The Words of the Pearson Family
Vernon Pearson and his new spiritual daughter.
From January 6 to the end of March, 1990 the IOWC travelled throughout America. Team number 4 began in Arizona, then continued on to Los Angeles, Berkeley, Las Vegas and then Portland, Oregon. The team covered 14 states in all. Towards the end of March, Jonathan Gullery conducted the following interview with his fellow team-member, Vernon Pearson, who is an early American member and part of the 43 Couples Blessing.
My family moved to a small farming community in Warren, Oregon, when I was six years old. I attended the Lutheran Church there. Even then I was searching for some deeper relationship with God. Around 1951 I attended a revival meeting conducted by Billy Graham, who was just starting his ministry. I was moved to accept Jesus at the alter call.
On my 24th birthday I experienced a deep cleansing as I prayed. I felt the Holy Spirit came to me to heal all the hurts and pains I had been carrying. I just wept for about 40 minutes. Later, however, I still felt the same conflict of good and evil within myself.
After many experiences, a simple event occurred that transformed my entire life. I was working in a furniture store and met a man named John Schmidli, who was managing a motel. I was struck by his deep but simple faith. He would visit prisoners and work with alcoholics, trying to help them in their difficulties. John and I would talk for hours together about God and our faith.
It was one night during that year of 1959 that John told me he had met a Korean "Billy Graham" who was a student at the Western Baptist Theological Seminary.
This man, David Kim had been visiting John's church, and had asked John to drive him home.
Where he invited him up to his room. They sat for four to five hours talking about the Principle and Father. When John told me this, I thought it strange, but I was curious.
Later that year, John invited me to meet David Kim. I went with mixed feelings, but upon meeting him I felt this was definitely a man of God. We talked for some time after which he said, "I'm very sorry, you don't know the Will of God." I was confused about certain points, but on further study the parts of the Principle concerning John the Baptist and the parallels of history made a deep impression on me. Back then there were no two-day or seven-day workshops. As early members we just studied the Principle in our own time as best we were able. It was up to us to study and reflect on our own. One point especially challenged my Christian background. How could Jesus not have come to die, and how was it possible that the Second Coming was not Jesus himself, but another person?
I officially became a member in early 1960 and later spent three years as a pioneer missionary to Boise, Idaho from 1964-1967. It was in 1965 that I met my future wife, Maxine.
We heard that Father was coming to bless the holy grounds in America, and avid Kim called, asking me to choose two potential sites for the holy ground. I selected what I thought were good places, and then began preparing for Father to come. On the day that Father was to arrive, I was caught by surprise. I had only just finished painting my apartment, and was getting out the shower, when I heard the car pull up and David Kim came in: "Father's here! Are you ready?" Here he was, the Lord of the Second Advent. I just didn't know what to think -- I had so many deep feelings. I just bowed to Father.
Along with him were Young Oon Kim, Mrs. Won Pok Choi, Mr. Nishikawa (Sang Ik Choi - Papasan), George Norton and Gordon Ross. Gordon proceeded to explain the meaning of the holy ground, that we were taking a part of Satan's world and transforming it into a piece of heaven, claiming a spot in every state to be God's beachhead. I felt that I was in the center of a spiritual whirlwind. We went to Julia Davis Park, where Father blessed the holy ground. It was dusk and there was a light misty rain falling.
One of the brothers was having a birthday, and Father took us all to a Chinese restaurant. At a certain point during the meal Father left to go next door, where there was a miniature electric racetrack. He was just standing there, smiling and smiling! I had so many questions that I'd wanted to ask Father, but somehow they all seemed so unimportant now.
All at once Father and his party were gone, and I felt so lonely, thinking, "Father, why did you go so soon?"
I moved to Seattle, where there was a woman who had studied the Principle but had become very ill with cancer. She was hospitalized and the doctors knew she would not live long. Father came into town, but his schedule was so intense. The holy grounds had to be completed within 40 days. There just wasn't enough time for him to visit the hospital, but someone took Father's handkerchief to the hospital, giving it to this woman. She died very soon after, but as she clutched the handkerchief to herself she was so happy, feeling a deep spiritual cleansing.
Father made one extra holy ground in Eugene, Oregon, to honor the work that Young Oon Kim had done there. I went with the members, and as Father prayed he suddenly jumped, as though someone had hit him with a rock, but he just kept on going. Later it was explained that Satan had struck Father because of the fact that this was one additional holy ground. As Father left us he embraced the few Northwest members and said to me "Trust God!"
During a break in travelling, the team admires a beautiful Western landscape.
The IOWC team arrived in Portland in early February and I was immediately struck by their sincerity. My wife Maxine and I had lunch with Dr. Tyler Hendricks and I asked him if any older members would be accepted on the team. In New York, some of the senior members working at headquarters had joined the campaign. I was impressed and challenged by the team members, and I felt a deep urge to join them for at least one or two cities. I had many mixed feelings about whether I should go or not. Maxine and I followed the team to Seattle, and after Dr. Hendricks spoke at the revival there and the team sang the 1988 Olympics theme song, "Hand in Hand", my mind was made up. I went to Dr. Hendricks and said "I'll go if you'll accept me!" He officially invited me to join the IOWC.
I had forgotten how difficult it could be. It wasn't easy to feel that I was competent to be there, or that I had any leadership ability left -- I struggled to believe I was any help to the team at all. On the second day in Billings, Montana I had my deepest struggle, and I seriously questioned whether I should just leave the team. I must have walked three or four miles and talked to as many people. That afternoon, however, I worked with a sister and God's spirit was really with us as we witnessed to one brother.
Then in Laramie, Wyoming I felt that God was able to use me substantially. The team was rehearsing its song before the revival at the University of Wyoming, and I went out to witness for the last few minutes before the program started. God led me to the right people and I was able to bring four people to the revival. It was such a deep experience for me.
Upon seeing my fellow team members' struggles and breakthroughs, I felt so challenged to establish my own foundation of faith during this special campaign. How can I use this experience to continue witnessing when I go back to Portland? I feel that during these 40 days we became a real family, despite our age and mission differences. Some members had been in our movement for 30 years and some less than one year, but we were all equal. There were nine different countries represented on our team. These brothers and sisters, out of their love for God and True Parents, stayed and served America. I feel so proud of the sacrifice my brothers and sisters have made, and so honored to be a part of this IOWC -- I think it would be much easier to go through basic training in the army than on the IOWC, working hard not just physically but spiritually.
During this period I felt total support from my wife. When we initially discussed my participation she had such a strong intuition that I should do this. It's a real foundation of faith for my own family that can strengthen our little family unit. I know that this sacrifice is not just something that can help my own family, but I've seen it substantially uniting state, church, CARP and home members into one.
These IOWC teams are really on a front line mission to restore America and I know now that God was directly challenging me to pay this indemnity and grow more. I've come to have such a deep respect for Dr. Hendricks. I've seen how much the team members respect him and how he has been so humble before them. God can really work through him.
Just being with someone who brings a new member brings such a sense of victory. By our perseverance and best effort success is inevitable. As we serve our True Parents we create the foundation for positive result to come. Even if we receive some persecution, I feel that as we go out to claim righteousness we become invincible -- like the GI's in World War II.
Back in the sixties we used to talk about so many campaigns and speaking tours and now we've seen all those things come about. I have seen many, many things in my church life, but my deepest feeling now is that we have matured as a movement.
There's such a need for members to really respect and love one another -- love each person for who they are. There are many members who were once very active and are now not deeply involved, but these people, too, need our sincere respect.
God's desperation has become such a reality to me. I've realized that the only way to be successful is to manifest God's love. As we seek to come closer to the heart of God we're able to move the hearts of the people we meet. I believe that each of our team members is seeking this way. With internal repentance we'll find America's hope for salvation, and that is, I believe, the hope for this movement. With our deep repentance and prayer life God can save America.