The Words of the Rigney Family
Mrs. Kathy Rigney has extensive experience throughout Africa, including as a missionary, a continental director and an international itinerant worker for blessed families.
In 1975 our True Parents sent out missionaries to 120 nations around the world. On May 15 I arrived in Benin Republic. It was night and very dark, with almost no streetlights. I could hardly see. I was very afraid and consequently, I went directly to the hotel. After locking the door of my room and pushing some furniture against the door, I prayed for a very, very long time with tears flowing abundantly. Finally I fell asleep. I quickly began to dream of True Father and True Mother, who saw my fear stricken face and gently took my hands and prayed with me, a long and heartfelt prayer. After the prayer, they embraced me and told me, "Don't be afraid Kathy, Heaven is always with you and so are we." I believe that I loved Benin from that moment on, because I understood that True Parents loved Benin and wanted to be there themselves to work to restore their Beninese children. Since they couldn't come, they sent me, and I had the privilege of taking on that mission. That marked the beginning of my love for Benin. The Beninese are known all over Africa for their intelligence and desire for education. They are hardworking, kind-hearted and deeply religious. Even though poverty is rampant throughout the nation, they are optimistic and believe in the future. Heavenly Parent blessed Benin with bright, smart citizens who have a deep connection to the spiritual world and great potential in all areas of life.
If one would ask any Beninese what Benin's main problem is, the person would almost unanimously respond, "Poverty is the main problem in Benin. We have to eliminate poverty." We have all heard of the problems of governance in many developing nations and the terrible effects of the past colonial dominance and policies that still hinders growth in many nations. However, just as in all unrestored nations of the world, in an internal or spiritual sense, there are certain realities of the culture and tradition in Benin that lend themselves to the continuation of poverty's hold on the nation and its people. One of the major problems in this sense is polygamy, which wreaks havoc and chaos on the family structure. Many men have two or three wives and there is always competition between the wives and deep resentful feelings between children of the different wives. This reality makes a difficult environment to create a loving and peaceful family unit. As we know, the family is intended to be the school of love, teaching children how to build an environment of peace and how to develop the tradition of living for the sake of others. In such an atmosphere, women, who should be the heart of the family, are often frustrated and divisive as they seek to try to gain the love of their husband. As the family unit is the backbone of society and the launching pad to build a successful, peaceful world, it seems that fundamental changes are necessary in order to create families that can reflect our Heavenly Parent's heart and culture. Simply put, it is only the Divine Principle that can solve the problems of the Beninese people. It is only in knowing the true love of True Parents that people can be liberated from their old traditions and ancient cultural practices that tie them down to a life of misery and confusion. As we reach out to the Beninese people and offer the Divine Principle to them, as the Principle changed our lives, their lives will be transformed and they will start to understand that only True Parents tradition and culture of heart will bring sustainable development, true happiness and relief from poverty. Of course, we are preparing many varied strategies to use to accomplish this goal -- social programs to reach out to the people suffering, witnessing house to house to families, peace programs and peace ambassadors who understand the Divine Principle and who will help their compatriots to understand True Parents ideals. We have many plans, but the core issue is teaching the Divine Principle to the nation and thereby offering a vision of true love and true families.
Therefore, the strategy we want to use to accomplish our goals for Vision 2020 is founded upon education.
First, we must educate our members so that everyone understands the hearts of our Heavenly Parent and of our True Parents. All members must know True Mother's directions to us and inherit her absolute determination to offer victory to True Father before Father's hundredth birthday. Being so far away from True Mother, African members do not have much opportunity to receive the information they need to unite their hearts with True Parents' hearts. That is our first step. Without all of us having the same vision we cannot find the victory. Members must know True Mother's mind and heart and go forward centered on that goal.
Second, we must mobilize and begin the total education of the nation. Through witnessing, home church, tribal messiah work, workshops, gatherings, peace programs, television programs, radio programs, soccer programs, etc., we will bring the Divine Principle to Benin in a very clear and precise way. As we adopt the heart of our True Parents, the heart of absolute life-or-death resolve, the spiritual world will support us and miracles will assist us in a true revival and resurrection of the Benin Republic.
Kathy Rigney and President Goodluck Jonathan of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2011
Third, communication must improve both on a national level and on the international level so that we can report our situation and circumstances to our leaders, which will help us to realize our goals by making adjustments appropriately as our strategy unfolds before us.
Fourth, one thing that has always hampered us in accomplishing our goals has been the lack of funds, which is common in Africa in general. We must find a way to generate funds to keep our mobilization moving, so as not to lose our momentum and to help keep the spirit flowing in bringing this transformation and national restoration to Benin.
Finally, I believe that the key to victory stems from the words of True Father and True Mother as they prepared us for our participation in Foundation Day. True Father and True Mother emphasized so many times that we must have an absolute life-or-death resolve to accomplish our responsibilities. How can we restore a nation and sovereignty without putting our lives on the line, without dedicating our whole heart and mind and soul? It would never happen. This is how our Father and Mother have lived their lives and this is the model we must follow.
VISION 2020 has come to us from True Parents. We have a new focus and a chance to substantiate True Father's lifetime work of restoring the 7 billion people of the world.
With that heart of True Mother's to make this offering to True Father at the risk of our lives, we are ready to go forward in Benin. Thank you.
Mother in Abuja, Nigeria, where she spoke to 1,500 guests in 1993. She's in a gown worn only by queens with missionaries to Africa (clockwise from Mother's right) Kathy Rigney, Hiroko Kanadani, Peggy Matsuya, Mrs. Seo and Evelyne Winter
A remarkable thing occurred through an encounter with Jesus to a man from Tarsus. It happened so long ago, that the ruins of what had been Tarsus in the time of the man (Saul) are today almost completely inaccessible, buried beneath the city of Cumhuriyet Alani in Turkey.
Indications do remain that Saul was a man opposed to early followers of Jesus, the Christ. After a mob drove Stephen, an early Christian believer, from Jerusalem, one of the first things they did as they proceeded to stone him was to lay "their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul," as if to say, watch over these while we deal with this dangerous religious fanatic.
At that stage, Saul may not have had blood on his hands but we associate him with people who murdered a Christian man for his beliefs. In his later writings as Paul' the man formerly known as Saul admitted to past wickedness. He declared himself "unfit to be called an apostle," and "the foremost of sinners." He admitted to having "persecuted the church of God" and to have "blasphemed and persecuted and insulted" Jesus. Indeed, in the story of his spiritual experience with Jesus that precipitated his conversion, Saul was in the process of expanding, beyond Jerusalem, the territory in which he hunted down Christian believers. It was for the purpose of beginning that expansion that he was on the road to Damascus. He had gone to the high priest in Jerusalem for letters that he could present to synagogues in Damascus "so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women," he might arrest them and "bring them bound to Jerusalem." We do not learn that Saul stepped so far over the line to have participated in or instigated murder, but we are told that shortly before his meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus Saul was "still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord."
Saul's experience with Jesus on that road changed him fundamentally. Though it had seemed impossible, salt that had lost its taste was salty again. What had not been right became right. In a world where not only individuals but groups and nations dwell in chaos and unrighteousness, that even one individual could change so extensively is inspirational.
Paul's experience is mirrored in those of many FFWPU members in modern times. Many of us underwent similarly profound reorientation on encountering True Parents. Thus, it transpires that in this age, those who have personal experience of salt that had lost its taste becoming salty again have inherited the task to "make disciples of all the nations."
Left: A Blessing Ceremony in July 2006 in Cotonou, Benin, following a tearful reading by Hyo Jin Nim and a speech by True Mother; Right: A meeting of Beninese members on April 7 to welcome their Cheon Il Guk Special Envoy, Kathy Rigney
True Mother often speaks of "preparing the environment." With Father working from the spiritual world and Mother working on earth, the time has arrived to improve the global environment by concentrating our efforts in a collection of nations. Twenty-three nations have been designated strategic. These are nations that we can all pray for. They are (alphabetically) Albania, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, India, Japan, Korea, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Palau, Paraguay, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Thailand, United States, and Vanuatu.
The effort, which has been named Project 2020, referring to the year that Father would have turned a hundred, is being carried out to expand the culture of heart by that year to the point where Cheon Il Guk takes root in those nations. It is also the year of Mother's seventy-seventh birthday and the sixtieth anniversary of True Parents' Holy Wedding.
Following Father's ascension last year, deep grace was bestowed on all blessed members through the Cheon 11 Guk Enthronement and Coronation Ceremony of the True Parents of Heaven Earth and Humankind and the Cheon Il Guk Foundation Day Registration Blessing Ceremony. It is this grace that has placed us in the advantageous position to become new tribal messiahs. Doing so -- becoming those who love and care for our tribes -- is part of our own portion of the overall responsibility.
On the national level, envoys have been appointed to each of the strategic nations. In some instances, these are people with existing responsibilities in the nation to which they are now also an envoy. In other cases, the envoys have been sent out to work in support of the existing leadership. Some of these envoys attended a workshop at the FFWPU International Headquarters (FFWPU IHQ) in Seoul. Among other topics, they studied True Mother's life course and learned how to accurately convey their assessment of developments in the field. The envoys will report regularly to the FFWPU IHQ, which will evaluate their work and guide them.
While in their nations, they will be seeking to raise awareness among members that this is indeed the time in which their country might go through something of a Saul -- Paul conversion in order for Cheon Il Guk to take form. They will also facilitate cooperation between nations working with their counterparts and based on assessments made at FFWPU IHQ as to how nations might assist one another.
The man who has been appointed manager of Project 2020 is Sam Nagasaka. Mr. Nagasaka graduated from Keio University, one of the oldest and most respected institutions in Japan, with a degree in Economics. He speaks Korean, English and Japanese. He later earned a Master of Divinity degree, graduating with great distinction from the Unification Theological Seminary in the U. S.
Mr. Nagasaka is insightful, dedicated and intrepid. Project 2020 is our movement's recognition that when the fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom and when they give forth fragrance, it is time to arise, and move forward.