The Words of the Kwon Family

Escaping Kidnappers - The Preciousness of Each Spiritual Life

Sang-gi Kwon
January 2011

Miyuki Hara and her husband with Kook-jin nim and Ji-ye nim; she is holding a copy of Father's autobiography Kook-jin nim has signed for them.

A Korean church leader in Japan tells of harrowing days and the relief that accompanied their end.

The summer of 2010 was much hotter than that of past years; the temperature topped 95° on and off for over a month. It was mid-August and all the members had been offering devotions through fasting, bowing and praying to build a new church building. I had just visited the construction site for the new building, and my hopes were running high, when I received a phone call from our youth director that almost stopped my heart from shock.

He said that he could not get in touch with Mrs. Miyuki Hara. Twice in the past, she had been confined for months by her parents and ministers antagonistic to our religion. Miyuki had even had to pretend to leave the Unification Church. Yet her faith was as strong as ever, and in the end she had made her parents promise that they would never again confine her.

Afterward, she had continued to make every effort to maintain a relationship with her father and mother; she encouraged them to attend Sunday services and invited them to other members' homes. While she was preparing to receive the blessing, she discussed it with her parents. Nevertheless, knowing it was possible that she could be abducted again, we were always cautious.

She had gone to Nagano for the Obon holiday because her grandparents lived there. Afterward, she did not appear at the appointed place and time, and her husband was unable to contact her.

Another member had been abducted and confined two months earlier and had sent in a letter of withdrawal from the church. With the support of the national headquarters, we had been holding enlightenment rallies and demonstrations as well as regular educational programs so that our abducted member might be freed. Yet now this new incident had occurred.

The number of members abducted and confined had decreased nationwide through the project to liberate those in confinement, which is being carried out under the international president, Hyung-jin nim; and the chairman of the Foundation to Support HSA-UWC, Kook-jin nim. That was the situation when this second abduction took place.

Several days after that incident, a report came in that another member, Mr. Geichi Murata, could not be reached. We prayed that nothing bad had happened, hoping that it was not a third abduction, because Geichi had worked harder than anyone else to witness to his extended family; we had all thought he was closer to restoring his parents than anyone else. His family had attended church events and had even come to Sunday services. They had enjoyed their time with us and opened their hearts to us; they appeared to have become one in heart with our members. Moreover, they lacked the means to abduct and confine their son, so we did not even want to think that Geichi had been abducted.

Several days passed and we still could not contact him, so we sent a staff member to his hometown, Shizuoka Hamamatsu, which was a few hours away. His younger brother, who had also participated in church events, was at their parents' home. He said that his brother had not con-le and that his parents were away on a trip. From his unnatural answers we realize that Geichi had indeed been abducted and was being held somewhere.

For some years, we had had no cases of abduction and confinement; now three abductions had occurred in the course of two months. I could not help feeling sorry in front of God.

What was the problem? Were our devotions insufficient? Were the educational programs unsuccessful? We asked ourselves these questions as we held discussions with the headquarters and made preparations to resolve the matter.

The abducted members had been more active than others in attending the educational programs, they were blessed members and continued to maintain a close relationship with church staff members. Therefore, I came to believe that these incidents were happening to members in our congregation for a reason. I strongly felt that God was working through these incidents to open a new path to success in the project to prevent abduction and confinement. More than anything else, we hoped that the situation would serve as an opportunity to open the way to receive more support and help from Hyung-jin nim and Kook-jin nim, and to return at least some joy to True Parents, who are concerned and anxious about each and every life. With that in mind, we arranged for more than forty members to take turns fasting in the morning each day and the staff members fasted every morning and offered bows and other devotions. In particular, Miyuki's husband offered one thousand two hundred bows every day as part of his devotions.

We handed out leaflets and held demonstrations and explanatory talks in line with the project to liberate those in confinement. We visited Miyuki's relatives, and we contacted the police and filed a missing-person's report with the support of her husband.

We had carried on our activities for more than fifty days, when we received a phone call from Miyuki on October 6, telling us that she had returned safely to her own home.

I felt God's heart during this phone call. I felt, indirectly, what God felt as He searched for one lost lamb. I contacted her husband at once and asked him to come to the center, and though it was late, we met and I heard what had happened to his wife during that time.

Rev. Kwon's congregation; three of their number were abducted within two months.

When she had reached her parents home, her parents told her that they wanted to talk about her faith and asked her to go with them to an apartment they had prepared. She had a premonition that if she stayed, she could lose her faith; she tried to leave, but suddenly her sister, her brother-in-law and other relatives surrounded her. Fearing they would confine her, she yelled and cried for help from the neighbors. The neighbors called the police and two policemen actually came to her parents' home, but they left when they were told it was a family matter. She was in a situation where she could not expect help from anyone.

She was moved to the prepared apartment. Having had two previous experiences of abduction and confinement, however, she talked to her parents and negotiated with them to make an environment in which they could discuss her faith while respecting one another's opinions. In particular, during that time she communicated with them about the greatness of True Parents by reading the Divine Principle, the autobiography and other books to them. Moreover, even when she conversed with the antagonistic Christians who visited her in an attempt to convince her to abandon her religion, her faith never wavered.

Miyuki testified, "I came to believe that God loves me unconditionally, no matter what situation I am in, and that the suffering I was going through could not destroy me; instead it helped me realize how deep God's love is. I became more firmly convinced that we can form happy families only through God's true love and that it was only possible to do so through the blessing."

That is why when her parents suddenly changed their attitude and began treating her harshly, she was endowed with new strength that she had not even dreamed of. She went on to say, "I am an individual with my own strong convictions, so I was able to tell my parents in strong terms to treat me as one. Through that, I could feel that God loves me, and without realizing it, I could feel the spiritual power of the other members flowing into me at all times. When I was left alone, late at night or in the early morning, I always gave thanks for God's love, which has been guiding me during the past decade through the many difficult situations I faced. When I thought about the fact that I would have lived a meaningless and self-centered life if I had not come to know God's will, I was reminded that having lived in God's bosom for the past ten years has made my life more precious than ever before. So, I firmly resolved in my heart that no matter what came my way, I would entrust everything to True Parents, whom I have served and believed in, and that I would follow them wherever they led me. When such thoughts filled me heart, I understood that my spirit had grown through God's love and I gained determination."

One day, Miyuki's parents told her that they had been summoned to the police station and ordered to bring her with them. Her husband, church staff members and a lawyer had contacted the police with a statement she had made about her two earlier abductions. Her case has served as a turning point because the police intervened; it set a precedent that should be of great help in resolving future abductions and confinements. I felt that miracles do happen when we are all united and when God is with US.

Encouraged by Miyuki's return, we became more convinced than ever that Geichi Murata would also return to us, and the members offered devotions more devoutly than ever before.

We visited the police station and his parents' home on many occasions, but the police did nothing. Around that time, church leaders in Japan were called to attend a week-long workshop. At the workshop, I beseeched God in prayer more than ten times a day for Geichi's safe return. I returned to Japan firmly convinced that he would indeed come back. Two days later, I experienced a miracle from God once again -- right before my eyes, Geichi Murata appeared, eighty-some days after he had gone missing. On the spot, I offered a prayer of gratitude to God, saying, "Oh, dear Heavenly Father! Thank you for answering our prayers so quickly. Thank you so much!" I tried to comfort Geichi for the pain he had endured during that long period of hardships and suffering. I felt grateful to God and True Parents, who must have suffered and worried even more than Geichi had during that time, and also to Hyung-jin nim and Kook-jin nim, who had heard all the reports and had guided us with deep concern.

I felt how precious and great each and every life is, and that no matter how many members and young people there are, the value of that one life is not smaller than the value of the whole. I was again reminded of God's heart as He searches for each lost lamb.

Geichi had returned home for Obon, and his younger brother, who lives with their parents, had come to pick him up. His brother, however, told him that their parents' home was being renovated and that they had to go to an apartment they were using temporarily. Upon arriving there, Geichi found it to be a place prepared for his confinement. His parents knelt down in front of him and pleaded with him, saying that they wanted to understand him and that he should stay with them. From that point, he was confined. He was not allowed to go out even once. Because his parents had said that they wanted to understand his faith, he tried talking to them about the Divine Principle and what he has derived from Father's teachings, but they had no desire at all to understand his views. After fifty days, he was moved to another place, which was owned by a pastor opposed to our religion. He was unable to go out or make phone calls and was forced to listen to diatribes against the church, the True Family and the Divine Principle. He was made to watch years-old television programs about the church and listen to apostates' testimonies. At first, he tried to listen for his parents' sake, but he realized it was meaningless; he could not change his parents' views. So, he seized the first chance that arose, when his watchers weren't paying attention; he ran outside and took a car to a train station, and a train from there to Tokyo, and thus made his escape.

Geichi said, "I came to learn how precious was the small space that I had in which to offer a bow to God to protect my spiritual life in a place of spiritual struggle. It would have been difficult for me to keep my faith under the circumstances if I had not done been able to bow and pray. I secretly prayed alone in the early morning and late at night." He also said that he was able to keep his faith in True Parents in an environment in which no one understood him because he lived his life centered on their teachings. He added that he repeatedly recited to himself a verse he had memorized from The Way of God's Will, "Wonderful is the man who embraces God while enduring suffering." He also clung to a Bible quotation that hung in a frame at his place of confinement, "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me." Thus, he maintained a strong faith.

For some time after his escape, Geichi and his parents did not contact each other. He did not wish to see them ever again, but church staff members visited his parents and told them about their son's situation and feelings and how abduction and confinement only served to destroy families. These church members also listened to his parents' opinions about the church and developed a connection with them. At the end of last year, Geichi was able to meet his parents, who apologized for abducting and confining him and promised never to do so again. He is still hurting, however, and is not willing to meet them alone.

Through the safe return of the two members from abduction and confinement, I could feel that we are living in the era of God's direct dominion and in True Parents' victorious realm. We can be certain that God's guidance brought these two members back to us. In particular, the True Children have stepped forward at this time to resolve this issue, and I felt that God was with us when we offered devotions and worked with fervor and zeal.

There are not many things that a church leader can actually do when a member is abducted and confined. It is his task to educate the members in advance and to give them a strong conviction in their faith, so that they can triumph in the spiritual battle. He can also make preparations to win in the legal proceedings if it comes to that.

More than anything else, I felt that it is important for all members to become one in heart and action and to renew our appreciation of how much God values each person who has been reborn through True Parents' love and is working hard to realize God's will on earth. 

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