The Words of the Heung Jin Moon
The memories that are dearest to me about Heung Jin Nim emanate from his boundless and natural outpourings of kindness. Recently, True Mother echoed my assessment of Heung Jin Nim by saying he had much Jeong -- which roughly translates as kindness, compassion and affection. My boyhood experiences with him confirm for me that her description was not an exaggeration.
Through good fortune, I witnessed his great loving nature during the summer of 1981 when True Parents directed Heung Jin Nim to lead a workshop for blessed children, although only a few dozen teenagers were able to attend it. I was in awe when I arrived in Belvedere where the workshop would take place, the magnificence of the main building was impressive but I was more excited to meet my peers and Heung Jin Nim, who was born in the same lunar year I was born, 1966. Back then, I was a tiny, skinny kid, and a recent immigrant from Korea. In Korea,
I had heard American streets were literally paved with gold. When my family arrived in Los Angeles in 1978, gold wasn't as important as all the bananas I could finally eat, recalling so many occasions I had walked through the market place [in Korea] holding my mom's hand, knowing better not to ask her to buy me one. We were food-challenged (it wasn't my idea that my parents decided to have many children) and I was savvy enough not to bother her for the elemental reason that I would be chastised by my many brothers, should they later find out.
Well, America would afford me golden opportunities; namely I would finally get a chance to meet the True Children, whom I regarded as holy. Upon arrival at Belvedere, I encountered blessed children in the same category as me; that is, teenagers with many facial "flaws" (from outbreaks of pimples) wanting to look older and cooler than we really were. All of us had one thing in common: great parents who taught us that virtues in life started with serving and attending those in the True Family. Since I didn't know who the True Children were, I offered a half bow to all the blessed children that had already congregated. They all acknowledged the humility with which I introduced myself by accepting it with a nod or by simply saying, "Hi." My apprehension remained however, awaiting the first encounter with Heung Jin Nim, my future leader, who turned out to be a companion, friend and brother.
Heung Jin Nim was no disappointment. He proved to be a young adult who sincerely loved and revered his parents.
Heung Jin Nim only lived to be seventeen, but he left a profound impression on everyone who knew him.
The solemnity of his conduct, whether he was eating, playing sports, praying or talking was a little unsettling in the beginning. He was serious, at times somber -- always thinking how he could bring all of us together as a God loving, True Parents loving, brother/sister loving generation of people. How he was able to accomplish that was pure magic -- duck-duck-goose and dodge ball. It wouldn't have been an obvious choice for many, but he thought they were a good source of bonding. (Only later would I learn that he disliked them both.) We would gather in the gym at Belvedere after many hours of lectures by one brother who was serving as a security guard at East Garden then. Lovable and non-judgmental as he was, the lectures were the standard fare, no outbursts of passionate speeches. He provided us with a strict diet of the Principle of Creation, the Fall, and so forth. We were really, really ready for the afternoon activity of duck-duck-goose (well, at least I was). The activity was somehow made emphatic by the boom box always at Heung Jin Nim's disposal, playing an inordinate amount of Pat Benetar songs. What struck me as strange then was that Heung Jin Nim refused the honorific "Nim" and urged us to call him a friend, "Heung Jin." I refused out of respect, as I was sure he was a much finer soul than I. The disposition he possessed I found princely, sincere and respectful of others. He gave me respect, however undeserving, even when I was borderline hyperactive -- later earning the nickname "psycho," from In Jin Nim, who frequently visited us during the workshop to give us inspiration and tell us very "scary" stories about church elders. It was grand.
The sweltering summer months in New York were not hard to get used to. The games of duck-duck-goose and dodge ball served as refreshing breaks. I could also get revenge on those other competitive blessed children by pounding them with the dodge ball. More importantly, I had to look even cooler in front of the fine blessed children girls. For some reason, I was often the most targeted during the intense dodge ball games. I found my niche, I thought, because I could dodge those balls pretty well. It was no different for duck-duck-goose, because I knew how to make a donkey out of myself. The penalty for not catching your "it" was whatever the others demanded you do. It was usually a demeaning request, clearly designed to embarrass you, like having to dance in front of everyone.
Richard Bach (third from right) with Hyo Jin Nim and a group of young second-generation members in 1987. Richard, whose Korean name is Jin Yong Park, is Tiger Park's third son. He is similar in age to Heung Jin Nim. Today, he works as a lawyer.
I knew Heung Jin Nim enjoyed our company -- an impetuous and often impertinent bunch. Not in anything he said, but by the gentle smiles he sent our way, you were sure in the knowledge that he harbored no judgment. That's the way he got to know you, allowing you to speak freely and act boldly. He would always place his arm around your shoulders. The effect was calming. It was as if among blessed children, he preferred the company of the unpopular, "weird" kids, and I fit both descriptions fairly well.
During the dodge ball games, he was at times the first to be struck out, and if he had the chance to wipe you out, he would allow you to get away. Why? It was just in his nature to act in caring ways. His temperament, I felt, was Jesusian, or even Buddhist, unable to hurt anyone, although he possessed the physical attributes-6 foot of height, with huge biceps all of us envied. He dwarfed all us boys then. Is this a romantic interpretation of a True Child that most members know very little about? Perhaps yes, but he was the only friend who called to offer me his condolences when my father passed away. He offered to have me live with him in his room in East Garden!' He said he wanted to take care of me because he couldn't fathom living without a father. At fifteen, he had already known the heart of God. As he so often emphasized to us, we must love one another, embrace one another, and create a "culture of heart." That loving is contagious, capable of changing the world through simple acts that have a reverberating effect, like a single stone dropped into water causing ripples, small rings of love, becoming larger and larger.
The funny thing is that I responded to his expressions of kindness in unusual ways because growing up with so many brothers, you just didn't reciprocate your brother's affection by being kind. Inexplicably, I resorted to punching Heung Jin Nim in the arms. I mean, I didn't throw light punches. But however painful it was, he would always just gently laugh.
One of the highlights during the summer workshop for me involved Rev. Sudo. The lecture series by guest speakers was meaningful because you got to understand what serving God was all about. Rev. Sudo was the guest speaker one night, and I thought Rev. Sudo was perhaps one of the most humble servants of our True Parents, because he possessed great knowledge of Father's loving ways. However inspiring, the Japanese accent infused with British dialect (he was a missionary to London at one point) didn't sit well with me, and his lecture was becoming quite long -- considering that our mornings started at 5:00 o'clock.
Heung Jin Moon
I knew Heung Jin Nim was inspired to hear Rev. Sudo, but I also realized he was dozing off a little. I then decided no holy child should be sleeping during a testimony. I thought decisive action was needed; I immediately grabbed his thigh and mustering all my strength, I pinched him. What happened next I take sole responsibility for. Heung Jin Nim was in so much pain he started to giggle. I thought it was funny that he reacted in that way, and I started to laugh uncontrollably. Poor Rev. Sudo realized what was going on, but he couldn't stop me laughing.
Back then, I wasn't known for having proper etiquette or following protocol. A woman from the thirty-six couples that was present was infuriated. She determined that someone had to mitigate the embarrassing situation, so she struck me extremely hard across my back. I was startled, but I laughed even louder -- tears nearly coming to me eyes because I thought it comical. I felt regret only later when I was summoned by Ye Jin Nim. I must say, I received an earful of very stern reprimands.
The next night, when everyone was sound asleep, Heung Jin Nim took me out shopping at a local supermarket for an ice cream sandwich that he knew I liked. For some odd reason, he liked to go shopping at night for groceries and to buy us junk food, rich snack bars, pies and cookies. (He also used the opportunity to bring groceries to the staff in the kitchen to thank them for their contribution.) He fed us all the food we wanted. Perhaps it relates to his knowing that many of the early church elders looked after their progeny poorly; children were often neglected, growing up alone, without the caring environment each so deserved. I, at least, had developed resentment toward my parents for their gross absence during my adolescence, which intensified when my father passed away. By way of showing that he cared, Heung Jin Nim was a true master who would help me slowly melt away the pain.
On the last day of the workshop, the participants bid their goodbyes, some with teary eyes, some happy to leave because it had been a grueling twenty-one days. I told Heung Jin Nim of my impending departure and he was rather melancholy about it. He turned to me and said, "Jin Yong, don't go," pleading with me to extend my stay for a few more days and spend time with him. It occurred to me that refusing his heartfelt request was not a "cool" thing to do when the only thing I could look forward to back home was being on the beach in Southern California, where we resided then, or watching an unhealthy dose of Kung-fu Theater that was then popular on TV. I turned to him and gave him a resounding yes. He was very pleased and I must say I was too -- it was kinship in the making, I felt. For two days, we talked a lot about everything, from cars to God, topics covering the material to the ephemeral. It was simply a fabulous time, a time I wished would never come to an end. But the two days passed and we had to part ways. My parting words to him were terse, "Heung Jin Nim, don't be a wimp. I'll be back in New York soon." We locked hands and exchanged our final greeting but I sensed he didn't like goodbyes -- he sat silently on a couch and watched me leave through the front door.
Later, I wrote him a letter thanking him for the wonderful experience I'd had in his workshop. Upon receiving it, he was very happy and called me immediately. He wanted to know when I would visit him next. I deeply felt more appreciation from him than anyone had ever before extended to me.
Feelings of deep nostalgia define for me what Heung Jin Nim was all about -- giving us knowledge of the unparalleled significance of the birth of blessed children, which we little understood then. He showed us the importance of building a community of people, chosen though not yet recognized, and further helped us to conceive aspirations to do Godly work. Most importantly, he encouraged us to take up the consecrated practice of acting in loving concert with our brothers and sisters. All this combined to create a combustive mix to prepare us for young adulthood in service of our True Parents, the returned Lord.
I became aware of the strong bond of brotherhood I had with Heung Jin Nim, which has lasted through all the changes over time. He remains as dear to me now as he was back more than thirty years ago.
I do miss him for offering me so much, when the perils of friendship were delicate at such a tender age.