The Words of the Kovic Family
Even if you had previously been in sales before joining the Unification Church, it might have helped you in some respects but that wasn't what the MFT was all about.
So, why did we fundraise? Practically of course, it was to help financially support the Unification Church movement in The United States. Ah, but not really. It was clear during the 1980's that the money that was made by mobile fundraising teams throughout the country was insufficient in supporting the many functions and programs going on in the church at that time. The American Unification Church was in dire financial straits at that time. Therefore it became necessary for the movement to bring money in from the church in Japan. I didn't know this at the time that I was on MFT but it really didn't matter very much. To tell you the truth, I found fundraising extremely difficult and this is why.
I was extremely self conscious and I was very timid. Then to top it off I had a speech impediment. In addition it scared me to death talking to people. Now add this to the fact that my team captain drops me off at my area where I was to fundraise at around eight o'clock in the morning. Then he picks me up around noon so that I can eat and then drops me off at another area until around six o'clock. In the morning we all usually get dropped off in a business strip in the downtown area of a city or town. Then in the evening we would fundraise in a residential area. Makes sense, right? Then after doing homes up until around nine o'clock in the evening our team captain would drop off each of us in the downtown area of a city again where we would do the Blitz.
What's the Blitz? Did you ever hear of the term Blitzkrieg? That was the method the German Luftwaffe used in World War II when they attacked London and other large cities. They blanket-bombed large cities with huge bombs. We took the same term and shortened it. At night MFT members in the Unification Church go fundraising in bars, dance clubs and restaurants. And for a short duration, perhaps a couple of hours or until midnight, we'd Blitzed the downtown area of the city we happened to be in that day.
For new comers to MFT the Blitz is a bit scary. The reason is that a new member of The Unification Church has just gotten through with all of these lectures, most of which has heavily emphasized the reinforcement of moral God-centered behavior. But when you're on MFT you go blitzing at night in every bar night club and even topless dance clubs. In effect you are going into some of the seediest places where good moral character is quite literally thrown out the window.
I remember the first time I fundraised a topless dance club. Shall I get into all of the juicy details about what happened? Oh, what the heck. I don't think I realized I was going into a topless place at first. It was just another night club I had assumed. Then when I came in I noticed it was very dark. Usually bars are dark but there was something even more dark then the absence of appropriate lighting in this place. I was selling roses so I started to go around to the first few tables I came to. I wasn't having much luck. No one was interested. They were all looking ahead at the stage with great anticipation for the next act to begin. I shrugged my shoulders and then went on to the patrons at the next table.
Then the deejay started playing the song "Maneater" by Hall & Oats:
Whoa here she comes
Watch out boy she'll chew you up
Whoa here she comes
She's a maneater
Just as the chorus of the song was being sung this strip tease dancer came walking out on the stage. And then she began strutting her stuff as each piece of clothing came off and fell to the floor. I couldn't believe it. I had stopped in my tracks. I had stopped selling my roses and my eyes were glued to the beautiful lady dancing on the stage.
After the song ended and she finished dancing I had continued going around. I was doing pretty good. But then the same woman who had just finished dancing came up to me. One of the patrons, a man in his forties, bought some of my flowers and gave them to her. Then instead of expressing her affection towards that particular man she came over and gave me a kiss instead. The thing is that she was absolutely sincere when she did that to me. I never sensed anything irregular about it at all.
Okay, I'm going to tell you a story that I have never told anyone for 25 years since it happened. Remember when I told you that one of the things I would do on this web site was to bare my soul to you. Well, here goes.
It was Halloween, October 31, 1982 in the windy city of Chicago. Given the festivities going on that night my team captain, Jean Pierre Boudreau wanted to do something really special with his team. He decided to go and rent several clown costumes, one for each member of the team. Then each of us would dress up as clowns while we would sell our roses at the stop lights at busy intersections in downtown Chicago. It seemed exciting at first as each of us was helping each other paint the other's faces. We were really getting into it. But what I didn't realize was the reaction I would have when I was all alone dressed up like this.
After everyone else got dropped off at their intersections it was my turn. It was just now beginning to sink in what I was about to start doing. I looked down at the clown costume I was clad in.
I'm dressed as a clown. I've never done this before. How shall I act. I don't know if I can do this. When I was growing up I was always a good little boy. I was never the class clown in school. I never got into trouble at all. But now I'm being asked to be the antithesis of who I had always believed myself to be.
As I stood there with my bucket of pre-wrapped roses watching the red tail lights of our MFT van speeding away I was mentally and emotionally frozen. Then, my survival mode went into gear.
Come on, Jim, you can't just stand there at one of Chicago's busiest intersections doing nothing. Okay, so you're wearing a clown costume. But hey, it's Halloween. At least you can pretend that you're a clown. You remember Bozo the Clown. But you don't even have to be Bozo; you already look like him, well sort of….
Well eventually I got started. But the thing is that the more people I passed by while they were waiting there for the light to turn green the more I saw their facial expressions seem to prompt me to do something more than elicit them to buy my roses. They seemed to be wanting me to act the part… Of The Clown.
That's when I could no longer find solace within this mindless act of walking up and down the median while seemingly cut off from the people in their cars with the windows rolled up. Then either their was a problem with the traffic light causing it to remain red or time had literally stopped. Either way I was caught up in this timeless moment without this shield of protection while targeted by the thoughts of those watching me from inside their vehicles prompting me to perform or something.
"Perform for us" Seemed to be the echo I thought I heard being reverberated from car to car. "Come on, you're dressed in that clown suit and it's Halloween. We're going to a Halloween party. Come on, get us in the mood. Be A Clown!"
Again, even though I was walking back and forth along the median trying to sell my flowers I felt frozen, emotionally frozen. It seemed as if that light had been red for like fifteen minutes now. I can't do this. I don't know how to be a clown. What will they think of me? They'll laugh at me and I'll be so humiliated.
Just then the line of cars closest to me in the turning lane got the green arrow light to go ahead. This was my chance. So when the last car in the turning lane passed by and just before the traffic light for all of the rest of the cars turned green I ran across to the other side. I couldn't go on like this. I'm bailing out. I know this is something I shouldn't do but I can't bear this feeling inside any longer.
Once I got to the other side I found a row of tall hedges and went behind it so that I could change. I took off that evil clown suit, and then I dipped my hands in the water at the bottom of my bucket of flowers, enough so that I could wipe off the paint from my face. Then I stuffed the folded clown suit under my arm and started walking.
I realize that when Jean Pierre returns in a couple of hours and doesn't see me around he's going to freak out but I don't care. I just can't do this anymore. I thought about finding a coffee shop somewhere. If I could find a coffee shop then I'd have a place to chill for a while and get myself together. I had a good idea when my team captain was coming back even though he didn't tell me the exact time. He never says exactly when he's coming back.
When you're on MFT you're not supposed to think about the time. You think about accomplishing your mission and if you're really in synch with the Will Of God then you'll sell out and then a minute later your team captain comes whizzing down the street. Of course if you sell out way before then that only means that you were too stubborn to heed his advice to take more product to sell and thus lacked the confidence and faith that Spirit World would work through you to sell out everything.
But I thought I had this guy all figured out. I knew when he was coming back. It was like clockwork the way he managed his pick ups and drop offs. So if only I could find that Dunkin Donuts along this road somewhere, not too far from the intersection where he left me then I could soothe my confused mind and ragged emotions with a good cup of coffee. Then I'd leave the coffee shop and head back to the intersection.
Somehow I found a coffee shop. One of those Greek places that has the great cakes and pastries. It was quiet at the time. I got my cup of coffee, that bottomless cup of coffee that always gets refills from the waitress with nothing else to do but tend to her only patron at the time.
But as I looked up at the clock, it was like twenty minutes before eleven. Jean Pierre would be coming back around eleven or eleven thirty at the latest. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it might not be such a good idea to get picked up and get back into the van with all of the other members waiting for me. I still had a full bucket of roses. I hadn't sold a single one. What would he think? What would he say to me?
Let me talk a little about what I like to call MFT Protocol And Tradition. As I said before, fundraising on MFT is more than selling stuff. Anybody can be a salesperson. Even if you're not a natural it can be taught and you can be trained. When you're a member of The Unification Church you are constantly involved in developing yourself and hopefully changing and evolving as you go through this process of Restoration. Unification Church members are constantly aware of the fact that they must walk this path of restoration. The end game in The Unification Church is to restore the Kingdom Of Heaven On Earth and the way you get there is through restoration of the individual, family, clan, tribe, nation and then the entire world.
The mobile fundraising team program was set up to serve the needs of Unification Church members who wanted to change and heal their individual selves, their character. So if you could go through at least seven years of interacting with countless other human beings -- some who like you and want to buy what you're selling as well as those who may hate the fact that you're a Moonie (derogatory term for a member of the Unification Church) and who try to chase you down the street while yelling and screaming colorful metaphors your way -- you have in a very substantial way fulfilled a foundation of faith in your relationship with God and True Parents, God's representative for you on Earth.
With that said, the attitude that a Unification Church member on MFT has is so much different than any salesperson you may happen to meet. Now, when you get back into your MFT van this is what you usually do. You take your seat in the van. You then take time to pray and to offer that experience to God in gratitude given the reasons I explained above. Then you count up the money you made while fundraising. After you've done that you now must report to your team captain what happened from a spiritual as well as a monetary perspective. It takes a little bit of reflection thinking back on the experience which you had that day but you must search deep within yourself for the meaning of what you accomplished or failed to accomplish and then convey that to him as succinctly as you can and as sincerely as you can. Not only is it important how much you might have made but what was God trying to teach me through this monetary accomplishment.
This was why I was having serious second thoughts about getting back in the van and having to face my team captain. I knew that due to the fact that Jean Pierre had me wear that clown suit that he had made it possible for me to come to a point in my experience that night in which I would come face to face with behaving out of character. I was dressed up as a clown so I either had to be the clown or not be the clown. I chose not to be the clown and therefore I became self conscious and embarrassed….well, from what I described above you know what I went through.
And so now I had to face up to this. What would I say in my report? Would I honestly explain how I bailed out and failed this test of love? Surely I had been placed in a position, being dressed up as a clown on Halloween and all, in which I had to come out of myself and love those people I walked by on the median as I waved my roses in front of them. The only way they were going to buy anything from me is if I resolved to love each and every one of them unconditionally. But I didn't. I got scared. I was afraid to love.
But could I get back in that van and in surrendering my ego come from my heart and be honest about how in a moment of weakness and fear I could not find it in my heart to love people in the most challenging of circumstances? That was something that at that time I wasn't able to do. But when you're a member of The Unification Church and especially when you're on MFT, that sort of thing happens very often. And a lot of times, as it was for me back then, it is the very thing that may make you decide that you've reached your limit and that being in The Unification Church isn't for you.
That's exactly what was on my mind as the clock struck twelve. Eleven thirty had already come and gone. Jean Pierre and the rest of the team had obviously cruised by the intersection where he left me to pick me up, not seen hide or hair of me and then I assumed begun to get really worried. Well, about fifteen minutes and five refills later I decided that I ought to find some other place to hang out before I start getting talkative with the waitress from all of this caffeine that's circulating in my brain.
I eventually found a Greyhound bus station. At least I could hang out there for free. Some of their seats had those coin operated television monitors that swiveled back and forth. I dropped some change in that and watched some Happy Days reruns. But eventually I got really tired of doing that. It got to be around six o'clock in the morning and I was beginning to run out of ideas. Where could I go. What do I do now? Is this the part where I decide to leave The Unification Church? Well, that's fine, Jim but you don't have any money unless you decided to start selling those roses in your bucket that are starting to look kind of wilted right about now.
I was in between a rock and a hard place. There was no way out of this so I finally decided to bite the bullet and call my team captain and have him pick me up here at the bus station.
I had every reason to fear facing Jean Pierre. He was a very passionate person. There were times when one of us came back from fundraising and had a difficult time but were very insincere in their report that he got very angry at them. And when Jean Pierre gets pissed off you don't want to be the target of his frustration. He scared the shit out of me one time after I had been on his team for only a week. But that's what you come to expect in The Unification Church.
And you know, there's a lot of people out there who like to badmouth The Unification Church who say that the methods someone like him uses is very extreme. But the thing is that I had a chance to get to know Jean Pierre outside of his role as an MFT team captain. That wasn't the first time that I tried to leave the church. It happened again one morning just as we were leaving a motel room we stayed overnight in. I was really having a tough time emotionally and I didn't feel I had anyone to turn to. So I took off and went off to this coffee shop. I knew for a fact no one knew where I went. So I went and sat down at the counter and got a cup of coffee. I was there for about fifteen minutes when I looked over to my left Jean Pierre was sitting there looking at me with these eyes of compassion.
"Why did you come after me?" I asked him.
"When you love someone as much as I love you then I can't stay away."
There was no need for him to say anything more.