The Words of the Hickey Family
Father asked us to "Go and love our families as if we were Father."
"Now is the time for you to go
back to your home area to your relatives and family members who you
sacrificed for the sake of the world."
Sun Myung Moon -- Tribal Messiah 2/5/89
"My central topic of the next
decade will be hometown. Our longing to return to our hometown and
the homesickness that we all feel is related to the desire to return
to our original root – God."
Sun Myung Moon Hometown 2/12/89
Like many American Church members, I joined in the early 1970's in a place far from my hometown. For the next 12 years God's Providence led me to many parts of the United States through many different missions. But never did it bring me back to my hometown of Lake Tahoe.
In following True Parents in our own miniature course of restoration through indemnity, it seemed only right that we should be hard at work in "Haran" rather than "Canaan."
With the advent of a new phase of IOWC in the mid-80's, I found myself returning to California, but certainly without the blessings of the victor such as Jacob had upon the completion of his course in Haran. Spiritually, myself and my family felt unprepared to cross the "Jordan," to whatever waited on the other side.
At the end of 1986, I found myself on the road again, this time back to New York and what looked like a stay at UTS. But again the long arm of God's Providence came knocking.
In January of 1987 I became a part of the ACC work. Dr. Pak was very supportive of people returning to work in their home states. I was grateful to once again return to California. By then, we had two children, which helped substantially in the "offering" that could be made to my parents. Naturally, because of past experiences, they were leery about the longevity of our return.
Fifty relatives attended this first hometown revival.
In the summer of 1988, Father asked our members to return and witness to their relatives whenever possible. At that moment, at a Leader's Conference with our True Parents, I sat holding a copy of an invitation I'd made to my high school alumni for a 20 years reunion.
With True Parents support toward moving back to our home-towns, I felt a deep purpose in taking the lead to organize my classmates. Most of my childhood friends from my small town of Tahoe were there. As Master of Ceremonies, I was able to connect with everyone in a public as well as a personal way. Most of them knew of my life in the Church. They even prepared my name tag with a small moon on it.
In fact, the event was not as spiritually complete as I had prayed for, but it was an important first step in working my way back into the hearts and lives of those I had known in my youth. Afterwards, I realized like Jacob, relationships must pass through stages of restoration. We must be as patient as we are determined with respect to the rewards we seek.
After reading a number of Father's speeches given earlier this year in Korea about "hometown," I felt moved to follow many of the directions Father had given the Korean Church members. I was especially struck by Father's own testimony when he shared intimately with Korean members of how "he would have loved to be with his own physical family" but it was not possible. Therefore, he said, "you should go and love them (our families) as if you were Father."
Feeling very unworthy to attempt this, especially in light of the incredible sacrifice of True Parents' family, I nevertheless felt we should go with the heart to witness and restore our family and relatives in order to comfort True Father.
He explained that we should, "make revival meetings on the family level -- not centered on ourselves." And with our relatives gathered we should "ask them in tears for forgiveness for not having loved them during the time we were away from home, and in that way restore them."
With those guidelines in mind, Myung-Hee and I organized a "Hickey-Wickie" (a term my family uses for an Irish clan gathering) in honor of my parents. My grandfather came from a family of 12 brothers and sisters who settled in the Tahoe area. So, there was no shortage of relatives to invite.
As we sent out invitations to the "party" for my parents, I discovered there were still many hills of indemnity to cross. My folks, like many other parents of Church members, have understandably felt resentment toward our Founder and the Movement. After all, they had their own ideal and expectations for our lives. An important stage in the personal restoration of my family seems to center on my willingness to accept their hopes and guidance for myself and my family. Of course, we know God has a much higher standard for our families, but in order to reestablish the parent-child relationship I have learned to be more receptive to their wishes.
Also, because this event took on a certain providential meaning, I found myself facing other serious spiritual tests prior to its taking place. Both my mission central figure and my Korean Regional leader confronted me with serious challenges to the standard of my life of faith. In retrospect, these were God-given trials that served to help me remove my fallen nature in preparation for my hometown offering. I knew that for this family-level program to be successful, I had to find the right balance that would not take away from my mission.
Then, when it came close to the event itself, I realized there were still some past family "mountains" of indemnity to make it across. The banquet was almost cancelled by my mother. I realized that only by letting my parents make certain decisions about the party I was hosting, could it happen. Externally, I had to be willing to let the event even be cancelled. Internally, I had to accept the whole thing as indemnity for my family. By doing both and apologizing to my mother, she let things go on as planned. Without Father's teaching of restoration, I would have never navigated my way through the incident.
To see our parents so happy made all our efforts worthwhile.
On August 12, 1989, we finally had the party honoring my parents. A total of 50 relatives came to the dinner and I felt real family-level restoration took place that night.
I was able to have the Catholic priest of my parents' parish read the Bible verses I had selected honoring one's parents. He later said at Mass the next morning what a wonderful thing this had been to do for my parents. I sat in church quietly thanking God that this testimony could be given to one of True Parents' representatives, telling his church in effect: "Reverend Moon's people do the most wonderful things for their families." I know Father deserves that praise one million times! We must let our families know what he has done with us is really for their sake.
During the course of the evening of the party, many of my parents' closest friends and relatives were able to tell stories and give testimony to them. It was truly a love feast. After the program no one wanted to leave, the atmosphere was so rich with love. The next day my parents told us, "You'll never know how much this meant to us!" Just to hear those things and to see them so happy in the twilight of their life made the years of heartache and misunderstanding seem to melt away in the grace and atonement of True Parents' love.
Another reason I had decided to do this event was because of something Father said in Korea: "If you do these revival meetings in your hometown, the relatives who attend will be qualified to enter the Kingdom of Heaven...like the Israelites who made the condition of being circumcised."
Think how deeply grateful we should be for such a gift of grace from our True Parents! Whether our families realize it yet or not, they are in fact deeply indebted to these conditions. We must realize how special our position is as Blessed Families and the role we have in restoring our clans as the foundation for tribal messiahship.
Something else happened to me that evening. I have always struggled, as have many American members, with how to be truly patriotic in the sense God expects. Where I was really helped by Father's guidance was when he said, "Without laying the foundation of your clan, you cannot become a patriot of your nation (or state for that matter)."After making the beginning of a foundation with my own clan, I felt clarity and conviction toward my patriotic mission in America that I had never previously felt.
At the close of the program when it was my turn to say something to my mother and father, I could offer, as Father instructed, my repentance for being away and not being the good son they expected. I was also able to recall for my parents a few of the examples of sacrificial love my parents beautifully demonstrated.
To be able to host this event, thanking our family, was indeed a God-given privilege.
For my wife, too, many things could be accomplished through this meeting: "Since I received the Blessing with Patrick, I've been carrying a deep kind of pain with respect to my parents-in-law, who don't understand True Parents and our Movement. It is not often that God's Providence and our own internal desire come together. Before Father proclaimed the Hometown Providence, my spirit was not free to pursue a witnessing course with them.
"Because of my mission as a regional bookkeeper and mother of four children, I always found it difficult to do more than write or phone his parents, or send them little gifts. One of my real internal struggles was to make a foundation with them where they could feel satisfied about the Unification Church and without any complaints toward our True Parents.
"The nature of my husband's work now, and the years of my prayer to create something special for my parents-in-law and relatives finally came true on August 12, 1989. I simply wanted to offer our family as representatives of our True Parents to them. This I believe can give the spirit world a base to work with us.
"Of course, nothing seems easy to me with four young children and a husband who is involved 24 hours a day in a mission. Just to get a small first-step closer to their hearts gives me a lot of hope to do more in the near future.
"I learned that without a desire inside, even one that takes years to be realized, you cannot do something successfully."
I have only True Parents to thank. For without them, I would have never done this for my mom and dad. Without Reverend Moon and the Unification Church I would have been the prodigal son who never returned home. I know this. But more importantly, I believe my parents and my relatives now know this. This is the story America and the world needs to know about Reverend Moon. It is in our hands to restore Father's dignity and lay the foundation for the Messiah the world so desperately needs.
This small victory was just a first step. The door is now open as Father said it would be for us. We are now following up with different relatives and witnessing to them. One of the people even said to me, "that only with the return of Christ will this country survive!" Truer words were never spoken. And the keys to it all have been handed over to you and me.
Finally, this could not have been achieved without the course of prayer, indemnity, and service of my wife and her family. Myung-Hee's testimony to my parents and relatives brought tears to many of their eyes, and hopefully comforted Father's loving heart.