Remembering Won Pil Kim – Part 1
By Masako Feddema
Rev. Won Pil Kim, one of Father’s earliest life-long disciples, would have marked his 90th birthday this year. As Rev. Kim was never one to speak about himself, it is fortunate that we can look back on his life and legacy through the eyes of one sister who worked closely with him.
God’s grace and guidance has encouraged me to testify to Rev. Kim Won-pil, True Father’s first disciple, though I feel unworthy of doing so because my experiences with him are so small and limited. Being with him and his family in public and private life was a “larger than life” experience. I have struggled immensely with how to properly testify to him. I have tried my best, with prayer and sincerity, to convey and express who he is and how he has lived as a loyal disciple.
I worked with him for two years in England (1978–80) and four years in America (1980–1984) as his translator, secretary and Home Church itinerant worker (IW). I am Japanese, and I translated his Japanese into English. He wanted to speak in Japanese because of his love for Japanese members, who were everywhere in England and in America. Even after I no longer had a public mission under him, I am blessed to have been in touch with him and his family for over twenty-five years. I am grateful for this opportunity to share some of my experiences.
In the spring of 1978, Father started the Home Church providence in England by gathering all the European national church leaders and other members at Lancaster Gate Headquarters in London. We, the International One World Crusade members in Japan, were called to England to participate. England had been divided into regions and a national church leader and members from the leader’s country were assigned an area in which to do Home Church activity. Over a thousand members had come to England to start the Home Church providence.
One beautiful spring morning, Rev. Kim Won-pil came to visit us in Birmingham. I was the center mother then and was busy taking care of members externally. Rev. Kim offered his time to counsel them. I was about to go out to my Home Church area, when I was asked to translate for him. Without fully understanding who Rev. Kim was, I stayed at the center translating for him all day. Rev. Kim was not in charge of the Home Church providence at that time; he was an international IW who was visiting England.
During the counseling, I was deeply touched by his profound and wise guidance. I was intensely involved in the translation. The next day he left. I became busy with my mission and forgot about him. About a month later, I was called to the headquarters in London to become a translator and IW for Rev. Kim, whom Father had by then appointed commander-in-chief of the Home Church providence.
Japanese sisters were assigned as IWs to each of four regions. I was assigned to the North London region, where the German members worked under their national leader, Rev. Reiner Vincenz. Among the four IWs, I was the youngest spiritually (I had only been in the movement for four years). It was Rev. Kim’s courageous decision to trust a young member like me with such a big responsibility. Through regular national leaders meetings and weekly IW meetings, he trained and educated us to become qualified IWs. He was very strong and principled. He pushed us to work hard, challenged us to our limits and at times was very strict with us. However, we always felt fatherly love from him. After an intense witnessing campaign, he took the IWs on a trip to Germany. We went sightseeing and shopping, ate at nice restaurants, watched movies, and generally enjoyed ourselves. It was a wonderful experience, which I will never forget. He gave me confidence as an IW by showing his complete trust in me.
In addition to the IW work, I was to translate for Rev. Kim at events at which he spoke to members, when he met national church leaders, spoke at workshops or gave Sunday sermons. Mrs. Kimiyo Anceney was Rev. Kim’s day-to-day translator, and she translated for him when he visited the various centers.
At Lancaster Gate, he would give internal guidance at 5 am for anyone who wanted to come. He did not insist on everyone coming to listen to him. It was voluntary. Nevertheless, every morning brothers and sisters eager to listen to his guidance filled the main room. What he said deeply touched the members’ hearts and original minds. It appeared members had found a spiritual oasis and were drinking every drop. This inspirational guidance was a result of many intense and tearful prayers. I did not realize that, until I happened to see him in the prayer room at 2 am one morning.
He was kneeling in front of True Parents’ picture and in his prayer said, “home church, home church” many times in Korean, sobbing like a child. Rev. Kim consistently guided the members, and we all felt spiritually revived and refreshed. It was as if a fire of spiritual revival were spreading quickly throughout England. He also visited the centers and members on the front line daily. He brought lots of food when he visited. He fed us literally as well as spiritually.
Across the Atlantic
In February 1980, Father called Rev. Kim to America to take charge of the Home Church providence there. He left for America three days later; he took Mrs. Anceney and a Japanese brother with him.
I remained in England and continued my mission in the German region. Three months later he called me to come to America because Mrs. Anceney, a member of the 1,800-couple blessing group, was starting her family.
It was in America that my real training with Rev. Kim began. In England, I still had freedom to make my own schedule.
I had more independence. Now, I had to be with him as his mouth wherever he went and whenever he needed. Working directly with him, I began to struggle because of my spiritual immaturity. I joined the movement right after I graduated from university; I had a big head and a small heart.
Rev. Kim understood my character better than I did. He was genuinely concerned with my spiritual growth and the development of my character. At that time, I strongly believed that witnessing, fund raising, taking care of members, teaching and so forth were the only valuable things to do in the movement. As an IW in England, I had been doing these things in the field with brothers and sisters. However, in America, I was only translating for him. I felt it was not frontline work. In other words, I could not see the value of being a translator for Rev. Kim and did not understand the value of his historical position.
He could have directly pointed out my shortcomings by saying, “You need to commit yourself more to the present mission,” or “You should unite with your central figure,” but he didn’t.
Instead, he put me into circumstances where I could learn naturally. He indirectly taught me the importance of how to express love to people through doing small services in daily life, by asking me to iron his shirts, go shopping for his wife, help his children with homework, clean his office, cook for his family and so on.
Rev. Kim’s family moved to America in the spring of 1980. As an international IW, he had been away from his family for several years, so he was trying to have some time with them on weekends to rebuild relationships. Nevertheless, he opened his family to the Home Church Office staff. I was often with his wife and children at their family events and meals. They treated me like a part of their family and gave me lots of love. Rev. Kim often cooked kimchi chige1 at home and taught the Home Church Office staff members how to make it. Through these experiences, I learned naturally how to serve, love and attend with a willing heart. He did it so naturally that I did not even recognize the changes that took place in my behavior and attitude.
He took care of each staff member personally, according to his or her character and spiritual maturity. His love and care transformed many members around him. He saw potential in each one of us and brought the best out of us for God and God’s will. He often testified to how True Father took care of him when he was just a young member.
Part 2 will follow