A Man with a Mission – Part 4
By David Sang Chul Kim
In the late 1950s, Father sent the first official missionaries out to the world. Mr. Sang Ik (Papa-san) Choi was the first, and he went out to Japan in 1958. Two other missionaries, Dr. Young Oon Kim and David Sang Chul Kim, were sent to the United States in 1959. In this installment, David S. C. Kim describes those early missionary days in America.
There were not many highly educated and socially experienced members in our movement in the 1950s and early 1960s. Father chose Miss Young Oon Kim because she was well qualified to be one of the pioneer missionaries to America. She had been a professor of Christian Theology and Social Welfare Services at Ewha Woman’s University. At that time, Koreans were only allowed to come to America on a student visa. I processed Miss Kim’s passport during the time I was working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul. She arrived on January 2, 1959, to be a student at the University of Oregon in the city of Eugene.
I was already experienced in special missions and I had also been among the so-called elite class of Korean society since the Japanese colonial days, and an official in the Korean government since 1945. I was widely experienced and highly educated. I arrived in Portland in the state of Oregon, on September 18, 1959.
Young Oon Kim worked very hard in Oregon, but received a great deal of persecution. She then moved to Berkeley, California, and a few years later to the Washington DC area to join Colonel Pak, who had arrived there on February 25, 1961. Col. Pak worked at the Korean Embassy in Washington as the Military Attaché. He had already done well witnessing and lecturing prior to Miss Kim’s arrival. He has always been an eloquent speaker and an excellent lecturer of Divine Principle since his regional director days in Korea. During the 1960s, he influenced the political and cultural realms in America with many projects.
In November 1966, Mr. Sang Ik “Papa-san” Choi, who had been the first missionary to Japan [sent there in 1958], moved to America. His wife arrived in December and they settled in the San Francisco Bay area of California. Kenji “Daikan” Ohnuki and Yonsu Im, who were serving as staff members in the United States for the Little Angels world tour, joined them at that time. They were very active, contacting people directly on the streets, especially young tourists from Europe and other countries. Their work expanded and they gained many members with their unique methods of witnessing and teaching Divine Principle.
These witnessing techniques gained quite a few good members, while creating controversy as well. The more active our witnessing campaigns were, the more serious was the opposition from those whose sons and daughters joined. We had to face lawsuits and court cases for alleged “brainwashing” on the West Coast. Through this struggle, however, this group centering on the San Francisco Bay area produced many leaders for our American movement, many of whom are still spiritually vital and dedicated.
Witnessing while studying at a Christian seminary
It was a given that, to fulfill my mission in America, from the outset I needed to be able to stay in the United States legally. I sought and acquired a student visa, enrolling in the Master’s program at the Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon. There I learned about America and the Christian churches in the Western world. I used to visit Christian churches every Sunday, making seminary-sponsored tours and speaking to the congregations. Through my visitations, I found several contacts at the churches. As my work bore fruit I formed Divine Principle study groups in these contacts’ private homes. The seminary began to watch my ministry to see whether I was teaching the Bible in a false way or in a conservative Christian way. Soon, persecution began coming from the seminary, which had been informed by one of my Divine Principle study group members.
The entire content of Divine Principle was revealed to the seminary professors and its chief administrator. In the end, the seminary and the Immigration authorities worked together to deport me back to Korea immediately following a school court hearing held two weeks before I would graduate and receive my Masters of Religious Education degree in 1962. My “sins” were: first, that I was teaching the “heresy” of Divine Principle (for example, that there were two manifestations of the human fall-spiritual and physical); second, that our group prayed in the name of True Parents [following their Holy Wedding], not in the name of Jesus Christ; and third, that I sent a contribution of $100 to Master Moon on his birthday on January 6, 1961.
A big battle took place in school court hearings between the seminary, the informer and myself. Since everything I was doing was revealed to them through the informer, whom they called as their witness, I had no defense. Fortunately, one of the Biblical professors sympathized with me. He suggested a compromise to the school authorities. This was the result: first, my Master of Religious Education degree was withdrawn; second, all the work I had done in the last semester was negated and no credits would be issued; third, I would not be allowed to graduate; and fourth, instead of the school deporting me to Korea, the seminary would recommend letting me transfer my one and a half year’s credits to the Catholic University of Portland and continuing my studies on the graduate level on the subject of Sociology of Marriage and Family. The case was thus settled. I enrolled at the Catholic University to avoid being deported and abandoning my heavenly mission. My deportation was temporarily suspended while I remained in this country on a student visa.
However, I never abandoned my mission. During my ordeal, my eight followers prayed together about what to do at Mt. Tabor Park, near the seminary. The park later became the holy ground in 1965, when True Father established holy grounds in all fifty states. We rebuilt our group, started witnessing, held revival meetings, carried out group-studies of Divine Principle and conducted other activities. One of those activities was a weekly Divine Principle radio broadcast by Mrs. Eileen Welch, begun early in 1962 in Portland. At the time, we were covering seven states: Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Washington, Illinois and Vancouver in British Colombia (the westernmost province of Canada), where Seattle members had been sent as missionaries.
Later, I moved down to Oakland, California and worked together with Mr. Sang Ik Choi’s group in the San Francisco Bay area. Thus, in the early 1960s, the American missionary territory came to be divided into the West Coast under Mr. Choi and myself and the East Coast under Miss Kim and Col. Pak.
To gain members, we witnessed on the streets and college campuses. The most active region was the San Francisco and Berkeley area. Mr. Choi’s group conducted daily lecture presentations, shared meals and entertained new contacts. The West Coast group and the East Coast group started newsletters of their own, competing with each other and stimulating each other to increase membership in the United States. On several occasions, the leaders of the West and East Coasts met to help each other promote the movement in America. However, the four missionaries and their respective groups did not become one, thinking instead of who should control America or who would dominate the other group. Prior to 1972, there was no unity between the West and East Coast groups. Only our True Father united the two groups. When he officially arrived on American soil in 1972, the pioneering work of the four missionaries ended, and Father took over the restoration work of America.
This concludes our series on the early missionary work of Dr. David S. C. Kim.
Dr. Kim later led the International One World Crusade (IOWC) and was the founding president of the Unification Theological Seminary (UTS) in Barrytown, New York. He and his beloved wife lived for many years in upstate New York, maintaining a strong connection with the movement and with God’s providence until they ascended to the spirit world, already in their nineties.
For a more in depth account of the early history of our movement in the United States, Dr. Michael Mickler’s excellent research is serialized, beginning at the following link: