Prayer Works Wonders
The Ninth World Media Conference, held in 1987, might not have been so remarkable had something not happened that threatened to upset the careful preparations.
by Larry Moffitt
The end of September saw the successful completion of the Ninth World Media Conference, which like every previous conference had a noticeably better quality of speakers and participants than the ones before.
For example, our slate of distinguished speakers included three U.S. congressmen; Mrs. Anwar Sadat, widow of the late President of Egypt; Mrs. Salvador Laurel, wife of the Vice President of the Philippines; John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy; Douglas Kiker, national affairs correspondent for “NBC Nightly News”; Yoshiki Hidaka, vice director of NHK Television Network in Japan; Ray Cline, former deputy director of the CIA; and Ambassador Douglas MacArthur II, my longtime friend and mentor.
A valuable lesson
One valuable lesson we learned this year relates to something Father said. To paraphrase, Father said he never worries about the success or failure of a project, but only about whether or not he gives his total sincerity and energy to it. With our movement being taken to a new level of Pentecost and rebirth by True Parents and Heung Jin Nim, the need for our constant partnership with God was shown to us on a quite practical level at this Ninth World Media Conference.
For some reason, I wasn’t as wary as I usually am when everything seems to be proceeding a little too smoothly before our annual conference. I flew to Korea a few days before the conference feeling like we had it made. We had the best speakers and participants ever. Father and Mother would be there too. Every foreseeable detail was firmly nailed into place.
I should have been suspicious. Three days before the conference was to open, one congressman canceled because of incredible media attacks in his home state. The other two congressmen had to vote on key issues in Washington the very morning they were to speak at our conference in Korea. All this was revealed to me in a series of 2:00 am phone calls to my hotel room in Seoul. The entire panel for our afternoon Keynote Session, and a year of planning, vaporized in an instant as I sat in bed staring at the phone in shock.
When I awoke the next morning still reeling from the night before, I found a telex from Ambassador MacArthur stuck under my door. His wife of 53 years was seriously ill, and he had to rush back home from Japan where he had stopped on his way to Korea. Ambassador MacArthur’s role at this conference was to have been quite special. He had prepared a beautiful introduction to Father’s speech at the Opening Plenary Session.
I realized I had been less than conscientious in my prayer life lately and had been leading with my physical man, trying to succeed by my own efforts. Others on the staff may have felt the same way. Once again the point about the importance of connecting our external work with Father’s spiritual foundation was driven home. The indemnity and sacrifices of True Parents and Heung Jin Nim have changed the spirit world from rudderless disorganization into an unbeatable ally, so eager to assist and more easily mobilized now than at any other time in the history of the world, but we had simply neglected to mobilize them. We had marched into battle without our troops! Suddenly, it was a very good time to pray.
We began praying
Instead of waiting for the night before the conference to begin our customary all-night prayer chain, the staff who had arrived early to finish preparations began praying for the conference, specifically focusing the attention of the spirit world on the protection of True Parents, our speakers and participants, and all the key elements of the conference. We used prayer like a surgeon’s scalpel to perform a “Satan-ectomy”
At midnight we launched our vigil of prayer and deep repentance. Just two hours later, the phone rang. One of the congressmen called to say he would come after all if he could arrive only the night before the Opening Plenary Session and if he could speak then instead of at the afternoon session and if we could get him a fast car and a police escort to the airport so he could catch a plane back to Washington immediately after speaking. He also said he would convince the other congressman to do the same.
Without the slightest idea how we could rearrange the schedule at such a late date, and without even knowing if there would be any planes flying out of Seoul non-stop to Washington at that hour, I said: “No problem” I thanked him profusely, hung up the phone, and cried.
Because of the International Dateline it is possible to speak in Korea on a Monday morning, catch a plane from Seoul at 11:00 am, and land in Washington DC at 10:50 am that same Monday morning, ten minutes before you left. But it would be a grueling trip for those congressmen to make. It would mean flying 16 hours to Korea, getting a couple of hours of sleep, delivering their speeches, and making a mad dash for the airport and another 16-hour flight home. U.S. legislators are limited by law as to the amount of money they can make each year giving speeches. It isn’t very much at all, so the fact that they would go to this much trouble to appear at our conference is an indication of the great commitment they have for the work Father is doing to encourage serious discussion of professional and personal ethical values by members of the media.
We altered the schedule, and the congressmen ended up speaking in the morning, alongside Father. As each one spoke, he expressed his sincere gratitude at being invited to address the conference. Their words were very uplifting as they exhorted the participants to remember their responsibility to society and to pursue the cause of freedom for the sake of God and the world.
Alive with electricity
Father was deeply inspired by the dedication of these exceptional elected officials. They really helped prepare the mood, each speaker being lifted to new heights by the one before him, so that when the time came for Father to deliver his Founder’s Address, the atmosphere was alive with electricity. The participants rose as one body and, for the first time in the history of the conference, welcomed Father with a standing ovation. I had to remind myself that these were members of the worldwide media—not religious leaders-who were greeting Father in such a manner. In both content and spirit, the session turned out to be far better than the way we ourselves had originally designed it.
I asked one of the leading members of our Board of Chairmen to introduce Father with the same eloquent words of praise written so lovingly by Ambassador MacArthur. This was the first time in our relationship that I had asked this person to be so directly involved with Father, and he arrived at the hotel late, so I couldn’t ask him until just a few hours before the opening of the conference. By this time, however, I knew with confidence that Heaven was marching with us every step of the way and that he would say yes. He didn’t hesitate for even a second. “I would be honored to introduce Rev. Moon,” he said.
Another inspiring moment came during the Keynote Session that afternoon as Bruce Herschensohn, the chairman of that session, was introducing the topics to be discussed. Herschensohn was the chief commentator for KABC-TV in Los Angeles and was a top aide and speechwriter for President Nixon. Before beginning the session, he reminded the participants of his involvement in the Nixon White House and added, “The days of Watergate were dark times, with every day bringing increasingly worse news. All the people we thought of as friends were scrambling to put distance between themselves and the President, like rats leaving a sinking ship.”
He continued, “Only one person came forward and
publicly offered to help. That was Rev. Moon. As everyone in Washington was
deserting us, only Rev. Moon spoke up for the President, and he was criticized
by everyone for doing so. How a person conducts himself when things are at
their worst shows the true measure of that person’s character. I will be
eternally and deeply grateful to Rev. Moon for what he did. I have been waiting
14 years to be able to say this to Rev. Moon.”
The participants responded with prolonged, enthusiastic applause. Father was greatly comforted by these words, and every church member who endured persecution from working on the “Forgive, Love, and Unite” campaign to support President Nixon can likewise take consolation that their efforts were indeed appreciated.
In addition, the then government-controlled Korean media gave the conference and Father tremendous coverage on all the nightly newscasts and in all the newspapers each morning. Mrs. Sadat and Mrs. Laurel seemed to have a special attraction for the press, and they were gracious enough to give many interviews, sacrificing most of their free time.
Maybe the initial difficulties were God’s plan all along, or maybe He simply used the circumstances. Either way, it was an opportunity for us to relearn a precious lesson. When we unite with the spirit world under the leadership of Heung Jin Nim and use the tools God has suffered so many thousands of years to provide us with, success is inevitable. Even more than the specific events of the World Media Conference, this point needs to remembered.
In the end, what will save the world is our absolute dedication, absolute sincerity, and absolute purity. Such qualities are the only things that can cut through the veneer of glittering pretense the fallen world has substituted for reality to conceal its shallowness from itself. An unchanging connection with God, True Parents, and Heung Jin Nim will not only shorten the restoration providence; it is essential for the success of our missions and our personal courses of rebirth.