The Heart of a Pioneer Missionary – Part 3
By Paul Werner
Paul and Christel Werner joined as a married couple in the United States in August 1963. In 1964 they returned to Germany among the first wave of missionaries sent from the US to Europe. For one year they witnessed in Wiesbaden in Germany, but then felt guided to begin the mission in neighboring Austria. This is the third installment. To read the other two, click on the “Early Days” title under the main title on the home page.
One by one the early members accepted True Parents and the Divine Principle. After three years of witnessing and my paying much indemnity, first in the United States, then in Germany, and now in Austria, suddenly, in the spring of 1966, I had nine spiritual children. I invested myself totally and worked hard, with the result that all of them joined. First I was all by myself and now I had nine children to take care of:
Gerhard Wurm, Waltraud Wurm, Inge Eisner van Winden, Hilde Maierhofer Blanchard, Romana Maierhofer Kunkel, Bernhard Maierhofer, Alfons Carda, Marianne Kollup and Stephan Schmidt. That was wonderful “trouble”, but trouble it was. They needed constant care and nourishment. I was a father, mother and brother to them and had to be constantly alert to protect them from satanic influences. At least one or two of them created a base for Satan every day, and since we all held jobs during the day time, I only had the evening hours to straighten them out. Fortunately, I had such a firm relationship with God, and while I was selling my books, I prayed for their protection. New situations came about which I had never encountered before, but with the help of Heavenly Father I was able to handle them.
We met every evening and I just poured out my heart, teaching them what I knew about God, True Parents, and the Divine Principle, and they all grew in their new life of faith.
But suddenly I encountered a serious problem, hitting me very hard. Gerhard Wurm, the organist whom I trusted very much, confronted me one Sunday morning and told me, “Paul, I don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore.” This statement really took me by surprise, even though I knew he was well-known in church circles, and some ministers tried to influence him. Regaining my composure, I answered him, “Gerhard, we have become close friends. You can’t just send me away like this. Let’s get together and you explain to me what this is all about. If you then decide to send me away, I’ll leave.” He agreed and invited me to his house for 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon.
I drove home to my little room over the chicken coop, got down on my knees and pleaded with Heavenly Father: “Please, Father, you can’t let this happen, You must save this couple. You must bring them back. Please give me the power to convince them that Your son has returned and they have the privilege to follow him.” I cried and prayed desperately for four hours on my knees, battling the satanic forces to release these two people. Then I drove to their home in my VW-bus, confident that Heavenly Father needed them and would guide me in this situation. As soon as I entered their apartment, I gave out so much love, that they broke out in tears and asked for forgiveness. They asked me to take them back and forget what happened. It was a very deep experience of the heart, and immediately I sent a prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father.
Yet even afterwards Gerhard created foundations for Satan many times. Being more the intellectual type, he began to study history very extensively, stumbling over certain parts of the Principle as he went along. But he always came to me and I gave him the explanations to his questions.
He was very rebellious in general, and whenever he rebelled against the Principle, he had a car accident. This happened three times in a row. His car was always badly damaged but he himself didn’t get hurt. After it happened I appeared to him, saying just one word, “indemnity”. On another occasion, when he had given me trouble again, he had a swollen face, caused by an infection in his throat. When I asked him:
“What’s the matter, Gerhard,” he mumbled, “You already know.” This happened three times. Every time as soon as he repented, the swelling disappeared. But when he rebelled again, he was afflicted with the same condition. It was almost comical, but other people noticed it too and just laughed about it. In reality it was quite a serious matter, and I myself paid much indemnity to help him overcome all obstacles.
At one time he couldn’t sleep all night. He still couldn’t accept the law of indemnity. But he had such a bad toothache and just kept hearing the word “indemnity” over and over again. Finally, he gave up and accepted totally. In fact, he began to teach and preach and both, he and his wife, invested themselves in the mission as much as possible.
Having nine members now, I desperately needed a center. The only apartment we could find was in the Zirkusgasse [Street], a neighborhood infamous for its vices, but we moved into this apartment in May 1966 and turned the place into a haven for the spirit of God. Every evening we sat together for hours around our dining room table, usually with half a dozen guests, and I taught the Principle with much vigor and enthusiasm. Many members and guests had spiritual experiences in the form of visions and dreams.
One of our frequent guests, Harald Unger, who was an assistant professor of botanics at the University for Agriculture in Vienna at that time, and later became our missionary to Turkey, was deeply touched by the Principle. Even though he didn’t talk much at all when I taught him, I knew that the high spiritual atmosphere and the truth had made a lasting impression and captivated him. When he was about to accept Father, he had a dream, that the whole congregation of his Pentecostal church was praying for him to prevent him from joining our movement. Out of curiosity he checked it out and got the confirmation that the whole congregation had prayed for him for 7 days. But God was stronger and convinced him that Father’s message was the truth and that he was called to participate in the restoration work. He accepted God’s call and joined our movement in 1966.
Our family grew quickly and soon we had 17 girls and three boys. It took a lot of parental love and care to guide them in their spiritual growth.
With one of them, Emmi Steberl Lee, we had some unusual experiences. She worked at an insurance company in Vienna and was invited to come to our center to hear the Principle. As usual we prayed for an hour before the guests came and created a high spiritual atmosphere. When she came in, she sensed something unusual and kept staring at me as I was lecturing her for hours and hours. Finally, she went home and told her parents, that she had been with a group of young people and had been hypnotized. What is more, the next morning she went to work at the insurance company and told all her co-workers about her experience, and the word spread quickly among those hundreds of employees. Yet Emmi kept coming back to the center and I taught her day after day, until she finally accepted, on October 26, 1966. In the meantime, she had found out that it wasn’t hypnosis but the spirit of God touching her heart, drawing her into the family. Now she had to eat her own words and correct the impression she had given at her office.
It was still harder to convince her own parents that she didn’t get hypnotized. They were simple people and afraid to get in touch with us. Many months later, her father must have gathered all his courage together and decided to visit Emmi at the center. As the door opened he stretched out his hand with a piece of paper, saying, “I will not talk because I’m afraid to get hypnotized, like Emmi.” It was a serious situation, but at the same time amusing. So I laughed and laughed and said to him, “Do you really believe that?” He answered spontaneously, “Yes”, and the ice was broken. I took the old gentleman into the kitchen where three or four of our girls were preparing Sunday dinner. They embraced him with so much love, letting him taste all the food, while singing and talking to him. A few hours later he was one of us, and went home happy and relieved that his daughter wasn’t hypnotized after all, and was living with normal people.
Now word got around very quickly in the circles of the clergy, that this Mr. Werner, who goes in and out of the churches, had taken away some of their flock. Not only the organist and his wife, herself a teacher of religion, but all my first nine spiritual children had been active in church work, many of them teaching religion. They objected to my “fishing in their pond” as they called it. All of us were members of the choir in the Lutheran church and the choir director was the father of the organist in the Calvinist church next door, Gerhard Wurm, my first disciple. The minister of the Lutheran church persecuted me the most, even though we belonged to its choir. In the meantime, the ministers of the Calvinist church had invited me to speak to their congregation and were now suspected as being Moonies themselves. In the Lutheran Church they needed our voices in the choir to be able to perform. Also we wanted to support Gerhard’s father, who was the choir director and organist in the Lutheran church, as well as a professor of music at the University of Vienna. It was all very complicated, but we had much fun and made many friends.
At that time, I taught another young minister, a friend of Gerhard’s, and his wife, for many days. One Sunday afternoon, after I had presented the Principle for many hours, they were deeply touched by my statement that the Messiah had returned and they accepted True Parents. We had a blessed time together in a very high spiritual atmosphere, and after I left, they had a very profound spiritual experience. The minister himself had never learned to play the piano. On this particular evening, as he placed his fingers on the piano, some spirit took over his hands, and he began to play Beethoven. Both of them were stunned by this experience. His wife, being spiritually open, experienced quite a few other spirit manifestations after that, and became very frightened. Both of them didn’t know how to handle the situation and I wasn’t around to explain it to them. From that moment on they rejected me and didn’t even want to see me anymore.
But this particular minister, after rejecting the Principle, received a new parish and our choir was scheduled to sing at the inauguration ceremony. After our opening chorale he stood behind the pulpit and gave a fiery sermon against the Anti-Christ and his false prophets, meaning me. After his sermon we sang again to the glory of God and in honor of this minister. As we left the church after the service we shook his hand and everybody smiled. It was a very unusual relationship and I don’t think he will ever forget us.
There were several other ministers who told me their whole life story within half an hour of our first contact. They shed many tears, confessing to homosexuality or other sins in their lives, relieving their troubled heart and conscience.
In the meantime, on May 16, 1966 our church “Gesellschaft zur Vereinigung des Weltchristentums e.V. (Association for the Unification of World Christianity), was officially registered and endorsed by the “Sicherheitsdirektion” (Security Directorate) in Vienna.