Unification News for June 2004

A Mother's Heart for Peace

by Susan Fefferman

This is my experience with the Peace Walk through downtown Jerusalem and "A Mother's Heart for Peace" rally in Independence Park, Jerusalem, on May 27, 2004.

This was the effort of the Israeli family and the 70 members of the task force called to Israel by our True Parents. Father's direction was given on March 28th of this year, he said; "sisters...have to visit the families who lost their loved ones by terror. They have to comfort the victims' spirits, then terror will disappear."

Thus the sisters went house to house, heart to heart, listening and comforting, sometimes shedding tears together. They always prayed for the healing of the people and of the nation. Our members were primarily from Japan and Korea. There were several Israeli sisters and a few Americans, mostly 2nd gens, and Europeans. Their incredible testimonies would break your heart. So much pain and sadness and nowhere can hope be found for an end to the destruction and violence. The victims on both sides of the conflict have deep aching, open wounds. When our sisters listened honestly to these tragic stories their own hearts ached and their tears joined those of the victims. These tears and a warm embrace from a foreigner who doesn't speak the language well can move the heart and healing begins. Our own members were transformed as well and their resolve to keep working to heal this great land deepened. This reconciliation effort is the only way to release the pain and weaken the drive for revenge. When Israeli and Palestinian women share healing tears with each other, the seeds of true peace will finally sprout bearing the blossoms of true love for everyone.

Eighteen additional sisters came 3 weeks before the event. They were from Europe and the US to form a special PR team to prepare for the rally. We shared in the door-to-door reconciliation efforts and we were also transformed. The struggle in Israel/Palestine is unlike any other we've seen. The hatred is planted in the children on both sides by the extreme elements when the children are very young. This hatred causes spontaneous beatings, and rock throwings on both sides, which our sisters witnessed. The threat of violence is thick in the air.

Yet none of us felt any real danger because the Israeli family has a long tradition of prayer and making conditions for the protection of all and the work we must do. We joined in this tradition and each day went out with our hearts full of love and hope for the day. At the center of all the effort here is to clearly understand what God wants us to do each and every moment, as individuals and as a family. That was our constant prayer. Each visit we made was enveloped in a protective cloud of prayer and love. We felt that we were taken care of so well by the Israeli family.

Our task was to reconnect to all the Ambassadors for Peace, the WFWP members and other contacts in preparation for the rally. We met the very best people who helped us find more great people until each of us had a long list of new people to meet and talk to. We were delightfully busy and shared our hearts daily. The Holy Spirit worked with us in an intimate way and all of us gained new insights and grew in our character as true women to be unwavering in our resolve.

Since the pilgrimages started the very small Israeli family has been swamped with supporting all parts of the pilgrimages. We were able to help them in a very important way, so we became an extension of the Israeli family! Their trust and encouragement gave us strength to go beyond any barriers that stood in our way. Yet due to our focus we could not participate in the other programs being held at the hotel. We sacrificed being with our beloved sisters in order to do a great job. It was not easy but we did it and I have the utmost respect for my sisters who sacrificed their personal desires to do the task at hand.

Our team consisted of: Hiromi Stephens (MD), team leader for Tel Aviv and Haifa, with Catherine Ono, Lesa Ellenson, (US), Margaret Baron (English, living in Germany), Antoinieta Carmody (Peruvian/US), and Tina Coombs (German in England). I led the team overall and the Jerusalem team: Catherine Ichinohe (French/living in Denver), Cathy Mahardy (Denver), Linda Triggol (IN), R. Giuliani (Venezuelan in NY), Margaret Ali (Armenian, lived in Lebanon and our only Arab speaker, living in England), Alice Penhard (US living in France), Monika Kunde (Austrian/German but fluent in Russian), Elay Kasongo (GA), Yoko Sasaki (Japan) and for a while Joann Crooks and Lydia Phelan (AZ). We created an amazing unity of heart and mind. We slept in close quarters, shared the bathroom in very creative ways and loved each other dearly. Imagine a center full of loving mothers! We were an amazing group of women that I feel grateful to have been able to know and to work together.

We had so many deep, prayerful experiences followed by numerous Kyung-behs to move heaven to guide us to understand the will of God. One inspiration that we received is that God is calling our sisters to become true women, like our own Mother Moon, to be deeply committed women of faith and heart who work in harmony with others. We wished to always recognize and lift the good in others. We followed four points of unity: 1. Unity must be supported by reporting before we did something so we could protect each other in prayer and to harmonize our efforts, 2. We offered ourselves unconditionally, which meant that our ideas were offered with no strings attached, 3. Flexibility was our key to respond to God's guidance and inspiration at any given moment. 4. Nothing is too small to take seriously. A simple meeting could lead us to a great person or a deep understanding. Many small things led us to good situations or people

We mobilized, taught the Principle and listened with care to those who grieved. We were then asked to create the program for the rally to be held on May 27 at Independence Park. This was quite an undertaking, as I felt unsure about doing it right. My team supported me and WE created the program through prayer and cooperation. It was really a team of mothers working together in concert with the Israeli family that pulled it all together. We discovered that a mother's heart can sacrifice and unite beyond reason. In this way we won the heart of Israel.

Underlying all our efforts and sacrifices was the absolute commitment to plant seeds that would grow and mature even after we returned to our homes. We did not want to have a "show" but a real moving of heart that reflected the experiences of the door-to-door efforts.

The Peace Walk was held prior to the rally and was a beautiful sight with our 500+ sisters from over 33 nations, many in native garb, walking in the bustling downtown area of Jerusalem, inviting local people to join us in the park.

"A Mother's Heart for Peace" rally focused on testimonies of those who long for peace and those who have lost someone to violence. We had two Arabs and two Israelis whose brave message was the same in heart: we must work together to build peace. (Note; Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs have lived side by side in Israel since 1948. Palestinians are not free to travel to Israel or vice-versa without special passes. Our women were Arab Israelis)

Many busloads of women came from other towns. Several buses were organized by women Ambassadors for Peace and WFWP members in other towns, and one wonderful brother who always supports our efforts for peace. There was a festive air and women were delighted in discovering friendly faces from around the world.

Messages of welcome were given by WFWP leaders: Miri Kamar from Israel, International President Lan Young Moon, US President Alexa Ward and IIFWP Karen Judd Smith. Music was interspersed throughout the program by "Ludwig (the only man on stage) and Julia" from Malta, who were sent by WFWP France. They had just competed in the Eurovision competition, "Tes" a conference participant who is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and our own Elay Kasongo from Georgia.

The moving testimonies were followed by Mrs. Cho, a Korean volunteer, who recounted her deep experiences in going door to door.

The final part of the program (simplified due to a limit on time) involved a group of colorful former enemy sisters who embraced on stage to show reconciliation. They included Black and White, German and Jew, Native American and White, British and Indian, Israeli and Palestinian, Korean and Japanese, Arab and Jew. There was a spontaneous call for all of the audience to become peacemakers. I asked the entire group to get up out of their seats and find someone new. The sisters from abroad eagerly led the way, but soon everyone got into the spirit. They spent time getting to know one another and then we recited a pledge to each other in English, Hebrew and Arabic created by our PR team. It reads:

1. I welcome you as my sister to bring true peace together through the logic of love.

2. I promise to leave behind my prejudices and look at you with new eyes and an open heart.

3, I promise to care for you and your family with a true mother's heart of compassion to reconcile all our differences.

4. I promise I will respect and honor you and your faith.

We concluded with a rousing song, "Shalom" (Peace) which then moved on to dancing in groups all over the park. Women from all walks of life, different dress, religion, language and ways of moving their bodies held hands together. Yet all united in joyous dance together at being sisters.

This simple, shoe-string budget program opened the way for women and mothers, sisters actually, to continue to work towards reconciliation and healing. The opportunity and need for many sisters to come and work here is open. All who love God are welcome. Bring comfortable shoes and an open heart. You will receive much more than you could possibly give.

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