The Words of the Werner Family
My Mission In Austria: May 18, 1965 - May 18, 1969 (Part 2)
Now word got around very quickly in the circles of the clergy, that this Mr. Werner, who goes in and out of the churches had taken away some of their flock. Not only the organist and his wife, herself a teacher of religion, but all my first nine spiritual children had been active in church work, many of them teaching religion. They objected to my "fishing in their pond" as they called it. All of us were members of the choir in the Lutheran church and the choir director was the father of the organist in the Calvinist church next door, Gerhard Wurm, my first disciple. The minister of the Lutheran church persecuted me the most, even though we belonged to his choir. In the meantime, the ministers of the Calvinist church had invited me to speak to their congregation and were now suspected as being Moonies themselves. In the Lutheran Church they needed our voices in the choir to be able to perform. Also we wanted to support Gerhard's father, who was the choir director and organist in the Lutheran church, as well as a professor of music at the University of Vienna. It was all very complicated, but we had much fun and made many friends.
At that time, I taught another young minister, a friend of Gerhard's, and his wife, for many days. One Sunday afternoon, after I had presented the Principle for many hours, they were deeply touched by my statement that the Messiah had returned and they accepted True Parents. We had a blessed time together in a very high spiritual atmosphere, and after I left, they had a very profound spiritual experience. The minister himself had never learned to play the piano. On this particular evening, as he placed his fingers on the piano, some spirit took over his hands, and he began to play Beethoven. Both of them were stunned by this experience. His wife, being spiritually open, experienced quite a few other spirit manifestations after that, and became very frightened. Both of them didn't know how to handle the situation and I wasn't around to explain it to them.
From that moment on they rejected me and didn't even want to see me anymore. But this particular minister, after rejecting the Principle, received a new parish and our choir was scheduled to sing at the inauguration ceremony. After our opening chorale he stood behind the pulpit and gave a fiery sermon against the Antichrist and his false prophets, meaning me. After his sermon we sang again to the glory of God and in honor of this minister. As we left the church after the service we shook his hand and everybody smiled. It was a very unusual relationship I could go on and on, talking about my experiences with the clergy in Vienna at that time, from 1965-1969. There were several other ministers who told me their whole life story within half an hour of our first contact. They shed many tears, confessing to homosexuality and other sins in their lives, relieving their troubled hearts and conscience.
In the meantime, in the spring of 1966, we registered our church with the authorities in Vienna.
On Sept. 30, 1966, we established our first pioneer center in Austria in the city of Graz, where we found a two-room flat in an old section of town in the Steyrergasse. Inge Meyer Sorgenicht, who had accepted True Parents on June 6, 1966 and was later blessed in the 777 couples blessing in Korea, was the first center director, and for awhile we worked there together to establish a foundation. Inge was divorced at that time and had a little girl, about six years old. After accepting the Divine Principle, she left her daughter in her mother's care, to be able to get totally involved in spiritual work. She was very active and devoted to our True Parents, and of great blessing to many, many people. Our family in Graz expanded rapidly, and in Oct. 1967 we had to move into larger quarters in the Krenngasse 19. Elfi Schultermandl Verstraeten, who joined May 26, 1967 and Traudl Stimpfl Ebi, who accepted Sept. 29, 1967, were our first members in Graz, and both received True Parents blessing as part of the 1800 couples in 1975.
I'll never forget my experiences with Elfi. She was a vegetarian and walked many kilometers each day to keep fit. If I wanted to talk to her I had to tag along, which wasn't so easy for my legs, but I persevered. One day we had a heavy thunderstorm, and it was raining "cats and dogs". But Elfi didn't want to miss her walk and I accompanied her, wearing my $150 suit I had bought while I still was a businessman in Sacramento, California. We walked through the fields and pastures, soaking wet from the downpour, and up to our knees in wet grass, all the time teaching her the Principles, quite an extraordinary experience. But my perseverance paid off and she finally accepted True Parents. Each of our early members truly has a unique history.
But joy and pain are often very close together. In February 1967 spirit world warned me and told me several times: "Paul, watch out, Gerhard is going to become your Judas".
I just couldn't believe it and dismissed the warning. He was such a dynamic teacher and good brother, practically my right hand, and I trusted him all the way. But suddenly the tragedy happened. After his wife came home from a trip, he got so involved in his married life again and became the strongest persecutor of our movement in Vienna. Now I could really understand how Jesus and our Father felt when they were betrayed by their closest disciples. My heart was deeply hurt, but my main concern was, to protect the family and keep them together. Everybody was sad, but determined to work even harder to restore this nation back to God. This experience also taught me to trust my intuition and really accept the cooperation of the spirit world at all times.
In the spring of 1967 we opened up a pioneer center in Linz, with Alfons Carda, and in Nov. 1967 H. Maierhofer Blanchard, also blessed in the 777 couples blessing, replaced Alfons Carda as center leader.
As the family expanded we rented a large apartment in the Oelzeltgasse in April 1967, as our second center in Vienna.
In June 1967 Christel and Klaus moved from Wiesbaden to Vienna to join our family there. Moving from the U.S. to Germany and now to Austria, Klaus was confronted with entire different school systems each time, and by the time he graduated, he had attended 13 different schools, quite a challenge in itself.
During the years 1966 and 1967 I gave public lectures in the Porr House in Vienna twice a week, proclaiming the Principle to a wide range of people. Usually about 30 people attended and some of them had visions while listening to my lectures. After my 2-hour presentation we usually had discussions, often very lively and inspiring. Sometimes very unusual people attended our meetings. One man introduced himself as the "Incarnation of John, the disciple of Jesus", wanting to teach us something. Others insisted on being the incarnation of other great personalities. Once an old man, who had been a preacher for 30 years, gave me sound advice, never to eat beans before giving a sermon. We had contact with all kinds of people, messiahs, prophets people who had their own revelation, and I could talk about many interesting experiences, which a person normally does not encounter.
Many times, while I was teaching the Principle, guests, even those who had met me for the first time, had spiritual experiences. I remember talking about the mission of Jesus, when one of the guests just looked and looked at me for a long time. He was so overwhelmed by his experience and he finally told me: "I saw Jesus standing behind you." Of course I knew myself that Jesus was very near. During those years I was especially sensitive and keen spiritually, and was able to send spiritual messages to members and guests I had been teaching. I remember one instance in the book store while standing behind the counter selling books, I focussed my thoughts on a certain girl, letting her know that I was hungry. Sure enough, half an hour later she came, bringing me something to eat, telling me that she felt I was hungry. At other times I concentrated on certain guests I wanted to meet, and they "just happened" to walk down a certain street, surprised to see me there.
We were really driven by the spirit of God in those years. I remember talking to Rosemarie Stiermyer De Goy for a few hours, teaching her the Principle, chapter by chapter, after she had accepted True Parents already. All of a sudden she jumped up and said: "I can't stand it any more. I have to get out on the streets. How can I sit here and study the Principle when God needs people?" Then she ran out of the door and came back within the hour with a girl, Rosi Zenz Boland. Rosi accepted True Parents and was also blessed in the 777 couples blessing in Oct. 1970. Others, e.g. Emmi Steberl Lee, had similar experiences.
One of my early members gave me a lot of trouble right from the beginning. She was very rebellious but finally she accepted our True Parents. Many times she ran away and we didn't have any idea of her whereabouts. Since she had suicidal tendencies, my first thought was always in that direction. I alarmed several members to look for her, especially along the Danube River. Deeply troubled, I drove from Vienna to the city of Linz to look for her myself. At that time though she was sitting in the train to Graz, her hometown, and told us later what happened. Suddenly she saw me sitting across from her in the train, looking at her with sad eyes, asking her: "Why don't you come home?" She felt so much love and compassion that she just got off at the next station, and took the next train back to Vienna.
That wasn't the end of the story though. She ran away many more times and we didn't know where to look for her. Once, when she finally appeared again, I was so fed up that I loaded her into the car and drove all night through the mountain passes to Graz to take her home to her parents, as I couldn't accept the responsibility for her any more. On the way through the mountains I was so exhausted and worked up, that I felt my heart getting weaker. I stopped by the roadside to relax and recover. The girl really got frightened and begged me in tears to take her back to the center. Once I was able to drive again, I turned the car around and arrived in Vienna in the early morning hours.
But after a few months it happened again. This time I took a few members with me into the prayer room and told Heavenly Father: "I've had enough problems with this girl now, and I'm at the end of the line. If You really want her, send her back and I'll cope with her in the future. But if you don't want her, please don't let her show up again, ever!" Our center was on the fourth floor of an apartment building and as it was summertime, all the windows were open while the family gathered in our large meeting room. Several hours after my prayer we heard somebody whistling "Arirang" outside on the sidewalk. Except for our members, nobody knew this song, and I went downstairs to open the door for our returned troublemaker. I didn't say a word, just let her in and sent her to bed. I knew, God wanted her, dumping her into my lap again.
The last episode with her though surpassed all others in severity. For awhile she was doing fine, but the day came when she was missing again. I had a hunch where she could be and called up a certain number. When she answered, her voice sounded dead, mumbling something into the phone, like. "This time I made sure you can't get me in time, because I took some pills," and her voice trailed off. I jumped into my car and found her in sad shape, her face all red and swollen. In the wastebasket I found the evidence, that she had taken 30 pills and her life was really in danger. I grabbed her and took her to the car, almost breaking her arm in the process, since she resisted with all her might. She wanted to die and refused to come along. I sped with her to the hospital, frantically looking for a doctor. Since it was evening and a weekend, only a skeleton crew was around. Time was running out and I was really desperate. Finally we found a doctor in another wing and her stomach was pumped out immediately, saving her life.
But what happened then came as a surprise to me too. It's the policy in Austria that everyone who tries to commit suicide will be automatically committed to a mental institution for a certain length of time. Therefore, as soon as the doctor was finished at the hospital, she was put into an ambulance and taken to Steinhof, the mental institution in the outskirts of Vienna. Following the ambulance, all I could see was a heavy door slamming shut and she was inside. The very next day I tried to connect with the psychologists and it took three days to get an appointment. I talked to the doctors, taking responsibility for her, so that she could be released. They finally consented and I was allowed to pick her up. There she was in this big room with all those mentally ill people, and I got a taste of that myself. Some of those crazy women yelled at the top of their lungs, others just stared or laughed like a witch, and another one paraded around, announcing that she was a queen. Our girl was terribly frightened and pleaded with me in tears: "Please, Paul, please take me out of here. I'm loosing my mind." As I had vouched for her, I could take her home, but this experience was a lesson for her for the rest of her life. Since then she became a stable member, got blessed in the 1800 couples blessing and today has three children.
During my years in Austria I had many encounters with possessed people. Once we all sat around our large table in the meeting room, studying the Principle individually. Suddenly a new member stood up and proclaimed with a loud voice: "I am Satan." Hearing those words from her, I became quite indignant at Satan. I have a very strong voice myself and yelled at her: "Get out, Satan!" She got so shook up that she became stiff like a board, unable to move or talk. I then told two of our members to get her into the car and drive her home. But she wouldn't move, and we even had to put on her boots. I started talking to her, explaining what had happened, to get her back to normal. Every time I used the word "God" or "Father", her body began to shake and slowly she said in a mention the words God or Father?" She was full of fear. We finally took her home and found out later that she had a history of suicide attempts. At any rate we never invited her again. The last we heard from her was, that she had moved to another city.
One of our members witnessed to another girl and invited her to the lectures. She was an attractive young girl, 21 years old, but surrounded by evil spirits. Recognizing her problems, I asked questions and she told me her story. She got involved with an old man in a satanic relationship and he really controlled her. Every time she had to pass his house, she wasn't able to walk by, but felt his eyes behind the window, staring at her, and magnetically pulling her upstairs into the apartment. He would treat her in an extremely perverse way, whipping her among other things. Lately, every time she passed his window she heard his voice telling her to commit suicide, and she feared for her life, longing to be liberated. Finally she said, "I know for sure, if you are able to explain to me how spirit world works, I know I can be free." I had so much compassion with this girl and began to talk about spirit world, spirit possessions, analyzing her relationship with the old man, and explaining the laws of spirit world step by step. After four hours of talk I felt something like electricity going from my right side into her direction, going through her body like a bolt of lightning. Her body began to shake and she started yelling, "What are you doing to me?" But I actually didn't do anything I just projected my love and compassion towards her and she could feel the spiritual power. After a minute or so I had a completely different person in front of me, and all those evil spirits surrounding her before, had left. She felt such a relief and tears were streaming down her face. She was completely free. I advised her, to leave the country immediately and stay with friends in Greece for at least a year to really regain her strength and start a new life. I told her not to even think about her past experiences any more, and get more involved in physical work for awhile. She took my advice, quit her job the next day and went to Greece, a free person. This was quite an experience and a lesson for all of us.
Once one of our older members got possessed. She rolled around on the floor, trying to get underneath a cupboard into an opening, only four inches high, making strange noises in different low voices, like demons possessing her. Suddenly she got up and tried to jump out of the fourth floor window. I grabbed her, but all of a sudden she was strong like a horse.
She had so much power that I had a tough time holding her down. It was such a dangerous situation, that I desperately called for help, praying, "Father, please help me with this girl." I felt so much compassion and love and began to cry and cry. Slowly this growling voice stopped and the demons left her. Her body was trembling as she started to cry in relief. Later she told me what happened. She found herself wrapped up in dirty rags in the gutter, small like a worm, yelling my name for help. She could see me walking down the street looking for her, but I didn't hear her voice. She was desperately trying to attract my attention to get her out of this hell. Then slowly I came into her direction, picked her up and through my compassion made it possible for her spirit to take control over her body again. It was an incredible experience for both of us and it took her several weeks to recover completely. I advised her to eat and sleep very much and refrain from spiritual work for awhile. She regained her physical, spiritual and mental strength again and was a great tool for God. In the meantime she got blessed in the 1800 couples blessing and has two children.
During those four years in Austria I taught the Divine Principle every day and had to sleep on the couch in our meeting room. After my teaching for 12 hours the room was full of spirits, and I saw them, sitting around our large table in golden attire, eager to hear more of the truth. Sometimes they walked around debating certain points, making a lot of noise as they paced the floor. They bothered me so much that I had trouble sleeping. I could feel them, sitting on my bed. It was not just a vision, but reality. Spirit world was there all the time. Sometimes I yelled at them, "Keep quiet now and leave me alone. I need some hours of sleep." But early in the morning they woke me up again.
I also had several encounters with Satan. Once he fought me in the form of a black panther. He jumped at me while I was laying in bed, and it was a tremendous struggle fighting him off. I knew, I had to get up and chase him out. With all my might I pushed him away and he disappeared through the fourth floor window.
At another occasion I met him in an entirely different way In our prayer room we had a 3 x 4 foot picture of Father on the wall between two windows, and below the picture we had set up a little altar with a candle and flowers. When I entered I the room one evening to pray, I saw a radiant being, clad in a beautiful robe like a prince, in front of the altar. His vibrations filled the whole room and it looked like snow was falling softly around him. I was awestricken and magnetically drawn by so much light and beauty and almost forced down on my knees to worship God, when I noticed a dark spot on him. I immediately sensed, 'this is not Father, this is Lucifer. Then I accused him: "You are Satan, get out." He immediately became smaller and smaller, turning really ugly. He disappeared behind Father's picture and took off through the window. That experience taught me a great lesson, that we always have to be on guard in order not to be deceived.
As we continued witnessing, many students responded and came to the center. Being the only teacher, I sometimes had to use my ingenuity to bridge certain situations. I would teach two students for an hour, and then two or three more students came in. While briefing the new students about the basics, I had to involve the other two students and keep them interested to hear more. Often three or four times different groups came in and I had to capture their attention by making my talks really interesting to the benefit of all the guests present. This was a gigantic task, but the spirit of God really moved these people and I experienced time and again the power of the truth, the Divine Principle.
Once a group of 12 students from different faculties of the university came to the center. One was a student of art, who later taught at the academy of art in Vienna, one studied architecture, another one dentistry, physics, computer science. We had them all, very intelligent people. They all sat down very politely, wondering what I had to say. I sent a prayer to Heavenly Father, to really inspire me to capture the hearts and minds of these young people, realizing that they would be able to do great works for God. Then I began to talk very dynamically for six hours straight. Nobody voiced any criticism, they just listened and listened. After my presentation every one of them came and shook my hand, deeply moved in their hearts. They all came back and joined, except one, who was an American. He was a little stubborn but somewhat later he accepted too, and is now a missionary in South Africa. That opened up the universities for us. All those students belonged to a certain fraternity, the "Glide Thu" and they immediately started to proclaim the Principle to their fellow students. While some of them were very positive, others rejected everything and split the fraternity apart. We then began to give lectures regularly at two universities. Winfried Schwarzl was the main lecturer at the Technical University and very instrumental in moving ahead with the student groups, while Harald Unger lectured the Principle to students at the University for Agriculture and Botanics.
More and more students visited our center. Once a group of graduate students from different faculties, physics, chemistry, medicine, philosophy, etc., who had all received the first chapter from me previously, came to discuss the contents of the first chapter. Obviously they had come to criticize the contents and to tear it to pieces. They introduced themselves with their name and faculty, and the first one began to discuss the first chapter from the standpoint of physics. His copy was marked with his comments in red ink, and I saw no point in confronting these half a dozen Ph.D. students head-on. I therefore decided to lead them into the spiritual realm and started talking about the mission of Jesus and the return of Christ. The change I witnessed was unbelievable. They forgot their technical questions and were completely captivated by the high spiritual atmosphere and the new revelation. They opened their hearts and the spirit of God could really move. After a few hours we closed with a prayer meeting and instead of realizing their intentions of destroying everything, they walked out with a grateful heart and God could win the victory.
As our family expanded, we checked out many types of business ventures to build a sound financial foundation. Since we had several trained kindergarten teachers in the family we decided to open up a kindergarten and nursery. After we rented the proper facilities we renovated the rooms and installed many little sinks and toilets in compliance with all the rules and regulations. In the evenings at home, family members made little dolls and other toys for the children and each one contributed to this venture according to his or her abilities with great joy. We also bought tables and chairs for children and little cots for their afternoon nap. Everything was well prepared, and in Jan. 1968 we opened up our private kindergarten "Ingeborg" in a very good, middle to upper class neighborhood in Vienna. Within a short time 45 children were registered and even doctors recommended our kindergarten to parents whose children had psychological problems. We really worked with those children, pouring out much love, and the results were amazing. We also taught English, because some of our children came from families of foreign diplomats. Soon we had more children than our facilities could accommodate, and our waiting list got longer all the time. At the end of the year we seriously thought of expansion, but shortly thereafter we were transferred and Peter Koch later closed the kindergarten.
On March 3, 1968, I took Bernhard Maierhofer to Zurich, Switzerland. He was the first foreign missionary sent out from Austria.
In Oct. 1968 I sent Emmi Steberl Lee as the first missionary behind the Iron Curtain. She was very devoted to God and True Parents, ready to put her life on the line for the mission. As I took her to the border of this strongly communist country, I could clearly feel the danger and fear from the other side. After we parted, Emmi walked to the checkpoint where her papers were controlled and her luggage thoroughly checked. She proceeded crossing the strip of "no man's land" and entered a bus, parked in the distance. As I saw her disappear, tears came to my eyes and I prayed to Heavenly Father for her protection and guidance. People behind the Iron Curtain are really longing for the truth and are well-prepared to receive the Messiah. Within a short time she had found her first disciples and was in desperate need of Principle material. She began traveling back and forth in intervals taking the Principle along, always a few pages at a time, at the risk of her life. But she had such a deep trust in God and was sure of His protection, and she experienced just that, many times. Once she packed quite a lot of material, since the members there were translating the book into their native language and needed the material to complete the task. After a strong prayer she was on her way, and the next time she came, she told us what happened. At the border everybody was told to leave the bus and identify their luggage. The guards took great pains to turn the contents of each suitcase upside down, and it looked like she was in deep trouble this time. She prayed and put her life into God's hands. But when it was her turn to open her suitcase, the guard looked at her and waved his hand, telling her to load her luggage back into the bus. It was so incredible and she could hardly believe it herself. She immediately gave thanks to Heavenly Father for this miracle. At another occasion the border guard checked her bag and saw the books at the bottom. She explained to him that she was a student of philosophy and needed to read the books during her vacation time. It was a very dangerous situation each time she crossed the border. When Christel and I were already in Germany, we printed their translation of the Divine Principle and she again brought the books over there, a few pages at a time. We supplied her members with clothing and other items and gave her money to buy a car to be able to get around faster. Unfortunately the girl who drove the car, her first disciple, fell asleep at the wheel and got badly hurt. As her family expanded, she needed more and more material. With our help they acquired a printing press and printed the books themselves, but they had to be on guard at all times. There was no way for the whole family to meet in one place. The only possibility was in nature. Early Sunday mornings, weather permitting, they went out hiking and had their Pledge service on the mountain side. They sang and shared together and had a picnic in God's beautiful creation. For sometime, everything developed very well, but when one of the members betrayed them, the authorities raided all their quarters, confiscating the printing equipment and all their other material. The members were all sent to prison. Some of them were executed, but others survived. Emmi herself was not there at that time, but the authorities knew her name and she couldn't return. In 1975, she was blessed with a Korean brother, Mr. Lee, in the 1800 couples blessing and stayed in Korea with her husband. On Dec. 23, 1981 Emmi died of cancer and is now in spirit world. She worked very hard, always focused on her mission, her heart completely centered upon God and True Parents. She was quite a fighter for God.
In Nov. 1968 we opened up our third center in Vienna, in the Schluesselgasse. In this center I translated the "Divine Principle and It's Application" by Dr. Young Oon Kim into the German language. During the daytime I taught and took care of the family and translated the book during the night. It was a most beautiful experience. So far we had used a very simple book, but this Study Guide really opened our eyes. It was like a new revelation. While translating the book, spirit world really came down. All those beautiful spirits were anxious to know more of the truth. My horizon was expanded as well, and I could feel my way into the words of God. With the help of this book, teaching the Principle became easier and still more exciting. When I stopped working at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., I went into the meeting room for a short prayer offering everything to Heavenly Father and expressing my gratitude for His help while translating the book.
Later, during my mission in Germany, I had the opportunity to translate Pres. Hyo Won Eu's manuscript of the Divine Principle into German. That again was a wonderful experience and a giant step forward in our comprehension of the Principle.
In March 1969 we went to Essen, Germany with all our family members to receive our True Parents on their second world tour. On March 28, 1969 Christel and I were blessed by True Parents as couple number four at the Falkenheim in Essen. For the first two years of my mission in Austria, Christel and Klaus had stayed behind in Germany. Since we joined the movement in 1963 we lived as brother and sister, after being married for 12 years before we joined. That wasn't so easy either. But with the blessing a new epoch in our lives began.
A day or two before the blessing Father surprised us with a new mission. He told me: "Paul, you now become the leader of the German movement, and Peter, you take over the Austrian family.
When I assembled my members and broke the news to them, tears started to flow. We had a close knit family and loved each other very much, since they were all my spiritual offspring. I gave them all the love I had, but this was Father's will and I therefore had no second thoughts at all. I immediately focussed on the German nation and the great task to love Germany as much as I loved Austria. Upon our return to Austria we took care of all necessary changes, especially as far as legalities were concerned and prepared the centers and the family for the forthcoming visit of our True Parents and their party. In April (Easter) 1969 we received our True Parents at the Vienna Airport. Father and Mother spent a few days in Vienna, visiting different points of interest, like the TV-Tower, providing a magnificent view of the city, but mainly sharing their time with all the members in our big meeting room. We had a very blessed time together. Father and Mother were pouring out so much love, teaching us for hours, singing and laughing with us.
On May 11, 1969 Peter Koch transferred his mission to me. Concerning our mission in Austria, many things could be shared. Many of our early members were later scattered all over the world and are very solid and stable missionaries, great instruments for our Heavenly Father.
On May 18, 1969, exactly after four years to the day, I transferred my mission and 50 family members to Peter Koch and we moved to Germany, starting again at the bottom with just a few members, trying to build up that nation for the next 8 1/2 years, and I can truly say, I succeeded in loving Germany as much as I did Austria.
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