The Words of the Hyun Jin Moon
Bishop Manoel Ferreira and Hyun-jin nim finished tamping down the dirt around a sapling tree they had just planted together. They were on the grounds of the Brazil national headquarters of the enormous Assemblies of God Church.
The bishop spoke. "This kind of tree will grow to be sixty feet high and is known to be very wide. It's branches will shelter everything in its shade." It was a day for metaphors, and the meaning of two spiritual leaders planting a tree together was evident to all. Trees are not just protection, they are endurance, bonding and longevity. Not every tree is a tree of life, but this one clearly was.
For the Global Peace Festival and Hyun-jin nim it was another step in a continuing progression of happenings guided by God that, throughout more than twenty such events in 2008, has seen the idea of one family under God embraced by people and nations whose cultural experience includes all three Abrahamic faiths, militant atheism and everything in between.
If the values and message of the Global Peace Festival ever require credentials for claiming universality, it has plenty.
For Bishop Ferreira, and the nearly four million Brazilian evangelical Pentecostals of the world's fastest-growing Protestant denomination, the experience has been nothing less than a revolution of faith. The bishop's connection with us began with quiet observation more than a decade ago and went into high gear when he made an unannounced visit to Hyun-jin nim's hotel room in Brasilia last April. The bishop, like many Christian leaders, was coming to terms with the church's difficulties in stopping the tide of secular culture. He said he had been watching us carefully and had concluded that God is working through our movement to heal the problems of society "I would like to offer you my foundation and all I have," the bishop said.
After he left Hyun-jin nim's room, he disappeared for a week. Only his wife knew where he was. Not even the staff members closest to him knew he had gone into seclusion to pray and fast for seven days to make doubly certain this was the course God wanted him to take. Whatever happened during those seven days is not known. What is known is that Bishop Ferreira returned from the wilderness solid as a rock. He has always led his church by the spirit of God, and now that same God has revealed Himself to the bishop in no uncertain terms.
He was determined to support the work of Hyun-jin nim and the Global Peace Festival. From the moment of his epiphany experience until the festival held in Brazil's capital city on December 7, powerful forces would come against the bishop, even from within his own family, all urging him to abandon Hyun-jin nim and this growing world peace movement.
But Bishop Ferreira has spent a lifetime building a deeply personal relationship with God. He knows and trusts the sound print of God's voice in his heart, and even in the face of an uncertain future, he did not waver an inch.
The bishop's deep and honest connection with God was evident to all. Donna Schuller, wife of Dr. Robert A. Schuller of the famous Crystal Cathedral in California, said, "Bishop Ferreira exudes the love of Jesus Christ."
On several occasions while we were in Brazil, Hyun-jin nim and Bishop Ferreira shared a stage or head table in front of an audience of evangelical Christians, most of whom were still trying to reconcile the ideas flying around the room regarding Jesus and the notion that their savior's intention was (and is) to include everyone. Every time a microphone was put into the bishop's hands, he would give a brief and gracious introduction of Hyun-jin nim and then hand him the mic.
When the bishop visited the Global Peace Festival in Paraguay, he stood praying silently in the wings while Hyun-jin rum spoke. Afterward he surprised everyone, including us, by announcing that a Global Peace Festival would be held in Brazil and that he would organize and sponsor it. Only when we finally walked into the large indoor stadium, packed to the rafters with families and teenagers screaming their heads off, did we fully understand the giant hand of God that had been pushing Bishop Ferreira since his wilderness experience. There was pageantry, music, marching, flags, horses, Indian tribal dancing. Christianity was coming of age and its children were welcoming Hyun-jin nim and the True Family with open arms.
There is a season for all things we are told in the Bible. A time to read a prepared written speech and a time to spontaneously wade into the crowd. This was the latter. Hyun-jin nim set his notebook to one side and engaged the mostly youngish crowd in a spirited dialogue.
"Would you like to be the owner of God's greatest dream," he shouted, "the dream of one family under God?"
"Sim!" they shouted affirmatively back in Portuguese.
Then he jumped over the barriers and past the security guards, submerging himself among the people. Walking through the dense crowd, he exhorted and cajoled, preached and dialogued. He asked people to think seriously about the truth of God's plan. "Jesus did not come to start a new religion. His message was for the world."
The threefold platform of the Global Peace Festival is (1) interfaith unity, (2) building God-centered families and (3) creating a culture of service as a manifestation of living for the sake of others -- all things that Jesus either said or demonstrated as essential for us to do.
"Many Evangelicals agree with these values, and we are going to make them all owners of this vision," Hyun-jin nim said. "What a tremendous gift is the Divine Principle. In the past many didn't want to hear it because they thought it is just our theology. But it is much bigger than just our church. When Christians hear these principles they say, 'I believe in that!' When Muslims hear it, they say, 'I believe in that!'"
The sixty or so evangelical members of parliament invited Hyun-jin nim to the Chamber of Deputies (House of Representatives) to receive special recognition for the work of the Global Peace Festival. While it is not unusual to give such recognition to people of stature, it is not an occasion where the honoree is invited to speak. You receive your award, acknowledge the applause and sit down.
On this occasion, however, they invited Hyun-jin nim to speak, telling him he could speak as long as he wanted. Nobody could remember the last time a visitor was granted this kind of freedom inside Brazil's legislative chamber. He used the forum to lay out the complete vision that has inspired so many people from all faiths in every corner of the world.
The Global Peace Festival has a relentless schedule, and a few days later our reception in the Philippines was a continuation of the momentum we brought from Brazil. The metrics for the success of a Global Peace Festival go all the way back to something Father said to some members gathered in his hotel suite following the World Media Conference in Colombia in 1981. He said you are successfully received in a country when you are welcomed by the people, the media and the government.
By those criteria, the Global Peace Festival in Manila, held just days after the one in Brazil, hit the mark dead on. Government ministries that oversee programs of education and youth were enthusiastic about the character education programs of the Youth Federation for World Peace. Along with military academies and universities, they mobilized thousands of people for the festival's main event, held, as it was last year, on the spacious grounds of the Quirino Grandstands, an area where several hundred thousand have gathered in times past to create great social change or bring down tyrants.
The Manila Bulletin, considered by many to be the "newspaper of record" for the Philippines (a title accorded to the New York Times in the U.S.), promoted the Global Peace Festival heavily in the days preceding the main event. The day after Hyun-jin nim's keynote address to the festival, the Bulletin printed the entire text of his speech, starting at the top of the Commentary Page and filling up most of another page.
The people supported the Global Peace Festival as well. From the stage we looked out over an ocean of faces going all the way back to Roxas Boulevard. This was appropriate turf for a social revolution that seeks to do what Jesus Christ himself wanted to do-gather the faithful of the world from every religion and bring us all to God as brothers and sisters.
The success in Manila really began months earlier in the provinces of the Philippines. A dozen festivals were held in cities throughout the far-flung archipelago that is the Philippine Islands. Armed insurgencies operate openly on some of the more remote islands, and Global Peace Festivals were conducted peacefully in places where people had recently been murdered by guerilla soldiers.
As there was no violence perpetrated against the festivals, our peace movement became known and admired throughout the country. Regional President Yong Chung-shik ranked the Global Peace Festival's name recognition right up there with Coca Cola's.
Hyun-jin nim announced to the media in Manila that the Philippines had been chosen as the host nation for the first annual world convention of the Global Peace Festival. It will be held this coming autumn, bringing together the best practices, along with the leading global partners who are fellow owners of the vision.