Foreign Missions 1975-1985 – The First Ten Years – Part 6 (Final)
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.
Parts 1 – 5 of this series were posted here in the Early Members’ Stories section over the past month.
Part 5 concluded with Father’s words about the paths of Cain and Abel:
“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.”
This is the final part of this series:
One foreign missionary expresses his heart about the Cain/Abel dynamic:
“In Japan, we take the Cain/Abel relationship as a course of indemnity. With this mutual understanding, we somehow manage to work for God’s will. Yet it is difficult for people to automatically be good Cains if they had a history of being discriminated against by another race and suddenly are faced with an ‘Abel’ of a different skin color. Unless Abel becomes a true Abel, Cain does not obey him. In Africa there is a serious racial problem, which is also a matter of historical indemnity. Even if the native people accept the Principle and determine to live this way of life, when they have a white person as their leader and have troubles with him, they always feel it is a racial problem and they close their hearts toward him. It is inevitable. I have never had the feeling of being discriminated against. Therefore, I was happily working with the native members every day and I could not even imagine they felt discrimination or distrust.
But one day when a native member did something wrong, I scolded him He replied, ‘You are a white person (a non-black) and you can’t understand me because I am black. You scold me because I am black.’ When I heard this, I was so shocked I cried through the night; my tears were tears of regret. The black people seem to equate being scolded by a white person (or as in my case, yellow) with racial discrimination. They don’t think first whether they might have done something wrong.
They immediately think we are prejudiced. Whenever I saw such an attitude in a native member, I always felt sad.”
Sometimes foreign missionaries did not love each other enough, and could not stand in an Abel position to one another. Sometimes the lack of love resulted in one member of a trinity leaving the mission, and in a few cases, leaving the church. Since True Father sent them as a trinity, some missionaries became disheartened because they realized that God could not love through them freely and, therefore, were overcome by a feeling of failure. It was then they realized that being a parent was not only necessary in a spiritual parent/spiritual child relationship, but should be ongoing, continuous, and practiced with each other. Unity and spiritual freedom was often achieved when the gift of forgiveness was either given or received.
Moments of Victory in Unity
Many foreign missionaries learned the real meaning of patience. Patience not only with the long lines in the bank or the post office, or waiting all day to try to make an international telephone call.
They learned patience with the incredible disorganization of the bureaucracy and the government of the nation. Patience with everything breaking down and having to wait weeks or months for replacement parts (if they came at all). But most of all patience with themselves and their spiritual growth through humility before God.
Overcoming these elements were happy moments, moments of victory. And there were many such moments in the lives of the missionaries; moments when they realized lessons in the Principle and how to implement them. Moments of victory in unity –not only among missionaries, but between missionaries and members—even if it took a seven-day fast to come to the point of purifying their hearts. Victories in claiming the title of Abraham, becoming the founding spiritual parent, could come at any moment. When the encouragement to be loving changed into the desire to be loving, there were substantial breakthroughs:
“I went to the market in order to buy vegetables. This market is spiritually and physically the most miserable place in the whole country. I had to make an effort to suppress my disgust. Then it came to my mind· ‘I am one of them. If the people are like this, I want to live the same way. If they can endure this stench, I want to breathe it through my nose with delight. If they walk through this sticky mud, I want to do the same without feeling repelled. I want to load my bag with the vegetables in the same way as they are doing. I want to walk in the footsteps of my people, and tune my heart with the same sounds.”
I filled my bag with many things and put it over my shoulder just as they did. Nobody looked at me like a stranger. Nobody shouted to me: “Chilita” (white). My bag was extremely heavy, loaded with vegetables and fruits. I could have taken a bus, but I wanted to toil as they did. The handles of the bag dug deep into my shoulders, but I carried it for love. I felt that I was not only carrying my bag, but the whole country. ‘I want to be fully responsible for this country, Father. I want to carry the debt and burden of this country!’ I felt that I carried this country’s sins in my bag, like a cross under which one almost breaks down. In tears I repented and I asked God to forgive my country for they knew not what they did. It was so serious. I felt such a gratitude to go this way and to be in this position. But I felt so sorry that I was so incapable and inadequate, that I did not completely fulfill His will, and did not comfort His heart enough. I repented of my own debt and sin, and promised to assume the whole burden, however heavy it might be. I felt a certain relief in God’s heart.
I thought the bag would have paralyzed my arm and my shoulders by the lime I arrived at home. But it was peculiar that when I laid down the load, I felt a great lightness, and no pain at all. Heavenly Father himself had carried it for me.”
During the first ten years of the missionaries’ work, many nations fell captive to aggression, and the missionaries felt helpless to do anything. Some were able to stay in their country; some were not. But for those that stayed, the title of “Abraham” took on an even greater significance:
“Many times when our members witnessed, they were subjected to searches by the soldiers. While the soldiers were examining their belongings, the members would not say anything. They would just wait silently. The soldiers knew everything. Sometimes they found a Divine Principle book. They would ask our members, ‘Are you a Christian?’ Our members would answer, ‘I am a missionary.’ Suddenly the attitude of the soldiers changed. They would ask, ‘Please pray for me!’ This was always the case.
During the outbreak of war, nobody attended our Sunday service, although before this time about twenty guests had been coming each Sunday. We waited, hoping that possibly someone would come. But in the end, nobody came. One particular Sunday, I felt something unusual was happening.
It was raining. Yet it was not the typical downpour we usually had The rain was more like a drizzle than rain, and it felt as if Heavenly Father was weeping. I rarely saw such rain here. I intuitively felt that it might be signaling the end of this nation. I felt the day itself was sad.
I proceeded with the service by reading Father’s speech, translating from Japanese into Spanish. It was a speech that had something to do with Father’s course. I chose it with the intention of connecting brothers and sisters with True Parents. I closed with the words, ‘We all may die, but I wish that each of us can be connected with the Messiah.”
A little after I began the service, I heard rifles firing in succession about twenty meters from the church center. Then we heard the response to it. It was such a hysterical sound that it almost made me jump out of the chair and run away.
The center members momentarily shifted in their chairs. I usually am too sensitive to bear such a sound calmly, but I was able to restrain myself I thought at the moment I should teach them to have great faith and rely completely upon God. I pressed myself against the chair. When the speech came to an important point, the stuttering of the machine guns got heavier. The members could not hear my voice at all. I felt it was Satan. I also felt it was a trial. The only thought on my mind was that no matter what, I must continue to speak. The battle waged on. Bullets fell, rattling on the roof It became very dangerous. There was a possibility that bullets would even come into the windows. We moved the service into a back room.
The battle became more intense and moved directly in front of our center. We continued our service, transferring it to the dining room because it had no window. I felt we were engaged in a spiritual battle against Satan. Our four members were desperately listening to Father’s speech. The electricity went out. Lighting candles, we started the service again. It ended about 1 pm. I had a sense of victory that we had finished it.
In the afternoon all of us wrote letters to True Parents. We were not sure we would even survive long enough to send them, but we wrote them anyway. My only thought was how to connect the young brothers and sisters with the Messiah, even to the end of our lives.”
To observe the Third World on the evening news is different from living there. Once a person lives there, he or she sees the problems much more clearly and wonders how to contend with lack of food, moral attitudes, family ethics, with tribalism, occultism, lack of hygiene, disunity between religions and races, political corruption—even such things as the lack of good roads and the poor quality of public transportation. There are laws still in existence that insist that people who commit adultery must be stoned to death, or their hands cut off if they steal.
Abrahams of Their Nations
As a parent, one can’t help but shed tears when a child gets into trouble. During these ten years, political situations caused that to happen more than once—and in tears, the spiritual parents of these countries wept as their nations were taken over—Iran, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Benin, and Nicaragua. There were civil wars and coups in Surinam, Upper Volta [Now Burkina Faso], and Chad, among others. When national and worldwide conditions of indemnity must be paid, prayers and tears are not enough. And when the sacrifice that has been even willingly paid is not enough, Satan makes his claim.
But the heart of a parent is to even sacrifice his own life for his children. One foreign missionary gave his life for his child: the nation of Tanzania in Africa.
Although the details of his death are not certain, it is believed that Masaki Sasamoto was killed by a bullet fired by the secret police on December 18, 1980. On the decision of his wife, Masaki was buried there. Father proclaimed him the first international martyr. Truly, he claimed the title of Abraham:
“Because I have a parental heart, because I am thinking of your greater success and because I am trying to make you a historical person, I drive you out for even greater work.
When I was all by myself, I shed tears. Thinking about his own children going out to suffer, no parent is comfortable. I feel the same. But for the sake of righteousness and for the sake of the mission, we just have to do it. During times when the children don’t notice, the tears of their parents flow. Whatever I ask is not for my sake but rather for your sake, your benefit, your future, your glory, your success, and your victory. I ordered you to suffer more, but all the instructions were wetted with tears.”
The foreign missionaries have become, like Abraham, the ancestors of a new humanity in their nations. As Rev. Ken Sudo said in his sermon “Precious Pioneer,” which he dedicated to all of them many years ago:
“Letters in the sand of the seashore will be erased by the surging waves, but the memory of the fact that you introduced True Parents and gave eternal life to your nation will never be erased by anyone. God can be proud of you eternally. How precious pioneer missionaries are. If your one life is given to a nation for the sake of God and humankind, how precious your life is.
The missionaries fought bravely, and have come far, but the battle is not finished yet.
As you look at the future and capture this vision, you begin to realize just what a difficult task this will be. If you only look at your own position and how tired you are, then you take on a defeatist attitude. God and I cannot accept that. You can never be defeated. You are in the wilderness. If you stop your march in the wilderness, you will become the prey of the eagle; no other destiny will await you. You must cross the desert and finish the march.”
For as each foreign missionary has a dream, so also does God. His dream is that as a family we can take up the cross and the responsibility of serving the world. His dream started a million years ago, yet it was only ten years ago that He was actually able to set His footprints as the true sovereign in the desert sands, the jungles, the bush, the forests, and the plains—and through the children of True Parents, He could finally walk freely through His world.
Our movement has gathered great strength and confidence during these first ten missionary years. But we are in a different age now. Although there have been times of trouble when Heavenly Father carried all of us, showing but one set of footprints in the sand, it is now our turn to substantially help to carry the load of this world, and do our best to silently carry Him.