40 Years in America

Olivia Vossa, IOWC 1973

When I met the church in January 1973, I was 19 years old and a devout Roman Catholic. I was still going to many different kinds of prayer groups trying to find a deeper relationship with God. I initially met the church through Dr. Sheftick’s IOWC. Dr. Sheftick made me feel so comfortable. I felt that I had known him all my life. Unfortunately, I did not feel that way initially with the other members. I felt uneasy about the Unified Family. They showed me a picture of their leader whom everyone called "Teacher." I thought to myself, "They think of him as the Christ. Is he the Anti-Christ? I must be careful of these people."

After the IOWC left, I continued to listen to the lectures once a week. A chapter would take over an hour to give and we would discuss it long into the evening. I could not explain my uneasiness to my lecturer. She was 21, nice, but very stubborn. Every time I tried to question her on a point, she would dismiss it as not being so important. I needed to come again and listen. Eventually I signed membership. I could accept the teachings, but I couldn’t accept Rev. Moon. Was he the Christ or the anti-Christ?

As I said before, I come from a deep Catholic background. Both my father and his mother were very devout Catholics. My grandmother went to church every day and my father was president of the Holy Cross Rosary. My father read extensively and had many books. At the age of ten, I found out that my father was dying of cancer. He had a year to live. On Sundays I would see him reading a passage from the King James Version of the Bible, and compare it to the Catholic version. I asked my father why he read so many religious books other than Catholic books.

He told me that there was one truth that could unite all truths together. He was looking for that truth, but feared that he would die before finding it. I was 11 then and promised my father that I would continue looking for it for him. My father said that this kind of promise was too serious to say lightly. If I really meant it, I must promise God, not my father. Did I know how to do that? I got so emotional when he asked me that. I wanted my father to live, not die, and yet I felt that if I could maintain the promise, my father would live. "Yes," I told him. "Tonight I will pray to God and tell him of my promise. I will become a nun."

After I made that promise, I would pray in church, trying to imitate the attitude that saints were said to have had in service. I would pray and stare at the crucifix wondering how anyone could have betrayed Jesus. Even the Roman soldiers, how could they have failed to recognize Jesus? I told God that I would never betray Jesus. If he came again, I would follow him. I would never betray him. I even prayed for my ancestors. Maybe long ago they were there; maybe they betrayed Jesus. Maybe one of my ancestors had accused Jesus and helped put him to death. I must make sure that such a sin would never happen again.

Now I was a member of the Unified Family, believing and not believing. I prayed for an answer. Nothing really happened. I began to get dreams at night. For almost 30 days straight I had the same re-occurring dream that Jesus was in New York City. He was walking the street crying. Jesus couldn’t believe the human and physical filth. "What has happened to my children?" he cried. No one listened to him. No one looked at him. In my dream I could only see his back. I could never see his face clearly. I tried to fight through the maze of people. I kept thinking, is this him? Is this the Christ or the Anti-Christ? If only I could see his face. If I could at least touch his robe, I would know if it is Him or not. Whenever I came within inches of the robe, I would wake up. I felt nervous and desperate. I could not get an answer. Even if I could grab the robe, I could never see the face. I could not find the answer.

Because I was so stubborn, and afraid of the answer, I couldn’t get my question answered. Finally I made a promise to God. I would stay with the Church for one year. If this is where I really should be, then he would give me the strength and the faith to continue. If the teachings were false and Rev. Moon was the Anti-Christ, I would be shown. The most important thing was for me to try my best and be sincere.

From that moment on, everything became easier. Instead of timidly witnessing, I became bolder. Fundraising and everything became easier. Of course I have had a lot of difficulties along the way. I have not been the best member that I envisioned I would be when I first joined; however, I have never doubted why I joined the Church and never questioned if this was the true movement or not. For that I am grateful.

In addition, I would like to say that one of the real miracles of the church is how much we are a family to each other. Once we become full-time members, we come to an inner understanding of each other. When I first went on National MFT, I had never been on an airplane before. No one knew who was picking me up.

They did not know what I looked like. I felt perfectly at peace with my ignorance because I knew I was in God’s hands and that God was preparing everything for me. I trusted God in this great adventure.

My experiences on MFT were mind opening. Over one third of the members were from Europe. I had never met any of them before. Most of them were white with little religious background. Many of them had been wild before the church. Here I was, this prudish, Catholic Hispanic who had never done anything adventurous before in her life, feeling perfectly at home and truly connected. I’ve had that feeling wherever I go in the church. That truly is a miracle from God.

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