From Prison Camp Survivor to Missionary in Africa – Part 2
By Wouter van der Stok
Wouter van der Stok was already an up-and-coming professional when his parents joined our church. His story is touching because of his humility before God’s will, as he joined already having a wife and three children at a time when almost all the members in the Western world were single. Indeed, he was one of the first, if not the first, Unification Church member to go to Africa as a missionary. Here we present a short version of his testimony of the formative years of his life and mission work. Sadly, Mr. Van Der Stok passed away two months ago at the age of 78, but his legacy of submission to God’s will and active engagement in God’s providence will always remain to encourage and inspire a new generation.
Some beautiful experiences
Although True Parents had decided for previously married couples to live as brother and sister for a minimum period of 7 months before the Blessing, in our particular case, as we did not know when we would be invited for our Blessing, this then lasted for about six and a half years until our Blessing on December 22, 1976. Having already been married for six years and with 3 children, and living in the same house/bedroom, it was quite a challenge! Many years later, in a very vivid dream, Jesus appeared to me and called me “his descendent” as I had remained faithful all my life to my one beloved spouse.
At a general meeting of the complete European membership in Essen, Germany, in March 1972, which my wife and I attended, each National Leader and his/her members were asked to stand up and give a half bow to True Parents, who sat on the podium with relatively stern faces. Especially the main nations had many members. After all nations had finished, right at the end my physical sister Gieta called to the (organising) Leader of the German Family “what about South Africa”? He seemed surprised but did then call “South Africa” whereupon only 2 people stood up, Susan and I giving a half bow and all of a sudden, like the sun breaking through the clouds, our True Parents gave a beautiful and long smile. To see them happy was something one never forgets!
In April 1972 True Parents, after their visit to Essen, decided to travel to Amsterdam where they stayed in the Titiaan Street Center. Sitting in the lounge with our True Parents were about 20 or so members, including our van der Stok family of seven persons. True Father said at the time that we were fortunate to be able to sit so near to him in one small room like a real family, as in future thousands of people would come to listen to him and we would only be able to see him from afar. Gifts were offered to True Parents and Susan and I gave copies of Divine Principle translated into Afrikaans and Xhosa and a nice iron candle holder to hold 4 candles in the 4 position with a glass oval in the center, into which True Father jokingly peered. In the end the presents were to be kept in a special place in the Center. It was then that the Leaders of the Dutch Family informed True Parents of the wish of my parents to sell their house and to donate the money to the Church: what should happen to the money? True Father directed that it should be used to buy a good center for the Dutch family (later Susan, in a dream, saw the Center, the present Glory House in Bergen aan Zee and, as far as I can remember, my physical brother Frank was also involved in locating it in the end).
My sister Gieta was blessed in 1975 with Chris Olson, my physical parents and Susan and I were blessed in Dec. 1976 and my youngest brother Frank around 1980.
From the late 1970s
As the Bank I worked for did not wish to transfer me back to Cape Town while both Susan and I felt strong inspiration to return to Cape Town, I resigned from Nedbank and in early March 1979 started to work for Trust Bank, Cape Town.
During the early 1980s I was asked to be the Church’s public spokesman in South Africa. All along the years I used my social status to promote and protect the Church.
In 1983 our senior Church sister, direct assistant to John Brady, Doreen Swarts went to spirit world in a car accident travelling from Johannesburg to Cape Town. A beautiful Seung Wha ceremony was held for her in the Wynberg Center. (See photo)
In 1984 our oldest daughter Wanda, after she had finished her High School studies, went to Johannesburg to attend a Divine Principle workshop where her heart was touched and she decided to work full time for our Church: she continued to do this very successfully for the next 10 years – Susan and I were very proud of her and grateful for all her contributions, but especially thankful to Heavenly Father and True Parents who made this possible! When our children were growing up, we were somewhat strict (no dancing or going to parties and boyfriends/girlfriends etc.) but tried to make up a little by encouraging them to play sports and transporting them, such as field hockey, karate, badminton, squash, ice rink skating, running.
In 1985 the Wynberg Center was sold and the sale proceeds sent to Johannesburg.
End of 1989 I was transferred from Cape Town by the Bank on promotion to Asst. General Manager International Banking Services, Corporate Division at its Johannesburg Head Office to be in charge of all the nationwide regional offices and at the peak of my banking career was asked to come to Korea end 1990 to discuss the possibility to give financial/economic/business lectures and advice worldwide to all the international mission nations’ directors and business leaders. We decided then that I should resign from the banking world after about 30 years and work full time for this new mission. Visits of different duration were made during the next 12 months to Japan, USA, Greece, Zambia (more than once), Ivory Coast/Liberia, Mexico (where my brother-in-law Chris Olson was the Regional Director), Argentina/Uruguay, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and monthly economic/financial bulletins issued to all the mission countries’ leaders.
Around that time, I was introduced to Dr. Bo Hi Pak to work for his department in Hong Kong in connection with the Kumgangsan (Diamond Mountains) tourist project in North Korea which previously was discussed by True Parents during their visit to the North Korean Leader Kim Il Sung. The aim was to eventually establish a special zone, like in China around Hong Kong, to create work for some North Koreans and open up partially for foreign tourists: hotels, airports, apartment blocks, harbours, cable cars, etc. would be constructed. To start that project a group of about 20 advisers from Australia, Hong Kong, France including myself with a Dutch passport was invited to visit the Kumgang-san region in North Korea for about 3 weeks in July 1992 for a fact finding tour of the country. No USA or South Korean passport holders were allowed in at that time. It was a very special and to some extent dangerous experience. Afterwards we worked for almost nine months in Hong Kong on an explanatory book and a big mock-up of what the area in the end should look like.
In the first half of 1993 our family moved back from Johannesburg to our house in Stellenberg, about 20 km. from Cape Town and subsequently for 3 months I was allowed to write a financial/economic book with as title “Into the 21st century: how to become and stay a successful nation”. Its purpose was to assist North Korea (perhaps the more so after translation into the Korean language?) with a potential change over into a new economic period. From July 1993 until about mid 1994 I was asked by the National Leader of the Netherlands, Wim Koetsier, to assist with the business side of our movement in that country and to help re-organise the financial side of both the spiritual and business sections.
Subsequently from 1994 to about 2001 I became involved with supporting the production and selling of porcelain and ceramic artefacts and ornament animals of Porcelain Patches, the art and craft business originally started by Susan already in 1982 while we were still living in Vredehoek, Cape Town. From mainly working with my head I now learned to work with my hands, a challenging experience. It was during those years that our Heavenly Father appeared to me in a vivid dream (as a different man from our True Father) with the Book of Life, when also the importance of unity with one’s central figures, John and Frieda Brady, was explained.
On 25th August 1995 our son Frank was blessed with Diana in Korea and subsequently they had four beautiful children in England. In June1998 our first spiritual son and Susan’s youngest physical brother Johan de la Querra and his wife Antoinette were blessed in Brackenfell, a town near Cape Town. Susan and I joined Markus and Wanda with their little children Gabriela and Garith in a 40-day workshop at Jardim, Brazil in autumn 1998 with about 2000 other members where we not only studied True Father’s many speeches given in the past but had the very great privilege to listen directly to many speeches by True Father who stayed with us some days and in the end were allowed to have a beautiful photo taken, as a couple, with our True Parents.
In Sept/Oct. 1999 Susan went to visit Wanda for a few weeks to assist with the birth of our grandson Jonathan and during 1998/99 I was asked by Seino-san, the Managing Director of Nigeria Online in Lagos, Nigeria to become its official financial consultant while Johan de la Querra became the Marketing Director, which lasted until about 2004.
It was also from 1999 onwards that the Providence of Ancestor Liberation and Blessing was started by True Parents via the efforts by Daemo-nim at Cheong Pyeong, initially for the first 120 generations of ancestors and subsequently extended to 210 generations. Although some confusion occurred over the years because different members of our extended family were involved in the donations, during the next 12 years or so we managed to a large extent to reach the target set, with the assistance of our son Frank.
Amongst others because of the tithing on stipends received by Johan de la Querra and myself for our work for Nigeria Online and fundraising by brothers and sisters, a deposit was raised to buy a Church Center in Grassy Park which thereafter was renovated by combined efforts. Afterwards I was asked by the National Messiah from Japan to be the Church Treasurer, which I fulfilled for a number of years.
In August 2004 my physical and spiritual mother went to spirit world at the age of 93 years after a brief illness. I received during my whole life but also specifically in my missionary work so much invaluable support from both my mother Moes and my spouse Susan, without which my life’s activities surely would have turned out quite differently!
During the following years, until Jan. 2013 we concentrated on the Liberation and Blessing of ancestors for both Susan and myself. In this case too, I received much inspiration, joy and love from spirit world including from specific persons there whose situations “before” and “after” brought home the reality very clearly.
In 2006 we decided to start making all the necessary arrangements to immigrate to the Netherlands, having once more received guidance by way of many dreams. In one instance, the late Mrs. Won Pok Choi, who had played the role of True Father’s spiritual mother while on earth, appeared to tell me to “sit up straight as you are going to get a new mission.” This was more difficult than we imagined, but in the end we arrived in Holland in October 2007. One very important consideration of our big move was to be nearer to our children and grandchildren, which worked out well. One night I was surprised to meet Nelson Mandela (who was then still very much alive) in the spirit. He had come to thank me.
A few months before True Father’s ascension to spirit world he appeared to me in a dream and, to my amazement, embraced me and I had the feeling of already then being prepared for what was to come. In early 2013, we had the great privilege to celebrate the Foundation Day of Cheon Il Guk with the Dutch Family and in August 2013 we heard the great news that Markus and Wanda’s eldest daughter Gabriela, our eldest grandchild, after she turned 18 years and graduated from High School, had joined the Generation Peace Academy (GPA) team of our Church for two years, at first in New York and afterwards travelling to many other parts of America, thereby following in the footsteps of her ancestors. All four grandchildren have been attending Church workshops/ summer camps for quite a few years now in California and Alaska.
While it is gradually getting later in our “winter time” of life, I pray that somehow Susan and I may still be able to assist, even if only on a small scale, the further development of Cheon Il Guk.
Wouter van der Stok (1940-2018), pioneer missionary to Africa. Remembered with much love and respect.