Unification News for May 2005
Neighborhood Family Federation - A Pioneering Testimony
by Rev. Michael Jenkins
Central to the work of expanding the blessing and lineage of heaven is the Neighborhood Family Federation. (Family Hoon Dok Church). Last Wednesday my wife Reiko and I held our first meeting. We had several friends we had made in the neighborhood and also Reiko had visited our neighborhood extensively to give the blessing to 662 couples.
We had invited a few from our neighborhood. One couple was free to come that evening and they joined us. We had our gathering at 7:00 pm. Reiko had mentioned to them that we would like to talk about making our families stronger and have some coffee and dessert.
We were nervous, I realized, as we prepared some coffee and all the things that we should prepare. I had to think about it. Why are we doing this? Are we just going to have some friends over and leave it at that? How will we talk about family issues? What about our teaching? How will we discuss that we belong to Rev. Moon's church.
I must say that it would actually be easier to invite people that we don't know to a prayer meeting than to invite friends that we have known for some time. We had many talks before and have been over to each other's homes as neighbors. Our faith experience came up before, and they were warm about it. They had heard about Rev. Moon and our movement and weren't put off but were rather a little curious. Also they have watched out for our family because they know I'm gone a lot and my wife is out quite a bit for church outreach. Yet all of that was very casual with no particular focus. We had shared holy candy with them before. All of this was very friendly.
Now they are coming tonight for the "Hoon Dok Family Church" at my house!! How will we do this? How will we do this so that we don't all the sudden create an uncomfortable atmosphere? When invited, they asked if they could bring their two sons. We said, of course; we have a trampoline out back, we would love to have them.
When they came over we had enough of a friendship to start off pretty warm. We sat around the dining room table and talked about our families. They had already heard a few times about my Israel trips and so it created an already existing base for our discussions.
At first we were a little stiff. They both were both born in America and are very good active Americans. He has his own business as an architect and she is home schooling. We live in a suburban area that is mixed racially. As we discussed more and more it was very interesting to hear about their family background, his parents and her parents and the struggles of marriage at this time.
We asked them what church they belong too and they belong to a very rapidly growing community church in the area. We didn't know anything about them really before this. We started to discuss marriage and family and the values that we share in our faith about no divorce and no adultery. While we sat in my dining room Mr. N. saw our picture on the wall of the time our family was in Brazil and we got the special picture with True Parents. Mr. N. said, hey who's that? We said, "It's Father and Mother Moon with our family; we had a very good experience in Brazil a few years ago with our family workshops. Families from all over the world came there. Our children really loved it." He said, "Oh that is cool. What was it like there?" We described the Brazil experience, where we just had time for our families and the reading of God's Word and being in the creation.
It was amazing. Everything became very warm and interesting. We talked about our in-laws and the good things about them and also some of the challenges. (One thing about Americans - they are very honest.)
Then Mrs. N. opened up. She began sharing about how hard so many friends and even relatives have been hit by divorce. It is such a huge challenge and problem. She said the problem is also heavy in the churches. Quite a few couples are in trouble. All churches are grappling with this because the world wants you to believe it is ok. She said, "You know what the number one problem is? People having affairs. We have many church counselors dealing with this."
I was deeply moved by their candid and frank sharing. Mr. N. shared his heart that marriage is not an easy course. You need faith and you need a lot of love. You could see they were really close. Always its so interesting to see husbands and wives together. Often, as it was in this case, they are very uniquely different and yet they are totally interdependent. Reiko and I both shared about the challenges of marriage and family. It is super common ground for all; blessed families struggle the same way all families struggle. (We are fortunate, however, because we have a strong, biblically based teaching on the problem of the misuse of love.)
The discussion was so sincere and everyone was interested. I mentioned that we focus on marriage and family as the most central part of our ministry. They said were very interested. (Later Reiko and I shared that we were both so relieved at this point, we didn't know how we would introduce what we were doing. We had thought to show the "Path to Peace" video but heaven had another plan that was much better.) I said at this point, would you like to some of what we teach on marriage? They said, "Sure." They are both deeply into the Bible and very serious about doing what's right.
Just then little boys came in and we shared dessert. My daughter Jessica and son James both came by to say hi. They complimented both of them as very nice neighbors. James is 15 now and a freshman in high school. Jessy is a sophomore. They were curious about some of the neighbors' children and if Jessy knew them. Some she knew. They asked, where were the older ones? We explained that our three oldest are doing well: One's in college, one's in Europe on STF and one is in New York working with the New York Church.
We said, we have a teaching on the family and would like to show you something. (I got my computer out and opened the PowerPoint). I went to the three blessings and shared the Genesis 1:28 biblical model. It was very, very good. We often don't realize that often God's original ideal is not really taught or understood. But it's there in the Bible.
Then we read together Father's words on family and marriage. I used the well- edited and topical rendition of Father's words that were established through the special AFC conferences. They were absolutely great. It was uplifting, humorous and just great. They loved it. They asked, what are you reading from? I said, Father Moon's teaching.
The atmosphere was extremely joyful. Reiko said we want to have a monthly gathering to help families and marriages. Mrs. N said, wow that's great. Let's have it at my house next time. Mr. N said, "Yeah, that would be great." I then brought in some Holy Juice and explained that we have a special ceremony in which we bless families and pledge that we will never divorce and never be unfaithful. They were so happy, and we shared the "blessing" together.
This was a truly great experience, and we have begun our Neighborhood Family Federation. Reiko and I plan to focus on married couples and bring them together to support and bless their family. I can see tens of thousands of families "joining" the Neighborhood Family Association as good Christians and people of faith. Just as the Ambassador for Peace "theme" is so timely and popular - the Neighborhood Family Federation is timely and can become popular. People are very serious about their marriages, family and the future of their children. We have a most powerful contribution to make in this arena. I can also see those who don't have a church to affiliate with becoming part of the Family Church of (your city). This is doable. I am deeply grateful to God and True Parents. We will have our next meeting soon. I will keep you posted.
I am encouraging our leaders not to teach from theory but to "do", not to speak but to "act". Father has been encouraging us to just do it. Centering on God's words, the Neighborhood Family Federation is launching quietly throughout America. Our greatest power is that we can bring the anointing and blessing of the family to humanity. Jesus anointed True Parents, and they have anointed us. Please send in your testimonies !!!! God is with us.
Please go forward, Blessed Families - you have the power, you have the Word, the Holy wine and the heart that has suffered under incredible spiritual assault that was unleashed to stop your family and destroy your blessing. But now all that suffering has made you the deepest source and wellspring of liberation, security and happiness for all couples. Deep within the human heart is the unquenchable desire for true love, lasting love that won't be betrayed, love that the children can emulate and follow. This secures the neighborhood, and the dwelling of God in the majority of homes in America will turn the direction of this nation toward its true destiny. Through this course America can become the nation of "True and Blessed Families." The churches are ready for us. ACLC has been prepared and the pastors are feeling urgent. Now we as blessed families can pave the way in the neighborhoods of America so that eventually the members of all churches can pave the same way.
God is great !!! I am seeing the reality that is prophesied in Revelation 21:3 -"And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God."
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