Remembering Won Pil Kim – Part 2
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.
Living and working with him daily was like consistent, on-going education and training in how to live a principled life. He taught us what it might have been like to be with Father every day. From Monday to Friday our schedule was very intense from early in the morning until late at night.
For example, one day, Rev. Kim might present Father’s life course to participants in a one-hundred-and-twenty-day leaders’ workshop at 6 am and afterward counsel members, visit centers and have meetings with department leaders. We often forgot to eat lunch and ended up having lunch-and-dinner around nine or ten o’clock at night; we sometimes went on after midnight. It was only on weekends that our schedule was a little more relaxed.
One incident especially helped me breakthrough in relating to him. At that time, True Father was giving Sunday sermons at the Belvedere Training Center every week. Occasionally Father was out of town and asked Rev. Kim to give the sermon. That week, Rev. Kim told me in advance to prepare to translate for his Sunday sermon.
I was still struggling then, but I tried my best to prepare. That morning arrived, and Rev. Kim started giving his sermon. About ten minutes into his sermon, I translated a simple sentence of Rev. Kim’s. He asked me to translate it again. I did. He then asked me to translate it yet again. So, for the third time I translated the same simple sentence. Then, Rev. Kim pointed to a Japanese brother, a UTS student, in the audience and asked that brother to translate for him. The brother translated for just a few minutes, but to me, standing in front of four hundred people feeling embarrassed and angry, it felt like a thousand years.
I did not understand why Rev. Kim was treating me like that. All kinds of thoughts went through my mind. Then, all of a sudden, I recognized the seriousness in Rev. Kim’s voice. This was entirely different from any other meeting where I had translated. He was talking about Moses’ hitting the rock twice in the wilderness. I realized how serious he was to convey the message. I repented for how unprepared I was compared to Rev. Kim. He might have prayed all night to prepare for this sermon, I thought. I understood why he could not depend on my translation at that moment; my spiritual level was far from synchronized with his, and I could not convey his heart and seriousness to the brothers and sisters.
I deeply repented and felt so sorry for Rev. Kim. The moment I repented, Rev. Kim turned to me and asked me to continue translating. It was perfect timing! I was fully united with him, and the rest of the translation went very smoothly.
Many brothers and sisters were in tears by the end of the sermon. Since that incident, I never struggled over translating for him again. He had to shake me up and awaken my spirit in order to accomplish his task at that moment and in that environment. I was grateful for what happened on that day. From then on, I grew spiritually through translating his speeches, internal guidance and counseling. His teachings became embedded in my spiritual body.
Everything was a learning experience. He taught Home Church Office staff members many practical things. At that time, many older international and national leaders (including members of the thirty- six-couple blessing group, such as Rev. Kwak) visited Rev. Kim often. We did not know how to attend and serve them. For example, when serving soft drinks, we had been offering the first one to Rev. Kim, since he is the first disciple, but he told us to serve him last since he was the host.
After a meeting, Rev. Kim always walked with his guests from his office to the elevator to see them off. He told us to go a few steps ahead of them, and push the elevator button so that the guests would not have to wait as long.
He taught us how to speak when answering the phone, with respect and kindness, using proper expressions, according to the age of the person we were speaking to.
He taught us how to relate to members when they came for counseling. If it were an American sister for instance, we learned to treat her as a representative of the whole nation of America, with the same heart with which Father carried Mr. Park, whose leg was broken, on his back from North to South Korea, as if he were carrying all of humankind.
After watching movies, Rev. Kim always gave us a principled explanation and analysis of the movie. He trained us to see everything from a principled viewpoint. When getting out of the bed in the morning, he taught us to take the first step of the day with our right leg and offer that step to God and to offer the second step to humankind, just as Father does when he gets up.
A heart worthy of imitation
Often Rev. Kim’s office was the last stop for so-called problem members whose leaders had given up on them. I remember one Western brother, in particular, whose leader did not know how to deal with him because the brother was rebellious and did not follow the leader’s directions at all. The leader was ready to send him back to his country.
Rev. Kim first listened to whatever the brother wanted to say and asked him questions and then kindly, lovingly guided him to understand what he had done wrong. Rev. Kim gave him advice from the heart and taught him what he needed to do. The brother’s heart was completely open to what Rev. Kim was saying by the time he finished. After six hours with Rev. Kim, he looked very different. The next day, Rev. Kim took him to a Chinese restaurant and a movie; he bought him clothes and talked to him more. The brother decided to go back to his own country with determination to make a new start. (I heard the brother became a leader in his country and is an active leader to this day.)
Rev. Kim later told us he did not want the brother to feel bad about our movement and Father, in case the brother left. Rev. Kim wanted to properly represent True Father’s love to him, so that he would not have resentment against True Father and the movement.
When it comes to taking care of members, he was very serious. One morning we had our regular Home Church Office staff meeting. Rev. Kim was not happy with the reports being given by the IWs. His voice became louder and louder; after a while, he sounded like thunder and it seemed as if lightning were striking the earth. It was so loud that an American brother from the other end of the eighth floor came running to see what was going on. We heard him open our office door and saw his worried face. As soon as he understood what was happening, he quietly closed the door.
Rev. Kim was angry because we did not love members enough. We did not visit the members and centers often enough. He scolded us for not taking care of members well. As he upbraided us, we felt so ashamed that we wanted to crawl into the closet. After criticizing us for about an hour or so, he stopped and told us to go out for lunch. He was very calm and natural because he had been angry for public purposes, not personal ones. Right after that, he related to us as if nothing had happened. That day we became even closer to him. Now and then he scolded us; however, it was clear to us that he did so because he loved us sincerely.
The way he took care of us exactly reflected how True Father had taken care of him during the early days in Busan. The more I worked with Rev. Kim, the closer I became to True Father in heart. I did not know True Father personally, but Rev. Kim brought me closer to True Father through his own example and lifestyle as a leader and disciple. When he spoke in public and private, he always talked about True Parents, not about himself at all. I often learned about Rev. Kim from his wife and children who told me many episodes of how True Father raised him to be a leader.
I would like to share some anecdotes about Rev. Kim practicing whatever he learned from True Father in his daily life. One afternoon when Rev. Kim came into the office, he was upset to see our desks so messy. Papers were piling up; books, magazines and newspapers were everywhere. He told us to clean the office right away. It took us the rest of the day.
He shared with us that True Father taught him how to keep things orderly. When True Father and Rev. Kim lived in that shabby cardboard house in Busan, Rev. Kim would paint portraits of American soldiers to raise money. After he finished painting for the day, Father cleaned all the art supplies and put them away neatly. Father told him he should be able to find things even in the dark. That’s how orderly and organized Father was. Though he was very busy, Rev. Kim’s desk was always very neat, simple and clean.
At a time when the Mobile Fund raising Team Department supported the Home Church Office, I learned Rev. Kim’s attitude toward public money. One day he called the leader of the MFT Department and reported about our finances, how the money was used, even to the penny. The leader felt uncomfortable, but Rev. Kim kept reporting to him regularly. Eventually, the department leader courageously asked Rev.
Kim why he did so. Rev. Kim explained that Father had done the same to him in Busan. Rev. Kim had been the sole breadwinner of the household, and as soon as he received his income, he gave everything to Father. Father, after spending the money, called him and reported to him, in detail, how he had spent it. Rev. Kim felt uncomfortable. Rev. Kim worried that Father thought Rev. Kim did not trust him. Sensing this, Father explained to him that he was reporting to Heaven about the public money through Rev. Kim. That was Father’s standard on public money, which Rev. Kim incorporated into his life of faith.
He was also very sensitive about not creating any circumstances for Satan to invade or accuse his blessing or his family. He did it so naturally that I did not even notice it until something happened to me. One night, we finished a meeting at around nine o’clock at night, and I went back to my room on the twentieth floor of the New Yorker Hotel. All of a sudden, after eleven o’clock, I remembered something important I had forgotten to report to Rev. Kim. I felt it should be reported that day, so I went to his office on the eighth floor.
I knocked on his door, telling him I had something very important to report. He did not even open the door. He told me gently, “Masako san, you never know what people might think if they see a man and a woman meeting each other in a room at this hour. Please come back tomorrow and I will listen to you first thing in the morning.”
I was shocked. I always felt he was like my father. I never thought of anything of this kind. However, I recognized how principled he was; he was protecting himself and me from Satan’s accusation.
Rev. Kim and Mrs. Kim2 loved each other very much. I was fortunate to be with them often and to see how they related to each another. When walking, they would hold hands. In a restaurant, Mrs. Kim often spoonfed him her soup; they shared food by putting it on each other’s plates. When Mrs. Kim called him “A-bba,”3 it sounded so loving. Even after twenty years of marriage, they were like lovebirds.
Rev. Kim and Mrs. Kim2 loved each other very much. I was fortunate to be with them often and to see how they related to each another. When walking, they would hold hands. In a restaurant, Mrs. Kim often spoonfed him her soup; they shared food by putting it on each other’s plates. When Mrs. Kim called him “A-bba,”3 it sounded so loving. Even after twenty years of marriage, they were like lovebirds. Rev. Kim described her heart as being as tender as silk.
I often enjoyed listening to Mrs. Kim, who also spoke Japanese, share about Rev. Kim’s early church life. She was always very polite, and I felt very comfortable around her; it was almost like feeling love’s Holy Spirit. Though Rev. Kim was eight years younger than his wife, she always treated him with love and respect. I heard from one of their children that when he was away from home, only after bathing to purify herself, putting on white clothes and praying would she begin to write him a letter with a sincere heart. I never saw her get upset. She was always smiling and kind, always giving things to us. Though her body wasn’t strong, her spirit was, and she always prayed for Rev. Kim’s mission. She often spent time praying for True Parents and other True Family members.
Even after I left Rev. Kim’s office for another mission, he and his wife kept in touch with me. When I had a difficult pregnancy with my son while staying in a Baltimore pioneering center, he was very concerned about my situation.
One day they visited me. They took me to a nice restaurant so that I could eat whatever I wanted to eat. They spent the whole day with me like parents, bought me food I could eat and then quietly went back to New York. I’ll never forget the parental hearts they showed to me then. Much later, when I had difficulty in my blessing and in raising my son by myself, Rev. and Mrs. Kim always encouraged me to keep going, comforted and supported me. I received a lot of criticism and accusation from many members about my situation. Rev. Kim and his wife were the only ones who never judged me; they understood my situation and supported me. Whenever they came to America, they always called my son and me, took us to restaurants and bought my son toys. At that time, I had no public mission and was a single mom with a broken blessing. They treated me the same way they had when I was a translator and IW. They accepted me for who I was, Masako, one human being. I am eternally grateful to them for expressing and testifying to True Parents’ love and heart through their examples. Because of their heart and love, I am still here working hard for God and True Parents to this day.
I would like to share the essence of what I learned from Rev. Kim Won-pil, which I have been practicing in my life of faith. Rev. Kim taught us the importance of setting and building sincere conditions in our life of faith. The sincerity that you invest into something or somebody will never be wasted. It will bear fruit someday. The question is whether you put in your deepest sincerity or not. Do not look around and compare your situation with others’. Just look straight at God and True Parents and invest your sincerity in attending and serving them. He also taught us to follow our conscience even before Father had made any public proclamation on the conscience. When fleeing North Korea during the Korean War, Rev. Kim asked Father what he should follow if he became lost and separated from Father. Father told him to follow his conscience. Rev. Kim has practiced that throughout his life of faith and taught us to do the same. He is truly True Parents’ first disciple in his exemplary life of faith and in attending and serving True Parents and God.
I believe that he has influenced many members’ lives as he did my own. My personal hope is to practice what he taught, to follow in his footsteps toward becoming like True Parents, and to pass these teachings on to the next generation.