Peace Starts With Me: Youth Revival
The Los Angeles Family Church hosted a Youth and Young Adult Ministry (YAYAM) Peace Starts With Me Youth Revival workshop on April 5, where approximately 400 youth from around the country gathered to prepare to welcome The Mother of Peace Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, affectionately known as True Mother, to the City of Angels, and to receive inspirational words from Sun Jin Moon, President of Family Federation International.
Sun Jin Moon leveled herself with the participants by sitting on the stage, presenting herself as an equal to all and encouraged everyone to voice any questions and comments they may have.
“I want to open tonight up to the audience in a more heart-to-heart level. Feel free to speak in this place. Teacher and student are one,” she said.
One participant raised his hand and asked for a personal testimony about True Mother for him to create a stronger relationship with her. Sun Jin Moon told of their time in Hawaii. She said, “True Mother arrived in a wheelchair, risking her life for peace. She risks her life every moment for God’s dream.”
In a response, another participant said, “I never realized just how hard True Mother worked until Sun Jin Moon gave that testimony, and she is still striving to be stronger.”
Directing the topic to the Peace Starts With Me rally, Sun Jin Moon asked, “What do you think peace is?” Participants answered with, “Peace starts when we share as one, when we open ourselves and when we’re vulnerable,” “Peace is the lack of suffering, and uniting with God,” and “When you focus on something, it becomes your reality. We need to focus on peace to make it a reality.”
To close the evening, Sun Jin Moon lead the group in a guided meditation she calls “Crown of Glory Meditation” to strengthen their minds and hearts to meet life’s challenges. “Your love has the power to change the world.”
“Through the meditation session, I felt the power of divine love for the first time, and I was able to embrace and forgive certain people from my past,” said another participant.
The evening ended with Krispy Kreme donuts, short group discussions and dance practice for the Peace Starts With Me rally the next day.
The evening of the Peace Starts With Me rally, YAYAM and Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) held a special devotion service with 500 youth from various churches and college campuses which turned into a praise concert.
Special guests City of Refuge Music Minister Patrick Bolton, City of Refuge Youth Minister Brandon Twins, LA Family Church and the Las Vegas CARP Band performed uplifting songs throughout the evening, while Maryland Youth Pastor Gabriel Marchitelli and CARP LV Band Director Marcus Fuller gave empowering messages about sexual integrity, devoting one’s self to God and connecting to Him to become peacemakers.
CARP LA leaders, Joshua Holmes and Jermanie Bishop ended the program by leading the youth in a pledge of devotion.
“The youth revival provided revelation and was the turning point before seeing True Mother. Sun Jin Nim was discussing the importance of individual perfection, and with it we can go on to restore our family, tribe, nation, etc. Though what I came to realize was that you can’t control the universe without first controlling yourself.
For the past 21 days plus, I’ve been making a condition to reach out to my friends on campus and to be the best possible mediator of love for Heavenly Parent and True Parents. Though, days before the rally all 12 of my friends had said “no” to attending April 6, and I knew there was a lesson to be learned. And on April 5 I came to realize if I can’t receive God’s love first how am I to mediate it? How can I expect others I care about to receive love when I haven’t accepted love from Heavenly Parent and True Parents? As such, it came down to the fact that I needed to see myself worthy of God’s love, someone who isn’t ashamed and doesn’t feel the need to put himself down to pave the way for my friends’ success.
April 6 came and during True Mother’s speech I felt so loved from seeing her and just being in front of her made me cry. Spiritually I was able to connect with her and receive her love; I had the revelation of my heart overflowing with her love and my heart was too full to receive anymore. I had a connection of heart with True Mother and now I can be that mediator for my guests who are reading the Divine Principle with me and now I can comfort their hearts with True Mother’s love.” –Jason Hallal, 18, Los Angeles
“I felt a deep connection of heart to True Mother being drawn forth within me. I could see the results of the investment I poured to make this experience from the consistent HDH on the anthology of our True Mother and evening prayers to attending the youth revival workshop with our Sun Jin Nim who explained about True Mother’s situation. It moved my heart to tears while watching the video of her past. I could only think, “The person who will stand before us came from such a place of chaos and misery. She risked her life all for God.” At the end of Mother’s speech, I was joyful to witness Mother so happy along with Bishop Noel Jones and Bishop Kim as one family centered on True Parents.
Another powerful feeling awakened within me. For the longest time I didn’t think so much about the Blessing especially as something I would be looking forward to, but through listening to Rev. Abernathy preach about the power of the Blessing and witnessing, I thought, “I’m excited to be Blessed.” –Kengo Kawa, 22, Los Angeles
“I really enjoyed the meditation and I was able to gain more inspiration from True Mother as she kept walking and got faster and stronger.” –Lisa Yamazaki, 11, Los Angeles
“I really appreciated your talk. Thank you for your sharing about True Mother. Hearing about how hard she works for us was eye-opening. Sun Jin Nim, you also talked about things that my sister is struggling with so I’m excited to share it with her. Thank you so much. Wish we could have had more time for discussion. Thank you for all of your hard work. Mansei!” –Seiji Lindstrom, 18, Ohio
“I loved seeing Sun Jin Nim! It was so surreal I thought I was dreaming. I loved her lecture and admired her personality and her presence. I felt like I was really able to feel more connected to True Mother through Sun Jin Nim. I’m really looking forward to seeing True Mother and can’t wait for the next time to see Sun Jin Nim again and hopefully give her a big warm hug.” –Calissa Quilates, 19, San Francisco
“Thank you so much Sun Jin Moon! Your message of hope brought me so much inspiration and peace that continue to inspire me throughout my mission on GPA as a tribal messiah bearing witness to my brothers and sisters on and off the frontline.” –Hanami Tateno, 19, San Francisco
“I really liked that you interacted with us and asked us for our input. I really felt that you were able to show a vulnerable side of Mother and of yourself, too. It’s difficult to respond to an audience’s viewpoint, but you were able to really share a message of hope and self-love through everything. I really enjoyed the meditation. Something that really stood out to me was when you mentioned that “what you focus on becomes your reality.” Your message was really inspiring and reminded me that we don’t live in a perfect world, but if we work on ourselves, we can make it a better place. Thank you Sun Jin Moon!” –Rosa Llanto, 19, Los Angeles
“I was very inspired by her speech yesterday. It was amazing hearing about how True Mother has endured so much and continued to take care of her health for the sake of others. Doing the meditation, I was really relaxed and it helped soothe me. Thank you so much Sun Jin Nim.” –Karen Zacatelco, 17, Los Angeles
“The time spent with Sun Jin Moon was so warming. My fundraising team has been dedicating each day to her and to True Mother’s success. Seeing her talk so openly about True Mother’s situation really hit me. True Mother is the example for all of humankind to follow, but Sun Jin Moon is the best example of how to SUPPORT True Parents. I am so grateful to see someone take on that difficult task…with such grace. I was there to serve and give to those around me, but I received so much more. I received love through Sun Jin Moon, I received an ignition of spirit, I received direction, but most of all, I received God’s undying love. What a memorable night!” –Reyna Harding, 20, Korea
“Sun Jin Nim’s talk really motivated me to stay healthy so we can bring peace to this earth while our beloved True Mother is still here. Hearing that True Mother is even risking herself, and pushing her way through for us, and our sake, I felt tremendously loved. Thank you so much Sun Jin Nim for your time and love! 사랑합니다 !” –Ameri Tachiiri, 15, Los Angeles
“Whenever I go to workshops I feel sort of empty. I was wondering, “Sun Jin Nim is here, I should be feeling something. What is wrong with me?” But when she started to talk about Mother and peace I started to FEEL stuff. She was so passionate and I could feel that she really loves Mother and I believe in what she said and that she really wanted to get a point across. I could feel Sun Jin Nim’s spirit. I am very thankful that she brought tears to my eyes because they were tears of realization and satisfaction of what I had at the moment. My grandfather Tateo Sato ascended to the spirit world recently, and I’ve heard testimonies from those who knew him and they always said that he worked nonstop even in his sleep. Sun Jin Nim mentioned Longer Faster Stronger Omoni and how Mother is working to the point where she has to endure physical pain and how she worked to get her health back to. My grandfather was induced with a tumor but he hadn’t told any of his family members so we wouldn’t worry and tell him to rest and go to the hospital. He did this so that he could continue to work for God’s Providence until his death and he really did. So when Sun Jin Nim said that Mother had been feeling knee pains and was in a wheelchair I was suddenly overcome by this fear that she can’t make it, but it was irrational and the fact that she is now working to gain back that health made me feel relieved beyond anything I could imagine.
I then thought back to when Father ascended. I was sort of young and at the time not very conscious of this world and the church and who Father really was. To this day I regret not having a better relationship with him and not being able to connect with him and not being able to cry with the translator lady during his Seonghwa Ceremony. So when I felt love for Mother I was relieved that I was improving and was starting to understand Mother, and through Father’s and Heavenly Parent’s hearts little by little as I devote myself more and more.
Sun Jin Nim mentioned that unification and love begin within the individual, then family, then tribe and then nation. I’ve never been individually unified. However, I’ve read in the Cheon Seong Gyeong that we have to connect with True Parents as they are the horizontal and then Heavenly Parent at a ninety degree angle. I was extremely moved by that and I realized that I was coming closer and closer to that peace within myself and I really think that not only Sun Jin Nim’s words but also seeing Mother on stage and smiling and saying that SHE had faith in us helped boost me even closer to that peace. Seeing Mother’s smile made me want to be someone who can keep that smile on her face. I’ve heard that my grandfather was someone that True Father could really trust and I want to be that someone to True Mother and help keep that smile and have them enjoy a peaceful world. I love you Sun Jin Nim.” –Junghae Joo, 15, New Jersey
“I liked how Sun Jin Moon talked about True Mother’s experiences in Hawaii. It showed me how she really cares about True Mother. Before I heard Sun Jin Moon’s speech, I always thought that True Mother works so hard but I didn’t recognize until how hard she worked until Sun Jin Moon talked about it. When she started crying that’s when I realized that True Mother works hard no matter what, even at her age she works so hard. That had changed my attitude. After hearing her talk, I felt that I should be more grateful that I have and never give up things. I always had attitude problems but after listening to Sun Jin Moon it changed my attitude and I want to take baby steps to secure my faith and attitude. It might be hard at first but I want to try my best and never give up. Sun Jin Moon’s testimony inspired me a lot and I learned more about True Mother. I’m really grateful that I had the chance to listen to Sun Jin Moon’s speech. Thank you so much for your hard work!” –Reina Sato, 14, New York
“Sun Jin Moon helped me understand peace a little bit more. I thought of peace from my perspective or from my experience but I didn’t realize that God, Heaven and this world was always in battle and there was never really peace. Also, I’m grateful of Sun Jin Moon’s testimony with Mother. I felt a deeper appreciation for Mother to know what it took for her to even stand on the stage. During the message, I honestly felt really surprised because True Mother is so bold, but I thought about the 43 day condition. Also, I felt so loved by being able to receive a hug from Sun Jin Moon.” –Takafumi Mashiko, 22, New Jersey
“My GPA team read from the GPA handbook and read Sun Jin Moon’s testimony titled, “Let Us Learn from True Mother” earlier that day before her talk. This testimony helped us prepare for the relationship Sun Jin Moon and True Mother have, as well as what kind of person True Mother is. We learned that True Mother has this type of devotion to True Father and everyday trying to ease Heavenly Father’s Heart. In my team, our internal group goal is to “become an absolute object of joy for God and True Parents.” I felt that through this talk that Sun Jin Moon gave us, we expanded our horizon on how much we can give love to our Heavenly Parent and True Parents. Through her talk, we understood more about what kind of heart we must have toward our own parents. In order to understand True Parents, we have to understand our own parents as well. Personally, I am trying to understand True Parents more and how I can connect to them to be more unified to Heavenly Parent. And through Sun Jin Moon, I have gotten closer to opening my heart towards them. Thank you for your inspiring words, Sun Jin Moon, and telling us we must become unique individuals that want to change the world.” –Yoshia Matsui, 18, Maryland
“Hello Sun Jin Moon! My name is Rika Otsubo and I am from Honolulu, Hawaii. First of all, thank you so much for taking your precious time to come talk to the youth. You must be so busy with the movement not even having time for yourself, but you came to give us youth guidance in our life of faith. I was so excited to see you for the longest time! I saw you at GTGY 2016 for the first time when you gave us your life testimony and from that moment, you are now my role model. You are someone I truly look up to.
I have gained so much from your talk once again through this rally. You’re my older sister that helps me in my life of faith. You’re my channel, my vessel to True Parents. Through your talks, it helps me connect to True Parents better heartistically. When you were talking about True Mother and Hawaii, my heart felt so warm. I was able to feel this parent-child love through your talk. I’m on GPA right now and I’ve been missing my home for the longest time, but when you talked about all the great aspects of Hawaii, I felt like I was home again. I can just imagine True Mother walking on the beach with the beautiful sunset or sunrise in the background and it brings a big smile to my face. Longer faster stronger Omoni! This is actually in our GPA handbook and my team read this HDH on the morning of your talk. When you brought this up in the talk, I was so shocked because it was literally what we read that morning! These background stories of True Parents brings me lots of joy!
I tend to beat myself up, thinking that I’m not doing good enough or I’m so worthless, but when you said that True Parents and all first-generation already paid the indemnity for us and all we need to do is be joyful and happy, I felt a lot of love from you. I felt as if God was telling me it’s okay and comforting me. Sun Jin Moon, you change so many peoples’ lives in a good way. I love you very much and thank you for always being this great role model for all of us youth and being by True Mother’s side. You have definitely impacted me in a good way and helped me through my life of faith and relationship with True Parents! I will keep fighting and not give up because I know that God, True Parents, Jesus and all my brothers and sisters are by my side.” –Rika Otsubo, 20, Hawaii
“These past few days have been very powerful for me, allowing me to see clearly from different perspectives. I believe this was due to the kind of heart I had prepared to attend these events. I wanted to further deepen my relationship with True Mother by understanding her position. Through Sun Jin Moon’s testimony about True Mother, I was about to “feel” the pain and suffering she was going through and how desperate she is in wanting us as second-generation to help her. One important thing I was able to take away from this was that a heart of attendance towards True Parents develops from the heart I have for my brothers and sisters around the world. I feel that I was able to expand my heart toward everyone through the devotion ceremony. I experienced God’s love and joy from the presence of those brothers and sisters but also being able to return that joy to God was something I enjoyed.” –Yoshiro Watanabe, 18, Oregon
“It was moving to hear from Sun Jin Moon on such a personal level. She made it a conversation and she was so interactive. She was relatable because she, herself, had to learn who True Parents were and work on her path to attend them. What moved me most was her testimony of her recent experience with True Mother in Hawaii. We’ve been praying for True Mother and sometimes I try to imagine what she may be doing at that time of day. Maybe she’s resting, or praying or working hard. But hearing Sun Jin Moon’s testimony made me realize how hard True Mother works, and it also made me so relieved to know that Sun Jin Moon is taking care of her. True Mother is getting older physically and not all of us can attend or take care of True Mother, but hearing that Sun Jin Moon is, and that she is giving all her love, made me feel really grateful to her. She’s taking care of her for all of us and she’s really a vessel for True Mother’s love to reach us. Her message was so sincere and full of love. Sometimes, it’s hard to know where to begin to really inherit and become like True Mother myself, but seeing Sun Jin Moon so closely, allowed me to see the qualities I want to inherit from both of them. Sun Jin Moon is passionate about the Will, but also practical. She’s so humble and loving and I realized that these are qualities she learned from True Parents. I thank her for being so vulnerable, sincere, real and humble.” –Jasmine Santoro, 20, Los Angeles
“This weekend was an amazing experience. I felt that the questions and concerns that have been in my heart have been heard and acknowledged by God. I moved away from the community that I grew up in when I was 14. I lived in the Philippines in high school and after I graduated I did GPA. After I graduated GPA I moved to Las Vegas. It has been a while since I have lived at home, and something I think about often are my childhood friends. I think about how they are doing, if they are happy in their lives and I want to help them. But it has been challenging because my community changed a lot since my family moved to the Philippines. Many of them have been distant from the church. My friends went through a lot of challenges and I feel they are distant from God and True Parents. When I would visit home when during breaks, I felt so sorry that I could not share about True Parents with them. I felt really challenged because I didn’t know how to help them. I could only spend time with them, listen to them and support them with short visits twice a year. I felt unqualified to say anything. And I have been in fear of being judged. Sometimes I felt guilty because while I am off doing things with GPA and CARP, they don’t have anybody taking care of them.
During this rally, there was a workshop for the youth in LA. I do not know many people around there, mostly just friends that I made while I was on GPA. I was expecting to have a good time, maybe meet new people and not expecting anything crazy. I just wanted to show up and greet True Mother. When I arrived at LA church, I met some familiar faces, but then someone tapped me on the shoulder and I met someone I totally did not expect. I saw one of my childhood friends from my community. We grew up together from little toddlers to middle schoolers, and it had been years since I really spent time with her. I knew her experience with the movement was not an easy one, so I was so shocked that she was there. We sat down together and I asked her about what she has been up to. She shared about her experiences after high school.
I asked her why she came to the rally, and she said she didn’t know that this event was happening. Her pastor just invited her to come with her to LA, so she came. When she told me that, I really felt it was God’s guidance for her to be here. I also realized in this moment that God really needed me to be here for her to embrace her and love her. She didn’t know anybody at the event, and I am sure if I was not there or if I was busy with responsibilities, she would have a really closed her heart toward True Mother, the event and miss an opportunity to experience something transformational.
Throughout the weekend, I watched her heart open. She was so overwhelmed, felt out of place and anxious in the beginning. But slowly, she started to feel the spirit of the rally and the City of Refuge Church and True Mother and she became really excited. She saw how our movement was welcomed and embraced by Christians. She was so inspired by what was happening. I felt so much joy for God and True Parents, because I knew how much comfort they must feel from being understood.
I cannot believe that she was here. There is no way that she came without something higher moving and preparing things for her. I felt like God was also really trying to show me that I don’t need to think about the details so much about how to reach out to my community and my childhood friends. He will arrange things and he just needs someone to be there to be an anchor for everything that he has planned. I have to trust in my Father. He wants to show me how much he has been seeing their situation and wanting to bring them back home. True Mother also briefly mentioned that the fire on the West coast needs to spread to the East coast. Neither one of us can do it alone. We could try, but it would be so challenging.
I felt that this weekend God and True Parents responded to the concerns in my heart. And I really want to respond to what he has shown me. I am so humbled by this love. Having this experience has also prompted me to reflect deeper into my life. When I moved to the Philippines, I was so angry at my mom. I felt like my life was thrown into disarray. But now looking back, I feel like that was a huge blessing. My sisters and I did not have to go through painful experiences that my community experienced. I went through challenges, but at the end of the day I could find God and True Parents’ love. I want to share that back home.” –Junghyo Batino, 21, Las Vegas