Unification News for January 2002

Interreligious And International Federation For World Peace Somoan Conference Focuses on Family

by Rev. Paul Saver

Greetings From September 10th till the 11th 2001, the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, together with the International Educational Foundation and FreeTeens, convened a conference in Apia, the capital of Samoa.

The theme of the conference was "An Exploration of Principles and Practices that Strengthen Families, Educate Our Youth and Rebuild Our Society". More than 180 people including leaders from the spheres of politics, education, media, public service, youth groups and the churches gathered for two days of highly stimulating talks and discussions.

Notably in attendance, was the Prime Minister of Samoa, the Hon. Tuilaepa S. Malielegaoi who gave the welcoming address. The following morning (Sept. 11th), the International Chairman of IIFWP, Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, together with his entire staff, hosted a breakfast meeting with the Prime Minister and two of his ministers. The Prime Minister expressed gratitude for the previous opportunities for numerous members of his government, the media and the churches to attend conferences sponsored by the IIFWP. He wholeheartedly endorsed our work and expressed a desire to work together for the betterment and prosperity of Samoa.

Dr. Kwak responded warmly saying that in all his travels to more than 100 nations, he felt that Samoa was such a peaceful country and blessed by God. Dr. Kwak further reiterated some essential points that he had already mentioned in his keynote address, when he said Samoa could become a role model for other nations. He said:

Samoa may be a small nation compared to the superpowers. But in terms of it's people and it's moral authority, rooted in the family, it can become a superpower. It can become a nation that other nations seek to imitate.

Throughout the conference, the Prime Minister authorized a government vehicle and driver to transport Rev. Kwak and his staff members to and from the conference site plus for sight seeing.

Accompanying the Prime Minister at the conference were 7 ministers of his government plus the Deputy Head of State: Afiuga Mataia Visesio Europa. Other notable leaders of Samoa in attendance included 24 Christian ministers, 23 school teacher's, 4 high school Principals, 5 community health educators and representatives of the Ministry of Education.

Unlike a number of other island nations in Oceania, Samoa comprises one fairly homogenous nation with one single language which is spoken and understood throughout the nation. English is taught in schools and is understood and used by approximately 70% of it's population of 170,000 people. The main religious group is the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa which has as it's beginnings from the time in 1830 when representatives of the London Missionary Society brought Christianity to Samoa. Amazingly, the nation was converted 'overnight' and 30 years later, Samoa sent her own missionaries to her neighboring nations.

Compared to many industrialized nations of the world, Samoa retains a strong family and clan structure with four royal lineages that share traditional governance. Samoa's history goes back at least 3,000 years. In recent times with the influx of Hollywood culture with it's emphasis on individualism and free sex, traditional values and mores are being threatened. This is manifested in a sudden increase in teen pregnancy and STD contraction rates plus 30 youth suicides having taken place in the past 12 months.

This phenomenon has caused alarm amongst conscientious Samoan leaders and consequently the educational programs that were introduced by Freeteens and the International Educational Foundation (IEF) were very well received. Though the Minister of Education was unable to attend the conference herself, she was able to grant her time to learn of the work of the IIFWP, IEF and FreeTeens through meeting with Mr. Robert Beebe, Richard Panzer, Paul Saver and Jacinta Moreau.

Once again a highlight of the program which occurred in the final sessions were presentations by Rev. Dr. Kwak who spoke of the significance of our eternal life and the Spirit world plus the significance of the family and the holy marriage Blessing. With passion and deep conviction, Dr. Kwak spoke about the spiritual nature of all people and the continuation of life in the spiritual world after physical death. Moreover he stressed that our life on Earth is preparation for eternal life in the spirit world.. We prepare by cultivating a heart of true love that manifests in daily life through a lifestyle of living for the sake of others.

Rev. Kwak's second presentation highlighted the absolute importance of marriage and family under God's grace and blessing. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden through failing to obey God's commandment. Later they had children. Hence we can deduce that they were married without God's blessing and protection. Satan's life, love and lineage came to be multiplied. Through the holy marriage Blessing ceremony, married couples could rededicate themselves and be reborn into God's life, love and lineage.

Throughout the duration of the conference very positive and extensive media coverage by way of the national radio station and newspaper took place. Not only the participants, but the nation as a whole were able to benefit from this brief visit. The challenge that lies ahead, is to direct the inspiration gained from the conference and channel it into programs that can address and provide solutions to the problems that face the nation.

A steering committee to implement FreeTeens was established plus a commitment from the Ministry of Education to seek to review and adapt IEF character education curricula to suit Samoa. The proposal to run regular teacher training seminars for the implementation of character education curricula in all schools was well received.

Rev. Saver is the National Leader, FFWPU Australia

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