard Panzer, Paul Saver and Jacinta Moreau.

Once again a highlight of the program which occurred in the final sessions were presentations by Rev. Dr. Kwak who spoke of the significance of our eternal life and the Spirit world plus the significance of the family and the holy marriage Blessing.

Throughout the duration of the conference very positive and extensive media coverage by way of the national radio station and newspaper took place. Not only the participants, but the nation as a whole were able to benefit from this brief visit. The challenge that lies ahead, is to direct the inspiration gained from the conference and channel it into programs that can address and provide solutions to the problems that face the nation.

A steering committee to implement FreeTeens was established plus a commitment from the Ministry of Education to seek to review and adapt IEF character education curricula to suit Samoa. The proposal to run regular teacher training seminars for the implementation of character education curricula in all schools was well received.

Rev. Paul Saver is the Director, FFWPU Australia

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