Foreign Missions 1975-1985 – The First Ten Years – Part 5
by Nancy Barton
Mrs. Nancy Barton (née Neiland) worked with the American foreign missionaries from the time they were in training at Barrytown in 1975. She was the American representative in the World Mission Department and served in several different capacities there.
Nancy compiled this article in 1985 to honor and remember the work of the early pioneer missionaries who devoted (and in some cases risked) their lives to sow the seeds of our movement and nurture them into life. Nancy herself was one who, from the offices in New York, served and loved the missionaries with a deep heart as they met with challenges related to a lonely spiritual life, transcending cultural and language barriers, plus the practical difficulties of staying in their mission country, earning a living and maintaining their health. Although these articles were written more than 30 years ago (as one lengthy article in Today’s World), they still catch and showcases the bright and brave heart and spirit of the early movement.
Establishing Economic Foundations
Although a certain remittance was sent to each missionary from their home nation for a number of years, Father desired that missionaries would use their ingenuity to establish a solid economic foundation, which, as time went on, would support the mission and members more and more. Ingenuity was a key word. Missionaries, therefore, became involved in an amazing variety of fundraising ventures. In one country, they started out by fundraising with chickens! However, in this hot country the spoilage rate was tremendous, so they quickly switched to biscuits. For a time, one West African country went with homemade pizzas door-to-door in the European community of the capital city. And what with demand often exceeding supply, they did handsomely. Some missionaries fundraised with peanut oil, others with native jewelry, flowers, tie-dyed shirts, leather handbags, homemade candles—an international assortment of products. African missionaries even did well with laser prints in the cities and in the villages.
Several missions sold ginseng tea in markets and fairs. Zambia started a sausage factory which is still in existence. Members from other countries were trained in Zambia and began the same kind of business in their own nations. Zaire [now the Democratic Republic of the Congo] created a typing business and the secretarial skills of several of our talented sisters there helped to earn money. Photo businesses were started in several countries with great success.
One nation in Central America had a flourishing furniture-making business. Some foreign missionaries sold hand- crafted items from their nations to people in their home countries. Other nations have tried and succeeded with chicken farms, bakeries, candles, a take-away (convenience) store, and restaurants. Several Japanese brothers began martial arts classes or schools.
After the first three years, each missionary in the country assumed one of three responsibilities: church work, fundraising work, or journalistic work. Several of the Japanese brothers initially came from Japan as correspondents for the Sekai Nippo newspaper. Several of the American missionaries who had a desire and talent for writing came to the United States to train as foreign correspondents for the New York City Tribune. Later, Free Press International was set up and a small network of correspondence work was started. During the birth of The Washington Times, about one-third of the missionaries came to New York for training as correspondents. At that time, missionaries and members from many different countries switched to journalistic work—whether they went out as correspondents or remained in America to work for one of the newspapers.
Just as the missionaries have friendships with many of the professors and scholars from ICUS, PWPA, and IRF, some of our correspondents are in contact with fellow journalists who have attended the World Media Conferences.
Assistance from the Good Spirit World
Because communication to many parts of the world is not very rapid nor absolutely reliable, Heavenly Father seemed to develop His own very effective system of communication. During the years, He often inspired the missionaries with the same directions (i.e., the Home Church concept and method) he was announcing in the United States. The missionaries put these directions into practice before receiving any official information from headquarters, and were always amazed that what they had thought was a true revelation – which they should perhaps write Father about-was God’s plan all along!
Many missionaries also felt God’s personal involvement in their lives in the mission field – His tenderness and concern. Many have commented that they felt protected and shielded from much harm and danger. They felt the existence of the spirit world closely, realizing how much their work was hindered or helped by their belief in the spirit world. They came to understand that their attitude determined how much they would be able to attract the assistance of good spirit world.
Missionaries and native members had many experiences of spiritual phenomena in the form of dreams, visions, or clairaudient experiences. Shortly after arriving in his nation, one brother went to see a Moslem holy man. This man had absolutely no idea of our missionary’s identity, but said:
Your motive for coming to this country is very different from all other white people. Your group is most pure. You will save many young people here. But your group is most severe. It is hard to be a member, but your spirit is most pure.
Blessed Couples Arrive
When the missionaries went to the field, all the Japanese missionaries (who were all brothers) had just been blessed in the 1800-Couple Blessing in Korea. The majority of the American missionaries had also participated in the 1800 Couple Blessing. Often husband and wife were both missionaries, sent to different countries. Several German foreign missionaries had participated in the 777 Couple Blessing; however, the majority of them had participated in the February 1975 Blessing.
The emergence of blessed families added another amazing ingredient to the missionary work. Japanese wives went through training before joining their husbands in the field. After they arrived, most became pregnant quite soon. They often found themselves going through morning sickness and the usual missionary diarrhea at the same time. In the case of American missionaries, some wives went to the nations in which their husbands were missionaries, and in a limited number of cases, the reverse occurred.
Many of the single missionaries were blessed in the 2,100 Couple Blessing in Madison Square Garden, and afterwards most of their spouses went through training and went to work in the mission nation of their husband or wife.
A landmark in building the worldwide foundation of blessed families was laid in Seoul on October 14, 1982, when representatives from every continent around the world were matched and blessed.
With such an array of black and yellow, brown and white, black and brown, and black and white couples, one could see that the colors of humankind have finally begun to meld together. Many blessed babies from these unions have already been born. And God’s dream of one global family of humankind has become much more a reality.
Indemnity in Different Packages
The Principle beautifully explains many points by which we should live. In the foreign missions, the necessity to act upon those Principles became essential, but facing them and putting them into practice was difficult. As one foreign missionary put it:
“My responsibility, I have discovered, is simply to make a base in myself so God can work through me. All my cleverness and charm in fact only got in God’s way. My brother, on the other hand, in spite of his external appearance, opened the way through pure motivation and sincere perseverance for God, and brought a result that it still multiplying to this very day.”
Foreign missionaries were sent for many reasons, the central one of which was to restore a nation to God’s side. However, each of them had to realize that absolutely nothing can be restored unless indemnity is paid; and, especially during the first years, indemnity came in many different packages.
Missionaries had to pay a great deal of physical indemnity. The heretofore unknown effects of malaria became quite commonplace for those who lived a missionary life. A number of missionaries were also stricken with bad cases of hepatitis, jaundice, cholera, and even cancer. One brother was bitten by a rabid dog and had to undergo a painful series of shots in his abdomen for treatment. After taking anti-malaria medicine, another missionary brother suffered the side-effect of deafness in both ears. Luckily, his hearing was restored in one of his ears, but even now, he cannot hear in the other.
Sometimes because of lack of money, foreign missionaries were forced to fast, or at best, to eat very poorly, thus not getting proper nutrition. Several foreign missionaries almost died during those sick nesses. Many times they were all alone with no other missionaries or members to help to take care of them.
But perhaps without exception the most common ailment was diarrhea; the missionaries simply were not used to the food. This disease struck more often than not at very awkward times!
Many foreign missionaries mentioned, too, that although they had laid conditions of indemnity in their home nations, they were absolutely unaccustomed to this kind of suffering, and that indemnity was almost squeezed from them. Many lamented later that because of their resentment at having to suffer and having to pay this kind of indemnity, it often could not be claimed by God and instead was taken by Satan. Coming to the point of feeling grateful to suffer in these ways required significant growth, great faith, and much time.
In many cases, before they understood the political situation, many missionaries didn’t feel the freedom to proclaim to people that they were foreign missionaries and therefore just appeared to be teachers, tourists, businessmen, etc. But meanwhile, knowing the inner purpose of why they had been sent—to bring people back to God by teaching the truth and to offer their nations to God—brought about guilt and spiritual torture.
One great spiritual battle the missionaries faced was to overcome resentment and the tendency to blame God and True Parents for their suffering, their loneliness, and their not being able to love the nation, the people, their fellow missionaries, or often even themselves.
Challenges of Faith
Every country has its own unique history, things that needed to be overcome in terms of restoring past failures or mistakes of political figures, colonial powers, former missionaries, etc. To discover what these elements were, the foreign missionaries often studied the history of their nation, and even the history of the Christian missionaries. Often poverty, colonization, slavery, and resentment between tribes had left such an imprint on the national history that it could be felt and had to be faced each day:
“We have such compassion for people in the Third World. We think of the cute little children in a village, and we picture ourselves as being some kind of hero, embracing them all. That is not the way it is at all in the Third World. Actually, what you meet up with when you reach out to the people is mostly hatred and deep resentment and bitterness. You run out with love, but it’s like running into a stone wall of hatred. Instead of arms coming out to welcome you, it’s just rock.
The spiritual world here is characterized by deep resentment, by a sense of grudge, by bitterness. There are so many spirit men who died horrible deaths long before their time and who can’t forgive. This creates a tremendous weight, a spiritual realm that presses down upon everyone who comes here. The moment you get off the airplane, you can sense that the spiritual world is entirely different. It is darker, it is heavier. This is all around, and sometimes it bursts into physical expression and you hear about massacres and slaughters and terrible killings in the news. It is just a small expression bursting forth out of a great ocean of resentment and hatred that exudes from the history of the continent.”
Challenges of faith are often easily discarded when the blame can be put on something external, but many foreign missionaries discovered how precious the spiritual mountains were they had to climb.
I often hear from those missionaries who are not united with their fellow missionaries, “It is because we came to this country,” or “It is because our country is such and such… ” They are quick to criticize external things without looking at fundamental reasons for their problems. Essentially what matters is not environment, not anything external; success depends on how deep one’s internal relationship with True Parents is and how a person practices the Principle to inherit the heart of God. We should also keep a repentant mind and reflect on ourselves every day. These are the essential points. As they are traditional practices within the Unification Church, we have to teach these points to members through internal guidance as we ourselves do our best to observe them.
The relationship between Cain and Abel is a problem that all members face in their life of faith. Yet when people of black, brown, or yellow skin had to listen and follow someone of another skin color, the result was not always positive.
Father mentioned this point in his conference:
“You must become Abel. But God decides who is Abel and who is Cain. Abel is not there to play king. Abel is there to serve Cain and to become a sacrifice for the sake of Cain. When you go out to save Cain, you are the servant. You are in the lower position.
Only after you save him and turn around and bring him back to God are you on the front line; then you are the elder brother and Cain is in the younger brother’s position. But when you first go out, you cannot restore the birthright of the elder brother unless you go this path.
Once you accept such a cross (to save Cain) and bear it willingly, you can approach your parents. Unless you follow this, you will not yet have grafted into the Messiah. You must become a person loved by Cain. If Cain hates you, there is no way for you to become Abel.
You are now in Jacob’s position. Since you are American, Japanese, or German, you take all the wealth you have accumulated into you mission land. ‘You are my dear Esau. You are my elder brother. I look at you and I see the face of God. You are my lord; I come to serve you. This is yours. Please take it.’ That is the way you should be. That is our tradition. If you don’t do this, no one can inherit anything from you. As soon as you live up to the true tradition of the Unification Church, I will give you the inheritance.”