The Words of the Stephens Family

The meaning and goals of the ICC as an extension of the ideals of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s

Jim Stephens
March 3, 1988
High Point, North Carolina
Director of the Interdenominational Conferences for Clergy

ICC Director Jim Stephens at the Rock of Tears.

I'm really happy to be here today. I want to speak about the potential of the ICC. My job at the moment is to travel around the United States and speak to the alumni, and I've had a lot of time to think and pray about the vision of the ICC. So I want to put into practical terms some things that I'm beginning to realize through my prayers.

First of all, I believe that each one of you is a chosen person. I believe you are the ones who can make a difference in bringing the ministers in this state to the ICC. I believe God is giving you this responsibility because you are the first ones to realize how He is working through this ICC movement.

Ministers at the sixth ICC sign a proclamation of commitment to the goals of Christian unity.

The Need for Revival

What is God's point of view about Christianity today? If we're honest, we'll have to say that Christianity is in trouble. Well, it's my contention that God is allowing this to happen, because Christianity hasn't been fulfilling what God wanted done here on this earth. Therefore, if we can find out what God really wants done and start doing it, Christianity will be revived. And that's where I think the ICC comes in.

Many of us have had the experience of going out and trying to get ministers to come to the ICC in Korea. Almost without exception, we hear that denominational leaders are telling their ministers, "Don't go!" This attitude is quite different from our church. Rev. Moon doesn't hesitate to send us out to work with other denominations, even our young members who don't fully know what our teachings are yet. Rev. Moon is not afraid that he's going to lose his people by encouraging them to go out and make relationships with other denominations. Our experience has been that our members grow stronger through working with others.

But many Christian leaders, seem to be afraid that they're going to lose their pastors, and this "holding on" attitude is another proof to me that Christianity is dying, because they don't even have faith that their leaders, the pastors, are strong enough to listen to somebody else's belief and continue in their own faith. What does that say about their confidence in their own teachings and the support of God? I think most of you are aware of Rev. Moon's vision for what can be accomplished when 7,000 American ministers experience Christian unity through the ICC conferences. His strong belief is that God will then be able to intervene powerfully on earth. The number 7,000 comes from the time when God told Elijah that He had 7,000 righteous people prepared to receive him. Rev. Moon has told us that at the time of Jesus, God also had prepared 7,000 people ready to follow him. It was John the Baptist's responsibility to find them and bring them to Jesus, but he did not fully unite with Jesus, so Jesus had to try and find 7,000 people himself. That was his whole ministry, but not enough of the people accepted and followed him.

Jesus has been working spiritually for the last 2,000 years to continue to do this in preparation for the present age. So we need the 7,000 today. I believe that God is seriously looking right now for those 7,000 ministers who are willing to fight this thing through to the end. When we have 7,000 ministers all across the nation, it will be a foundation for God to really bring Christian unity on the earth.

Ministers deep in prayer at Sunday service in the Seoul headquarters church.

Five Common Elements

After Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy had attended an ICC conference in August 1986, I went down to Atlanta with Levy Daugherty, the assistant director of the conferences, to visit him. We spent around three hours talking with Dr. Abernathy about his relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King and the history of the Civil Rights Movement We asked him many, many questions about how they got the Civil Rights Movement going and how God was guiding them. We wanted to know how they got the power to put into motion such an influential grass-roots movement.

I came to understand several things that I see as the essence of that movement. One, God was behind it. Two, they had a vision. They knew what they were going to accomplish. Three, historically it was the right time. People everywhere really wanted the same thing that was the goal of the Civil Rights Movement. Four, the leader was a visionary who could dream dreams, and he truly believed he could accomplish them. And five, the followers completely believed in the cause also.

Of course in the beginning there were many struggles. It was difficult to get blacks and even the black churches involved. I compare that to the situation we are having today with the ICC. We're just going through the beginning stages. But remarkably, we have the same elements that that movement had.

First, I absolutely believe that God is behind us, and I believe that Jesus Christ himself has been present at the ICC conferences. Many ministers have testified that they have experienced Jesus Christ there. Second, I believe that the ICC movement has a monumental vision, and that vision is nothing less than the building of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Because of this new vision, many pastors have experienced renewal in their own work and the revival of their ministries. Third, I believe that it's a providential time. These are the "Last Days." God's Kingdom is something people want now. It's something were all searching for. As people look around themselves, they see that the castles of security they have built are falling down. Out of the ashes of what modern civilization has become, God is going to raise up a new Kingdom. If God were to allow everything to continue to prosper, people would be self-satisfied. They wouldn't look for anything new; they wouldn't change. You only look for something else when you're dissatisfied with what you've got.

Fourth, Rev. Moon is a visionary who can dream dreams and put them into practice. I think it is obvious to anyone who studies Rev. Moo)) that he is totally dedicating his life to the accomplishment of that vision. And fifth, I also see that the members of the Unification Church and the ministers who have caught the vision, our alumni who are working with us, are also true believers in the cause.

Ministers and members at the Rock of Tears, Pusan.

Even Greater Potential

I feel the potential of the ICC is even greater than the potential of the Civil Rights Movement. I believe that the vision is bigger, because we don't want to change only America. What God is doing through Rev. Moon is going to change this whole world. We have missionaries in 134 nations. We can look at the projects that he's involved in, the inspirations that he's received the things that he's done, the projects he's put into motion. All nations and all cultures are being influenced in powerful ways.

When you went to Korea, you all saw the Little Angels School, and you saw the beauty and spirit of the children. In them you could see Rev. Moon's vision for educating young people. You saw the huge Tong Il machine factory. You learned that Rev. Moon is revitalizing the fishing industry. He is also interested in ginseng products. These endeavors are not just to make money -- they are all visionary projects to help the future of mankind. If we're going to build a better world we need machines, we need food to eat, we need healthy bodies, we need many things.

An ICC tour of the Tong Il machine factory.

True economic wonders have been accomplished by Rev. Moon and the Unification movement. Rev. Moon is a leader, but he has been able to inspire and build an economic foundation to substantially accomplish his vision. Right now, hundreds of conferences similar to the ICC are being planned, not just in the United States but on all five continents. And all of that is being funded from within our movement.

The most educated minds from around the world are attending our conferences, sponsored by such groups as the Professors World Peace Academy, which has chapters in 72 nations. We also have the annual Science Conference, which brings scholars and scientists together every year, some of whom are Nobel Prize winners. The greatest thinkers in the world are coming together to discuss how to bring peace on earth, how to build the ideal world. And Rev. Moon isn't telling them what to think; he has faith that when they gather together for a purpose greater than their individual purposes, God will guide them to do the job right.

I think one of the greatest testimonies of all is that Rev. Moon can and does match his followers in marriage-- across lines of race, culture, and language. And his followers believe in his matchings. There's no man in human history who has ever done such a thing for true religious purposes. If the world is going to change, the heart has to be changed first, and that has to be accomplished right in the family. If the races are ever going to get together, they have to start intermarrying. My wife, for instance, is Japanese. I guarantee to you that if the world hasn't changed by the time our children are grown up, they will change it. That's the way we are raising them, and it's my pledge to God that I will give them the best of both American and Japanese cultures as their heritage.

In August 1963 the largest civil-rights demonstration in America took place at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Disorder was expected, but the day proved to be an expression of hope.

The Power Is There

I believe that Dr. King and Rev. Moon were providentially meant to get together. Because of unfortunate circumstances and the persecution that our movement suffered in Korea, Rev. Moon didn't have enough of a foundation to leave Korea until 1971, when it was too late for them to meet. Satan threw up incredible obstacles and difficulties against Rev. Moon, and also against Dr. King and his whole movement. In spite of this, a great deal was accomplished, but much greater things had been originally planned by God. If Rev. Moon had come here and gotten together with Dr. King in the early 60's, I believe America could be the Kingdom of Heaven by now. We could have completely eliminated the problem of racism and all other problems of society.

But I believe this world is going to change. It's just a matter of time. A lot of what is happening toward this goal is taking place behind the scenes, unnoticed by most people, but the power is there, and it's growing stronger all the time. And I believe that when ministers go to Korea, they experience a change. They see a new vision for what one person can accomplish, for what people together can accomplish. And they understand that God's love transcends denomination, race-- everything. They see that God is not just an American, God is not just one color, God is not just one culture, and God is not just Christianity either.

God is bigger than all those things. When people connect into this vision, it will change their lives. It will bring them a whole new perspective and will change the way they think and what they do.

I'd like to share with you a situation in Chicago that happened when a certain influential minister wanted to come to the ICC. Just when he had made plans to go, a very prominent member of his congregation died suddenly, and he canceled his trip in order to officiate at his funeral. He made plans to go again, but his best friend got shot and killed. Our members decided they had to make strong spiritual conditions for him to be able to go. The state leader did a 40- minute cold shower condition, and other members prayed 21 minutes while three people went to visit him. During their visit he had a spiritual experience in which he saw the spirits of both the important member and his best friend who had just died, as well as the ancestors of the Unification Church members who were visiting him. They were all telling him, "Go! Go!" So he said, "I know I have to go." Later he testified that he knew Satan was trying to keep him from going. Tremendous breakthroughs like this are happening all the time now. Prominent and influential people all across the nation are beginning to take interest and go to our conference.

In 1965 in Selma, Alabama, at a civil rights march for the right to vote, Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy leads the marchers in prayer.

We Can't Lose

When the ministers come back from Korea, they are able to work together in ways they've never been able to before. Maybe in the past, if we came back from a religious conference together, we would go our separate ways and never see each other again because of our differences. But that won't happen anymore because we are realizing that we are all in this together for the same purpose, for the same cause, and that we can accomplish it. We can build God's Kingdom.

To be honest, Rev. Moon is not asking our members to send you to Korea for nothing. There is a catch. And the catch is, we want you to save the world when you get back! We don't care if you believe in our doctrine or not, but at least fulfill your own doctrine, whatever it is. This will help make the world more God-centered.

So I encourage you to stay with us, catch the vision yourselves. Start talking it up. The Civil Rights Movement, I think, is going to be truly fulfilled in all its dimensions. And it's going to happen when the religious leaders get busy and really change things and start moving the hearts of people. We have a big fight ahead of us, but we know we're right. So we can't lose.

I very much appreciate your coming and facing all the sticks and stones that people have thrown at you for associating with us. Just remember, we're in this together. And we will accomplish this great goal. I really count you as my brothers, and I hope we can do it quickly.

Thank you very much. 

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