Reaching Out to a World in Need
From the latest situation in Baltimore to the development of our youth, the world needs God, True Parents, and the teachings of the Divine Principle more than ever. Communities around the nation have been working hard to bring God to the people they meet, through outreach, uplifting activities, interfaith gatherings and workshops.
The Baltimore Family Church Sees City from God’s Eyes
Contributed by James and Tilly Stewart, Pastors, Baltimore Family Church
The Baltimore Family Church has come to the end of our first three days of outreach as part of the District’s 21-day outreach initiative. I know the past few days have been a profound experience for many of us, a time where we could get back to our roots and meet God.
Outreach is not easy for anyone. As I stood on the streets of Baltimore, I forgot what it was like to face rejection. I had forgotten what it was like to face my fears and I had forgotten what it was like to face myself. When I saw brothers and sisters in the same situation including very new members of our community reaching out to people, I was able to make that first step forward. In that moment, I could experience the heart and love of our Heavenly Parent through the people who were with me and the people I met.
As we sat down with the people we met, we heard many stories of hope like the young man who understood love for the first time when his daughter was born recently. He is trying to do the best he can for his child and wants to understand how to be a “real or true parent.” He has come daily since first meeting us. In addition, a couple we met came looking for a “home church.” There are many who want to find God or a community of believers. We also heard heartbreaking stories. Can you imagine the heart of God when a 21 year old is asked his hopes and dreams and he shared that his hope is to live until he is 25? Three of his friends died in violence in the past few months and he was losing hope that he can make it to 25.
Everyone has a need to find hope, a need to understand how to handle suffering, how to protect their family and how to raise their children. These are all issues we have an answer for, and our message is clear, practical, loving and timeless. It is our responsibility to reach out to share this message and let people know our True Parents are here.
During the few days of our witnessing condition, we invited many to our witnessing café. Forty of them heard an introduction to Divine Principle and our movement. Since then, some have come to our center. Some shared in our Sunday Fellowship. Some joined our one-day Divine Principle workshop. Many continue to visit.
This experience allowed us to step in to the shoes of our True Parents and become to others what our True Parents are to us. Our experience was so profound we will continue this outreach weekly. The Baltimore families are grateful to the many brothers and sisters who came from around the district to support and help us. If you would like to share this experience with us, please call or come. We will take good care of you.
Peace and Blessings.
Atlanta Family Church Is Energized Through Community Programs
April has been a busy month for the Atlanta Family Church community. A one-day Divine Principle workshop was held on April 11, 2015 for middle and high school Unification youth, and an American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC) Pastors’ Forum was held the following week on April 18, 2015. The programs had a wonderful turnout of Unificationists and guests.
The workshop was led by Choongkwon, a senior in college, who delivered a Hoon Dok Hwe-style of study where participants could “express their understandings and ask questions openly.” Many participants felt this was a good way to study and encouraged dialogue among everyone.
Not only were participants able to have meaningful exchanges surrounding the Divine Principle contents as a group, they also had separate discussions that enhanced their grasp of the topics. Shortly after the workshop, everyone headed to a park for sports activities.
At the ACLC Pastors’ Forum, Rev. Samuel Mosteller, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Georgia, served as the emcee for the program. Among the attendees was special guest speaker Bishop Jesse Edwards, and by phone, Min. Steen Miles, a former Georgia Senator and TV newswoman.
Bishop Edwards presented the topic “A Vision for America—The Genesis Ideal and Restoration of the First Family” in which he quoted Bible scripture and Divine Principle verses in an “eye-opening way,” according to one participant. His energy, humor and insightful, warm remarks left the audience in good spirits.
Min. Miles shared about her experience of studying the Divine Principle once a week for six months. Her testimony was heartfelt and inspiring and encouraged others to open up about their experiences as well. The program ended with a greeting from Georgia Senator Donzella James, who is a longtime friend and supporter of the community.
The Atlanta Family Church has a lot more programs planned in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!
Kansas Interfaith Event Stirs Interest among Unificationists
An interfaith program called “Tables of Faith” was recently attended by Unificationist Pastor Peeter Saarna and his wife Mieko of Kansas City, Kansas. The couple set up an informational booth on April 21, 2015 representing the Unification perspective. “We made a goal to meet somebody who wants to study the Divine Principle,” said Mieko, a longtime member of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council.
The event was coordinated by the Kansas City Interfaith Organization and this year’s theme was “One Family – One World – One Future.” Each religion shared their perspective on this theme, and, drafted by Mieko, the Unificationist statement was:
Family is a core teaching of our church. Our founder talks about salvation, but not just individual salvation; we need family salvation. When we leave the earthly world we enter the spiritual realm as an individual, but eventually we want to live together in Heaven as a family. In order to do that we should perfect love in the family. In a way, life on earth is a preparation for the next world.
“We had several people interested in our church and we got some contact information,” said Mieko. This year the organizers also created a “Faith Quest” booklet that included symbols of all the religions. Participants had to write down the religion’s name beside each symbol as they went to each booth, according to Mieko. “We were happy to see our Unification symbol in the booklet,” she said.
While at their booth, Mieko and Peeter came across participants who were already open and familiar with the Unification movement. “One lady said she received an Ambassador for Peace certificate when she used to live in Arizona,” said Mieko. “She really wants to work with us and connect with us.” A gentleman also approached them to ask about ACLC meetings. “He requested to have them again,” she said.
Overall, the event was a successful effort to inform more people about the Unification teachings and connect with those who had an interest. “Even though we didn’t have enough time to prepare we had a great turnout at our booth,” said Mieko. She and her husband plan to continue their involvement in interfaith activities and spreading the word about True Parents.
Queens Middle School Youth Explore Parent-Child Communication
A middle school workshop for 30 youth was held at Queens Family Church from April 2-5, 2015. The workshop focused on helping the children understand and share God’s parental love. With so many new events and changes happening in their lives, it is sometimes hard to keep in mind that God’s and parents’ love is always unchanging and waiting to embrace them. In this workshop, participants were given an opportunity to reflect on their relationship with both God and their parents and to practice communicating with them. During lectures, they discussed questions such as, “How do we connect or communicate with God and our parents? What are some obstacles that prevent us from effectively understanding and communicating with them?” Some of the participants’ answers were similar to those of the other participants, and in this way, they were also able to build a strong connection among their peers.
There were many activities prepared for the children to fully engage in the theme of understanding God’s parental love through communication and connection. They had a young parent share her experience from childhood to becoming a parent, a Divine Principle activity designed to teach about God’s creation and the fall, and a service project at the senior center to share love through performances and gifts to those older parents who are away from their family.
The service project was a challenge for many since there were communication barriers. This discouraged some of the participants, but towards the end, the seniors were happy to receive company from the youth. By reaching out to others, the participants were able to put themselves in the shoes of their parents and God and felt how hard it is to reach out to others.
Toward the end of the workshop, the participants and their parents were given a chance to communicate with each other. The participants were asked to write a letter to their parents. At the same time, the participants’ parents were asked to write a letter to their children. On the last day, the group read some of the parents’ letter to their children anonymously and the children really took this moment sincerely. It showed how much the children wanted to hear from their parents. The workshop was a memorable experience for the participants.
Do you have a story you’d like to share? Tell us about it today!