Europe: My experience in Peace Start with Me events in USA
Andreas Pock (Germany)
The first time, I came to America was in 2014, when I participated in the Aloha Reunion WS with True Mother, on Hawaii. Now, attending the Young Tribe Week and the WCLC event were my first time really visiting the mainland of the ‘elder son nation’.
I was surprised by how many international youth (leaders) had followed the call and came to attend the Young Tribe Week for 7 days. It was truly an international WS with around 15 different nations being represented. Like international WS often do, it gave us the chance to connect with other despite language or cultural differences, united and centred on our faith and relationship to Heavenly Parent and True Parents as brothers and sisters.
I was shaken by the high spirit of my American brothers and sisters as well! From the passionate singing sessions and prayers to the level of ownership of and willingness to support TM’s event, I felt great energy that I wanted to contribute to and learn from.
It was the prayers, especially, that inspired me many times: with loud voices, clearly praying for TM’s victory at the rally and that we could inherit TP’s heart for Christianity lifted the spirit and atmosphere many times.
The Rally (Dec. 28th, “World Clergy Leadership Conference”):
Before coming to America, I had been following TM’s 40 Day Canaan course by reading Dr Yun’s letters and updates and attended the summit and Blessing in Albania. Many times, I was so moved by TM’s investment and her determination to fulfil her promise towards heaven. I felt a calling to attend the rally in America and found the possibility in attending the Young Tribe Week.
During the rally, I was helping as a greeter/ usher, so I didn’t see much of the rally itself this time. I had already come with the motivation to help and volunteer, if possible. I tried to welcome guests with a bright smile and help them to find their seats. The only times I made it to the hall, were when Bishops Noel Jones and True Mother spoke.
Although, at that time, I didn’t understand the content of TM’s speech much, I was deeply moved by her tears as she described the Heart of our HP over the long and arduous course of restoration; and her bright smile later on, when she inaugurated the WCLC. The three ‘gongs’ felt so significant, ushering in and marking the beginning of a new era.
Also experiencing today’s John the Baptist figures live (bishop Noel Jones, prophet Radebe) was very meaningful. Seeing people with so much influence on many believers around the world started testifying True Mother as the only begotten daughter, the Mother of Peace.
This time, our members had been facing new challenges regarding the rally. Mobilization had to be stopped days before the event because too many people wanted to come! 12.000 seats was the capacity of the Prudential centre in New Ark, 18.000 were registered with many more on a waiting list. All those details were part of making the offering! Trying to distribute the tickets and seats and organizing as many watch parties as possible across the whole country.
0Later, we got to understand more about the providential significance of the event. I think, there are many members who don’t understand or don’t see the point in the many rallies and events we hold. This one was stated to be the “cosmic level foundation of faith” and that WCLC would replace HSA-UWC. TP achieved something on that day that is very much in line with the goals of our movement since its founding. At the beginning, in the 1950’s we tried to work through and with Christianity, to unite it but it didn’t quite work out at that time. So, this event, the WCLC is the official starting point of working with a more and more unified Christianity, unifying the body of Christ, the many believers and followers on this world and in the cosmos.
The YCLC (Dec 28th, “Youth Clergy Leadership Conference”)
The Youth Clergy Leadership Conference started with a bang! The bundled energy of hundreds of youth pastors and leaders as they shared words with each other, joined in discussions and prayers and celebrated the beginning of a movement of young people of faith. Youth has a lot of power and so I see so much potential in the YCLC, for it gives many young people the opportunity to come together, pray and worship together and exchange ideas and practices of how fortify our faith much more. With its success, we enable so many young people to inherit the heart of Christianity, the heart of Jesus and the heart of True Parents.
The Young Tribe Week (Dec 26th – Jan 1st):
During the days following the rally we visited Christian churches and received many lectures on the Heart of Christianity, Christian history, Jesus’ life and mission, TP’s life course and the current providence.
I had never been strongly connected to Christianity. To be honest, I had developed a rather arrogant attitude, thinking that my faith is “upgraded” or “superior” to other faiths. This WS, in particular, opened my eyes to the significance and legacy of Christianity. Having had the chance to receive lectures and talks by Christian pastors left a deep impression on me.
I learned a lot more about the providence and how God worked with Christianity to advance in history. I came much closer to the “Heart of Christianity” by learning about its past and what heart True Parents have for Jesus and Christianity. “Rev. and Mrs Moon” are Christian” was a phrase that stuck and helped to understand how close True Parents are to Jesus, that he is True Father’s spiritual father and that Father did everything for Jesus. True Parents are helping so many people to come much closer to Jesus and his Heart. I had thought that Christianity had failed, and that God and True Parents had already given up on it. This event and WS made me realize that how important Christianity still is in the providence and that uniting Christianity will accelerate the providence so much more than us (FFWPU) trying to shoulder everything by ourselves. Working together with Christianity and other religions, learning and inheriting from them but also developing pride in ourselves and True Parents is very important to bring ourselves closer to Jesus and bring others closer to True Parents. Only centred on True Parents can current world religions truly advance and fulfil their purpose of uniting people and bringing peace to this world.
My commitment after the WS in America is to learn more and connect more to Christianity. I am going to read the Bible and TP’s words about Jesus. Also, I want to visit churches and create relationships to their members and pastors. Potentially, we could start YCLC. I want to start this new year with the mindset that I am a pastor and a leader, too.
Jaqueline Nanys (Hungary)
Going to this one-week program was one of my best decisions I have made. I was amazed by the atmosphere, and all the hardworking dedicated people, who did anything they could, to make sure we have a memorable time. I am so grateful for the opportunity, to experience this historical event of the WCLC rally with True Mother, and also, to learn so many things about Christianity.
The first half of the workshop we were staying at the Robert Treat Hotel, which was special on its own, as workshops never tend to be in hotels. We started to get to know each other and our team, as we were going to spend most of the time with them. We also heard amazing lectures and testimonies from pastors and unificationists about their own faith and love for True Parents and God, which were really moving. We also had the amazing opportunity to participate in the WCLC rally, for which we also practiced the UNITY dance, to present it for all the 30.000 guests. The whole rally was truly one magical moment, filled with joy and love and endless singing, praising our one God, for whom this whole evet was dedicated. But True Mothers speech, talking about Gods sorrowful heart, also gave me tears. It was a beautiful rally, that I will never forget. Afterwards we also participated in the YCLC launch with all the Christian youth pastors. They gave talks, about being sons and daughters of God and giving grace and thanks to Him, that we could meet at last here together. The whole room had unison prayer, where I could help but tear up again, feeling such a strong spiritual presence.
After these few days that went by so fast, we went to Pennsylvania, to further deepen our relationship with our Heavenly Parent, and learn as much as we could about Christianity. Understand not only why we are important for them, but why they are so important to us as well. That without them, we would not be here today. It was truly a special workshop, because I feel this was the first time there was a whole workshop dedicated to understand Jesus and the Christians more. There were amazing professors form UTS, who gave in depth academic lectures about Jesus, the history of that time and the most important saints, who all died for their faith, not questioning one second who they want to fight for. It gave me such power and strength just to hear their stories, and made me question my own strength of faith, and how far would I go in it. We also heard testimonies from former pastors, who even gave up their own congregation, because of their faith in Ture Parents. This made us feel so valuable, but at the same time I felt, and also Demian Dunkley also said, that we can only grow and prosper, if we work together with them. There is no other way! Together we will have power to move masses of people faster than before.
And as Bishop Noel Jones said “There is no peace without humility. And where you find the height of humility, you’ll find the depth of love.” This gave me a green light from God, to go out and visit Christian churches. To love them and show them how much we respect that they are here, and what they have done throughout the years. We have to learn to love and respect Jesus more, and also teach them how to love and respect True Parents. But it’s not words but actions that speak the loudest.
Mary Jane Zahora (Hungary)
Last December I had the opportunity, to attend the Young Tribe Week workshop in America. Because of work, I didn’t have the time to personally connect to any of True Mother’s providential events in the 2nd half of the year, but when I got the invitation letter for this workshop I felt a sudden urge to register and attend this program. And it was one of the most significant experience in my life of faith.
I really loved the international spirit, I was touched by the fact that people were willing to come from the other side of the Earth to support True Mother and attend the rally, to participate in the workshop. It was a very good opportunity to meet brothers and sisters from different countries, experience their cultures and languages and connect with them through our love and faith for Heavenly Parent and True Parents.
I was inspired by the American spirit too, everyone was so full of energy, during the singing sessions and the prayers, the lecturing style was different too, they were so enthusiastic to contribute in any way for True Mother’s event. It gave me motivation to contribute too.
Inheriting the Heart of Christianity (26-27 December, 29-31 December)
The topic of the whole week was „Inheriting the Heart of Christianity”. I had some bad experiences with Christians in my life so I didn’t really want to interact with them and study their teachings. But my whole view changed already on the 1st day, when Reverend Abernathy gave a speech and from it I could feel how much he loves God and Jesus and even though he is a Christian, how much he loves True Parents. This week gave me the motivation to get out of the box of religion and love the God in every person.
Throughout the week we learned about Jesus’ life and how Christianity became what it is now. How Jesus wasn’t accepted in his own time and at the end why he had to sacrifice himself, How faithful the early Christians were for not denying God even though it cost their lifes. It let me reflect on my foundation of faith, how much I was willing to sacrifice for God and True Parents in the past and how can I change it for the better in the future, how can I make way more room for God in my life.
I always struggled with the thought if whether we are a branch of Christianity or a whole different religion, but learning how much True Parents loved Jesus and how Jesus and Christianity, and now True Parents are working hard for this foundation what we have, helped me understand our origins and made me want to do more too.
It moved me to tears how all the lecturers, ACLC pastors, UTS professors loved God so much and expressed it in their every actions. Having their choices in life and choosing to be a Christian, or a Unificationist, it doesn’t matter, because their history is God’s history and they want to express God’s love to everybody.
Peace Starts with Me rally and YCLC (28 December)
This day was full of life and a lot happened. In the morning we went to the Prudential Center to prepare for the event, I volunteered to greet the guests who came for the rally and I just couldn’t stop smiling at the people who kept coming in, all those people swarming the place to attend True Mother’s event. Because of the volunteering we missed the tongil dance which we had practiced to show our desire for unity, but seeing all those people coming in smiling and enthusiastic was worth it. Hearing True Mother’s speech, seeing her struggle with her tears and then at the end giving out all the medals personally and smiling, seeing the place packed with people, listening to the John the Baptist figures talk about True Mother, the mother of peace, made me understand how important it is to love and understand all other religions.
The YCLC event was like an explosion, all the young spirit coming out, YCLC pastors talking about how young people should walk the walk and talk the talk, having a radical love and loving the God in every person.
The next day we visited the churches who attended the rally to thank them for participating in the event and to join and experience a Christian sermon. We were welcomed with love and the spirit was so high with all the worship songs and praising.
This one week gave me the opportunity to reflect a lot about my relationship with God and True Parents and my view on Jesus and Christianity. It made me want to learn and understand more about Christianity and read the Bible. I would like to give one more try for visiting churches and getting to know their people and pastors.
Monika Nanys (Hungary)
I’m truly grateful for being able to spend this week with all these beautiful people, who are ready to act to serve God, and True Parents wholeheartedly. It was a change of heart for me, to learn about the providence that never felt this real before, something that actually I am and I can be a part of, that we are as first and second generation young people trusted and also needed by God and also by our True Mother.
I felt her heart stronger than before, that she is wanting to become the Mother of humanity today, as she was handing the medallions herself to the Clergy leaders on the Rally, and I felt that throughout the week that she is thinking of us.
I felt this pride and gratitude for our movement, what all those hard-working people were able to accomplish, starting from all the 1st generation, offering their lives to this cause, following this path. and now the whole event could become a reality, the rally, YCLC, clergy leaders from all over the world coming together, from many different denominations, could hold hands, and now walk this road together. I felt that the Unification movement has a voice, a strong one in the world, and it’s truly bringing people together into one family under God.
The Youth Tribe week was something that never happened before, us talking about Christianity, coming to the understanding that we actually don’t know Jesus! On whose foundation True Parents could do the work they are doing. This was shocking to understand, but also liberating, I feel this will open new ways for our church to work, a completely new way of thinking. From a place of love, and understanding towards Christians, pulling the walls down from between us, there really isn’t much difference. I just pray that we all can bring this back to our communities and light a fire in the hearts of our families. We will share soon on Sunday service, and hopefully will be able to start visiting other churches as a community.
One thought I remember and will be with me throughout this year of 2020 that people didn’t follow Jesus because of the words he spoke, but because of his love, his true care for people. Whatever may be our goal, we shall love first.
As we start YSP soon here in Hungary as well, we all want to invest more in our relationships with our Christian friends to be able to invite many people to occasions, to learn from each other. Also to make this easier my plan is to finish the Bible, read it completely, and also to join a Bible study group. So I can learn from them, the kind of faith I find we usually don’t have as Unificationists, this complete trust in God.