40 Years in America

Japanese Sisters Descend On America

Japanese sisters were highly visible in mid-town Manhattan at the end of 1999. Here they witness for the Blessing outside the New York Public Library.

Beyond this, hundreds of Japanese sisters descended on major U.S. metropolitan areas. They actually were wives and mothers, many of whom already had sacrificed their immediate families to pursue world mission during the 1990s. A highly dedicated and well-practiced force, their mission was to find matching candidates. Beginning in October 1999, they hit the ground and fanned out, staying in church centers and membersí homes. Activity in New York City was fairly typical. About eighty missionaries settled in at National Headquarters in Manhattan with smaller groups migrating to Brooklyn, Queens, Connecticut and the Mid-Hudson Valley. According to one report,

Every morning they are out on the streets carrying surveys on clip boards, diligently approaching the citizens and tourists of the city. Within the first couple of weeks they have brought over 1,000 guests to the 2nd floor of 43rd Street, where they have set up a system of embracing the guests (sometimes teaching origami, sometimes reading their palms, and always smiling), educating them (introductory lectures are given every two hours), counseling them, and ultimately signing them up for the matching and a one or two-day workshop.

This report noted, "From the beginning, there were many logistical problems, finding space for everyone to sleep, getting the toilets and showers in working order, and providing three meals a day for everyone." One of the main handicaps was the lack of English-speaking lecturers and counselors. Nevertheless, the report concluded by noting that the "heavenly hurricane" True Parents wanted to bring to America through the Japanese sisters was "beginning to grow as more and more American brothers and sisters are becoming involved in the campaign."

Initially, the thought was to find single people who could become full-time members and then matching candidates. However, this was too cumbersome, and within a month, Japanese sisters in San Francisco and Seattle reversed the process. Rather than have guests attend a lecture or evening program and a workshop or series of workshops prior to completing Blessing applications, West coast witnessers invited people to complete Blessing applications immediately, even on the street, prior to attending lectures or workshops. Emphasis was placed on finding those who wished to have a blessing partner, not necessarily on those who wished to become a full-time member.

This, basically, was the situation on the eve of the new millennium. While Blessing 2000 still was more than a month away, two realities already were apparent. First, Blessing 2000 had not penetrated mainstream American culture. In fact, the shift away from previously married couples to single matching candidates only heightened the challenge of attracting mainstream Americans to the blessing. Japanese sisters were far more successful among minority populations, ethnic groups and new immigrants. Second, Blessing 2000 had not really empowered the U.S. movement. This observation was more open to debate as many felt revitalized. However, the reality was that Japanese sisters did the street witnessing and Korean regional leaders handled the decision-making, particularly matchmaking decisions. American members were in a supportive role, providing housing, transportation, monetary donations, occasionally lecturing or counseling, and handling public relations.

Things had not yet substantially changed, at least not to the extent that Rev. Moon had envisioned. There were four major ways members interpreted these realities. At the negative end of the spectrum, some concluded that the Blessing and, by extension, the movementís program of world peace and unification, were flawed. The most negative of these members essentially agreed with the movementís critics. The problem was with the movement. Those holding this perspective either disassociated themselves or became inactive. Another group of members concluded that the problem was not with the movement but with themselves. The Blessing was real, and the movementís program was sound.

The problem was their own lack of sincerity, purity and commitment. Members holding this perspective craved revival and associated themselves with spiritual phenomena holding forth the promise of personal and communal liberation. A third group concluded that the problem was not with the movement or its members but with the world. The movement and its membership had given everything, but the world, as ever, was treacherous, disbelieving and stubborn, "killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent." Members holding this perspective tended to associate themselves with efforts to recreate the world from scratch. A fourth group decided that there was no problem at all. The Blessing and the movementís program of world peace and unification, in fact, had succeeded. Human problems at every level were overcome. What remained was to live out the fruits of victory.

It, of course, would be mistaken to think that all members divided neatly into one or another of the above-described groupings. It was true that some individuals inclined and even gravitated quite clearly toward one or another of the perspectives. However, others held all of the positions or several of them in different combinations within their consciousness simultaneously. It also was apparent that the movement had not broken into four separate camps, at least not yet. Still, it was important to attain some level of clarity about these orientations as they represented the movementís live options and were in significant respects, sign-posts to the future.

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