Unification Theology In Comparative Perspectives - Edited by Anthony J. Guerra - 1988

Vision for the West by Dr. Young Oon Kim

When I was sent as a pioneer missionary to America I felt, first of all, that I had to operate by trial and error to find my way in a new society. I could keep my faith as I ventured out alone, because for one thing, I had a strong faith in God and many spiritual experiences. For another, I knew that Father was truly depending on me and had shown me deep love. Whatever happened, I didn't want to fail him. And finally, I personally have a strong sense of responsibility in my nature; once I started something, I just had to fulfill it. I couldn't afford to get discouraged. Since I am, by character, a mission-oriented person and my mind is always busy, I never allowed any experience of loneliness to remain for more than a few minutes.

I Knew Father's Concern

For four years in the Seoul Church I lived under the same roof as Father. At one point I went home to clean my family's house for a little over a week. One day while I was sweeping the entrance way, Father suddenly appeared, life-sized, in front of my door. I never saw such a life-sized vision before. He testified that he woke up every morning and looked across the Han River, longing for me to come back. He missed me and wanted me to be living in the Church, even though I had been gone only one week.

So, you see, every morning as a missionary, far across the ocean, I felt that Father woke up and thought of me. Before I left, in fact, Father had asked me to write to him every three days, but I said once a week would be enough to report to him. As a loving parent with concern for this American Mission, he wanted to hear details about every person I talked with and every development; in fact, Father wrote and phoned me a few times to ask how things were going.

Lack of Money Plagued Us

When I left Korea, the government only allowed me to take $30 with me. I had to leave my other money behind and it did not reach me for some time.

Arriving in Eugene, Oregon, I went to the University Student Advisor. He told me that since I was older, I wouldn't like living in the dormitory (I couldn't have afforded it anyway). He directed me to a Catholic widow with four children who needed someone to help her with her family; fortunately she lived right next to the campus and I was able to get room and board there. I had no money for a new suit that first winter and I ended up wearing a navy wool suit I had had in Toronto, years earlier. The first American members I found all thought I was just an ascetic, but I was literally too poor to be anything else at the time.

In the earliest American Church we had no businesses or enterprises to support ourselves. All of the members got their own jobs and contributed to our work. Unless we made a major purchase, I didn't even get involved in the daily finances. I was able to earn a little myself by tutoring professors and Peace Corps people in Korean and by selling cosmetics. From this effort I was able to save enough to finance the printing of The Divine Principle and Its Application. Whenever we needed to purchase something, the members freely donated out of their own personal resources.

To Interest Strangers Is Never Easy

How did I begin the American family? To me there is little difference between witnessing to Westerners or Easterners. What is difficult, no matter where you are, is to go up and speak to any stranger. Naturally, I was looking for people who were searching. My approach, when I first arrived in America, was to meet someone in a quiet place. On Sundays I began visiting churches, hoping to approach someone after the service. But everyone would rush right away. So I decided to attend weekly meetings at Christians' homes. Because I needed a ride I asked someone to pick me up for their prayer meeting.

On this occasion, I attended a young adult group of about a dozen people and just observed. Two young women spoke more courageously than the others, so I approached them at the end and asked if I could phone them. Thus, I called Eileen Welsh Lemmers upon my return home and she expressed interest and responded. We met and I gave her a testimony of my religious experiences. She seemed to think that I had more to offer than just an ordinary person; on that foundation I gave her a copy of my lecture on Creation. She expressed interest to hear more.

Then I got in touch with the other woman, Doris (Walder) Orme. I shared my spiritual experiences and she told me about hers. I also offered her my manuscript, since it was awkward to lecture to only one person. Doris' husband was supportive. Because Doris had had spiritual experiences of her own, it was hard for her to be so open to what I had to say and she was reluctant to come back, but her husband encouraged her to study more. Doris introduced me to her friend, Pauline (Phillips) Verheyen, who was sick at home. After I visited Pauline, she said the "numbness" from which she was suffering left her. She felt that I had healed her.

I met a young man who spoke in tongues. When I gave him chapters on the Principle he had very dramatic experiences. For example, he saw "Chapter Two" enacted like a movie in a vision. On the day before he read this chapter, the spirit of St. Paul urged this man to hear more. Because of this, I felt encouraged that God worked in such a dramatic way.

This gave me courage to seek spiritual people, so I started attending services at a Church of God, where people were speaking in tongues. Someone gave me a ride home in their car. I invited the woman to join a small prayer meeting I had started. This lady (in her early forties) was very spiritual and possessed a very clear mind. At one meeting she said she had a vision of Jesus while I was praying. Another time she said she saw a bright crystal stone on which I was sitting and a bright crown on my head.

I explained to them that the teaching I was offering was a bright solid rock of truth. I also visited the Quaker Church nearby. I stood up and spoke at one of their meetings. I was invited by a doctor in attendance to come and share more. He even offered to sponsor Father to come to America at that time.

So my witnessing progressed in that way, one contact after another. I didn't have so much time since I was going to school. To pay my room and board I took care of four children and did some cooking as well. I found that witnessing seemed impossible on the college campus; I was older than most of the students and they would all rush away after classes. There were no chances to talk deeply with anyone.

Reaching Out To a Wider Audience

In order to reach more people, I wrote an article on Jesus and sent it to 72 Christian magazines to publish, but most of them responded with various explanations as to why they couldn't print it. I also wrote letters to prominent Christian leaders, whose replies offered their polite disagreements with my thinking. By this time, Doris started to grasp the Principle and became the most active, speaking to all her friends.

Moving Together

By this time, I had a room in a women's club. I had to pay $15 a month rent, but no one knew my financial situation. Without my saying anything, Galen Pumphrey invited me to come to the Oak Hills area (in the outskirts of Eugene) and live with them in one of their houses. So that I wouldn't be alone, George Norton stayed with me and bought my food. So, through George and Galen I was supported. It was there that I retranslated the Principle. We were about to find the money to print 500 copies. Faithfully and loyally, these friends supported me.

Every night our little group would gather and I would use this time to raise them up. I traveled to Salem and Albany, Oregon to speak to spiritually-oriented individuals and groups. There I found ladies whom I met with weekly and began to teach them the Principle. One of these ladies asked me directly, "Who is Reverend Moon?" I told her to pray about it. She received a revelation which told her that he was the "Third Adam." Also, at this time, Father shipped me some special food from his Blessing Celebration, and when I shared it with them, she received the message that it was from the Marriage of the Lamb. When I left Oregon, however, I lost contact with many of these people.

Move to California

Doris and Pauline decided to leave their homes and families in order to be free to fully dedicate themselves to the mission. So that their husbands would not accuse me, they felt it was best for them to leave without my knowledge. Although I never asked them to separate from their husbands, they felt a strong spiritual push to no longer live a married life. Although Korean members had separated like this, I didn't want to jeopardize such a small movement by asking such a sacrifice -- but spirit world pushed them. They phoned me after they crossed the state border and settled in Fresno, California. Since there was no place in Eugene to bind my books, I had to either go to Portland or San Francisco. I decided that San Francisco was a more cosmopolitan city; thus, George and I left to join Doris and Pauline. Galen and Patty Pumphrey followed us later.

The Unified Family Center

In San Francisco we rented two flats in a three-story house where we all lived together. We called ourselves, for the first time, the "Unified Family Center." Everyone found a job and I stayed at home where I taught Principle, revised my book, and studied law books in order to incorporate our Church in America. One of our new members, Ursula Shuman, met Peter Koch. He was a Berkeley student but he couldn't seem to concentrate on his studies. After he came over and heard lectures, he immediately accepted. He also had a vivid spiritual experience about the way his father had been killed in the Second World War, which helped to strengthen his faith. Peter tried witnessing, but one on one witnessing was difficult for him, so he finally wrote a letter to all the foreign students at Berkeley; from that effort Edwin Ang came.

At that time, I was still teaching informally. We read through my Principle book together. Peter used to say, "The kitchen is the best place. She always explains things best in the kitchen." We also made a couple of tape-recordings of the Principle because many people came to hear different sections of the Principle.


Eventually, we moved to the Masonic St. house. It was there that we actually started lecturing. We hung a sign out in front of the Masonic house and at first it didn't cause any problem with the neighbors because I always swept the streets. Then one day, an official came and announced that we couldn't have such a center. I felt I had to go and explain to him what we were doing. Whenever I went to explain, I felt the spirit of God always filled me, and consequently this official was very moved. He told me then that it had been a neighbor who complained about our sign. He was really a very sympathetic man.

One other early experience of persecution came in San Francisco when one of our members gave a minister of a large church a copy of the Principle. He began denouncing us from the pulpit as being the work of Satan and wrote out a check in payment for the book made out "To This Heretic.'' We decided to save it for history, and I still have it today. These small incidents were really nothing to me. External persecution was at a minimum because I was discreet and low-keyed in my witnessing; I quietly approached the most prepared people and did not cause things to be stirred up. I didn't want the movement in its infancy to be strangled by a heavy reaction.

Seeking Capable Leaders

But inwardly I suffered, because many of the early members lacked a sense of the larger mission we were striving for and the level of responsibility involved. Too easily they were satisfied with just filling daily routines and felt pride in minimal accomplishments. Some of the new college educated members eagerly wanted to take the leadership, but they had so little foundation. I couldn't help feeling impatient with them.

We tried all sorts of ways to reach people at that time. We went out on the streets and parks with signs, banners and loudspeakers. This never brought any real results. As a witnessing method, we made ourselves available to people who were thinking of committing suicide; that brought us many phone calls, but no result.

The idea when I set out was that I should bring the Principle message across the water, and then the Americans who joined should develop their own movement. But I had trouble finding really dedicated members. I found that American members, many of whom were college graduates, wanted to accept positions of responsibility. And because of their capability level, I wanted to pass the major responsibilities on to them, while I could be more free to creatively experiment with new approaches.

For instance, one brother, who was a trained linguist, wanted to lecture and be made president of the American movement, thinking this position would bring him closer to Father. But when I agreed to it, he really wasn't very active. Sometimes he and I would go together to teach someone. He had a very smooth lecture, "like running water," but he didn't touch the listeners' hearts. They would end up saying, "Let the Oriental Lady talk." Finally he agreed to go pioneering in Texas and begin at the bottom.

Young Members Went Out To Other Cities, States and Countries

From the beginning, my idea was to build our movement in America by beginning in one city until we had many members. Then we could move onto the state and regional levels and then impact the whole United States. But Father sent David S. C. Kim and Colonel Pak (and later Mr. Choi) as missionaries to America as well, and we were located in different cities. This, and our separate groups, made unity very difficult to achieve.

Before long, Father asked me to send my spiritually young American members out pioneering to different states. Some of them could do it, but some were not strong enough. You have to remember that Japan, for instance, is barely the size of Wyoming, and America is many times the size of Wyoming.

Then Father told me to send out people to other countries. Doris went to Italy, Paul Werner to Austria, Ursula to Spain, Peter to Germany and Teddy went to Holland. I went to England, myself, to pioneer with only one month's rent to my name. But I knew that America was the key nation in the worldwide providence. Father did not want me to keep too many people, but how could I strengthen and expand and still send people out? Father was so anxious to bring the Principle to all the western world.

Then we moved to Washington, D.C., and I had to return to Korea briefly. Philip Burley came and he was freshly enthusiastic. Then Jim and Mary Fleming joined. Mary was quite spiritual and contributed an internal guide. Soon Rebecca (Salonen), Hillie (Edwards) and Sylvia (Norton) moved in, and Sylvia began working with me on writing projects.

Philip and Farley Jones both tried to handle the assignment of American family leadership, but at that time they were not fully prepared for such responsibility and I was anxious for them. Travis Jones, Gio Mathis, Vivan (Burley) and Neil Salonen came and we developed more V.O.C. I tried my best to use this approach to raise up American leadership. I realized that they were educated and ambitious. But I found that, if I scolded Americans all the time they became incapacitated, so I worked behind the scenes, trying to encourage them to do things more voluntarily. If members were well educated, I expected more -- but even so, the goal we should accomplish was always so far away.

I always tried to teach the members that witnessing was important for their own faith and growth. I wanted them to understand the fundamental principle of this, rather than telling them what to do every day. My vision and my mission were so vast that I could never feel satisfied with the level of our work.

Expanding Centers

We were all living in the Upshur St. house at that time. Then we bought the Varnum St. house before Father came in 1972 to settle down. Father held training sessions in San Francisco and directed David Kim and I to serve as I.W.'s on IOWC teams across America.

Soon Philip had located the Belvedere Estate. A medium in Korea had once told me quietly that I had personal responsibility to build a temple on this earth for Father. When I first saw Belvedere, I understood what she had said. I began negotiating with the owner of Belvedere, and our College Park, Maryland group began making and selling candles to raise funds. In completing the purchase there were four major obstacles, but each time the agent, with large bright eyes, stuck by us, maintaining that he had "promised an Oriental Lady." It was now my mission to prepare the down payment, so I toured the family centers, encouraging them to make donations from candle sales.


One day Father asked me what I wanted to do. I shared with him that I wanted to write three books: one on theology, one on world religions and one on spirit world. Father approved, but asked me to reserve the book on spirit world a while '' because there are so many changes taking place in the spiritual world."

I must say that through the witness of my few books, I have reached far away and over time. My books were well received in America, but people with whom we are associated from all over the world write to me and thank me at conferences. They tell me they like my books because they are so clear and useful for study and teaching. My deepest desire now is to send my theology books where there is great spiritual hunger, but where I cannot travel.

I don't often look back, but I can say that America has been the best country for my kind of work. I really chose to come to this country. Once I began here, I knew there would be no going back. On the Fourth of July this year, with all the Statue of Liberty celebration, I could only thank God again and again for allowing me to work in this country.

After I finished my books, the Seminary opened and Father asked me to come and teach. In the past 11 years I have taught hundreds of students and shared many things with them; it certainly has been a most profitable time.

In America I have had many intimate experiences with God. I have always worked with God leading me. I hope that a great harvest can be reaped by God from my small effort. One thing I have learned is that whenever I am rejected in some way, a better way always opens up for me. I never shared my suffering with Father. That is because I believe it is the result that counts; if the results are good then suffering takes on meaning. If I have offered my work with selfless motivation, then it is never lost, no matter how far we still are from the goal.

I am now on the edge of a new mission. The world mission is waiting for me. I'd like to devote the rest of my life to meeting, comforting and inspiring our family throughout our world missions. 

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