The Words of the Perry Family
The following testimony was given in 1979 to a 40-day workshop, by Paul Perry, the original missionary to Brazil. Paul has recently been traveling through South America giving lectures.
In this 40-day workshop, Rev. David Hose has often been speaking about leveling with God, a term which I did not at first understand, in part because it is a typical English expression with connotations that a foreigner like myself may not grasp. During the course of the workshop, I have been moved by the way many brothers and sisters have been opening up, even in areas that they found difficult to open up about for a long time. That inspired me to do the same and to search deeply into my own soul.
I would like to speak about my own struggle to level with God.
When I met the family in San Francisco in 1970, some people at first did not believe that I could join the church. They thought, I suppose, that I was too horizontal or too argumentative, a sort of unlikely prospect. Probably it was true; maybe it took a little miracle to get me here. In any case, I struggled through it, moved by the dedication of the brothers and sisters and their confidence that they could really change the world.
Perhaps I did not want to believe in something too quickly and have it turn out to be just one more disappointment in my life.
One day, I picked up Dr. Young Oon Kim's book on the Divine Principle; I was so impressed that I read it non-stop for three days. When I finished the book, at 5:00 one Sunday morning, I had a very strong spiritual experience, like death and rebirth. It's very difficult to talk about it.
I like to compare it with my experience as a paratrooper in the Army. My first experience jumping out of a plane was like death. It's like you have to go into the bosom of the universe, hoping for the best and then at last finding yourself safe.
That was something like what I experienced after reading Dr. Kim's book.
When I first joined the family I thought I could become perfect in a short time, so I tried very hard, perhaps too hard. I was very strict and had lots of conflicts with brothers and sisters, especially sisters. But I grew and gave lectures almost every night.
Then the question came up, "What about Brazil?" (I was born and grew up in Brazil.) I did not want to deal with it too much, because it seemed so far removed and too hard a task for me even to think about it. But in 1973 the opportunity came for missionaries to go to South America. At first I did not want to go to Brazil; I would have preferred Argentina or Mexico or even the Philippines. I wanted to be ready for missionary work anywhere in the world, not just my own country. But I was chosen to go to Brazil. I could not believe it. I cried.
When I arrived there, I was one of those missionaries who could believe anything. I felt I could establish a church within a few months. I said to myself, "I can preach, give lectures and gather large numbers of people. I can set up a church and do this and that. In two years I can have a really big movement." I was very excited and had a lot of confidence.
So I preached to my own physical family, and most of them accepted Divine Principle. I was very surprised. I was especially moved by my brother. He worked for the public health department and taught at a high school at night, so he did not have much time to talk to me. He would come home, eat dinner and go to bed. So all day long I would be waiting for him to return home; when he went to bed, I would sit on a chair by his bed and teach him the Divine Principle. The curious thing was that every day he was more and more interested. He would say, "Well, now, yesterday you talked about this topic; so what comes next? Tell me more." So I talked to him about the Principle of Creation, sung-sang, hyung-sang, etc., and he would nod his head in agreement.
He is a very pure person. Actually, he is a much better person than I, but I am more venturesome; he never left home, whereas I set out at the age of 12. I taught him the Fall of man, the mission of Jesus and other topics, and he took it all in. Every night I would look forward to the chance to give him a lecture, because I felt that Heavenly Father was really working with him.
Finally, he accepted everything and gave me so much help, especially financial support. If I needed something, he would get it for me somehow. I was really grateful to God for that support.
After some members of my family accepted the Principle to some extent, I went to Rio de Janeiro and for two years I worked alone. I worked very hard and witnessed every day, but not so many people joined initially. During the day I would teach English and at night Divine Principle and lots of people would come. I always had people around me, but they were never the same ones. There would always be about four people with me, but these four would change; some would leave and new ones would come to take their place.
So I began to think, "What's wrong with me? I can bring people to the church, but they don't stay." So I wrote to Mrs. Sang Ik Choi in San Francisco asking for help. "Write directly to Father," she replied. "Now you are a national leader, so you can write to him directly."
When I received her reply, I felt confident and wrote to Father, explaining that many people were listening to my lectures but only a few were joining. I asked him to send other missionaries to work with me. I didn't get a written reply from Father, but a few months later he sent three Japanese missionaries and one Korean. After that our church began to grow very fast.
During the two years I was alone I managed to translate into Portuguese part one of President Young Whi Kim's Study Guide; after the other missionaries arrived, I also translated the Divine Principle book. While I was working on these projects, I was thinking of Moses building the tabernacle. "If I lose faith and leave the church," I would tell myself, "then at least someone will be able to continue this church in this country because of this book." Needless to say, I did not feel very good about that realization, but maybe it was true.
In 1975 I returned to America for the 1800-couple Blessing. It was such a joy to see brothers and sisters again. I had seen no one from our church for two years; a couple of times I had talked to someone on the telephone, but that was all.
During that visit, I would talk to people continuously for two hours or more, until they would finally say, "You know, Paul, I really have to go; I've got so many things to accomplish today. It's nice talking to you, but I must leave." "You really have to go?" I would respond sadly. Then I would go and look for someone else to talk to.
The other missionaries began to arrive in July 1975. That was the beginning of my glory and also the beginning of my troubles. Up until that time I had been like the king. I was the boss; I could think things over and change this and that. I had people's lives in my hands. I could do, redo and undo everything. It was great, but it didn't produce a lot of results.
When the missionaries came, at first they had some trouble getting settled, but then they began to sell ginseng and did very well. The Korean missionary was a very faithful person; he believed anything and could get a lot of results. He was a little like Tiger Park -- not the same style but the same kind of spirit, always going forward and making a lot of progress. With the presence of the Korean and Japanese missionaries, all of a sudden a lot of people started to join the church, people I had perhaps witnessed to hut did not have the power to bring in; they were too big of a fish for me to draw in.
I had witnessed to some good people, but they had not been able to join. They could not let everything go and say, "Okay. Paul, I am going to join you and your endeavor to save the world." Rather, they would ask, "If I join you, how am I going to live? We might all starve together."
I did not have any credibility, even though the ideas sounded pretty good to the people.
But when the missionaries came, all of a sudden there was credibility; there was a plan and they were really moving forward; they got a good house, things were looking up, and a lot of people joined.
I especially remember one brother who for some time was the national leader of our church in Brazil. He is my nephew, and a very spiritual person. When I witnessed to him and his then fiancée, I thought, "They are really good material for heaven," but I had almost no hope of getting them to join. They had been engaged for four years and were making plans to get married. How could I talk to them about building the Kingdom of Heaven? They were already thinking about their own kingdom of heaven!
Anyway, I gave them lectures. When they heard the lectures they were excited, but they did not join the church. The young man absorbed the Principle quickly and began to preach to his fiancée all the time. She told me later that after he heard the lecture on Moses, all he wanted to talk about was Moses.
Before hearing the Divine Principle, they would meet and go to a movie. But afterwards, all he wanted to talk about was Moses. "This is incredible," he would exclaim to her. "Look at all these parallels!" And she would reply, "Oh, can't you talk about anything else?"
Anyhow, when the missionaries came, these two joined the church, plus many other people as well. They were all young college graduates and quite capable people. So things really began to move.
There I was: I had been working hard for two years without many results, and all of a sudden these missionaries came and took over. Needless to say, I had some unity problems. In the beginning, things worked out okay, but later more problems developed when I began to feel my inadequacy. I began to do some leveling with God and realized that there were some areas in which I just was not qualified.
I could give lectures, translate books, speak various languages, etc., but I just didn't know how to establish a material foundation for the movement; I was eternally having financial problems. So I thought I should go to business school and become a good businessman, in order to do a better job as a church leader.
In 1977 I wrote to Father and to other people, describing my situation and requesting permission to go to business school. "The church is well taken care of now," I explained. "These other missionaries have come and taken my place. I translated the books, and the young leaders are all taking over now. I am no longer needed." I felt like I had outlived my own usefulness; I had trained good lecturers, and now they were giving good lectures and no longer required my aid. They were teaching 7-day and 21-day workshops very well. Besides, my unity problem had made my position quite untenable, and I felt no other alternative but to ask for a reassignment.
Permission to return to America was granted, but when I arrived here Father made it quite clear to me that he was not happy with the way things had developed in Brazil. His words affected me in a very profound way, cleansing my past and producing a spring-like rebirth in my spirit. I felt Father was giving me a new chance and I felt deeply grateful. I had leveled with God and God was leveling with me, too. From that moment on, I made a strong determination to change myself.
My work in Brazil had been somewhat successful, and I had attempted to hide behind the results. I had to recognize that those results had come because of the work of other people rather than myself. By myself I could never have built a successful church; the results had come because of the work of all the missionaries working together.
The other day, a Japanese missionary told how in the beginning of his church life, he did well in fundraising and witnessing, so his central figure never questioned his internal motivation. When people asked him how he was doing, he would reply, "What do you mean, 'how are you doing?' I got these results, therefore I am doing great."
But I found out that this is a fallacy, because a lot of times results depend on other people. I had to level with God and admit that those results were not really mine. In fact, results often come in spite of us; God has to work much harder to go beyond our fallen nature.
During my two years of studying at the Seminary, I was looking for ways to change, ways to understand myself and my motivation, ways to clarify my feelings, sort things out and get down to the core of who I really was and what I believed. Maybe when we get down to the core of our being we find Satan inside of us, but at least we have found it and can deal with it under the guidance of the Principle.
So, instead of covering up the core with a lot of rationalization or even Divine Principle concepts, we need to get down to the things that really matter. What I've learned is that it is not easy to know ourselves. It is not easy to find out what is happening deep inside of us, what really motivates us. The most difficult thing about our heart is that we do not want to see what is inside it -- at least that was my case.
It's not easy to accept ourselves and our fallen nature. It is not easy to say, "Boy, I'm really satanic, but I love myself anyway, because God loves me." After all, why did Father come to earth? After all, each of us is indemnifying 6,000 years of fallen history, so of course we have satanic elements. We just have to go from there.
Sometimes we use a very sharp measuring stick on others and look at them with a sharp and critical eye. "I'm sorry, but you don't pass," we tell our brother or sister. "You're missing a little over there."
But when it comes to ourselves, we find the same faults. Because of this, we hesitate to level with God. But it becomes difficult to be healed if we don't go deep into the problem. And, of course, it becomes difficult to repent.
Rev. Kwak told us, "Repentance basically means reporting to your central figure; you have to open your heart to him." But it's not really easy to open up your real self to your central figure. For myself, I don't like to report anything except the results. I like to come to someone and say, "You've told me to do this and that, and here you have my results."
But I think reporting is maintaining some kind of open, frank communication, letting your central figure know who you are and how you are doing, difficulties included. We shouldn't try to cover up the problems with the results. If we don't let light or fresh air enter the depth of our heart, there is a core of us that never gets healed.