The Heart to Save Others: Witnessing as a Way of Life – Part 2
At the heart of the growth of our movement is each person’s heart to reach out and convey the Principle to others. The following is extracted from Sheri Rueter’s testimony about witnessing that she gave to members at a US CARP workshop on August 1, 1987.
By Sheri Rueter
Click here to read Part 1 which was posted last week
How does one gain the confidence to witness?
When you are out walking, God wants you to feel that you have Him on your arm, along with Jesus and Heung-jin nim. Have the feeling you are going out with the “gang.” It’s not just you. Have the sense, “I can do it.” Go out as if you and True Parents “own” the street.
Satan detests witnessing. He attacks you constantly while you are out there trying. A lot of times he makes you feel bad about yourself: “Boy, do you look stupid walking up to that person. What are you going to say if he asks you such and such?” If he’s not telling you how dumb you look, he’s telling you that no one is prepared: “That person won’t make it. These people are no good. That one looks too intellectual, that one looks like he has too much money.” It’s like a tape recording; all you have to do is switch it off. Tell Satan, “So what? Who doesn’t need salvation?! I am still going to talk to this person. I’m still going to do what God wants me to do.” You have to get to the point where Satan is frustrated with you and leaves you. Pray and make a determination and follow your intuition. Let the good spirit world guide you.
You will build momentum over a period of time. Start by being there for God and True Parents, and then little by little the spirit world will trust you and work with you more. If they know you are as desperate as they are, they will help you become more spiritually perceptive.
People respond because in their original mind they are longing for God’s love. You have to give your heart freely. That’s the way Heavenly Father uses you. Because there is so little love in the world, love always looks crazy. No one wants to admit it, but people are really touched by that craziness. I remember thinking the night I was witnessed to by my spiritual father, Jeremiah Schnee, “Why is this person staying up until four in the morning trying to convince me to come to a workshop? Why is it so important to him?” But the fact that it was that important to him stayed with me. I felt so called by his sincere heart and his desperation that I had to check it out.
All the people out there are pretending they have it together, but in their hearts, they know they don’t. Everybody feels torn and divided inside somewhere. Honestly, there is almost no one to whom you are going to witness who hasn’t been heartbroken and who isn’t lonely for God’s love. They might not be able to put a name on it, but that’s what everyone wants. They really need you, not just for the mystical idea of salvation, but for the reality of salvation—for the actual, concrete love and guidance that each one of us has experienced. Think about how you’ve changed since the day you were witnessed to. Don’t worry about being “cool.”
What do you focus on when you go out to witness?
There’s a voice that speaks to you when you are out witnessing. It usually tells you to do something you don’t want to do. In my case it often involves physical activity such as running or jumping. When the voice tells you a chosen person is around, listen to it. Sometimes I would be witnessing to somebody and all of a sudden the voice would tell me that the chosen person was walking down the other side of the street. I would just say, “Sorry, I have to run,” and actually run off because the chosen person was across the street. If you are really willing, the spirit world will guide you to exactly where you should go.
One of my most incredible experiences happened several years ago when we were driving to the bus station in San Francisco. As we approached the station I noticed a girl in the distance. Everything in my logical mind said, “Forget it. You’ll never catch her” But another part of me said, “Go for it” I hopped out of the car and ran down the street after the girl. She saw me and not only started running away from me but shouted, “Get out of here!” I was totally out of breath by the time she vanished inside the station. As I stood there breathing hard—and feeling remarkably stupid—a person walked up to me and said, “Do you know where I can get the bus to Clear Lake? I’m trying to find a spiritual community.” I was shocked. I said, “Actually, I live in one a few blocks away.” This person joined. Heavenly Father knew I wouldn’t be at the bus station in time to meet him if I didn’t run, so He told me, “Run!”
Cultivate an area. At Fisherman’s Wharf, I always walked around and around a particular four-block area. Somehow, the spirit world knew I was there. If they wanted to send someone, they knew I was going to try hard to meet them.
Don’t assume that people are negatively influenced by bad reports in the media. One time there was a terrible article on the front page of the local newspaper. Depressed, I was just reading it when a young man walked up to me and said, “Do you know where I can get Rev. Moon’s address?” I thought he was joking. He elaborated, “I read an article about him in a magazine that gave his birthdate. I did his astrological chart and found out he really is a holy man, so I want to find him” I said, “Yes, I know exactly where he lives.”
What kinds of things do you say to people?
I say something different to everybody. I try to feel that each person is the most precious chosen person. Internally I ask, “Father, speak through me! Please let him come.”
One time I tried to talk a young man into going up to camp. I knew he was really prepared. He said, “Well, I already have plans for this weekend; I’ll come by on my way back through here.”
I knew he wouldn’t. Finally, I went up to the prayer room and just cried, “Father, please make this person come no matter what!” Then I came downstairs to where he was, looked him in the face, and said, “You are so arrogant. You are so selfish. Here God is trying to give you something. You might actually learn how to love somebody in a true way. Instead you are just going to go around traveling and doing your own thing. You have no sense of responsibility.” (I had never met this person before!) Finally, he replied, “All right. Here’s the workshop fee. Where’s the bus?”
That’s the only time I ever did that. I would not recommend it as a technique. But I said it because I really prayed, and I felt that that was what the person needed; the spirit world just used me to give it to him. The key point is your sincerity. People can feel your sincerity and your desperation through your words. You don’t have to feel afraid to look desperate, because Heavenly Father is desperate.
Do you recommend working with a partner?
Working with a partner can be very effective. For example, you can help inspire each other. Your own individual determination and heart are vital, but the bond of unity you can make with your partner creates a strong foundation that God can work through to bring someone to you.
I work full-time. How can I find spiritual children?
It’s important to make practical choices that will allow you to witness. Whenever you have to wait for others or for some event to begin, go outside. There’s always a chance someone will be walking by. One place for sure you’re never going to find a spiritual child is in your living room! When I first joined the church, I had a car because I was working as a public health nurse. For three weeks I made a condition to take the train instead of driving and talk to at least three people on the train going and coming. It was because of that condition that I could witness to the man who later became my husband. Making extra effort and going over your own concepts will nearly always bear fruit.
How can these principles be applied to home church work?
Honestly, to me they are both the same. They require the same exact quality of heart—the “heart of salvation.” Externally the process is different, but if you pledge to God and True Parents that the people in your home church area belong to them, then miracles can happen. In 1982 I did home church work in a small center with four other members. Based, I believe, on the incredible intensity of one sister’s tearful prayer and desperation, the principal of the high school in our area was led to join our church. At the time it felt like a miracle, but it was her desperation and sincerity that brought this victory.
To be continued….