Unification News for August 2004
Witnessing To High Level Leaders
I joined the Unification movement in San Francisco in 1976, but my first experience in my hometown wasnít until about 8 years later when I was doing my summer of service from UTS. At that time Rev. Michael Jenkins was the regional leader, Mr. Reiner Vincenz was the State leader and Mrs. Sheri Reuter was the city leader.
Then Suddenly and without warning at the leaders meeting in the grand ballroom after the celebration on the day of the Victory of Love, 1987, Father assigned 75 American leaders to work with the ACC mission and I returned to my home town (after much prayer, asking God where he wanted me to go).
At that time we were beginning to work with a city councilman, a state representative and a state senator.
Through these next 17 years, these three leaders have become a Congressman, the Secretary of State and the State Treasurer.
True Parents actually advised us that it would be better to work with retired, rather than current elected officials, because of the flack that they might receive by being identified as having worked with our movement. We all know the stories about ministers who were persecuted because of their involvement with the unification church. But somehow our work with these three elected officials just continued to grow and blossom.
The city councilman was elected to the county board, the state representative was elected to a county office and the state senator began to rise in the leadership ranks of her party. When I first met the state representative, he took me along to a service project with senior citizens. But rather than listen to a speech, he handed me a fork and a spatula and pointed at the awaiting barbecue grill. I spent the next 2 hours cooking hot dogs while he led acrobats as they entertained the seniors.
He later participated in our ICUSA/Project Volunteer programs as we distributed food throughout the city. After being elected to a county office he came in his jogging suit and brought his acrobats to perform for the sisters at our WFWP bridge crossing conference. He had been to Japan, so he also brought videotape highlights of their performances and television interviews in Japan. Needless to say he was a big hit! Then the next day he returned in a suit and tie as the elected county official and spoke to the WFWP gathering. It then took him over 1 hour to leave the hotel, because our beloved Japanese sisters demanded to take pictures with him. And our relationship only deepened after he became a state official. He joined our Parents Day Selection Committee and one year his recommended nominee was chosen. So he took time off from his work and traveled to DC to participate in the Parents Day Ceremony. And of course, because of him, our US Senator and several of our US Congressman joined the ceremonies. Since that time our relationship has deepened even more. He has invited our Japanese missionaries to his office on several occasions (like 50-75 at a time) where he serves each one of them cokes and cookies and takes about 180,000 pictures with them. He has also attended several of True Parents speeches in our city and along with another congressman was one of only two elected officials to stay throughout True Parents entire speech.
The lady State Senator attended one of our early ALC Conferences in Washington DC and was duly impressed. She then participated in local ALC conferences and would take time to have lunch with Rev. Jenkins and I about once a year. In the meantime, we would meet her at many political events throughout the year (she once even mentioned that she was impressed at how much weight I had lost -- this was shortly after I had returned from Chung Pyung). She really tried to go on one of our fact finding tours of the Soviet Union (she has her college degree in journalism) but the timing was not quite right. Since becoming our stateís first elected female official she has sent many beautiful proclamations and letters honoring our True Parents and she has no reservations whatsoever about the direct language that she uses in honoring our True Parents.
In the twenty something years since he was a city councilman has also participated in many of True Parents speech programs. He is known and loved by many of our ministers and I believe that their support for him and his support for us have a powerful mutual benefit. I remember how he came to speak at one of our national WFWP programs. He drove out to the hotel by himself (no aids or assistants) and he gave a heartistic and beautiful speech. He has participated in many of our programs in Washington, DC and we have developed a deep relationship with his key staff people both in DC and in his home district. Through the years (over 20) I have attended many of his local functions (most often with one or more of my own children). I have gone to a new Post Office dedication, summer back to school fairs and fests, Town meetings and along with CARP/STF we have helped him in each of the past 3 years, as he serves over 600 senior citizens a beautiful Christmas dinner. Last night he held a thank you reception for all of his friends to celebrate his recent re-election to the US Congress. He walked around the room with his microphone thanking various people.
When he came to our table, he publicly thanked our True Parents for the opportunity to meet with world leaders, "ambassadors, princes and potentates," and for the opportunity to speak before the United Nations. For many years, he would never even accept the smallest honorarium until finally, almost through force he directed that our offering be directed to a local community charity.
These are three of our most long term political contacts. But there are many more. We have had US Congressmen come to visit our local businesses, have lunch with us during the holiday season and I even fed pigs at the local county fair with someone who has become one of the leading political figures in America. This man (after many conditions and much prayer) was able to greet our True Parents at their 80th birthday celebration in the US Capitol. He has also written several very personal and beautiful letters of greetings to our True Parents honoring their work with family issues in America.
On the most local level we have made a long lasting relationship with our churchís own city councilman. He has responded by getting several city proclamations to honor our events over the years* and he has visited our church, attended our monthly prayer breakfast and he even delivered an "evangelical " proclamation reading at one of True Parents speeches in our city. We have helped him distribute athletic shoes, served at his annual Labor Day picnics and volunteered in other arenas. Then one day we walked out our front door and discovered that someone had put in a new sidewalk right in front of our church center. (In order to get a proclamation passed in our city, the councilman must read the entire proclamation before the entire body at their monthly meeting. Therefore every proclamation that he has proposed to honor our True Parents was read publicly.
Likewise, we have pursued a relationship with our Jewish Congresswoman. She represents a strongly Jewish section of our city which is where our church center is located. She attended the reception on capitol hill for our True Parents 80th birthday. Then this past summer, after a long time of negotiating schedule with her district director, she actually came and spoke at our Sunday Service. The fact that my mother and her mother had taught school together made the event even more special. She gave us a briefing on the situation in Iraq and I am proud to say that my parents were in the congregation.
So what am I really saying? I remember several years ago when we were supporting a project in another state. Eventually, we had to bring in our own ministers to witness to certain public officials. This is because their CAUSA graduates had not been taken care of. I even heard that during True Parents 50 city tour our members contacted a very prominent minister in their state to see if True Parents could speak in his church. He said, "where in the world have you been all these years? I was invited to Korea in 1984 and I had the time of my life. But then I lost touch and didnít hear from anyone in the UC for almost 20 years. Several years ago in our city we held DP study sessions in one ministerís church every Saturday morning for over one year. The church was a very nice but simple church and every week the minister took whatever small offering was raised and used it to improve the church in some way. By the end of the year he had replaced all the electrical work in the church and put in new pews. Then one day he gave his testimony. He said that in 1984 he had been invited to go on one of our CAUSA trips to Korea. When he was praying at the Rock of Tears in Pusan he received a vision of a church without a roof. Some years after he returned home he began to look for a new church. One day after unsuccessfully looking at one church, he looked across the street and saw a simple humble church, but noticed that it had no roof. Needless to say, he bought that church and that was the church that we used to hold the DP study during that year. So often we have no idea about how much True Parents work affects everyone that it touches.
The successful work that we have done with the political leaders in our state has no magical formula. Most simply we have just continued to serve them and maintained contact with them on a consistent and regular basis. Sometimes it has been hard to connect with them as they have risen up the ladder and their local staff assistants have changed. The state treasurer returned my call one night well after midnight. She was at a national conference on the East Coast. She was nearly in tears as she shared with me how difficult it was to serve on the state level. Whereas before she had "only" 200,000 constituents, she now was responsible for almost 11 million people -- many of whom still expected the same personal attention that they had received when she was still a state senator. Even in our case, although we have maintained contact and met her on many occasions since she became a state-wide official, we have not been able to continue those annual personal lunch dates. However, last year, my 9 year old daughter chose for her social studies project, to make her a campaign poster and sent it to her as a Christmas Card. In response she invited my daughter to the stateís inauguration ceremony (and she even allowed her to bring her dad along as a guest).
I truly believe that the good fortune that these elected officials are experiencing is directly related to their work with our movement. It has not always been easy to maintain our relationships, (after our very own state senator who knew Rev. Jenkins and I on a first name basis was elected to the US Senate, we couldnít even get a letter of greeting from him) but I truly believe that God will give us every opportunity to move the relationship to a deeper level over time.
Throughout history God has always tried to work through the prophet to reach the king. Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Nehemiah each stood in this position. Today, in 2004, the 21st century , the new millennium and the 4th year of the Cheon IL Gook, I do not think for one minute that Godís desire has changed even one iota in this regard. I believe that our responsibility as Tribal Messiahs and more specifically those of us who have been chosen to be ACC/AFC leaders ordained by our True Parents, is to work with world and national political leaders as well as ministers, ambassadors, UN leaders and men and women of true faith to unite the prophet and the king to work together to bring peace to the world and to establish the Kingdom of God on Earth. And I truly believe that this is meant to be and will be established in our lifetime.
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