Spartan Days and Miracles in Busan – Part 4
By Rev. Won Pil Kim
Soon after the North Korean invasion of South Korea in late June 1950, the North Korean army occupied most of South Korea and pressed down on a small perimeter surrounding the southern cities of Daegu and Busan, which the Republic of Korea forces (and some US troops that had been sent from Japan) defended with all their strength. Troops from General Douglas McArthur’s daring landing at Incheon (near Seoul) on September 15 ended up splitting the supply lines for the North Korean army, and then the allied forces pushed the North Korean army back up the peninsula—just far up enough that Father could get out of the Hungnam special labor camp before the Chinese army entered the war and its tide turned again.
We have already covered Father’s journey to Pyongyang to look for his followers, and then on down to Busan, elsewhere in this series of early days testimonies. Father, Won Pil Kim and one other made their way through war-torn Korea—a journey that took almost two months during the bitter winter of 1950-51.
Busan was a city swollen with refugees from the war, but perhaps a place of comparative freedom and hope compared to most other parts of the peninsula at that time. This is where Father began our movement in South Korea.
This account of Father’s life and activities in Busan from 1951 to 1953 is compiled primarily from tapes of several talks on Father’s life given by Rev. Kim to the first 120-day training session at the World Mission Center in 1981, supplemented by excerpts from his testimony given at Belvedere on October 14, 1979, and his book Father’s Course and our Life of Faith. Occasional portions in parentheses come from History Committee chief Mr. Kwang Yol Yoo’s historical articles in the December 21, 1974 New Hope News and January 1976 issue of the Korean monthly Tongil Segye.
It is worthy of note that these events took place while Mother was in primary school, almost a decade before True Parents’ Holy Wedding.
Father’s Early Ministry in Busan
Someone who is really immersed in his work doesn’t feel tired, but a person who just watches hour after hour gets sleepy. When I was working, Father could have done something else or encouraged me to rest afterwards, but he never did. Instead, he watched me and studied how I handled all the elements of the image. At the time, I would have expected him to become sleepy after spending so many hours watching. I would get tired, but looking at Father and realizing that he must be even more tired than I was helped me carry on.
On occasion, members would come to see Father while we worked. One old woman came to visit, but Father was so busy that he didn’t pay much attention to her. She was tired, so she lay down and was about to fall asleep. Father asked her how she could sleep lying down when others were working so hard, and suggested instead that she doze leaning against the wall.
Sometimes in the middle of the night I would be awakened by sobbing or singing. I was tired and couldn’t make out what it was, but later I found out that Father was not asleep but on his knees, crying and singing in his prayer.
Father’s attitude towards money
When the end of the month came around and I was paid, I would bring my earnings to Father. The first thing Father would buy with the money was one month’s supply of rice for the whole family, next wood for fuel and kerosene for the lamps. Then he would buy dried fish and soy sauce. I could eat at the mess hall in the army compound, so meals were no problem for me, but Father had to cook all his meals himself. He would eat only rice and one side dish per meal.
Before the month was over, however, Father would often run out of money. I could easily guess how Father had spent the month. Often people who heard about him and his insights would come to visit–even people who were very learned and had spent up to 30 years going to the mountains to meditate and pray deeply. Usually they were very poor and had no means of earning money, so when they came, Father would treat them to food and give them transportation money. In such ways, the money would soon be gone.
One morning Father very apologetically told me there was no more money. He told me in detail how the money had been spent, the name of each person to whom he had given money and the amount they had received. Very clearly and precisely he accounted for each detail of the money he used. He seemed to feel so sorry about having spent the money, and I, on my part, felt rather bad, since I supposed he was explaining in such detail in order to allay any questions I might have had about what he had done with the money. To give Father the money I earned through fundraising filled me with such joy, because he always took good care of how the money was spent, and that made it possible for many more people to come to the church.
I worried that Father felt my faith was weak and needed bolstering through many explanations. But my attitude was that of making a total offering, so it was up to Father how he used the money.
So, if you are a center leader, what kind of attitude should you have when you send members out fundraising? Actually, Father felt sorry that instead of himself, a member had to work so hard to bring money to be used for God’s will. The money was for God, so Father wanted to clarify in front of heaven how it was spent for God’s will.
The entire time I was painting pictures, Father was either working with me or staying by my side, constantly supporting me. Through this attitude of his, I could understand that he wasn’t just making me fundraise, but was working side by side with me, and as a result, he didn’t feel indebted to me. Of course, I had my responsibility as a member and Father had his responsibility as Father, and the two responsibilities were different, but still he never left me alone; he was always at my side helping me fulfill my responsibility as a member.
With this realization, I started appreciating Father’s concern about my working to support the church. I continued this painting for about three and a half years. Even though there were many members, I was the only source of income, and I was grateful for Father’s thoughtfulness, which made me want to work harder in order to earn more money, knowing that Father would take care that it was used for the highest purpose. I could work and forget about the money that came in, but Father could not. He was always concerned about spending it in the best way.
Stories of members who joined in Busan
After writing the first manuscript of Principle, Father began to witness. He told us that he felt so anxious to see new members come and join. In his heart burned an intense longing for members to come.
The first member to meet Father in Busan and join was a Christian evangelist, Mrs. Hyun Shil Kang. She had heard about Father and his teachings, and in the summer of 1952, she came looking for him. It was difficult for her to believe that from such humble beginnings an ideal world could come about, but after many going through many struggles and having many spiritual experiences, she joined.
There were no training programs to prepare members for pioneer work in those days, but in July 1953, Father sent Mrs. Kang to Taegu as a pioneer. Can you imagine Father’s heart, sending out a new member as a pioneer? We didn’t have enough money to support pioneer work, but giving her just a little money, enough for one-way transportation, Father asked her to go to Taegu (the largest city between Busan and Seoul) and pioneer there. She visited ministers, Christian leaders and friends to tell them about the Principle; she must have cried a lot, however, because she couldn’t make any progress with them. Having been so moved by the Principle and feeling so much joy upon accepting it, Mrs. Kang expected that the others would feel the same great joy and excitement, but they did not.
Absolutely sure that Father had the truth, she kept witnessing with great earnestness, looking for a place to stay, convinced that she had to find someone who could understand and become a member. She was confidently searching for a person whom Heaven had prepared.
One day as she was walking, her feet stopped and would not move forward. She knew then that someone whom heaven wanted her to contact must be living in the general area, and she decided to walk in search of that person. Then she met one housewife who had seen her in a dream the night before; in that dream, she was told that a guest missionary would come and that she should treat her with all possible care. Therefore, she and her family had made preparations for their expected guest. This was how the first member of the Taegu church was found. Because of God’s guidance and blessing, her pioneer witnessing progressed very well. That lady has been a faithful member all these years and is now living in Seoul.
To be continued next week…