Unification News for January 2005
Greetings from the Holy Land
After the great True God's Day celebration Dr. Yang and I went to the Holy Land. We can hardly believe how much the situation here is one moment of great possibility. Altahough the immense suffering and daily casualties continue in the conflict, there is a sense that huge historic changes are in motion that cannot be reversed.
God has truly prepared this moment in history. When we arrived we were invited to the Greek Orthodox (Coptic and Syrian Orthodox also) Midnight Mass in Bethlehem. The Christian religious leaders at the top are all quite aware of the 10,000 religious and legislative leaders that IIFWP was able to bring here.
The fact that we have an ever-growing foundation on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides has made it such that there are no doors closed to us. We are welcomed everywhere.
Father's teaching is that the efforts for peace must be led by an interreligious spirit. This is the key. Last night we held an Interreligious Council leaders' meeting for our IIFWP. The testimonies were just amazing, from Jewish, Christian and Muslim key leaders who are Ambassadors for Peace. One by one they gave astonishing accounts about the changes that have come since the first Pilgrimage conducted by ACLC in May 2003. There is no question that the relentless visits village to village in the Holy Land, going into homes and hearts, have created a momentum in which everything that was stuck or stagnant before has now been freed up and is in motion. The World Peace Pilgrimages (as reviewed by our Peace Ambassadors ) were the most amazing movement that touched the top leaders, religious and political, from the top sheiks (imams) and rabbis to the members of the Knesset and the office of the president and prime minister on both sides. Grassroots efforts by our youth as Youth Ambassadors for Peace also have created new hope for the Palestinian and Jewish youth. The movement of women really began with the WFWP Pilgrimage, which brought visits to Hadassah and other hospitals and moved on to the Bridge of Peace, where members of parliament and religious leaders (women) from 150 nations found their Palestinian and Israeli "sisters." So many tears were shed , especially as the Jewish and Muslim women crossed the bridge, month after month, making bonds of heart that is creating an interrelated fabric from family to family.
Having taken in that we attended President Arafat's funeral and have participated in numerous ceremonies, the hearts of the people have come to trust Father Moon. He is a man of God coming to bring respect and love for the children of Abraham. His message is one of deep conviction that God stands with his people. And his people are the true believers of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
When we arrived in Bethlehem for the Midnight Mass we went to a special reception with key officials. We were treated with the highest respect everywhere and given a full police escort. When we arrived for one meeting prior to the mass, one of the key officials remembered "Reverend Linda," (Rev. Linda Triggol) who led our Peace Task Force with great success. The impression was so strong because Rev. Linda and the young people cleaned and decorated the Bethlehem plaza. At the same time they also did a major clean-up and restoration of a Muslim cemetery along with educational programs for young people in many schools, encouraging them to know that the world cares. This is the reason we are given such respect. It is now widely known that Father Moon brought over 150 nations' representatives (from prestigious backgrounds) to the Holy Land to connect their nations to the peace process.
When we arrived for the celebration of Christmas (January 7 in the Orthodox tradition) at the Church of the Nativity (commemorating Jesus' birthplace) we were deeply moved by the religious spirit there. How incredible that these traditions have continued unchanged for 2,000 years! The people's reception of Father Moon clearly indicates that the saints in the heavenly realm have prepared our way. Earlier in the day we had a special meeting to officially greet the Patriarchs of the Greek Orthodox, the Assyrian Orthodox and the Coptic Orthodox churches. They know us. Our presence in the Holy Land has become widely known. The interreligious strategy was most beautiful.
We entered through the ancient door of the Church of the Nativity. (It is only four feet high, and you have bend at the waist to go through.) When we entered we were met by a traditional honor guard with red fezes and beautiful traditional clothing -- including staffs that they stamp on the ground to announce anyone's approach. In such a procession, we were led to the patriarch and officially announced. (This is where we were also welcomed on two occasions to meet Mr. Maumoud Abbas, the person that is sure to be the next president of Palestine.) He warmly welcomed us and was so happy to see us. We enjoyed the beautiful Greek Orthodox mass, which eventually went into procession to the very small area commemorating where Jesus was born.
God is with us and the power of heaven is working to bring all these great traditions together to welcome True Parents. Jesus is here, as is Muhammad. They are guiding us with each step. A special reception was held for 12 people. Dr. Yang and I were included. It is so great to see how God has made the way for the Peace Kingdom, in which all of God's people will respect and love each other.
Yesterday we received our official badges as international observers in the historic January 9 elections. President Carter and many leaders from the nations of the world are here. America is looking to foster democracy and the governance of law, which are founded on principles of faith. This is the vortex where that hope can be most readily realized. The Jews, Muslims and Christians that understand that heart of God are praying the God will guide these two historic brothers, Ishmael and Isaac, to form two nations that will enter the Kingdom of God.
I'm writing from the Erez crossing leading into Gaza. Today we will go to the IIFWP / Wango soccer tournament organized by Kamal (IIFWP Sec. Gen. Gaza) and Stephen Gabb. It has already conducted competitive eliminations among 16 nations. (Every faction in Gaza had a team -- that's right, every faction !!) . Father's vision that an atmosphere of peace can be fostered through soccer (futbol) tournaments is real. Today is the championship. Wango Secretary General Taj Hamad is already in Gaza. What a great contribution Wango has made for peace here! The interest in the Muslim communities is very strong now. They can see that Father Moon brings so many aspects to the paths to peace: religious reconciliation, academic dialogue, service and heart, sports and youth, women's associations. There is a place for each and every person.
Thanks for your prayers and support. The worldwide outpouring from the many thousands of VIPs who came to the Holy Land from every continent is so encouraging. The members of parliament and religious leaders are excited; they can feel that they are moving the Holy Land to Peace. We will soon begin the Pilgrimages again, starting with a special international conference.
God is with all who are committed to build the peace Kingdom.
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