Unification News for May 1996


The "Latin American Ministers' Conferences" Providence - Christian Ministers Explore the Principle

by Dr. Frank Kaufmann-NYC

Against all odds, and in the face of enormous adversity, Reverend Moon achieved the historically unprecedented mission to educate over 3,600 Latin American, Christian Leaders, in the unthinkably short period from February 22 - April 22, 1996. This providence occurred under the direction of Mr. Dong Moon Joo. Behind this victory lies a tale of miracles and striving at unimagined levels. Also behind this miracle lies the revelation of the ever intensifying spiritual reality with which providential activity is infused at this time.

It is natural to ask when and how this project began. Without wanting to sound too dramatic, it might be legitimate to say that this project began in 29 AD (with the crucifixion of Jesus, and the beginning of awaiting the parousia), or in 1945 with the challenge to prepared Korean Christians to consider the teaching of Reverend Moon. One could also say the project began in 1952, when Reverend Moon found himself alone in the Satanic world with no foundation, or perhaps in 1974 when Reverend Moon delivered his Christianity in Crisis message in Madison Square Garden explicitly identifying Reverend Billy Graham in connection to the John the Baptist mission. Or in 1985 when Reverend Moon called upon an internationally renowned Baptist leader to provide 3,600 North American Christian leaders for seminars such as those just completed in Montevideo.

This unusual list of dates is meant to suggest that these Montevideo conferences represent a possible starting point at the very least for Unification - Christian cooperation (an undeniably important ecumenical development). If Reverend Moon's publicly declared self- understanding is true, then a far more important development for world-wide Christendom has occurred.

In simple terms, the starting point for these conferences can be said to have developed during the December IRFWP/Washington Times conference for Christian Ecumenism in the Americas, which involved Christian ecclesiastical and scholarly leaders from North, Central, and South America. This meeting occurred successfully under the Blessing of God, with over 120 international Christian leaders convening in Montevideo, Uruguay from December 11 - 15, 1996.

During that conference for Christian Unity in the Americas, Reverend Moon held private meetings with a number of top Christian leaders, including Dr. Jerry Falwell, of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, and Reverend Dr. Nilson Amaral Fanini, world president of the World Baptist Federation. (Both men incidentally were delighted to see one another there in Montevideo, an occasion which provided them with the opportunity to catch up on their long time friendship.)

It was during a luncheon meeting with Dr. Fanini that the agreement for the seminars for 3,600 was set. Reverend Moon made it clear that he sought to have an opportunity to share his beliefs and his teachings with mainstream Christian leaders, and both men strongly agreed that this seminars would exhibit a rigorous commitment to the highest standards of ecumenical respect and cooperation. The environment was utterly without conversionary purpose. This pledge and mutual agreement was maintained to the satisfaction of all involved.

Reverend Moon explained that his desire to share his beliefs and teachings grew out of a desire to cooperate with traditional Christianity for the of sake better serving the world. If Christian leaders could learn first hand about Reverend Moon and the Unification Church, there would be none of the obstacles for cooperation which have plagued the many years of persecution and disinformation suffered by Reverend Moon throughout the course of his ministry.

Reverend Moon explained that this providence was to be completed by mid-April, which intensified the momentum of the activity into weeks of sacrifice and sleepless nights.

In order for the project to be completed on time, it was necessary to run a five day conference for approximately 800 ministers every other week for seven weeks. This includes funding (!), managing all educational preparations, safeguarding the mobilization, arranging all travel, meals, and accommodations, and retaining a thorough administration and archival record-keeping procedure from beginning to end. Much of the administrative achievement must be credited to Frank LaGrotteria (UTS '94). It is not exaggeration to say that these conferences not only turned Montevideo on its head, but shook Brazil to its very foundations.

The mobilization began under Brazilian Evangelical leaders, later expanded to include the cooperation of Unification State leaders in Brazil, and eventually spread to eleven other Latin American countries. Conference by conference an exact count of participants had to be kept. Also a complete record of all participant evaluations was kept on file. This was in no way meant to be a passing and careless event. All participants have the opportunity to continue in all future cooperation for uplifting Latin America, and for pioneering Christian Ecumenical activity throughout the region and the world.

In addition to the serious commitment to follow up and future activity, careful attention was paid to every aspect of the conference. Furthermore constant revisions were made throughout the process, always seeking improvement wherever possible.

Not surprisingly, no one was more committed to the conference than Reverend Moon himself. Reverend Moon's dedication to his guests was astounding. He studied the lecturers and met with them personally. He reviewed the daily schedule of each conference, and made revisions as fine as half hour differences. At every conference Reverend Moon delivered the speech A View of the Principle of the Providential History of Salvation, and met with the leaders personally. Reverend Moon would practice his speech tens of times each time before delivering it to the Christian leaders present.

The most overwhelming evidence of Reverend Moon's deep personal attachment to these conferences came at the final conference. By this time Reverend Moon had already secured the shocking victory on April 16, 1996 at the Washington Hilton before 1,000's of North American leaders including over 80 Congressmen and Senators. Also millions across the nation and world could enjoy four hours of live C-Span coverage of that event. With this victory, the crucial providential demands for April deadlines had been met. So Reverend Moon asked his Uruguayan representative, Reverend Yu, to deliver his speech at the 5th and final conference. This would leave Reverend Moon free to tend to the many obligations that arose in North America following the Washington speech.

Despite these clear plans to remain in North America Reverend Moon found himself strangely drawn to the final Ministers' conference. To the amazement of everyone, from the youngest staff member to the highest VIP participant, Reverend Moon's passionate commitment to his Christian guests was overwhelming. At 5:00 pm in the afternoon he left his home in New York for Montevideo. He flew through the night rehearsing his speech five times en route. He arrived in Montevideo at 2:00 pm the following day, and was driven straight to the Victoria Plaza where he had but a moment to change his clothes and meet with the VIP's from the head table. By 3:00 pm the Plenary session had begun, and by 4:30 it was finished. Following his speech Reverend Moon warmly greeted each VIP and gave a big farewell wave to the 700 guests who filled the room. Reverend exited from the stage, but rather than returning to his hotel room, he walked straight out of the front door, entered his car and flew directly home! Reverend Moon traveled 38 hours so that he could be with and teach his guests for just one hour!

How could anyone resist such uncommon degree of self giving? At the final session of this last conference I asked the participants how many would like Reverend Moon to visit them in their homes, and all cheered wildly. How different was their response from those of just a few weeks earlier many of whom came with suspicion and resistance. Week to week, the bond of friendship between Unificationists and the mainstream Christian leaders grew deeper and deeper. At the end we parted in tears.

In fact everything evolved progressively from beginning to end. The lectures were given by three Brazilian leaders, Cesar Zaduski, Mauricio Baldini, and Simao Ferabolli. At the first conference they came with the best collection of old slides they could scare up from around their headquarters. By the time of the fifth conference, however, they were teaching the Divine Principle from powerful, state of the art computer generated text and images. This final presentation made the Principle vivid and captivating to a gathering of 800 people simultaneously.

The response of the participants evolved as well, as I have indicated above. The earliest groups had suspicion, and sometimes even hostility. Furthermore, there were so-called Christian leaders in Brazil who deliberately sought to sabotage the conferences by sending agents to disrupt the conference and assail the lecturers and to persecute the other sincere participants. Indeed there was strong attack throughout. Sometimes through purely spiritual challenge and obstacles, and other times through badly motivated people.

By the time we had finished conference four, a total of 2997 Christian Leaders had participated, and 828 new leaders had signed up for the final conference. A great tribute must be paid to Dr. Francisco Squizatto, and Reverend Hideo Oyamada, for the success of this result. Furthermore we must praise a small handful of Christian internal leaders who worked closely with us from beginning to end, despite have borne severe persecution and attack at home. History will record the courage of these few leaders. As we anticipated the 100's of leaders for the 5th and final conference, we were pleased that Reverend Moon could fulfill his goal together with those to took the torch from Pastor Fanini.

Suddenly, however, we received a call from Brazil that the Brazilian government had canceled our charter flights, which meant that over 700 participants could not come. It was the weekend and the government would not be open again until after the official conference starting time. From the moment of this call and for nearly a full day beyond, all was literally lost.

With unspeakable desperation and despair, we sought any way in heaven or earth to save the conference. Without going into details, suffice it to say I visited Hell. From there a ray of light shone, and by Sunday morning miracles had occurred. Much of the conference was salvaged, but the effect of the changes and cancellations cause the loss of over a hundred Ministers. Eventually 641 participants arrived. As we looked over the past 8 sleepless and desperate weeks we saw a battlefield of glory. 3638 Christian leaders came, studied, and committed themselves joined the providence to serve their nations and the world, for the sake of building a new world and seeking God's Kingdom.


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