Unification News for April 2004
The Symbol of the Cross in Light of the Gospel of Reconciliation
by Lynne Sofinowski
Although Baltimore is part of the Washington, DC region, it is a satellite community, physically located on the outskirts of the region, one to one and a half hour's drive from DC. The testimony I wish to share is to encourage those brothers and sisters who are working almost solo or with only a few others.
We did have an upbeat, innovative program--several presentations under the title, "The Symbol of the Cross in Light of the Gospel of Reconciliation," the main theme being Reconciliation. Considering the heartfelt desire and need for reconciliation in our world, whether global in nature or more personally relevant to our own familial relationships, neighborhoods, and in our society, the theme of reconciliation appeals particularly to our target audience in Baltimore, the African-American clergy. Rev. Dr. Arnold Howard, one of our key ACLC Co-Conveners and most instrumental in bringing two-thirds of the guests, lifted up this primary concern in promoting our event. This theme/topic drew the bulk of our audience to Morgan Christian Interfaith Center that day. We had a total of 60+ participants of which 30 were true guests. The balance of the attendees were support persons--hosts, food-preparers, greeters, speakers, AV technicians, and ACLC core members. How is it that God placed the right person who knew the hearts of the Black Christian clergy and who know the better topic for our outreach program? I personally did not know, but Heavenly Father indicated this through Rev. Howard. Our small core team (Rev. Dr. Arnold Howard, Rev. St. George Crosse, Rev. Daniel Wilkerson, Rev. Willie Ray) has been teaching me many things. God and the spirit world brought these persons together and inspired them.
Since February of last year, two other sisters (Marianne Goldberg, Kumiko Francis) and I tried to reach out to clergy from a database of ACLC contacts, inheriting the foundation laid by Rev. & Mrs. Gregg Jones. We worked hard to invite ministers to Ocean City for last year's ACLC Convocation. Of ten persons who came from the Baltimore area, a few have steadfastly supported our efforts here. A couple of ministers have been truly called by heaven to champion and expand the ACLC mission here. My primary role and responsibility to date has been to care for, pray for, serve, call, whatever God inspires me to do to support these persons--stand on my head for days if necessary--to move our local providence forward. I found over the past year that depending upon the earnest seriousness of my heart to do for True Parents and the specific prayer requests for assistance to absolute good ancestors in the spirit world, help would show up Meeting and working with Rev. Howard has truly been the pivotal answer to my appeals to God for help. There is no greater value than a righteous and experienced man of faith, and this has been the help Heavenly Father has sent--not of my doing.
For the period after Ocean City (3/2003) to now, God has guided my intuition of the heart during this "incubation time," to study and to build our team unity and the sense of family. We strove for consistency, despite the days when only one or two of us would show up for a meeting. I guess spirit world could see after awhile and after tears of repentance, frustration, loneliness, and discouragement over time that we were serious. To be able to work with such prepared persons as we have in our core team has brought immeasurable joy and hope to me. I am absolutely convinced of the assistance of the spirit world's help and earnest intent. This is in my mind a clear manifestation of the providential time we live in. Regardless of my shortcomings and limitations, if God needs something done and I just show up, it will happen. I just had to try. Only God and my absolute good spirit ancestors know how many tearful prayers I've made at every turn, every discouraging moment to date. I have come to know that as long as my heart remains determined to show love and loyalty to True Parents, to try to take ownership of True Parents' requests to us Elder Son nation members, then spirit world is obliged to help us succeed. Two-thirds of our small core ACLC team is studying the Divine Principle. And, these ministers are attempting to teach as much as they understand. Our team of "2nd Israel" brothers/sisters are taking the lead in the directions they feel called by God to go with ACLC. I am constantly trying to understand how to make sure we are growing in understanding True Parents' way of faith as we proceed. The beautiful outreach event we held on 3/20 is just one of many programs being put together by brothers and sisters, around North America. This expansion is what we should already have done many years ago. Now we are desperately playing "catch up" and the future of America is at stake. When I see the current generation of dispirited young people--for example in high schools--I sense the grave, grave danger America is in.
One particular day, when I fell into a fit of despair preparing for our 3/20 program, Rev. Howard shared with me the value of a spark in getting a mega-ton rocket off the ground. All the millions of dollars, the brilliantly integration of technology, organization, and human effort to send a space craft out of the earth's atmosphere could not occur without a spark--one tiny catalytic chemical reaction to ignite the fuel in the rocket. Without that tiny "spark," the elaborately planned project would be forever on hold. God is so poetic (--and so is Rev. Howard, who served as a USAF captain and got his bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering prior to going into ministry). In many a moment when I bemoaned my lack of capability, God pushed me on through a precious person standing by me. I really understood who we, the initiators and "gophers" are.
Speaking of precious persons, during the course of preparing this event, God challenged me to the nth degree to develop unity with my central figures and key persons on the regional and national levels. Because of disagreements, our program changed several times over from its original concept. Our funding disappeared and reappeared a few times. When faced with "bad news" from one sector, another sector would respond with "good news." Every day there was a hurdle, a challenge. Amazingly enough to me, our key minister, Rev. Howard, took all of the ups and downs in stride, already having experienced such in other circumstances and venues. Our local FFWPU leader, Rev. Matsui, always managed to keep faith and patience--especially with me. The regional ACLC leader, Bishop C. Phillip Johnson, would patiently counsel and console my frustrated pleas. And in the end, my beloved regional director, Rev. Hong, was right on point about the program content in the first place. By the arrival of our program day, I could say, we all worked hard for the unity of heart we'd achieved. Upon that foundation of unity, signs of a real beginning for ACLC in our city manifested itself in the totally enthusiastic response we got from the attendees.
It is in this beginning moment, I am grateful to report that Baltimore--as any other city in the US with just a few people--can bear fruit at this time. Exercising absolute faith, absolute love, and absolute obedience (or as much as we can muster) will garner the spirit world's help. Believe me, if heaven can use a simple person like me to do this, God can certainly use each and every brother and sister to change the destiny of this country.
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